Alumni in focus
Alumni from the University of South Australia are achieving great success in a range of areas and it is rewarding to hear their stories. Share some of these experiences through their profiles below or tell us if you have a success story that you would like to share.
- Associate Professor Paul Anderson, Head of Musculoskeletal Biology Research Laboratory
- Dr James Charles, Associate Professor of Indigenous Teaching & Learning, Deakin University
- Lyndon Huf, Chief Executive & Founder, Prohab
- Dr Michelle Perugini, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Life Whisperer and Co-Founder of Presagen
- Hayley Schultz, PhD Candidate, UniSA and CBNS
- Katrina Webb,Director, Silver 2 Gold High Performance Solutions
IT, Engineering and the Environment
- Dr Aidan Cousins, Doctorate by Research Engineering (Minerals and Materials)
- Emilio De Stefano, Director & Principal, De Stefano & Co
- Alex L. Kabwe, Principal Irrigation Engineer, Ministry of Agriculture, Zambia
- Aishath Niyaz, Consultant, UNICEF and Founder, aishaniyaz consulting
Business and Law
- Associate Professor Svetlana Bogomolova, Senior Marketing Scientist, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science
- Jeff Ellison, CEO & Managing Director, SeaLink Travel Group
- Kathryn Harby-Williams AM, CEO, Australian Netball Players Association
- Chad Hermsen, Portfolio General Manager – Retail (Global Real Estate) for QIC
- Shaila Koshy, freelance Investigative Journalist
- Poh Kait Lee, Director of Asia and Pacific, Air Canada
- Nick McNaughton, CEO, ANU Connect Ventures
- Erma Ranieri, South Australia’s Commissioner for Public Sector Employment
- Michael T. Smith, Regional CEO (Europe and USA), Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd
- Egidio Zarrella, Clients and Innovation Partner and ASPAC Head of Banking and Capital Markets, KPMG
Education, Arts and Social Sciences
- Marie Alford, Head of Implementation, Dementia Centre HammondCare
- Christie Anthoney, Chief Executive Officer, Festivals Adelaide
- Lisa Bishop, General Manager at Music SA
- Felicity Chapman, Clinical Social Worker, Gerontological Psychotherapist & Sessional Lecturer and author
- Nici Cumpston, Artistic Director, and curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art
- Dr Martin Freney, lecturer, UniSA's School of Art, Architecture and Design
- Deanne Hanchant-Nichols, Consultant: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Development
- Royce Kurmelovs, author and freelance journalist
- Jindou Lee, CEO and Co-Founder, HappyCo
- Haydn McComas, Frontline Operations Supervisor, Australian Border Force
- Tim Piper, Founder Partner, Piro
- Sarah Quantrill, Curator at V&A Museum, London
- Alice Rigney AO PSM DUniv, Pioneering Aboriginal educator
- Genevieve Sanchez, Editorial Coordinator at LEGO in Denmark
- Jamie Sanchez, Element Designer at LEGO in Denmark
- Sally Skewes, Australian Contemporary Artist
- Howard Lawrence Sumner, Writer
- Lisa Tomasetti, film stills and fine art photographer
- Lizzi Wigmore, Marketing at Intrinsic and Founder of Cakelaide
- Annette Young, Journalist & Presenter, Co-Founder & Host
Head of Implementation, Dementia Centre HammondCare
Dementia does not discriminate – it currently affects more than 400,000 people in Australia of all different backgrounds and ages, and has a huge impact on the physical, mental and emotional health of not only the patient but also on their carers and loved ones.
According to Dementia Australia, it is estimated that nearly one million Australians will live with dementia by the year 2050, and with the country’s ageing population and no known cure, social worker Marie Alford is working to inspire the next generation of leaders in dementia and aged care.
“My grandmother, who was my last living family member, lived with dementia. There was never a formal diagnosis, but I watched her transition from independent to fiercely independent as a way to protect herself from what she knew was coming,” says Marie.
“If you had told me I would end up working in dementia and aged care, I wouldn’t have thought it possible – but I discovered that I could use all my skills in counselling, mediation, advocacy and research to create a better quality of life for people living with dementia and their carers.
Marie was the General Manager of Alzheimer’s Australia South Australia (AASA) for 10 years before moving to Sydney in 2013 to work for HammondCare in the Dementia Centre alongside Associate Professor Colm Cunningham, an inspirational leader in the industry.
“I had watched the work of the Dementia Centre from afar and visited HammondCare facilities to learn more about their simple model of domestic, homelike cottages for aged care and wanted to be part of this journey and the challenge to make dementia a national health priority.
The Dementia Centre is an international program with offices across Australia and the UK, and Marie’s current role as Head of Implementation supports the strategic stakeholder and political engagement with the organisation’s funders, partners and collaborators.
“I have the best job in the world – I get to work with fantastic teams who translate learning from our clients into new opportunities for funding, research and policy. Every day is different, and I love meeting with people living with dementia and hearing their stories that inform our work and practice.
“It’s the little things that make the biggest difference, and I get so much joy from the people I meet. To hear and see the outcomes they achieve is amazing, to know the work we do really makes a difference.
“Meeting people diagnosed in their 30s, 40s and 50s really challenged me and my skills, but it also taught me so much. People living with dementia are not defined by their disease, and living well with dementia – which was unheard of even 15 years ago – has grown so much as a movement.”
From 2009 to 2013, Marie was the Director of the South Australian and Northern Territory Dementia Training Study Centre, which works to influence undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum to ensure there was a focus on dementia and aged care and provide increased training and knowledge transition to students.
“This was an exciting role for me and we had a lot of great partners including UniSA to achieve our goals. We rolled out training in SA to medical and nursing students which provided foundational learning about dementia; some of this training is still in place today.”
While Marie believes there has been real progress in terms of education, training, support and improvement for the lives of people living with dementia, she says it is vital we continue to push for more change, from spreading awareness to building the next generation of leaders in aged care.
“Australia is lucky to have a government who supports funding for dementia; we lead the way in innovative programs and research, such as Dementia Support Australia which offers a world first national behaviour support program.
“We tend to only hear about the bad stories of care, but there is so much good happening and we should hear those stories too. Together we are all accountable for being part of that change.
“We need younger people coming into the field – I see myself as a supporter to their career pathways. Social work is a foundation upon which you can go in any direction, so young graduates need to consider roles that aren’t as traditional as well as the ones core to our discipline.
“Aged care and dementia is an industry that will only continue to grow, but more than that it is an area in which you can use all of your skills to build and develop change and make a real difference.”
Associate Professor Paul Anderson
Associate Professor in Physiology
Head of Musculoskeletal Biology Research Laboratory, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences
Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium could make all the difference in improving bone health and preventing and treating bone diseases, rare bone disorders and even breast cancer.
Associate Professor Paul Anderson of UniSA's School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences is currently working on a diverse range of projects to study the impact of calcium and vitamin D levels and supplements on the health outcomes of various conditions.
Two of these conditions, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, are on the rise in Australia's ageing society, and according to Osteoporosis Australia, 66% of Australians over the age of fifty have either one of these diseases or poor bone health.
Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis can lead to bone fractures, a loss of mobility and independence, and an increase of mortality, and Assoc Prof Anderson says the key to prevention is nutrition and exercise, stressing the importance of calcium and vitamin D.
Osteoporosis is more often associated with women, as menopause causes the loss of estrogen which then accelerates bone loss, so his current clinical trial focuses on the various levels of calcium among post-menopausal women.
"This is an important study because while there are current recommendations as to how much calcium a woman should have, this is broadly based only on women who are lean," he says.
"The current data regarding bone health and obesity is very conflicting, so women who are clinically obese do not know how much calcium they should be taking to prevent bone loss and there is uncertainty in the medical community as to what to recommend overall.
"This study is really about seeing if post-menopausal women who are clinically obese respond differently compared to lean post-menopausal women when given calcium of equal doses."
The other key component to a healthy skeleton alongside calcium is vitamin D, and Assoc Prof Anderson aims to further understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which vitamin D can directly and indirectly improve bone health.
"We see a lot in commercials about how vitamin D strengthens your bones, but the actual science behind it is a bit imprecise."
Working with orthopedic surgeons at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Assoc Prof Anderson studies patient biopsies to understand the connection between vitamin D deficiency and poor bone health.
"These are osteoporotic patients who require surgery with an implant to mend a bone fracture.
"Often in the elderly, there is poor quality of healing after surgery, which is largely due to the poor quality of bone that is there to begin with – it doesn't respond well to surgery.
"We analyze the samples and take this information back to the surgeons, who have begun to recognize that part of their bone healing therapy should involve ensuring patients have adequate levels of vitamin D."
Poor bone health does not just affect the elderly though, and Assoc Prof Anderson and his team are also working with a rare musculoskeletal condition that affects children called X-Linked Hypophosphatemia (XLH).
A rare disorder that affects around one in 20,000 people, XLH is usually genetic but can in some cases appear in children with no family history.
"The mutation itself arises in a particular bone cell called the osteocyte, and causes an altered production of a particular hormone that triggers phosphate to be excreted from the body at high rates.
"Phosphate is vital for healthy bones, and without it a child's bones can become literally rubbery, and symptoms include bone and tooth weakness and pain, bow legs and even bow arms in severe cases.
"Treatments for this disorder are very poor at the moment; one of the negative effects of XLH is an excessive catabolism (breaking down) of vitamin D, so we are working on developing a drug that blocks this catabolism, which could heal the bone."
Assoc Prof Anderson's work surrounding vitamin D is not solely focused on bone health as he has also turned his attention to the strong link between vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer.
Working in collaboration with the University of Adelaide and McGill University in Canada, he is working with the same idea of preventing the catabolism of vitamin D as a means of cancer prevention.
"The kidney is normally considered the major organ for producing vitamin D, but we have identified that a variety of cells also produce it for their own purposes, including mammary cells in the breast.
"This production of vitamin D appears to improve cell differentiation, which is positive in terms of being anti-cancer, but if mammary cells cannot synthesize their own vitamin D, then there is a higher risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lung.
"If the cells lose this ability to produce the vitamin, they can become more cancerous, so blocking the catabolism of vitamin D might become an effective therapy for cancer prevention and treatment."
Assoc Prof Anderson hopes to continue this research in regard to colon cancer in the future.
A festival playground: Building an arts management career
Encouraging the public to take a walk on the wild side is just your typical day in the office for Christie Anthoney. Allowing the Scottish Sceptic Society to let audience members walk across hot coals at the Edinburgh Science Festival is not the only time that Christie has played with fire in a global career in the arts and festivals sector spanning two decades. She also supported famed French fire alchemists Cie Carabosse to bring their first fire installation to Australia at WOMADelaide over a decade ago.
