HONOURED: Mary Wagner is humbled to have an award made in her name at the Downs Women in Business Awards pictured with her husband Henry.
HONOURED: Mary Wagner is humbled to have an award made in her name at the Downs Women in Business Awards pictured with her husband Henry. Kevin Farmer

'Humbled' leader takes out business award

IN A tribute to her longstanding role in the Toowoomba community, Mary Wagner's name will adorn a new presentation at the Downs Women in Business Awards.

It was a reflection of the determination and resilience that has seen her through many situations that Mary happily answered questions for the Seniors Newspaper about the honour, despite still convalescing after a hospital stay for pneumonia.

"It's an absolute privilege to have an award named after me," Mary said.

"I feel very humbled that the organisation would consider me in a field of so many accomplished and talented women."

The Women in Business Awards are celebrating just their third year in 2017, and Mary is delighted to see women's achievements and business success recognised and the community supporting women to achieve their goals.

The Mary Wagner Honour will recognise an individual who has demonstrated "excellence in leadership through deep local understanding and outstanding initiative".

Mary and husband Henry Wagner are renowned for establishment of the family company Wagners in 1989 - now one of the state's largest privately owned construction materials and mining services companies - and development of Wellcamp Airport.

She is a strong believer in the importance of good leadership.

That entails "someone who leads by example, who is a great communicator and treats others with the same level of dignity and respect" and is able to recognise and harness people's individual skills.

But family and community remain at Mary's heart.

Asked if women can have it all, the mother-of-eight, who grew up in Warwick, was educated in Brisbane and trained as a registered nurse at the Mater Hospital before moving to Toowoomba in1956, paid tribute to the partnership she has enjoyed with her husband.

"Henry and I have had a great marriage that extended beyond the family and into our working lives," she said.

While she acknowledges there were tough times juggling her role as a nurse, motherhood and business, she said "Henry and I always ensured we had great communication and we could lean on each other in challenging times".

"As our business interests grew, I always made a point of being aware of what was happening from a big-picture perspective ... from my experience, I tackled challenges and embraced opportunities one step at a time."

And she believes immersing yourself in the community is vital.

"Having lived here for more than 60 years, I have fostered relationships with various organisations and businesses, which has been rewarding to me, particularly on a personal level," she said. 

"We have a strong sense of community in our region and it's great to see so many organisations supporting our economy and way of life."

The Mary Wagner Honour will focus on community-driven and sustainable solutions to critical issues facing the Darling Downs.

One of those issues from a business perspective, Mary said, was being able to "retain some of the up and coming talent and provide them with opportunities to develop their careers in our local region".

"It's a great place to live, so why not ensure the younger generation can stay in a city they know and love, and believe in?"

The winner of the first Mary Wagner Honour could hold the answer. 

Nominations for the Downs Women in Business Awards are open until September 15. Go to wibaa.com.au/downs.

Mary's Philosophy on Life

From her 2008 St Brigid's Day speech

"I am sure success in life is of one's own making. I consider the secret ... involves

commitment to three essential beliefs.

Firstly, life is yours to be had. You have the right, indeed the obligation to live life to the


Secondly, in tough times you must always look to turn negatives into positives.

Thirdly, to achieve your goals, particularly the significant ones, you need to be measured

in their setting and then unshakeably determined in execution." 

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