Australia’s top entrepreneur: CEO Linda Brown (Torrens University)

19 April 2022 3 min. read
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Professional services firm EY has concluded the 21st cycle of its ‘Entrepreneur of The Year’ program, with Torrens University President and CEO Linda Brown taking this year’s honours.

Linda Brown has been named Australia’s top entrepreneur by EY for 2022, and will now represent the nation at the global Entrepreneur of The Year event in Monaco. Brown beat out five other finalists, having under her guidance grown the private for-profit university from less than 150 graduates in 2013 to an annual figure of 20,000 today with campuses in three countries.

Chair of judges, Lucy Turnbull, said the panel was impressed with Brown’s mission to drive employability outcomes for graduates and her entrepreneurial spirit which has taken the business into 118 countries.

Australia’s top entrepreneur: CEO Linda Brown (Torrens University)

“Under her leadership, Torrens University is changing the way education is delivered – focusing on employability and a global movement of industry, learners and change-makers, connecting the world ‘for good’.”

Established in 2012 and offering courses in areas such as business, healthcare, and design, Torrens is Australia’s fastest-growing university, with campuses in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Blue Mountains along with international locations in Auckland and Suzhou, China.

Brown has served as the university’s founding CEO for the past seven and a half years, including during its $900 million sale to Strategic Education Inc in 2020.

That sale to the US-based education provider coincided with the onset of the global pandemic, which placed immense pressure on higher education institutes in Australia – a point noted by Entrepreneur of The Year program leader Justin Howse. “Linda’s achievements are especially impressive considering the turbulence caused by Covid-19. Her courage to look beyond the immediate and forge a business with lasting impact will help push the industry forward.”

Howse, a Sydney-based partner who heads EY Private for Oceania, continued, “Linda ranked highly in every category – entrepreneurial spirit, value creation, strategic direction, innovation, personal integrity, and national and global impact. She has been internationally recognised as a pioneering and forward-thinking leader who drives exceptional outcomes as evidenced by the prestigious reputation Torrens University holds worldwide.”

Brown will now be hoping to emulate Australia’s only global winner over the program’s 21-year local history, Moose Toys chief executive Manny Stul, at the world finals in June, which will bring together the winners from more than 40 countries. Last year, the global title went to South Korean biopharmaceutical company founder Seo Jung-Jin, with India’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder of pharmaceutical company Biocon, taking the 2020 prize.

“When we created Torrens University, we knew we were here to use private money for the public good. We measure impact, which is critical to us,” Brown stated following her local win. “It’s an extraordinary accolade for a university to be considered in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year. Torrens sets out to be a university for the future, and everything we do is in partnership and collaboration. We want to be the most connected university on the planet.”