2022 Qld Award
The Pearcey Foundation was delighted to host a special event celebrating the 2022 Queensland ICT Entrepreneur of the Year. This year, there were the joint recipients Rebecca McDonald, founder and CEO of Library for All, and Sarah-Jane Peterschlingmann, managing director and owner of ATech. The awards were presented in Brisbane by Jill Martin, Director of Start Up & Scale Up Programs, Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport at an event hosted by Monica Bradley.
The Queensland Pearcey Awards recognise outstanding ICT professionals who have demonstrated innovation, taken risks, made a difference and are an inspiration to others in the industry and the wider community. Nominees for the award this year alongside Rebecca McDonald and Sarah-Jane Peterschlingmann were Ali Stokes, Anna Harrison, Britnee Chamberlain, Justin Falk, Maree Beare, Matt Kirby, Petriea Skitek, Tim Hadwen and Thomas Dowling.
The special dinner was held on Tuesday 18 October at the Victoria Park Golf Course, Herston. Many special guests attended and the evening also recognised state and national awards from Council of ICT Associations (CICTA) member organisations.
- Australian Computer Society
- Australian Information Industry Association
- Australian Institute of Project Management
- Australian Information Security Association
- Association of Professional Staffing Companies
- ICT Alliance Gold Coast
- International Institute of Business Analysis
- IT Service Management Forum
- Information Systems Audit and Control Association
- Queensland Futures Institute
- Spatial Industries Business Association
- Women in Technology
Rebecca is an award-winning global authority on the nexus of technology and education for low-connectivity environments.
Rebecca's early career was in Property Management and then Department of Housing in the Queensland State Government. In 2011, Rebecca moved with her husband to Haiti, shortly after the big earthquake there. On the ground, she saw the challenges of rebuilding and the problems of poverty. In particular, Rebecca became passionate about equity in access to knowledge and the reading/literacy skills necessary to thrive.
This led to Rebecca to found Library For All. Her goals was to create story books (culturally, linguistically and age-appropriate) for early readers by local authors, and then the development of a digital reader to deliver them at scale.
Rebecca pioneered the use of education technology to create a cost effective, scalable, child-safe digital learning environment for the world’s most remote communities. To make this a reality, Rebecca had to disrupt the traditional digital first publishing process to create a leading digital library of thousands of professionally curated illustrated children’s books.
The success of Library For All over its initial eight year period led to a merger with Save the Children Australia in 2020. Save the Children is an international children’s rights organisation working across 120 countries and helping more then 185 million children. This merger provided the platform to scale up the delivery of Library For All’s resources and reach even more disadvatanged children around the globe, giving even more children access to e-books and learning. This includes those displaced due to civil conflict in Myanmar, and Kenya, as well helping with the ongoing education of hundreds of thousands of displaced children in Ukraine.
Paul Gampe, Chair of Pearcey Queensland commented,
“As founder and inaugural CEO of the non-profit Library for All, now part of Save the Children Australia, Rebecca's team delivers digital education programs in 14 countries, including Vietnam, Laos, Papua New Guinea and Ukraine. They currently reach over 600,000 children every day.”
Rebecca has spent the last decade leading a team of literacy advocates, authors, technologists, and change-makers focused on supplying digital books and educational products for millions of children disconnected from traditional publishing and educational ecosystems.
The journey of a tech start up Founder is always filled with risk, but Rebecca’s risk was compounded by working in some of the most remote environments, often hostile to technology, and limited by non-profit resource constraints. With 250 million children in the world missing out on the basics of reading and writing, Rebecca saw the need, envisaged a solution and committed to developing it, dispite the challenges this brings to her health, her family, and her financial position.
Rebecca’s expertise spans technology-based educational tools for remote communities, software as a service (SaaS) product development, digital-first publishing and distribution of illustrated children’s books, and strategic planning for Save the Children’s global technology and development initiatives.
Rebecca is a most visionary, innovative and committed leader. An entrepreneurial humanitarian at heart, Rebecca commits her life to the belief that reading is a basic human right. To this end, she has dedicated herself to bringing creating and delivering education technology and digital books for children of low literacy countries around the world.
Sarah-Jane is managing director and owner of ATech, an international award-winning company that delivers cloud hosting and web development for mission critical websites. Sarah-Jane holds a Bachelor of Information Technology majoring in Artificial Intelligence from Central Queensland University and an Executive MBA from the Quantic School of Business and Technology.
Sarah-Jane left her home town of Cairns with just a push bike and a duffle bag of clothes to pursue a career in information technology. In 2007, Sarah-Jane founded ATech, building websites for small businesses and, over time, established her credibility as a highly skilled web developer and digital marketer.
As her customer base grew, Sarah-Jane saw that the top end of the web market was missing highly-reliable, Australian-based, cloud-hosting providers. So in 2012, she set up her own high quality, reliable cloud hosting service in a state-of-the-art data centre located in Brisbane, and one of the greenest within Australia.
By 2019, ATech had worked with over 900 customers of all sizes from consumers to multinationals. This included nine airlines globally, banks, government, not-for-profit, and businesses from a wide range of industries. As most of the revenue was coming from blue-chip customers, ATech's focus has increasingly been towards 'mission critical' clients.
Paul Gampe, Chair of Pearcey Queensland noted,
Starting as a web developer, Sarah-Jane helped to grow ATech from humble beginnings to multi-million dollar revenues and an impressive list of high-calibre clients including airlines, software as a service companies, and all levels of government. ATech provides military-grade Australian cloud hosting, managed services, and web development through its flagship 'X as a Service' product offering.”
As with all businesses, Sarah-Jane has had to led ATech through both the ups and the downs. 2020 was rough with the collapse of Virgin (a major customer) and the COVID lockdowns hitting customers and projects. On the flipside, in 2022, ATech received a $400,000 Female Founders Grant to expand internationally.
Sarah-Jane is highly active in industry through volunteering, mentoring, sponsorship and donation. This has included activities such as positions on Board Executive Committees, speaking and running numerous events for technology innovators, visiting local Brisbane high schools to discuss careers in STEM, as well as creating and running the first 'Mums and bubs' event designed for women to attend industry events with their babies and young children.
Sarah-Jane has supported over 150 women entrepreneurs in Queensland through establishing and running the ATech Sunshine Women in Business Program. The program, proudly funded and supported by the Queensland Government, supports women entrepreneurs to start, grow and employ, through educational content, free one on one mentoring, and free networking events.
Sarah-Jane has a national media profile, providing commentary in newspapers such as The Courier Mail, magazines and tech journals, as well as podcasts such as Alpha Geek. She is a sought after speaker on the topics of entrepreneurship, technology, innovation and diversity, having spoken at events for the Australian Computer Society, Women in Digital, Women In Technology, River City Labs, Queensland Government, QUT, Griffith University and more.
Sarah-Jane is passionate about creating industry pathways for those who are seeking experience and employment in the ICT industry. She has held positions as Entrepreneur in Residence at regional Queensland innovation hubs and the Australian Computer Society.