The initiative shown by Christie in convincing the owner of the Famous Spiegeltent to bring the 1920s European ‘tent of mirrors’ to Adelaide in 2000 and land it in Rundle Park, is now the stuff of legend. Ultimately this bold act gave birth to The Garden of Unearthly Delights, a vibrant hub of performance venues, stalls, bars, sideshows and carnival rides, which regularly attracts around 800,000 people through its gates during Adelaide’s Fringe Festival, a time locals affectionately call ‘Mad March’. Christie counts this as one of her proudest professional achievements.
This risky business paid dividends, with Christie appointed Director of the Adelaide Fringe from 2004-2010. Her leadership drove growth in hub venues, developed an international marketplace –the Honeypot program, and launched the now famous artists’ bar, The Fringe Club.
In her current role as Chief Executive Officer, Festivals Adelaide, Christie continues to turn up the heat, helping create the conditions for unique and thrilling work to be presented to audiences.
“The arts are a very satisfying sector to work in. Festivals even more so. The beauty of the festival sector is that it’s such a great blend, all art forms, all demographics, commercial work, subsidised work, unusual, formal, even proper work,” says Christie.
“They have such intensity. Everyone pulls together to work on delivering the very best festival they can, and then it’s over. You can’t go back and change anything. I love that.”
Now at the helm of Festivals Adelaide, an alliance of 11 South Australian arts and cultural festivals that generate over $260 million of economic activity for the state annually, Christie provides leadership in a sector that has been growing at a rate of 10% per annum for the last ten years, and supports 850 jobs (full-time equivalent). Festivals Adelaide also manages a vast volunteer network – a ‘cultural army’ of 1,500 people, with the aim of enhancing the festival experience and enriching the lives of its volunteers - many of whom are recent retirees.
“Adelaide is one great global marketplace for entertainment, ideas and talent. The shareholders vote with their wallets, and success goes on tour around the world. You can really make a large splash in Adelaide and have a huge amount of international success.
“Adelaide is already the second largest festival city in the world and certainly the largest in Australia. South Australia currently sells 50.3% of the nation’s ticket sales for festivals. There is no sign of this changing in future years. That means by 2050 we will have tripled the size of the sector.”
At this rate, Christie believes that within thirty years, Adelaide will be the leading festival city in the world, and will be known for its openness to experimentation and innovation.
“South Australian’s are already extremely hungry for new ideas as evidenced by their extraordinary attendance of festival shows – particularly new work that has never been seen before. Knowing the power of festivals to mobilise, to connect, and encourage experimentation, Festivals Adelaide seeks to foster these conditions so that Adelaide can become the most joined up creative community, and the best place to trial new ideas. We believe the ways in which people behave differently during festivals is transferrable to other sectors and will positively influence the brand and business of the State.”
An experienced arts leader, she credits the Graduate Diploma in Management (Arts) with providing the foundation for her career.
“This degree was fundamental and really is the only course in South Australia that is dealing with management and the arts. Everyone I knew in the industry had it, and I had to have it. The fabulous networks that I made, not to mention accounting and business skills, have been hugely helpful.”
The importance of flexibility, risk-taking, and seeing things from other perspectives were all key lessons Christie took from her studies, but she confesses that not everything can be taught.
“Some of it is X factor – that delicate balancing act of intuiting when to hold on to opportunities, and when to let them go. Being comfortable with the unknown and understanding the consequence of timing and decisions is highly desirable. People who show calm confidence in working under pressure will thrive in the festival sector.
“This is a transient world. There is plenty of work and it’s growing – but it’s global. The investment in travel is necessary and can ultimately lead to being in one place and having a successful leadership role, but most people start out piecing together work on a contractual basis.
“The arts and cultural sector is hugely rewarding, but very demanding and often volatile. Because careers in the arts rely on short-term contracts you must have a confidence and optimism about the future and your skills. Displaying initiative and working with the group to see the big picture, while not missing the detail is important, as is working across multiple tasks.”
Christie has set for herself a goal of achieving 99% arts engagement and participation from South Australians, an ambitious, but not impossible target, given the growth performance of the sector and the receptiveness of the population. Reaching this target could have benefits beyond measure, Christie shares.
“That moment when your intellect brushes up against that of a stranger’s, as you have an ‘aha’ moment or share something in an audience together. These things are important, they make us feel human, and wanting to feel human is indeed a growing trend.”
Christie Anthoney is on the Advisory Board for MOD @ UniSA – Australia's leading future-focused museum, provoking new ideas at the intersection of science, art and innovation.
General Manager at Music SA
Adelaide was designated as a UNESCO City of Music in December 2015. The title is awarded to cities that have demonstrated excellence in music heritage, music-making, education, community involvement, regular high profile, and international music events. Only 31 cities worldwide have attained this status.
Standing centre stage is UniSA Alumna Lisa Bishop, industry mover, shaker and music-maker. From a start singing in bands at age 20, she now supports and amplifies the state’s vibrant music community in her capacity as General Manager of Music SA, a not-for-profit organisation.
“Our goal is to develop, support and promote original contemporary South Australian musicians, build their audiences and champion the industry. It’s demanding, but very gratifying, and I enjoy the team work involved in delivering festivals and events,” she says.
With extensive experience in the music sector and 20 years serving on the boards of arts organisations, including the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the Media Resource Centre and Vitalstatistix, it might surprise some that a leadership role in the creative industries wasn’t Lisa’s first career choice.
“With my Graduate Diploma in Arts Management from UniSA I transitioned to the non-profit sector, where I could make the most of my business skills and do something that is creative.
“Walking away from a decent salary to work in the arts just as I was starting a family was a huge risk though. The risk paid off because I find it so rewarding, plus I have an incredibly supportive husband. When I ended up as General Manager at Music SA I figured all my experience had come together in the perfect role.”
Umbrella: Winter City Sounds is just one of the exciting initiatives Lisa has launched during her tenure at Music SA. Designed to bring commercial outcomes to venues and more work for local musicians during a typically quiet time of the year, the highly successful 2017 event saw 300 live music events across 100 venues and other unusual locations.
“I’m pretty proud of the team behind Umbrella: Winter City Sounds. It’s been fun to create a festival from scratch and build its brand. Umbrella is a two week live music festival and a showcase of predominantly local musicians that transforms the greater Adelaide area into a winter wonderland of music and discovery.
With 1200 South Australians identifying their main profession as a musician (part-time or hobby musicians counting for thousands more), and around 6300 people employed in the music industry, it’s a thriving, competitive sector. Lisa encourages emerging musicians to adopt a business mindset in order to stand out from the crowd.
“Most musicians are self-managed, particularly when they are starting out. So they need to be business savvy until their songwriting and stage performance is good enough to be surrounded by a team of people who ‘run the business side’ for the artist,” she says.
Lisa revels in sharing her wisdom with aspiring musicians and arts managers looking to march to the beat of their own drum.
Here are her three key tips for people starting out in the music industry:
1. Set Yourself Up As A Business
Work out what legal structure best fits you (as a solo musician or band) and then use it to operate your business and receive tax breaks. Register an ABN (Australian Business Number) and open a bank account (not your personal one) and use it to be smart about cash flow and careful about spending. Sign a “band agreement” based on your selected business set-up. You can find one in the Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN) Legal Pack – use it to clarify issues and disputes that are commonly experienced by bands.
2. Understand Where Your Money Is Coming From
Get a handle on what your top revenue streams are – touring, publishing, merchandising etc. Make sure you are distributing your music online and on all the right platforms – iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, and that your music is visible on apps like Shazam (artist distribution service companies like CDBaby, Ditto, Noisehive, distrokid, Tunecore can do this for you for a fee).
However don’t rely solely on online followers – playing live helps to build your fan base, to test your original compositions in a live setting, and get genuine instantaneous feedback on your music. Eighty percent of gigs are held in pubs and clubs and Adelaide has some great live music venues that provide a career pathway from smaller crowds to larger rooms like the Grace Emily, the Hotel Metro, The Jade, Jive, the Wheatsheaf and The Gov. Hopefully this leads to supporting touring acts in bigger venues and then ultimately playing music festivals. I recommend that anyone in Adelaide in late July attends the Scouted showcase – you will get to see 15 of the best unsigned bands in Adelaide right now across five venues in the West End.
3. Network and Collaborate
Like any industry, the music industry is about who you know, not just what you know. Get engaged with your local music organisations, attend workshops and industry functions, and subscribe to their socials. Seek advice from older successful musicians and collaborate with other artists and producers to develop your song writing and stagecraft skills.
To find more about the Umbrella: Winter City Sounds festival, visit umbrellaadelaide.com.au.
Associate Professor Svetlana Bogomolova
Senior Marketing Scientist at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science
Director, The Barossa Co-op
Associate Professor Svetlana Bogomolova is an expert shopper. But not just any shopper, as a consumer and social marketing researcher, she knows her way around complex marketing theories and practice, not to mention a bustling supermarket aisle.
Her studies have included extensive research into food choices and shopping habits, including the intricacies of the supermarket landscape and what shoppers are naturally attracted to – and why certain foods are stocked in particular places.
“A typical supermarket stocks over 30,000 items and yet a typical household buys just 300 or so unique products per year. That is, they walk past roughly 29,700 products on shelves without putting any of these in their baskets,” writes Associate Professor Svetlana Bogomolova in The Conversation.
That’s assuming those shoppers actually walk past the shelves in the first place! Despite a quarter of shoppers claiming to traverse every aisle on a shopping trip, less than 2% of shoppers actually do.
“Shoppers are naturally attracted to empty spaces. They prefer a wide pathway around a store or mall that allows them to see into the distance and avoid getting too close to other shoppers. Thus, the most common route around a store is the perimeter of the store, known as the “racetrack”.
“From that main route shoppers can see down each aisle and duck in and out to get the items they need. Naturally, the shelves at the ends of aisles, known as “endcaps” or “gondola ends”, are the most valuable, simply because more people go past products placed here. So these products get seen (and bought) by more people than products hidden away in the aisles.”
Since graduating from Lomonosov Moscow State University, Svetlana arrived at the University of South Australia in 2003 to study a Master by Research in Marketing, later followed by a PhD in Marketing.
Now as a fully fledge member of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science at UniSA, she has nearly two decades of research experience and an extensive repertoire of collaborative cross-disciplinary projects with health researchers where she uses her expertise in consumer behaviour and shopping to promote healthy behaviours.
She also balances her main role as Associate Professor at UniSA with serving as an independent non-executive Director on The Barossa Co-op Board – the largest regional retailer and employer in her local Barossa community.
