Belmont and WA Awards’ Business Person of the Year: Kais a winner for woman

Originally published in Southern Gazette – November 2016.

AS a woman in a male-dominated industry, the 23rd Belmont and WA Awards’ Business Person of the Year hopes her success will be an inspiration to other women.

Sharon Kais was recognised at last Wednesday’s awards ceremony at the Perth Convention Centre, for her success as founder and CEO of plant equipment hire company Kais Contracting.

“I was overwhelmed,” Ms Kais said of receiving the award. “For anyone who’s won an award recognising how professional you’ve been … for small business owners it gives you the strength to keep going.

“It gives you recognition, opportunity and a chance to draw attention to your business.”

Ms Kais decided to start her own business after the strain of raising young children with a FIFO husband began to take its toll.

“(Husband) Dave had been working in the civil and mining industry since he was 17 so I realised the only answer was for me to follow into the industry and have us work together.”

 But she was reluctant at first, after seeing too many friends go bankrupt. “I decided it was up to me to make it a success and bring him in on it,” Ms Kais said.

“But as soon as we bought our first grader, he loved it.”

Despite 26 years’ experience working for companies such as Woodside and Austral Bricks, Ms Kais said dealing with clients was difficult at first.

“The older ones, to them I was this woman who had come out of nowhere. Some refused to deal with me,” she said.

Ms Kais said she had seen a big improvement in the younger generation.

“They’re culturally more aware,” she said.

As well as supporting young women as a member of Women in Mining, Ms Kais also dedicates her time to community work.

“I believe small business owners are a vital part of the community. For Dave and me, everyone we employ is part of our family,” she said.

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