Melbourne Business Awards Business Legends


December 2017 :: MBA Business Legend Award

Suzanne Ferguson

              Business Legends Award Presented to Suzanne Ferguson, Committee Member, Melbourne Business Awards, Manager, Economic Development, City of Kingston - in recognition of her outstanding commitment to the economic development of Melbourne’s South East Business Community and long term support of the Melbourne Business Awards.


December 2016 :: MBA Business Legend Award

Denise Langford

Business Legends Award Presented to Denise Langford, Chair of the Melbourne Business Awards in recognition of her leadership of one of the regions longest running family manufacturing businesses, and her support of local manufacturing through dedication and hard work as Chair of the Melbourne Business Awards from 2007 to 2010 and 2014 to 2017. Denise - You are a business legend and a role model for women who aspire to inspire


Denise Langford: BIO



December 2013 :: MBA Business Legend Award

Gary Nugent


The Business Legends Award was presented to Gary Nugent Executive Committee Member of the Melbourne Business Awards In recognition of his ongoing support and 21 years of service on the Melbourne Business Awards committee. As well as his assistance and dedication to the creation of the Melbourne Business Awards at its inception in 1992.

BIO: Gary Nugent is the Managing Partner of the Nugents Group and he has been involved with the Business Awards since their inception.  As an Accountant and Business Advisor for the past 25 plus years Gary has been involved with Business growth and development strategies as well as advising on optimal management of tax planning opportunities.  Gary is very proud of the development of the Business Awards and its on-going success and sees it as a vital part of our community as well as a platform for sharing and promoting success.



November 2012 :: MBA Business Legend Award

Rod Shell

Business Legends Award Presented to Rod Shell,  MC and Executive Committee Member of the Melbourne Business Awards In recognition of your ongoing support and of service on the Melbourne Business Awards committee. 


BIO: Rod Shell studied Chemical Engineering at Swinburne College of Technology before (ironically) commencing work with Mobil Oil.  Following this he spent 24 years working in broad management roles for capital equipment manufacturers to the international oil and metals manufacturing industries. His work took him around Australia and to New Zealand, the United States, Europe, United Kingdom and South-East Asia. He represented one of these firms who went on to win the Melbourne Business Awards Business of the Year in 1996.

Wanting to help local government understand and help local manufacturers at a time of increased international competition, he then spent three years as Economic Development Manager at the City of Greater Dandenong. This role included leading local business delegations to China and on one of these trips he formed a close relationship with one of the local “businesses” that managed (among other sites) the Springvale Cemetery & Crematorium and was later approached by them to take on the role of General Manager Operations. Like most of us he did not appreciate the importance and size of this Victorian Government Agency which employed more than 200 staff and had a turnover of $45m with $10 to $20m spent annually on infrastructure development. After 12 years he crossed to the other side of the Yarra to become Director of Planning and Infrastructure for the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust which managed 20 cemetery sites from Werribee to Healesville. His work in the industry also saw him appointed to the office of President of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Association of Victoria. 

Rod has been a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors since 1991 and was Chairman and then Master of Ceremonies of the Melbourne Business Awards from 1999 to 2012. 

December 2005 :: MBA Business Legend Award

Bob Gawne

Excerpt from MBA Business Legend Award Presentation

Bob Gawne Business LegendThe MBA's very first Business Legend has been an engineer, a teacher, a CEO, a board member, and a business mentor. He has been a member of countless community committees, a father and a sports coach. I would like him to join me now on stage, along with Elaine and daughters Robyn and Heather and Mayor of the City of Kingston Topsey Petchey. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Bob Gawne.

Bob is a chartered Professional Engineer with a Graduate Diploma in Management. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Management and has taught management at RMIT for 5 years.

He has been Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer of IRCO, Gibbs Bright, Rocla Concrete Industries, Futuris Ltd, Heller Financial Industries and Bytecraft.

He has been a board member of Gibbs Bright, Rocla Concrete Industries, MB John Ltd., Futuris Ltd, Heller Financial Services, Biovend, Medigas and the Triton Foundation.

As a consultant Bob has led the franchising and reconstruction of Brown Gouge.

He is an Emeritus Trustee for the Committee for Economic Development Australia and past President of Probus.

He has been used as a motivational speaker in the business community for Wyndham & Hume Councils, provided a management mentoring role for the Cities of Kingston and Glen Eira, and has assisted the building of the Chinese Herb industry in Victoria.

Bob has two daughters, seven grandchildren and has served as President of the Burbank Primary and Banyule Primary School Councils, coaches the School Rounders team at Burbank Primary and the Rosanna Under 8's Soccer Team.

He is a gentleman and a friend to many, and current Chairman of the Melbourne Business Awards Committee.

I am very pleased to call on Her Worship the Mayor of the City of Kingston, Cr. Topsey Petchey to present the Inaugural MBA Business Legend Award to Mr. Bob Gawne.


October 2006 :: Pompei Brothers Boat Builders

Jack Pompei

Excerpt from Mayor's Presentation Speech:

Jack Pompei Business LegendDriving through Mordialloc, you can’t help but notice the Pompei boat yards on Nepean Highway near the Beach Rd roundabout. They are as much a part of the history of Kingston’s unique seaside suburb as their founders, the Pompeii brothers.

Jack, boat builder, fisherman and (surprisingly) non-swimmer was born in Sicily in 1923, but at a young age moved with his family to Mordialloc. Joe on the other hand is Mordialloc born and bred.

Their father was a sailor and professional fisherman, which perhaps explains Jack and Joe’s unquenchable love of the sea and boat building.

At the age of 13, young Jack built his first boat and at 22 opened his first boat shed on the same site he is today.

Although boat building was always his passion, Joe did have another career as a professional boxer which he got into by accident. When he was 14 or 15 he started going to the Victorian Railways Institute gym in Melbourne just for something to do.

After 6 weeks training he was at the stadium one night when a bloke didn’t show up for a prelim bout so Joe told them he was eighteen and had his first fight. He fought professionally from 1951-55.

Since their school days, the Pompei brothers have built and repaired hundreds of boats at their Mordialloc factory.  There are Pompei boats at King Island, New Guinea, Queensland, Western Port Bay and, of course, on Port Phillip Bay. Jack estimates that they have built 90 per cent of the clinker built boats on the Bay. Even now, they keep working, building and maintaining boats and yarning with friends and fellow fishermen about their catches.

Like his father before him, Jack has rescued many people stranded on the bay and although the water police took over the task in the 1970’s, Jack has continued to provide assistance when necessary. Over the years he has rescued more than 600 people. He originally became involved in rescue work because locals valued his knowledge of the bay and because he was willing to take his boat out day or night, no matter what the weather.

Jack has also been continually active in doing his bit to keep the creek clean and safe. He was probably one of Mordialloc’s first conservationists, long before the subject was topical. He has personally built walls, piers, and landings in and around the creek to improve safety, almost always at his own expense.

He has been an active campaigner to have the creek cleaned up almost all his adult life, and has some very strong views on how best to treat the Mordialloc Pier in such a way as to eradicate the sand loss problem continually experienced at North Aspendale Beach. His love of and commitment to the creek are obvious to all who know him.

In 1987, Jack was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to marine search and rescue in Port Phillip Bay. He was also twice awarded the former City of Mordialloc’s Citizen of the Year Award.

On a personal note, Jack has been married to Gwen for 52 years and together they have nine children.