She has been widely published, and attracted competitive industry research funding from health-promoting organisations such as SA Health, Council of Ambulance Authorities, National Pharmacies, and Active Ageing. She was also an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award Fellow (DECRA).
Since contributing to studies on healthfulness of food choices in supermarkets, increasing physical activity in rural and ageing populations, and raising quality of health services, Svetlana and her Senior Marketing Scientist colleague Amy Wilson, are now turning their attention to health and wellbeing education space where marketing can be used as a force for good.
It is not uncommon to hear marketers accused of being ‘evil’. Marketing is often blamed for overindulgence in unhealthy food, and the overconsumption of new gadgets and games that make us lazy and isolate us from the rest of the world. But, is there another side to marketing?
Svetlana and Amy argue that marketing skills are essential for informing the community about products and services that improve health and wellbeing, enhancing the delivery of those services to benefit individuals and society.
“Many of today’s health practitioners are also involved in the running their own businesses. Think, physiotherapy, podiatry, psychological counselling,” says Associate Professor Svetlana Bogomolova.
“Many wonderful doctors find themselves challenged by the need to attract their own patients and keep them loyal. Hardly any medical school teaches these skills.
“On the other hand, there are a great number of business (or even marketing) graduates, who at some point in their career would find themselves working for a non-for-profit, charity, Government or private organisation, that aims to provide the community with product, services and ideas that promote health and wellbeing.
Realising this unmet need from both sides – for health professionals to get some essential marketing skills, and for business professionals to better understand the health context, Svetlana and Amy have developed a cross-disciplinary course – Marketing for Health and Wellbeing at UniSA. In 2017 the course has been awarded the Best Teaching Team Award reflecting how much students enjoyed the course and the skills it provided.
“As the teaching team are both active social marketing researchers, the new discoveries and insights from the many research projects are also incorporated into the course.”
“Examples include the use of ‘nudging’ strategies to influence dietary choices, how patterns of engagement in physical activity can inform physical activity promotion, helping local producers get better market access, designing a TV campaign for methamphetamine use prevention, encouraging healthy menus for kids in pubs and clubs and much more.”
The course also has a very practical focus, bringing to students a diverse range of industry experts, who share their experiences. These include practitioners from the Red Cross Blood Service, Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle (OPAL, SA Health), Southern Cross Care, Surf Life Saving SA, Jurlique and Janesce skincare lines, Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council, The Barossa Co-op, Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing, Mater Health Services, The Physio Clinic, to just name a few.
For more information visit: https://unisabusinessschool.edu.au/marketing/marketing-for-health-and-wellbeing/
Clinical Social Worker, Gerontological Psychotherapist & Sessional Lecturer
Author of 'Counselling and Psychotherapy with Older People in Care: A Support Guide'
We all get older. It’s a natural part of life. Yet, particularly in Western cultures, ageism is clearly evident. Popular culture is focused on youth; through the concept of beauty, the power of physical ability and strength, and the perception of usefulness in the workplace.
But when society discriminates against older adults in this way, aren’t we also discriminating against our future selves?
UniSA alumna Felicity Chapman is a clinical social worker, sessional lecturer and educator who works closely with advanced seniors in Australia, and knows the importance of valuing the old as much as the young.
“Many older adults confess to me that they feel over looked or treated like a child. And some have even said to me that they feel ‘thrown-away’,” says Felicity.
“They can fall into a social trap of being one of many older people, not as an individual anymore, especially if they are in care or have a lot of health problems.
“We need to be savvy about how easily ageism can affect our attitudes so that we can protect ourselves against it. And we need to realize how easy it is for older adults themselves to feel invisible and unworthy.
“I want older adults to feel like they’ve got a voice, that they matter as an individual and are valued members of our community.”
Felicity recently launched her new book, ‘Counselling and Psychotherapy with Older People in Care: A Support Guide,’ on World Social Work Day, which concentrates on tackling ageism and advocates for a new model of psychological care that places a premium on relevancy and dignity. The book is written in a warm conversational style and has stories woven throughout based on her experience in this area.
“There are three things happening in our world at the moment. We’ve got a high incidence of depression and general distress amongst older adults - especially in care facility settings. We’ve got an ageing population and people are living longer. And on-top of all that, we’ve got a shortage of practitioners specializing in psychotherapeutic work with an advanced senior population. It’s a perfect storm!
“It’s a matter of great urgency that these issues be addressed, not only for today’s advanced senior group – but also for our future selves.”
People currently aged eighty years and over are often not familiar with psychotherapy, nor seek it, however psychological distress for this group can be high. Men over eighty five in Australia have the highest rate of suicide, and a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2013 revealed that more than half of facility residents in the study had depressive symptoms.
“Depression is not a normal part of the ageing experience. Older adults deserve quality of life – right to the end – in all aspects of their wellbeing, which includes the psychological.
“What can compound the problem of depression even more is internalized ageism, which negatively affects how older adults perceive themselves. Internalized ageism can have people feeling like a burden which actually increases their risk of suicide.”
Felicity suggests a unique model of psychological engagement which she believes makes psychotherapy more accessible to an advanced senior group and offers the best chance of success in improving their emotional and psychological health.
“It’s called the ‘Flexicare Model.’ It combines evidence based interventions adapted for an older adult clientele and offers an alternative view. It challenges a number of elements common in traditional geropsychology like a focus on pathology, set processes and strong assumptions about the helper-as-expert. The centre piece of the model relates to the concept of ‘pre-therapy, therapy’.
“Most of the older adults I speak to in their eighties and nineties have no idea what counselling is. When I mention the word ‘counselling’ they often look at me like a budgie has done its business on my head! And the current group of advanced seniors often pride themselves as being resilient, and don’t want to see themselves as having problems.
“‘Pre-therapy, therapy’ is a way of using life story techniques common in Reminisce Therapy and Narrative Therapy to develop trust and motivation for the psychotherapeutic process. It looks like an informal chat but, really, it’s as therapeutic as any more formal intervention is.
“By intervening like this, I also give them an experience of therapy that creates permission for them to talk about themselves and doesn’t focus on the practitioner being the helper.
“It changes the dynamic so they feel as though they are helping me by sharing their story, which automatically promotes dignity and has them defining their situation in a way which is empowering.
“It also connects them to strengths or things about themselves that their change and loss might have overshadowed.
“Once I have earned their interest and trust, they can see the relevance of what I am doing and that it’s not ‘whacky.’
“The model is all about creating comfort and dignity which, ultimately, leads to engagement and healing. We need to be ‘senior friendly’ in how we package psychotherapy: it needs to be relevant and respectful and not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.”
Felicity has found that creating open conversations with older adults about their life story helps to segue into more formal therapy where she continues to help them re-establish their unique identity, which can often be ‘buried’ underneath definitions of deficit and decline and be linked to feelings of failure.
“They can still feel taller and feel relief even though they are also experiencing loss. It’s about providing a bridge between their past achievements with how they see themselves now.
“I find a dignity based approach, exploring what their values are and how they can see themselves, can sit outside of all of their physical changes and help to find something they can feel proud of.
“My book aims to motivate and encourage practitioners, and arm them with practical skills. The reviews on Amazon so far are very positive. My book is particularly relevant for psychologists, clinical social workers and nurses who want to be ‘aged care ready’.”
While many aspects of Felicity’s book relate to a global audience, she suspects that the anti-ageist element is more relevant for practitioners in Western countries as opposed to Eastern cultures where ageism appears less apparent.
“Eastern cultures tend to elevate their elderly in a way that they are seen as having more wisdom which is really lovely to see. The older they get, the more value or status they tend to have. They are less cut off from society and there is often a strong role that they play in the family irrespective of declining health. What can compound depression in people is when they feel like they have no purpose – that they have no role in society. It all relates to value.”
“We need to value the old as much as we do the young so that older adults feel important and feel empowered to age with dignity no matter what situations they are faced with.”
Dr James Charles
Associate Professor of Indigenous Teaching & Learning, Deakin University
Dr James Charles could not have imagined how far he would eventually come after he decided to continue his education at the age of 27-years-old, and was immediately deemed illiterate, dropping out of high school a decade and a half earlier.
It has been a long and winding road for Dr Charles, now one of Australia’s foremost academic authorities on Aboriginal foot health, but he was supported along the way by the love of his family, and several UniSA Scholarships – including the Irene and David Davy Scholarship – providing vital financial support and confidence he was on the right path.
“High school didn’t work out for me and I dropped out to work with my uncle as a plumber when at 13 I was told I would have to repeat the year,” James says.
“Then in my mid-twenties, with two young children, I found myself starting to think beyond myself and feeling concerned about how I was going to help my children with their school work.
It was important for James to break the cycle of poor levels of education in his family, and to show his children that it would be possible to get a decent education and graduate from high school. He signed up for a TAFE course that would allow him to earn his Year 11 and 12 grades.
“When I applied for the course, the TAFE educator said ‘James, congratulations, you can join our course – you are illiterate’. I can see the lighter side of this welcome now, but it was confronting to hear this as a man in his mid-twenties.”
A proud Kaurna man, born and raised in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, it was also important for James to find a way to give back to his community. This goal eventually led him to enrol in the Bachelor of Podiatry at UniSA with a focus on Aboriginal Health.
“I was a mature age student amongst mostly 19 and 20-year-olds, but I found an amazing mentor in Associate Professor Sara Jones who gave me on-going support and help. She also provided podiatry services to the Aboriginal community, which really resonated with me.”
“I worked hard and proudly graduated with a Bachelor of Podiatry, and continued into my Masters at UniSA.”
Dr Charles is just one of many students that were crucially helped along the way to graduation through UniSA’s scholarship program.
The University is proud of its legacy and commitment to equity as the university in South Australia with the highest rate of students from a disadvantaged background, successfully completing their degrees.
In fact, nearly 30 per cent of commencing students to UniSA come from an economically disadvantaged background. The University also receives more applications from students who qualified for the equity category than any other, so support from UniSA scholarship donors is more paramount than ever.
Now with the benefit of hindsight, James is also a passionate advocate for supporting university students with scholarships when they are struggling to make ends meet and complete their studies, as he was fortunate enough to receive several scholarships, including the Irene and David Davy Scholarship.
As a father of five while completing his own studies, James is well aware of the additional stress that juggling multiple responsibilities can place on students.
“Without this financial support I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have been able to continue to study full-time, and I may not be where I am today without it.”
James says that knowing that these generous people, basically strangers, believed in him and wanted him to succeed was an additional motivation, “I am still in touch with the family who supported me and they have been following my success – I hope with pride knowing just how much their support made my career possible.”
