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Media Release: March 8, 2007


Suzannah Vaughan, 2007 Veuve Clicquot Award Winner Suzannah Vaughan, 2007 Veuve Clicquot Award Winner

Photo: Bill Hearne
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Oil tanker captain Suzannah Vaughan has been saluted on International Women's Day as the Australian winner of The Veuve Clicquot Award, which is presented in 16 countries annually to ground-breaking and visionary female business leaders.

Today's glamorous presentation function in Sydney was a world away from the place Suzannah calls 'home' for three months each year – a floating oil production facility, Four Vanguard, based off the North West coast of Australia.

Four Vanguard produces up to forty thousand barrels of oil a day, but the rarest commodity onboard is Captain Suzannah Vaughan – the first female and youngest person in Australia appointed to the senior oil industry positions of Offshore Installation Manager and Marine Superintendent.

The 'first-female-youngest-ever' tag has defined the career of the 34-year-old from Perth. It also applied when Suzannah gained qualifications to manage major emergencies and when she achieved endorsement to captain both oil tankers and square rig sailing ships.

Four Vanguard is operated by Australian FPSO Management and Suzannah holds a dual role with the company. As Offshore Installation Manager she is fully responsible for Four Vanguard’s multi-million dollar off-shore facility and has absolute authority over her all male crew when on site. Onshore, she is Marine Superintendent, responsible for the safety of personnel and integrity of the offshore facilities.

As a leader in an industry which has a female percentage of less than one percent in Australia, Suzannah has gained respect for her individual and humanitarian style as well as her initiatives, which cross all areas of the operation, and her negotiation skills which include a recent ground breaking union agreement.

Suzannah is a master at navigating her busy schedule which includes regular overseas travel with her job, studying for an Executive MBA, speaking to young people about the opportunities her industry offers and volunteering as a captain and board member with the sail training ship Leeuwin. Her relaxation is jogging, playing her violin and camping in the WA wilderness.

Suzannah understands well the fragility of Australia's pristine areas. She is a strong supporter of environmental sustainability and embracing technologies that result in lower emissions and greater fuel efficiency. Four Vanguard's waste products are significantly below the national pollutant reporting guidelines for both hydrocarbon gases and liquids and 72% of waste gases created during oil production are captured and used to fuel the vessel's boilers. In the event of cyclones, Four Vanguard has a sophisticated system which allows it to disconnect quickly from its massive mooring and move from the risk area. Onboard there is a multi-level recycling and waste removal system as well as a culture of awareness and proactive support. As with all facets of the operation, Suzannah is always looking to improve and has recently developed a new strategy to further upgrade Four Vanguard's focus on environmental protection.

The France-based global President and CEO of champagne house Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Cécile Bonnefond, presented today's Award.

“This year, we embrace a theme that is close to my heart – namely, Corporate Social Responsibility, which associates economic growth and social progress with respect for natural resources,” said Cécile Bonnefond. “Veuve Clicquot is particularly receptive to this idea since environmental awareness is an integral part of the values of the House. All human activities have an effect on nature. Preserving the planet and the quality of life in the future is a responsibility that corporate citizens can no longer ignore.”

Cécile Bonnefond also announced the introduction of the Veuve Clicquot Award for Economic Development.

“As a House that exports up to 90% of its production, we are citizens of the world and, in 2006, I committed to creating a special award for women from less emerging countries who have demonstrated the qualities of audacity and boldness we celebrate today,” she said. “We have decided to encourage three women from three different continents – Africa, Asia and South America; each will become a winner of the Veuve Clicquot Award for Economic Development.”

As Australian winner of The Veuve Clicquot Award 2007, Suzannah will be involved in determining the three recipients of the new award when she joins this year's winners from other countries at the Veuve Clicquot Businesswomen's Meeting in Champagne, France, in October.

Suzannah's prize includes return business class travel to attend the international winners' meeting where a vine will be christened in her name. Also, on every birthday she will receive a gift of La Grande Dame champagne. Her nominator, Kevin O'Neill, General Manager of Australian FPSO Management, will receive 12 magnums of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut.

The Veuve Clicquot Award was launched in France in 1972 to commemorate Madame Clicquot, and to honour women who exemplify the qualities that earned her an international reputation as 'la grande dame de la Champagne' – women of achievement who have excelled in business as innovators, visionaries, risk takers and leaders.

The other five Australian finalists for this year's Award were Shelley Barrett, CEO & Founder, ModelCo; Natalie Bloom, Founder and Managing Director, Bloom Cosmetics; Leslie Butterfield, CEO, McLachlan Lister Pty Ltd; Elizabeth Crundall, Chief Executive, Sydney Children's Hospital Foundation and Dana Dupere, Director, Benedict Sand & Gravel.

The Australian judging panel comprises Chairman of Heytesbury and a previous winner of the Veuve Clicquot Award in the United Kingdom, Janet Holmes à Court AO; The Honourable Justice Annabelle Bennett AO; Director of Corporate Relations and Events for PBL Media, Deeta Colvin; Chairman, Future Fund Board of Guardians, David Murray; Director, Paspaley Pearls Group, Marilynne Paspaley; and Managing Director of Moët Hennessy Australia, Robert Remnant.

Media enquiries: please contact
BLACK Communications - 02 8399 3005
Naomi Parry - 0411 623 423

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