For 21 years, the distinguished award program has recognised 'unstoppable' forward-thinking leaders who build and sustain successful, dynamic businesses which reframe the future.
The founding CEO of Torrens University – Australia's only private investor funded and now fastest-growing university – Linda has always been driven by a belief that education is a fundamental human right. She has steadfastly focussed on providing affordable, relevant education that is also intrinsically connected to industry.
"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," Linda said in her winning speech.
For Linda, the recognition also highlights the importance of doing things differently. This includes providing choice to many who want to attend university but may be excluded in the traditional system and focussing on student happiness as the number one measure of success.
"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," she said when her win was announced.
The Chairperson of the independent panel of judges for EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Lucy Turnbull AO said Linda’s overall approach to business and education was impressive.
“From 146 graduates in 2013 to 20,000 employable graduates annually today, Linda Brown is disrupting Australia’s tertiary education sector. The judges were impressed with Linda’s mission to drive employability outcomes for Torrens University graduates and her entrepreneurial spirit which has taken the business into 118 countries,” she said.
“Under her leadership, Torrens University Australia is changing the way education is delivered – focussing on employability and a global movement of industry, learners and changemakers connecting the world ‘for good’. The judges were also impressed by Linda’s commitment to ‘people, teaming and creating a culture’ through purposeful leadership and a vision which is going to make an impact on a global scale.”
Linda's entrepreneurship came to public attention during the 2020 sale of Torrens University to US-based Strategic Education Inc. – right in the middle of the early stages of the pandemic.
The Executive Chairman of the Board of Strategic Education Inc, Robert Silberman is currently visiting Australia. He congratulated Linda on not just this accolade but the impact and culture she has created at Torrens University.
"It's no mean feat to start a university from scratch with just around 164 students and bring to where it is today with over 20,000 enrolments worldwide," he said.
"This is how we want our universities and institutions to grow. We want them to provide many more with economic and social mobility – beyond just the United States, beyond Australia."
The recently appointed new Chancellor of Torrens University Jim Varghese AM, who has himself led education reforms in previous government roles, congratulated Linda, saying the recognition couldn't have come at a better time.
"Right now, the world needs unrelentingly committed leaders who offer hope. Education provides not just pathways out but pathways up."
"It matters that entrepreneurs like Linda enable people not just to succeed (in education) but also to become changemakers who impact their world and the world around them.
For Linda, the award is a recognition of entrepreneurship and the power of partnerships, teams, and collaboration.
"This couldn't have been done without amazing teams, amazing staff, and partnerships with industry and supporters – all focussed on making sure our graduates leave ready to make a difference at work, in their communities, and across society."
Linda will represent Australia in the World Entrepreneur Awards TM Awards in Monaco, in June 2022.