Without the generosity of people like Irene and David Davy, the potential of countless individuals – like Dr James Charles – would not have been realised. When they succeed, we all succeed.
He is an inspiration for Aboriginal people, not only for his personal example of achievement, but also in the fantastic work he is doing to research and teach in his field. In 2008, he was the inaugural Chair of the Indigenous Allied Health Network and in 2017 he was named national NAIDOC Scholar of the Year.
Now an Associate Professor Indigenous Teaching and Education, and Coordinator Master of Public Health in the Institute of Koorie Education and the School of Medicine at Deakin University, James was also honoured this year for his outstanding achievements at the UniSA Alumni Awards.
“Sadly, Aboriginal people – especially those in rural and remote communities – are at higher risk of foot health problems than the general population.
“As part of my podiatry work, I was visiting clinics and community centres for Aboriginal people around Australia and I kept seeing the same types of problems. Through my research, and then my PhD, I found that Aboriginal people have high rates of equinus – reduced movement at the ankle – that can contribute to serious issues and lead to ulceration and amputation, especially as people get older and heavier.
“There were some academics who didn’t believe my suspicions that there is a genetic element which contributes to this problem – I was told poor foot health was ‘just a result of smoking and diabetes’.
“I am really glad I trusted my instincts and continued to focus on my work. Ultimately by trusting myself and staying dedicated to my education, I have been able to help so many people improve their health and wellbeing.
“Now I am also working as an academic supporting Aboriginal students studying health degrees. I see first-hand the wide barriers that students face and I know how challenging juggling study with work, family and life.”
To find out more about the Scholarship Fund, and how you can donate visit: http://bit.ly/2KdaUPG.
Dr Aidan Cousins
Doctorate by Research Engineering (Minerals and Materials)
At the forefront of UniSA’s cancer research movement are our researchers dedicated to tackling one of our society’s most challenging and pervasive diseases – cancer – creating a groundswell of expertise unsurpassed in the State.
For Dr Aidan Cousins, talent and hard work were rewarded last year as he was the recipient of UniSA’s prestigious Norton Jackson Material Science and Engineering Medal for the translation of world-leading cancer research into industry.
This encouragement has led to him spearhead the development of a tool to help cancer doctors pinpoint the accuracy of surgery to remove cancers that have spread into other areas of the body, leading the project alongside Professor Benjamin Thierry from UniSA’s Future Industries Institute.
This revolutionary new device called the Ferronova Probe will solve a clinical problem in the successful treatment of cancers using magnetic tracers.
“Current procedures to find cancers that have spread through the lymphatic system into lymph nodes include injecting radioactive tracers into the tumour area that can be used to find the migration paths of cancer cells,” says Dr Aidan Cousins.
“There are problems with this approach due to the limitations of current technologies and the complexity of how lymph nodes are used by different cancers to spread.
“Through our research at UniSA, we developed a revolutionary new clinical tool that will improve the accuracy of surgery for the removal of metastatic solid cancers.”
For example, some cancers, like in the oesophagus or oral cavity, may not spread very far from the tumour, and can be lost amongst the background ‘noise’ of radioactivity in the injection site.
“Our magnetic tracers allow surgeons to locate where cancers have spread within millimetre accuracy, both improving the result of surgery and reducing the need for further operations.
“The magnetic tracers we use are also cheaper and have longer shelf-life than radioactive ones. This means that more smaller and regional hospitals could use the technology to save patients travelling to larger cities for treatment.”
This device will begin clinical trials for head and neck cancers in late 2018. It holds the potential to transform clinical procedure by creating a much more targeted approach to tracking cancer spread.
Artistic Director, TARNANTHI: Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art
Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Art Gallery of South Australia
Artist Nici Cumpston has enjoyed an eclectic career. From nursing to processing photographic evidence for the SA Police, teaching, writing, and most notably her work as a curator and photographer. She is now lead Curator of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection for the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) and Artistic Director of TARNANTHI, Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art.
Nici’s interest in art though was first inspired through her father’s work as a radiographer.
“I have been drawn to photography since I was a young girl,” she says. “My father taught me how to use a film camera and together we developed black and white film and prints in makeshift darkrooms at home.”
Chasing her passion, Nici enrolled in the North Adelaide School of Art to study photography in her early 20s while working as a nurse. It was here she became fascinated with how art tells a history of the world. This experience inspired her to deepen her education at university and began a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the University of South Australia.
“At UniSA I had the opportunity to engage one on one with artists who were my lecturers; we had such interesting, insightful conversations. They were informative and patient people and through their wisdom I was able to see where I needed to go to continue my lifelong learning,” she says.
Nici’s family are Barkindji people from the Darling River in New South Wales, and she also has Afghan and English heritage. She is culturally affiliated with the River Murray people and the surrounding lands, imbuing her art with her profound relationship with this history.
“Through my photographs I am interested in sharing the deep connection that Aboriginal people have with their country and portraying signs in the landscape that show evidence of Aboriginal occupation that goes back thousands of years,” she says.
In her artistic process, Nici photographs and then meticulously hand paints the depth and feeling of the environment back into the black and white stills. Her technique involves a forensic approach that lays bare the effects of colonisation on the land and inhabitants.
A particular focus of her works has been the Murray-Darling River where her photographs reveal how the work to control the river system has led to a devastated ecosystem. The artworks also showcase a rich history of culturally significant sites such as the scar trees and ring trees found in the landscape, and act as a reminder that many important cultural sites have been lost.
Nici’s work is widely recognised and exhibited throughout Australia, the USA and Europe, including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Parliament House Collection, Adelaide Festival Centre Foundation, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection at the University of Virginia and toured through Europe.
When asked why art plays such an important role in her life, Nici says, “Through art we learn a universal language. Wherever I travel I have a way to feel at ease and part of a broader society through visiting art galleries and museums.”
This is evident in the 10 plus years she has spent tirelessly creating opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to showcase their contemporary work.
“Through art-making there is an opportunity to connect to culture in a meaningful way and to also enable the wider population to gain an understanding of aspects of Aboriginal culture that they may otherwise never know about,” she says.
“It is important for all people to have access to basic human rights and unfortunately in this country this is not the case for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I have travelled extensively to Aboriginal communities and to exhibitions around the country and can personally see the difference creative expression can make to people’s lives.
“Art enables people to share their inner most feelings and emotions. It enables us to be empathetic and to learn and experience other people’s perspective of the world around us.”
Nici is also the driving force behind TARNANTHI (pronounced tarn·nan·di) festival in Adelaide.
“I have been Artistic Director of TARNANTHI Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art for the past four years, which has given me great joy,” she says.
“Through TARNANTHI we have been able to provide a platform for artists from across Australia to exhibit and showcase new, exciting and ambitious works of art. It is an incredibly important opportunity to support and showcase new work, work that enables artists to experiment and be ambitious.”
This year the event featured the forty-year career of one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, master bark painter, John Mawurndjul. The exhibition, John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new will be at the Art Gallery of South Australia until the end of January 2019 before touring Australia for two years. It also features a microsite johnmawurndjul.com where visitors can learn to speak and pronounce Kuninjku language with the artist and his family.
“This exhibition has been three years in the making. It is a collaborative project between the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Maningrida Arts and Culture in central Arnhem Land, the artist’s home Country,” says Nici.
“Each year we also feature the TARNANTHI Art Fair which has been held at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. This year 43 art centres from across Australia travelled to Adelaide to sell their original works of art directly to the public.”
The event broke all previous year records, attracting over 5,600 visitors and generating more than $900,000 in art sales – a key income source for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – and a massive success for the South Australian art and culture scene.
Next year the city-wide TARNANTHI Festival will return and the TARNANTHI Art Fair will be held on the 18-20 October 2019. More information on the exciting event can be found at the Tarnanthi website.
For more information about Nici’s artworks please visit www.nicicumpston.com.
Emilio De Stefano
Director & Principal, De Stefano & Co
Keynote Speaker, Emilio De Stefano
With an adventurous and fearless spirit – and little need for rest – Emilio De Stefano has surmounted considerable challenges to become one of South Australia’s youngest business leaders in the engineering and defence industry.
His passion for inspiring people to overcome their fears and take risks has led him to invest his time working to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM. He explains why it is important to focus on younger generations and the exciting opportunities they will have following a STEM career in SA in the coming years.
Shortly after graduating from UniSA, armed with his double degree in Engineering and Management, Emilio secured a dream job at BAE Systems Australia as a Hardware Engineer. BAE Systems, as the country’s largest defence contractor, allowed Emilio to work on state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems: including radar-warning receivers and directed infrared counter measures to protect aircraft operated by the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Emilio was quickly promoted within BAE Systems to become one of the youngest Technical Authorities in the company. Proving himself to be a capable technical talent with tenacity and leadership potential, Emilio won the Defence Teaming Centre (DTC) Young Achiever Award in 2010.
The following year he won the BAE Systems Australia Early Career Engineer of the Year Award, substantiating his place as an essential part of the team.
This led him to join the South Australian Defence Industry Leadership Program (SADILP).
“The leadership program allowed me to grow my network and work out who I was as a person. It was here I made a connection that led me to take on a new role as General Manager of Smart Fabrication, where I led a team of 60 employees, and learnt how to run a multi-million dollar business.
“People would say I was crazy for even thinking of leaving BAE. I loved my job there but this opportunity was something I knew I’d regret if I didn’t take it. It was the right decision and it really set my career up for the future in a big way and gave me the confidence I needed to go on and start my own business.
“I guess I’m a big believer in taking calculated risks and continuously pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. If it doesn’t work out, then so be it, as long as you’ve learned from it. At least you’ll never regret not having given it a go.”
It was here he started doing more public speaking and was asked on a tour to promote STEM careers in schools around Australia.
“I started getting asked regularly to speak about my career in schools and universities to provide students with some insight into the types of things that are possible with engineering and STEM-based skills,” he says.
“When you’re young and someone suggests you go into engineering you think about maths and other subjects that might seem too hard or unexciting, and that can put you off. It’s a real problem – right now STEM enrolments in Australian schools are at a 20-year low.
“But when I go in to talk to students about my career I show them photos of the fighter jets I was working on, and the Lear Jets that would become my office during the flight trials we undertook to test the technology we had developed. They get to see where your skills can lead you.
“I see their eyes light up because students get really excited about that kind of stuff.”
To grow his network and stay at the forefront of the engineering industry, Emilio has engaged heavily with The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) since his second year of university.
Having practised in roles as senior as Chair of The IET nationally, through the professional institution that has over 167,000 members worldwide, he has had the opportunity to travel and meet STEM professionals around Australia and the world who share his passion for promoting STEM-based careers.
