La Trobe expands FEAL ‘chief officer’ awards


(Pictured: Sam Sicilia and Nicolle Rantanen)

The CIO and COO Awards, which were presented for the first time last week under the joint production of founding sponsor La Trobe Financial and the Fund Executives Association Ltd, will be expanded next year to include a category for CFOs.

The Awards, which carry a cash prize of $10,000 each to go to an educational purpose of the recipients’ choosing, were handed over to FEAL this year by La Trobe Financial, which has committed to the major sponsorship for three years. La Trobe launched the Awards in 2012.

Greg O’Neill, La Trobe’s president and CEO, told about 100 attendees at the Awards cocktail party in Melbourne on December 2, that now more than ever, it was important to recognize the significant workload which CFOs undertook in the industry.

“The volatility in global markets and corporate Australia has upped the pressure on finance teams this year in operating treasury and other functions central to the success of funds,” he said. “But the uncertainty has also created opportunity for the skilled CFO and their commercial teams to shine. The addition of a CFO Award category will complement our existing COO/CIO awards and recognise their efforts.”

The Awards will be renamed next year as the La Trobe Financial & FEAL Chief Officer Awards (CoA).

The 2014 winners were Sam Sicilia, CIO of HostPlus, and Nicolle Rantanen, the COO of Statewide. Other finalists were Andrew Spence of Qantas and Ian Lundy of Retirement Benefits Fund in the CIO category, and Debby Blakey of HESTA and Colin Sales of AusCoal in the COO category.

Sicilia said he was “humbled” to win the award. “There is no doubt the CIO/COO awards are now firmly entrenched. I have 20 years experience in the superannuation industry and the award reflects the efforts of many talented people I have the privilege to work with. I want to share this award with the team.”

Rantanen also said she was “very humbled” by the recognition. “This is a wonderful accolade,” she said. “Thanks to FEAL for their ongoing development of executives, and particular thanks to La Trobe for their support. I’m passionate about superannuation and continue to focus on what’s best for members. At Statewide we do our own administration, and I want to thank the team and our CEO, John Flaherty”.

– John Hamer