Thérèse Rein, one of Australia’s most outstanding social entrepreneurs, achieved international recognition for ground breaking disability employment outcomes and visionary business leadership.
From a modest start where Thérèse went from employed therapist to heavily mortgaged business owner overnight, her business grew rapidly. Between 1989 when she started and 2007 when the Australian business was sold, Thérèse built her company Ingeus into Australia’s third largest welfare to work service provider. By then it was generating revenue of $175 million and employing 1,200 people in Australia, Britain, France, and Germany with nearly half of the revenue generated overseas.
A significant defining moment occurred in 1992 when Thérèse, in partnership with the then Commonwealth Employment Service, achieved extraordinary results when, using an individualised approach, returned large numbers of long-term unemployed clients back into full time employment. It prepared the business well to thrive when the Government privatised the placement of unemployed people in 1998. The individualised strategy employed by Thérèse recognised, as its guiding principle, the dignity of each client and their potential to live a fulfilling life. Her insights and values were shaped by the experience of her father whose life was transformed by an aeroplane accident during World War II which, while confining him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, did not prevent him from achieving great things. These insights formed the basis of her business model, nationally and internationally – helping people to re-connect with their potential.
Having successfully expanded into the UK in 2002, Thérèse was well equipped to embark on a fully fledged international business following the Australian sale as her husband, Kevin Rudd, became Leader of the Federal Opposition and then Australian Prime Minister in 2007. By 2011, Ingeus UK was the largest provider of welfare to work services in the UK at which time she was described as being “the giant of the industry”. When she sold her Ingeus business in 2014, it was operating in 12 countries, employing 6,000 colleagues and servicing half a million people at any one time.
Thérèse Rein is one of Australia’s most successful self-made business women who, through visionary and empathetic leadership, developed pioneering international employment services for people with disabilities and the long-term unemployed. From a small office in Brisbane offering one-to-one services and without intending to establish a profit-making business, Thérèse demonstrated remarkable business acumen in developing a multi-national enterprise while never losing sight of her client-centered ethos.