“In South Australia we will see a sizeable opportunity in the coming years in the defence industry. The biggest problem is that we have a huge challenge ahead to give students the skills they need to enter the industry,” he says.
“If we are serious about succeeding with these large-scale technology and defence projects in South Australia – and keeping them here – we really need to find ways to get STEM enrolments back on track and develop the pipeline of talent that will be needed.
“I think a way to do this is to integrate the arts and humanities into STEM curriculums (creating what is known as STEAM) – this will not only help to attract a wider and more diverse group of students into STEM curriculums but also foster the soft skills that are so crucial to our personal, project and organisational success.
“It’ll also get them out of the classroom to work in teams and solve real problems through what is known as Project Based Learning.
“This kind of approach gives students the opportunity to experience how these STEM skills are used outside the classroom; to see where their maths skills will actually end up being used.”
Since 2015, Emilio has been running his own management consultancy and advisory firm, De Stefano & Co, which sees him and his team spending the majority of their efforts supporting organisations operating in the engineering, manufacturing and technology sectors.
As an accomplished Keynote Speaker, he speaks to audiences nationally on topics including navigating change and disruption, and is also the Co-Founder of Adelaide Gardening Group, a provider of turn-key garden and grounds maintenance solutions to the government, commercial and strata management sectors.
Emilio owes his success – and ever-busy schedule – to his entrepreneurial spirit, diligence, and courage to take calculated risks in his professional career.
“I truly believe that we often regret the decisions we never made, more than the regretful decisions we did,” he says.
“I try to follow the things I really enjoy and I am opportunistic in that I will always have a good look into opportunities that come up. If you don’t give it a go – you won’t know what does and doesn’t work.
“The way I see it – you can always go back to the job or industry you were in before, and you might just learn something valuable along the way.”
CEO & Managing Director, SeaLink Travel Group
Non-Executive Director, Adelaide Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium
Almost as iconic as the pristine coastline and breathtaking wilderness teaming with everything from kangaroos to koalas eying you from the gum trees, seals and penguins parading the beach, the SeaLink ferry has been a Kangaroo Island mainstay for almost three decades thanks to CEO & Managing Director, and University of South Australia Alum, Jeff Ellison.
Jeff joined the SeaLink Travel Group in 1991 as a Chartered Accountant after an Arts (Accountancy) degree at UniSA antecedent the South Australia Institute of Technology, and time in private practice.
During his tenure he proved instrumental in the development of the SeaLink Travel Group from a ferry operator to one of Australia’s most successful and expansive tourism and transport businesses.
Under Jeff’s guidance, the SeaLink Travel Group’s increased its revenue from $12.8 million as a small, privately-owned South Australian business in 1997 to $204 million in 2017, even making it onto the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) as a multi-million dollar publically-listed company in 2013.
Today, during peak periods, SeaLink Kangaroo Island ferries make the 45-minute journey up to 12 times a day, carrying locals and tourists alike to the beautiful sanctuary lined with more than 500 kilometres of pearl white beaches and towering cliffs.
“My interest in tourism started at SeaLink when we found that it was a great way to increase the number of passengers on the ferry services and showcase a great part of Australia,” says Jeff. “Today on the Kangaroo Island ferry over 80% are now visitors to the island, including around 23% of which are international visitors.
“We had a strong belief that we had developed a sustainable business model of balancing transport (commuters, cars and freight) with the tourism industry.
“Following the success in the South Australian business, we expanded into New Zealand in 2000 purchasing a loss-making ferry business operating out of Auckland.
“We were able to refocus the business, introduce tourism experiences to the islands and built a strong profitable business. Since then we have expanded into Queensland, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and recently Tasmania with the same business model of transport and tourism.”
After all his success at the SeaLink Travel Group, with the acquisitions of multiple cruise lines and diversification into transport (with companies such as Transit Systems, the Adelaide Central Bus Station, and operation of the SkyLink Adelaide Airport Shuttle Service), Jeff still credits his time at UniSA as a significant stepping stone and valuable groundwork for his career.
“I have very fond memories of my time at UniSA and it’s great to be involved with such a strong growing leading University.
“I chose the UniSA degree as it was recommended by my employer and considered to be the most practical degree to have for the accounting industry. Not only did it give me a great base to build my career but it was a very enjoyable time of my life – with a great environment to work, study and network.”
Now with the SeaLink Travel Group firmly planted in the country’s tourism psyche, employing more than 1600 staff nationally – operating in every state except Victoria and Tasmania – and a fleet of 80 vessels and over 60 coaches, Jeff announced his retirement in August this year confident he will be leaving the company with a strong foundation.
“I firmly believe that now is the time to give a new generation of leaders the opportunity to build on the strong platform that now exists. The direction and strategy of the organisation is established as an integrated provider of transport and tourism experiences,” he says.
But retirement doesn’t mean exactly slowing completely down for Jeff. Still a voracious traveller, he is particularly looking forward to a holiday with the freedom to just enjoy the destination, and spending relaxing breaks at his new beach house.
But SeaLink will always hold an important place in Jeff’s heart, with the relationships he formed just as significant as the many business heights he reached at the company.
“There are many highlights from listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2013, building our very first vessel in 1998, buying the Captain Cook brand and operating on Sydney Harbour, but my greatest enjoyment comes from the people I work with and meet during my career.”
”Retirement from SeaLink for me will be a change in career, but I will still look forward to keeping in touch with my many friends at SeaLink.
“The SeaLink Board has also suggested they would like me to come back as a Director after a break. For me that would be a great way to stay connected.
“I am a great believer all businesses have a responsibility to the community in which they work. I have always been happy to provide support, particularly in the tourism industry, as a strong industry is good for the whole state.”
As someone who knows the spectacular oasis of Australia’s third largest island more intimately and distinctly than most, Jeff has a couple recommendations next time you are down Kangaroo Island way.
“Kangaroo Island is a zoo without fences, so number one must be the abundant wildlife of kangaroos, koalas, seals, echidnas.”
“Second are the amazing natural landscapes such as Admirals Arch, Remarkable Rocks, and the amazing coastal cliffs on the south of the island or the prestige sandy beaches on the north.
“Finally it is the small towns and the food and wineries, and many other tourist attractions you can find dotted around the island.”
With his many accolades and achievements – like becoming a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Life Membership to the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia, the 2013 South Australian Tourism Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual, and the 2014 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Listed Award – Jeff as proven himself as a canny businessman in expanding SeaLink and putting Kangaroo Island on the map.
For now though, Jeff will continue his role as CEO and Managing Director officially up to October 2019 when he can properly celebrate his contribution to South Australia’s thriving tourism industry –and he will finally have more time to relish trips to the beach cave at Stokes Bay on Kangaroo Island which he considers a “real gem”.
Dr Martin Freney
UniSA Lecturer, School of Art, Architecture and Design
Forging a passion for design to a deep desire to tread lightly on the planet has led Dr Martin Freney to a new chapter in his life, as an agent of change for green living in Australia.
After a decade long industrial design career working on projects ranging from land mine clearing devices to new oven designs, Dr Freney returned to UniSA, this time as a lecturer having completed an industrial design degree at UniSA in 1993. It was here he started exploring his interest in sustainable design more deeply.
“Fundamentally, good design must address sustainability,” says Dr Freney, Lecturer in the School of Art, Architecture & Design and Founder of Earthship Eco Homes.
“I advise my students to take sustainability seriously or they risk becoming a dinosaur. Sustainable design is becoming expected and we’re seeing more and more laws and industry standards that require it.”
But over the years a mounting cynicism about what he calls ‘green wash’ – the ever growing number of goods and services marketed as sustainable without substantial evidence - led him to undertake a PhD.
“Unfortunately I don’t think anything we build or manufacture these days is that sustainable, particularly housing,” Dr Freney said.
“There isn’t good and bad when it comes to our impact on the environment, there’s just bad and not-so-bad and we urgently need to find the very best not-so-bad options.”
Dr Freney’s research sought to quantify the most ecologically sustainable housing option available to home builders by investigating issues such as the thermal performance and embodied energy of various designs and construction materials. The top ‘not-so-bad’ option turned out to be the Earthship design.
Developed in the 1960s by Michael Reynolds, a controversial American architect who is also known as the Garbage Warrior, Earthships are an alternative housing solution that allows inhabitants to live comfortably off-grid. They have relatively modest requirements for batteries, solar panels and water tanks, because of the inherent energy and water efficiency embedded in the design.
Built largely from recycled materials including tyres, glass bottles, cans, and typically earth bermed; the buildings are designed to provide a steady indoor temperature, water filtration, waste reuse and safe sewage treatment. Earthships also have a central greenhouse, what Freney calls the ‘jewel in the crown’, with plants that support temperature control, grey water recycling and even food production.
In 2008 Dr Freney first visited the Greater World Community, an off-grid Earthship settlement cradled by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico, USA, where he was inspired by the buildings’ amazing thermal performance in the extreme high altitude desert environment.
On returning to Adelaide, Dr Freney began his PhD studies, evaluating the thermal performance and environmental life-cycle of the buildings in comparison to other techniques. To aid his research, Dr Freney also constructed his own Earthship to evaluate how the design could be adapted for Australian conditions.
“Any home can theoretically go off-grid – but the scale of the systems required would be impractical, expensive and not ecologically sustainable as most modern homes are not built to sustain comfortable indoor temperatures without considerable energy use,” he said.
“My data showed that the Earthships in the Greater World community maintain a remarkably stable indoor temperature throughout the year without reliance on heating and cooling equipment.
“Over the course of a week, the temperature inside stayed between 19 to 25 degrees in winter without heating and a steady 21-22 degrees in summer without cooling. Outside the temperatures were as low as minus 20 and as high as 33.
“My research showed that these buildings are potentially one of the best solutions for low density housing where people can live in comfort, with most of the mod-cons, but with dramatically reduced environmental impact.”
Dr Freney’s Earthship Ironbank (pictured below) has now been completed and is the first council approved Earthship in Australia. It offers B&B lodgings for visitors interested in the concept.
“My ultimate goal is to mainstream a lot of the Earthship ideas into Australian residential housing construction,” he said.
“There are a few others that have been built in Australia but they didn’t get council approval. I was tempted to go the renegade path but I really wanted to demonstrate what could be done through the right channels so people can be confident and enthusiastic about building their own.
“To my surprise the council approval process was pretty straight forward. I quickly found that I was being pessimistic about the whole thing and discovered that all you really need is the right team of professionals like any build – a good structural engineer, energy assessor, building certifiers, designers, who understands what you’re trying to achieve.”
There are hurdles and a lot of thinking outside the box required to build an Earthship in Australia, but Dr Freney is solving these issues through his own experiences. He is now helping others build their own Earthships through his business Earthship Eco Homes.
Dr Freney has also recently been awarded funding from Tyre Stewardship Australia to fund a PhD study to investigate the best use of tyres for building energy efficient homes. This project will deepen knowledge of how to improve sustainable housing design for the Australian climate and reduce waste.
Visit Earthship Ironbank for BNB and research information or Earthship Eco Homes for more information on Dr Freney’s consultancy.
Consultant: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Development
University of South Australia
Deanne Hanchant-Nichols is determined to increase employment for Aboriginal people. Her driver for change is her intention to see real transformation and growth within Aboriginal communities, which is why she is developing such effective strategies that embrace culture and history.
Deanne was recently recognised for her outstanding work in the community and equal contribution to UniSA, receiving one of the Gladys Elphick Awards ̶ the Shirley Peisley− which is awarded to an Aboriginal woman leading positive change for Aboriginal people in the workplace.
“I’m not really big on awards, but I am really honoured to have won the Shirley Peisley Award, knowing what it stands for,” says Deanne.
“It’s really nice to be recognised for all of my work in the community, but I certainly didn’t expect to win it! I was sure another nominee had, so it was such a wonderful surprise.”
Deanne is a Tanganekald/Barkindji Aboriginal woman who has worked in various capacities over the years, primarily in education, but also as General Manager at the Old Adelaide Gaol − with many ghost stories to tell − and now enjoys the diversity of her role as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Development Consultant for UniSA, where she is integral in developing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy.
UniSA is committed to increasing Aboriginal employment, by utilising talented staff such as Deanne, who are in touch with the complexities and needs of Aboriginal people.
“In my role, the reality is that there are significantly low numbers of Aboriginal people in employment, even within UniSA I am one of 1.3%.”
“I have a real challenge on my hands to reach the new national target of 3% as per Federal legislation, but I am on a mission to do so”.
Her current position incorporates cultural safety and awareness, strategies to increase employment, but also broadens to Aboriginal media and arts projects such as the Blue Wren video series, produced in conjunction with the School of Engineering. As Consultant, she was also engaged in relation to the Acknowledgement of Country which will take pride and place inPridham Hall, anticipated to open early 2018.
“One of the concepts created to increase Aboriginal employment was an Aboriginal exemption, permitting applications for previously ‘internal only’ positions, encouraging access to a wider variety of jobs.
“Another being the ‘Mark your Identity’ campaign, increasing Aboriginal visibility on paper, assisting with targeting necessary initiatives and improving future programs and policies.
“However more work needs to be done to achieve success in employment application and interview processes. We want to implement a program which will allow the University to utilise the bank of people who have applied for different roles over the years, and create an annual day or series of ‘CV, interview and cover letter’ workshops, which will provide guidance on UniSA’s preferred application style.
“Whilst the Strategy has been successful thus far in creating significant change within UniSA, there is still room for improvement.”
Deanne has been working alongside Professor Peter Buckskin, Dean of Aboriginal Engagement and Strategic Projects on the proposed Yaitya Warpulai Tappa, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Plan for 2017-2019.
While Deanne is modest about her professional achievements and would rather focus on the overall positive change she has helped create within UniSA, she has in fact brought about noticeable advances in relation to cultural education and awareness.
“Getting so many people through cultural safety training, I have seen attitudes shift, people are thinking before they say and do things.
“Seeing the university mature in that sense has been amazing. I feel really proud.
“When I came to the university, even Reconciliation Week was not recognised and we pulled together something for every single campus - it was amazing.”
Cultural awareness is a vital component of UniSA’s Reconciliation Action Plan, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy as abovementioned, and the overall ambition to be ‘university of choice’ for Aboriginal people.
Cultural safety training at UniSA is predominantly introduced via workshops that not only raise awareness, but begin the process of developing a working understanding of Aboriginal Australia. This enables participants to engage in genuine cross-cultural communication and to identify strategies for working together across cultures.
“I believe that as awareness and understanding of Aboriginal culture increases at UniSA, especially with regular cultural safety training in place, focus has been shifting to Aboriginal employment within the university.”
After recently attending a forum in Sydney for university employment officers Deanne feels both hopeful and hesitant about the proposed new target.
“Aboriginal people are 1.67% of the population in South Australia, so this target is challenging to say the least.
“With limited numbers to begin with, and academic education out of reach for many Aboriginal people when we are still struggling to get our young people through high school −in parity with non-Aboriginal Australians, we really need to have strong strategies in place to entice Aboriginal people to study, to then retain students and to make them feel supported throughout. This will create word of mouth that University is a feasible option, an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.”
UniSA and its antecedent institutions, have over four decades of increasing inclusion of Aboriginal students, by creating an environment where they can learn and grow, and one which respects and learns from Aboriginal wisdoms, highlighting their commitment to being the ‘university of choice’ for Aboriginal people.
UniSA is conscious of the factors, identified by Universities Australia, that contribute to Aboriginal students’ premature withdrawal, namely: financial pressures, insufficient academic support, as well as cultural or social alienation caused by the demands of study.
“This is important to UniSA that prides itself on overall Aboriginal engagement, which in turn benefits both Aboriginal people and their opportunities, their respective communities, as well as society in general, as we become more united Australia.
“As discussed in Dean Peter Buckskin’s article, this ripple effect of higher education within Aboriginal communities will in time impact health and general wellbeing, and ultimately increase mortality rates. This is a significant reach stemming from engagement with higher education – provided retention rates continue to improve” says Deanne.
“I’m optimistic about success in increasing Aboriginal employment and moving forward in general with Aboriginal engagement.”
Unlike Deanne’s experiences with ghosts at the Adelaide Gaol, Aboriginal visibility in employment is ever increasing, as is society’s understanding of the complexities of Aboriginal history and culture, thanks innovative thinkers such as Deanne.
*Throughout this article, the term “Aboriginal’ refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, collectively.
Kathryn Harby-Williams AM
In May this year Kathryn Harby-Williams AM, South Australia’s most successful netball player, inaugural Thunderbirds and Australian captain, and netball hall of famer, embarked on her new role as Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Netball Players Association (ANPA).
As the first CEO of the ANPA, Kathryn believes in the power of pursuing your passions, working hard and a building a strong, supportive community within the netball world.
She has embodied this spirit with her significant service to netball as a player, national captain, coach, commentator, Netball Australia board member and player's advocate, for which she received a Member of the Order of Australia from the Queen earlier this year.
“It’s an honour to be recognised for doing something I love,” she says of the accolade.
Kathryn’s elite netball playing career as a fierce Goal Defence though, spanned 18 years. Including captaining the Adelaide Thunderbirds for seven years and leading them to two premierships, more than four years as Australian Captain, two Netball World Championship gold medals, two Commonwealth Games gold medals, being named Australian Netballer of the Year in 1995, and Australian International Player of the Year in 2001.
As a result she describes her eventual career in management as an evolution around her netball interests. But while Kathryn could not have envisaged the specific career outcomes she has achieved today, she attributes the journey to simply doing what she loves and being open to different opportunities.
“I have followed my passion, been open to learning and made the most of the opportunities available. I’ve enjoyed every role I’ve had, not one has felt like a chore,” she says.
“Pursue what you’re passionate about, rather than what is expected.”
Reflecting on her experiences at university, Kathryn acknowledges her time UniSA has informed the work she’s doing now and was grateful for her lecturers’ understanding of her demanding professional sports career.
“Some of the lecturers were really accommodating of me as an elite athlete, and I’m now working to give the athletes I represent the same opportunities during their study.”
Kathryn also credits the broad nature of her studies in giving an overview of all aspects of business in helping her career post playing professional netball.
“My current role entails an understanding of marketing, accounting and management which were the key elements of my degree.”
Kathryn later undertook her study at UniSA part-time while working as a Commercial Manager at the Adelaide Football Club and says her time at the club also guided her own management style.
“Bill Sanders, then CEO, created a culture of people willing to work hard but able to enjoy themselves, and this was very influential,” she says.
Following her playing career in Australia, Kathryn accepted a three-month contract playing in New Zealand. Only to leave eight years later.
Her time in New Zealand saw her working extensively in media as co-host on a popular weekly television show, ‘On Court’, a commentator at Sky Sport NZ, reporter at Sport 365 News NZ, and broadcaster Radio Sport NZ.
While she enjoyed her time in New Zealand, Kathryn wanted to raise her family in Australia and returned in 2013. Upon her return she joined the Board of Netball Australia as Director, which she held for four years, an achievement she is particularly proud of.
Presently, as the CEO of the Australian Netball Player’s Association, Kathryn ensures players continually have a voice that represents them.
Away from the court, she has always been a driving force in ensuring that Australia’s elite players received respect, fair treatment and conditions as the sport moved into an era of professionalism, so her current role was a natural transition.
Kathryn sees her priorities as CEO as supporting player’s wellbeing and education, with a particular eye on life after netball as she knows how difficult the transition can be.
“It’s important to have a seat at the table representing the playing group,” she says.
“When players move out of the sport it’s critical that we keep an eye on them and provide the structures necessary to look after them as well.
“I think it’s important to use your skills and background to help others.”
“I’m proud of having been able to make a difference as Director of Netball Australia and now, at ANPA, I’m able to help the sport move forward.”
As one of the few sports in Australia dominated by women, the ANPA work together with other members of the Australian Athletes’ Alliance, to set the best practice policies in place to support women in sport and hopes we can get to a point where equality doesn’t even have to be discussed anymore.
When asked to reflect on her time as a professional sportswoman, media commentator and leader in the field, she recalls a particularly priceless moment meeting Mohammad Ali while she was Australian Captain.
“I’ve met a lot of high profile athletes during my career, but he had ‘a glow’,” she recalls.
“I told my husband that I’d received a kiss from Mohammad Ali and I’d fallen in love with someone else!”
Kathryn does maintain though her proudest personal achievement is her family, and the three children she is raising with her husband, Cory.
She’s even taken up the role as Netball Director at her daughter’s school, passing on her love of the game to the next generation.
Portfolio General Manager – Retail (Global Real Estate) for QIC
When Chad Hermsen applied for his first job at Woolworths (whilst still at school), he had no idea where it would take him. Nor perhaps, that he was already developing a love for the fast pace of the retail business environment. An early withdrawal from a marketing degree might seem like a false career start, but in reality it gave Chad the time to collect experiences and choose a path in which he would ultimately thrive. A path that would take him to his current role as Portfolio General Manager – Retail (Global Real Estate) for QIC.
“My career interests definitely started to develop at Woolworths, which prompted me to look for roles in sales,” says Chad.
Over the next seven years he built success in roles as a Business Development Manager (BDM) with Coca-Cola Amatil, Sales Executive at Austereo (Triple M), and BDM roles with Australian Central Credit Union and BankWest.
“In retrospect changing sectors was very important. I enjoyed learning the subtleties and differences between them. The challenge of discovering a new sector was as important to me as the results I could deliver.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work in many different fields from Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), retail, media, banking and finance, and now retail property. I’ve always searched for new opportunities, and this is how I ended up in the shopping centre space.”
In 2007, with an idea and a one-way ticket to Dubai, Chad went hunting for an opportunity to develop his career even further. While this might seem incredibly risky, one of the most inspirational people in his life had given him some perspective. Chad’s Opa (Grandfather) lived in The Netherlands throughout the WWII Nazi occupation. Growing up listening to Opa’s stories of survival, moving to Australia with no English language and setting up a new life for his family, Chad began to understand the true meaning of resilience. And he has carried it throughout his career.
“Play the long game,” Chad advises, “keep working on a career path until you either find it doesn’t work, or another opportunity takes you in a different direction. It’s okay to change paths. If something fails, you can survive it. You realise it’s not quite as insurmountable as you first thought.”
Chad’s first offer in Dubai wasn’t the best fit so he approached a recruiter. “I asked them to find the most interesting role they could in sales and business development,” he says.
A great interview for a job that didn’t quite fit ended up being Chad’s lucky break when the employer created a new role for him. The role was Group Sales and Business Development Manager for Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) – Leisure & Entertainment. It was this career journey that highlighted the need for further study.
Chad explains, “When you’re moving between countries and sectors, having a qualification is important to support you as a candidate. And interestingly for expats, pay grades in the UAE depend on your education status.”
After graduating from UniSA in 2011, Chad moved to Melbourne. As Project Leasing Executive at Vicinity Centres, Chad was appointed to the two largest developments in the country at the time: the major $600M Chadstone development (2016), and the $1.2B Melbourne Emporium (2014). He then moved to Head of Leasing for the Pacific Group of Companies.
Here he managed leasing across the Group’s multiple retail and commercial assets, including the $400M Pacific Werribee development, and the recent Pacific Epping and Hoppers Crossing centres.
“In 2018, the Pacific Group of Companies sold a 50% share of their two key assets to QIC, along with management rights. As a part of the sale I accepted a new role to continue managing the Pacific Assets under QIC.
“It’s a fantastic role,” says Chad, “the best part of my job is seeing new retail concepts come to life. Retail is fast-paced. You have to anticipate what the next generation will need and want, while understanding your market and demographics. No day is boring!”
In this role Chad manages the overall leasing and strategy of a portfolio of shopping centre assets across the QIC group. He works with Leasing Executives from each centre to develop strategic relationships with key retail partners across the industry.
“Ultimately,” says Chad, “the team I lead focuses on new ways to improve the performance of the assets. We do this through new retail offers and optimum tenancy mix execution, to improve the traffic and sales performance throughout the centres.
“My MBA gave me so much in terms of business learning, new friendships and colleagues. These things matter when you are building a successful career,” says Chad.
“The world is changing rapidly and careers of today will be different tomorrow. Technology is evolving at a pace almost beyond imagination. Which makes it all the more important to choose qualifications that are versatile, portable and well-respected. The 5-star rated UniSA MBA, with its holistic approach to business and prominent position in the market, has offered all of that to me.”
Chad’s advice to students and recent graduates is straightforward.
“Sometimes it’s hard to see the next step in your career, but you need to grind it out. It can take years to see change. Experience is an advantage, remain consistent and continue to learn. Highs and lows are a part of it all, just stick to the process. And always be open and comfortable with change.”
Outside work, taking part in the UniSA Business Career Mentor Program for three years gave Chad great pride in seeing others succeed. He continues to guide aspiring business leaders informally.
“You need variety in life to provide perspective. Whether it’s your own family or connecting with your community. It helps you listen to and understand others. Another great skill I learnt from my Opa.
“I’m fortunate to have a wonderful family,” says Chad. “My wife and I are the proud parents of three amazing girls. They are who we live for and in guiding them we need to listen, understand, assess and change priorities, sometimes at lightspeed! Handy skills in any situation.”
Chief Executive & Founder, Prohab
When physiotherapist Lyndon Huf’s mother experienced a fall that resulted in ongoing discomfort and issues with her shoulder, an innovative new physiotherapy and professional sport concept was born.
Using his extensive experience in the physiotherapy and sport science spaces, Lyndon formed Prohab, combining a smart sensor that works in real-time with an app (compatible with your smartphones and tablets) that measures the amount of force the individual can produce. Making rehabilitation from injury or surgery safer, faster and more effective.
“While on holiday mum fell badly and tore a rotator cuff tendon in her shoulder,” says Lyndon. “My parents live in another state and the physiotherapy exercises she was provided were making things worse.”
“As a physiotherapist myself, mum asked me if I could help her out. I thought she was doing too much exercise but there was no easy way to measure this with existing resistance bands, so I created a prototype to measure the effectiveness of each exercise and make better decisions about her exercise dose.
“That’s how we came up with the Prohab concept, where people can use the device to measure exercise doses and confirm the best exercise regime tailored precisely to an individual.”
Now as the founder and CEO of Prohab, Lyndon’s days are focused on communication management and business strategy starting from 5am while he’s still fresh. Every day is varied across research and development (R&D), product development, user testing or flying interstate to demonstrate to AFL clubs.
After stints at the Wakefield Sports Medicine Clinic and Australian Institute of Sport as a Physiotherapist and Sports Scientist, in 2008 Lyndon made the move to the United Kingdom to take up the position of Lead Physiotherapist at the English Institute of Sport.
There he led a high-performance team to service Olympic athletes based upon data to deliver evidence-based medicine for the 2012 London Olympic Games, using innovative approaches to challenge existing methods with the latest technology creating a winning edge.
This experience was also pivotal in the development of Prohab and commercialising the concept which helps more people around the world achieve world-class healthcare, as the system has capabilities to support elite athletes to get an easy and clear picture of their performance and any weaknesses they need to focus on.
“My training at UniSA allowed me to spring board to work at the highest levels in the health sector including the Australian Institute of Sport and the English Institute of Sport,” says Lyndon.
“During this time, we used data capture and all sorts of innovations to solve problems for sport. I was drawn to the idea of leading my own team one day to solve problems for patients and athletes. I carried this thought with me throughout my journey and I was able to action this later in my career.
“I returned to Australia with a commercial mind-set which has led me into a new area of the health industry. Using this thinking I continue to learn from my peers, particularly through the Future Industries Accelerator.
It was with the help of the South Australian Government and the UniSA’s Future Industries Accelerator that Prohab really started to get off its feet and further refine the business.
“My relationship with UniSA has continued through engaging Professor Emily Hilder and the Future Industries Accelerator (FIA) to provide the research and development (R&D) capabilities that internally Prohab could not achieve itself.”
“They provided a low-risk process where we could partner with domain scientists to solve the challenges of developing our custom sensors. It has been a brilliant experience to partner with them.”
“The UniSA FIA relationship has been a brilliant experience for Prohab and we highlight that industry needs to be aware of the benefits to their business. I encourage industry to engage with them.”
Ultimately, Lyndon hopes Prohab will become a commonly used system to help more people meet their rehabilitation or training needs.
“It has taken two years to go from idea to commercial product and this experience trumps any work I have done in the highest levels of sport – it has been such an incredible learning experience,” he says.
“This is just the first steps in that direction. We plan to continue our partnership with UniSA to solve our ongoing R&D challenges. It has been a fantastic experience and I’m very grateful and proud of UniSA.
“I’d also like to help others thinking about a similar pathway and how I may be able to help them. I’m keen to ‘pass it forward’ for any researchers or industry who would like to hear more about and learn from our journey.”
Lyndon invites anyone interested in the project to reach out via www.prohab.ai.
Alex L. Kabwe
Principal Irrigation Engineer, Ministry of Agriculture, Zambia
Master of Environmental Science (Water Management)
According to the Global Water Partnership, Zambia has faced a number of challenges in regards to managing their water resources and this has resulted in inadequate supplies to meet the population’s needs and pollution risks.
This access to water is a basic human right which is often threatened when the resource is not properly managed. The issue, very pertinent in Alex L. Kabwe’s home country of Zambia, is why he has pursued a career in water management and the chance to make a real change.
Intent on pursuing this cause, Alex graduated from the University of South Australia this December with a Master of Environmental Science (Water Management) thanks to an Australian Award Scholarship.
Australia Awards Scholarships from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provide opportunities for people from developing parts of the world to drive change and contribute to development in their own countries. Alex explains it was through opportunity he was able to study in Adelaide.
“The Australian Award Scholarship which enabled me to pursue Master of Environmental Science (Water Management) was timely, and it could not have come at a better time than this one, when the skills and knowledge in water management were urgently required in the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia,” says Alex.
“The qualification from the University of South Australia was the reason for my promotion to the new position of Principal Irrigation Engineer in the Ministry of Agriculture, based at the national headquarters in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.”
Despite being in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa – with a humid, subtropical climate – Zambia is described as a relatively arid landlocked country, and with the agricultural sector supporting livelihoods of 85% of the population, effectively regulating and conserving water resources is vital.
Access to safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene reduces stunting, improves education quality and learning outcomes, and is essential for the community’s health and wellbeing.
With access to basic sanitation barely improving since 2000 (when it stood at 26%), and basic water coverage in Zambia in 2015 standing at just 61% (86% in urban areas and 44% in rural areas), time is critical in this developing area in the world.
Alex is passionate about providing safe sustainable water options to the Zambian population, especially considering the poorest and most vulnerable communities are usually the hardest hit.
A key way to combat this poor water resources management, and aid in the development of the country, is by investing in the agricultural sector. This is something Alex is particularly passionate about and has now dedicated his career to.
“Zambia’s rainfall pattern is from late November to late April. During the rainfall season, farmers cultivate crops that should be enough to sustain household food security and a surplus crop yield sold to supplement household income,” says Alex.
“But the potential to improve subsistence and rainfall dependency farming is significantly huge in Zambia as the country has productive soil for suitable for cropping and abundant sources of water –holding about 40% in the southern Africa sub-region.”
“The Government of Zambia is currently rolling out poverty reduction but sustainable projects through diversification programmes, and the Ministry of Agriculture is implementing programs through irrigation development.”
Alex is playing a key role in these irrigation schemes now being planned in Zambia and developed in the Southern Province, Central Province, and in the Copperbelt of the country.
Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda, is further stressing the importance of this step as farming is one of the main sectors that has contributed to the country’s development, commenting, “farmers need to be empowered to work efficiently with them and boost agriculture exports”.
With his new role as Principal Irrigation Engineer in Hydraulic Structures at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Technical Services Branch – and fresh out of his UniSA degree with all the skills and understanding this provides – Alex is incredibly positive about Zambia and his own future.
“With this knowledge and qualifications I have acquired, the sky is no longer the limit.”
Freelance Investigative Journalist
Shaila Koshy’s love of information – the dissemination, analysis and presentation of the knowledge – has always been vital to her career path as a reporter. With almost three decades as a human rights investigative journalist under her belt, this love has served her well, tirelessly raising awareness on various human rights matters over the years, including the rights of indigenous people, migrants, women and children.
Shaila started at The Star, Malaysia’s premier tabloid-format newspaper and largest English masthead in the country, in 1989 three years after graduating from one of UniSA’s precursor institutions, South Australian Institute of Technology (SAIT).
At SAIT Shaila worked towards a Bachelor Degree in Applied Science in Property Resource Management in the Playford Building on North Terrace and Frome Road at the City West Campus that currently houses UniSA’s Health Science students. When asked how her degree led to her current career as a journalist, Shaila insists that it was actually the other way around.
With her parents contributing to her Australian education out of their hard-earned savings, Shaila compromised after her father expressed concerns about the working hours and tough conditions for reporters – in particular female reporters.
“I wanted to study journalism in 1983 but my father said no because he didn't think the work hours were suitable for a girl. His brother was a journalist and we hardly saw him,” she says.
“I knew of good journalists who didn't attend journalism school, and hoped I could do the same.
“So I went through the SATAC Guide and felt that the process of examining a property or researching a property development project before coming up with a report for the client sounded the same as working on a news story or feature.
“Both fields involved getting information, analysing it and presenting it. The only difference was the subject matter.”
This fighting spirit and urge to rise above such stereotypes carried her through her degree – and eventual career – explaining that she loved her three years at SAIT as she has put into practice most of what she learned in Adelaide.
“The Constitutional and Land Law subjects introduced me to Aboriginal land rights. It got me thinking about our own indigenous people and how government policy for their development often didn't take their culture into consideration,” she says.
“I remember several of my fellow students did not appreciate the Property Resource Analysis course but it helped me devise and analyse surveys of the newspaper's readers on several issues.”
When she returned home to Malaysia, the country was in a recession. So she took a job teaching English and then worked as a valuer for one year before she became a journalist for a national newspaper, thinking about ending up as a business reporter.
But soon Shaila found her niche and her passion took over during the 29 years at The Star as she focussed largely on human rights; legal aspect of issues, law-making, the criminal justice system in the civil and Syariah (Sharia) courts and the judiciary.
Throughout her time there, Shaila showed a talent for navigating the murky waters of Malaysian politics and was led by her strong moral compass.
“When I first started, I was told that several members of government didn't like to read about ‘human rights’, that they didn't apply to us because they were a western concept,” she says.
“So I would write about 'fundamental liberties' and 'constitutional guarantees' instead because very few Special Branch personnel checking the news reports would know what those words meant.
“It's just a question of justice. There are many marginalised groups who don't even know they have rights.”
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing though she explains.
“I understand the need for national security, but I do not appreciate the need for secrecy in government when there is no need for it. That was always fair game for me and I managed to get away with disclosing such ‘secrets’.”
“Only once was I interrogated by the police under the Official Secrets Act. They were more interested in getting the person who gave me the report than in the newspaper publishing the information.
“I refused and they went away.”
Her tireless work was rewarded in 2013 when the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) named her recipient of the Suhakam Human Rights Award 2013 in recognition of her reports on issues, including the Suhakam National Inquiry into the Land Rights of Indigenous People, detention of children, prisoner’s rights and the people’s rights on judicial review.
“It was an honour, but I am embarrassed by such things, so I told them that as far as I was concerned I was only writing about human rights violations and how the government and society need to address them,” she says.
“The ones who should be getting such awards were the human rights activists themselves. The chairman and his fellow commissioners laughed.”
Looking back on her career, Shaila cites many highlights including covering a Brisbane criminal trial involving the chief minister of a Malaysian state in the late 1990s and watching the famous Geoffrey Robertson QC in action, but is currently embarking on a freelance journalism career.
This is not an excuse to rest on her laurels though.
“The old Opposition is now the new government in power. It's time to watch them and be a thorn in their side,” she says.
“Maybe I'll register a business and call it ‘Like a Dog with a Bone’.”
Author, Hachette Australia Books and Freelance Journalist, BBC World Service; Adelaide Review; VICE Australia
Bachelor of Laws and Journalism
In the few years since graduating, Royce Kurmelovs has added titles to his resume that include journalist, author and media advisor to Nick Xenophon. With the release of his latest book Rogue Nation exploring the return of Pauline Hanson and populism in Australia, Kurmelovs is also starting to be recognised as a keen social commentator.
While it has been a difficult route at times, on meeting Kurmelovs you can understand why he has been so successful. Ask him and he claims his success is one part audaciousness and two parts arrogance, however it is clear a sharp mind and passion for his craft are the unmistakeable catalysts.
“Someone on Twitter described journalism as ‘running over a series of burning bridges’ – you end up here but you’re never quite sure how you did it,” Royce jokes while lamenting the difficulties posed by being thrown into the world of freelance journalism straight out of university. You can sense a war within as he tries to define the joys and struggle of working in an industry disrupted by technology.
“I graduated into a flat job market,” he said. “The year before me there was one cadetship at the ABC that a friend of mine got, but there were something like 1000 applicants.” But then he adds, “I’m paid to hang out with people, learn stuff and then write about it. It doesn’t always pay very well but it is the best job in the world.” It is clear that he has found his calling.
Straight out of school Kurmelovs managed to get his foot in the door selling features to The Guardian, followed quickly by Al Jazeera and the BBC. He has since gone on to write for organisations as diverse as VICE, Adelaide Review and CNN.
A lucky break in the form of a KYD Copyright mentorship program with Gideon Haigh opened another door.
“This work with Gideon was integral because from that I produced a 14,000 word story about what would happen when the car industry closes.”
Titled Petrol, Sweat and Whiskey: What Killing the Car Industry Means for Adelaide’s Working Class North explored the closure of Holden’s manufacturing plants.
Shortly after writing the piece Kurmelovs attended the Salisbury Writers Festival where he attracted the attention of Sophie Hamley, non-fiction publisher at Hachette Australia Books.
“I didn’t want to go in and pitch but how often are you in a room with someone from the book industry? So if what I had written on the car industry might be turned into a book and she handed me her card which was really surprising. Then I had to go write the thing!”
The Death of Holden: The end of an Australian dream explores the end of car manufacturing in Australia.
“While it was centred on Holden it was really about deindustrialisation and what happens when you shut down this huge industrial process across two states, what happens to the workers and the people who depend on it. It’s brutal to be honest.”
A month after the book was published, Nick Xenophon helped launch it and offered Kurmelovs a job as a media advisor.
“Working for Nick was an education. It taught me what the other side of politics looks like, how it works and how everyone in politics is flawed but are really just trying to do their best.”
Within five months Kurmelovs was commissioned again by Hatchett Australia, this time to explore the return of Pauline Hanson and populism. He decided to gamble on himself once again.
Rogue Nation was released in November 2017. While the book places Pauline Hanson and One Nation at its centre, Kurmelovs explores a larger narrative about the events in Australian politics that set up her return to power.
“Pauline Hanson hasn’t changed. She’s exactly who she was in 1996 but the environment around her has changed.
“She’s back in parliament sure, but what does that mean? If you take the camera back a bit, zoom out and look at what’s happening across Australia, across parliament, you see a situation where minor parties and independents in every state and federal parliament hold power.
“You start to explore populism – what it means because basically all these independents are populists.
“It’s also tying in with what is going on in the world. There is a big divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘haves nots’, which is growing. Everyone focuses on Trump as if he were the only possible outcome from a global populist revolt. But Trump is just the American version.
“Of course it’s also happening in Australia. We tend to think that somehow we’re immune to what’s happening in the rest of the world. We’re not."
On what inspired his passion for writing, Kurmelovs cites the sudden death of a family friend when he was 18 and the time he spent in America on a scholarship to work at Lonely Planet and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
“A friend of mine summed it up perfectly. Americans have this amazing ability to package their story into a narrative. That’s their culture. You’ll talk with a construction worker and he’ll tell you these stories like he’s a poet.
“It’s not the same here. It’s the ‘my home is my castle’ thing – we stay home and we’re suspicious of outsiders. So part of my project in journalism is trying to coax out those Australian stories, the way they tell them in America. To structure Australian lives into a narrative so they can see that they belong to something bigger.
“The people I write about are always surprised to see their lives laid bare in a story because Australians tend to be unaware of the narrative going on around them and their part in it and how it makes them respond and react to things. Often they’re really surprised, sometimes they’re defensive.
“My next big project is another book, this one will be on Perth after the mining boom. I’ve already got a couple of ideas for two more after that.”
Visit Royce Kurmelov’s profile on Hachette Australia.
CEO and Co-Founder, HappyCo
When he first developed the property inspection app Happy Inspector, entrepreneur Jindou Lee was not thinking of international success or relocation to the US – he just wanted to solve a problem in his everyday life.
As an investor, landlord and tenant in the Adelaide property market, he discovered a widespread issue with how properties were managed and inspected.
Realising that property management companies relied on an out-of-date, paper-based inspection and documentation process, Jindou searched for mobile platforms that could address the issue, but found none that offered a sufficient solution.
“I experienced first hand how the industry wasn’t using technology to solve some very basic problems, like documenting the condition of properties over time. All I wanted to do was solve my own challenges as an investor; that was the genesis of Happy Inspector,” says Jindou Lee.
In 2011, Jindou and his friend Andrew Mackenzie-Ross, a software developer, co-founded HappyCo in a tiny office in Adelaide’s Morphett Street, where they built the first version of Happy Inspector. The mobile inspection app, which provides users with a visual, digital record of properties including photographs, comments and inspection results, gained hundreds of clients in its first year.
“We never really started off wanting to run a tech company, so we’ve been very lucky along the way to be able to grow as much as we have. The early years of the company were full of massive successes and spectacular failures, but along the way we’ve been fortunate enough to convince some of the largest real estate brands in the world to trust our software to solve their challenges,” he says.
Within a year of launching HappyCo, Jindou and Andrew moved the business overseas to the tech capital of the world, Silicon Valley, to set up an office and participate in the 500 Startups incubation program through which they gained investors and fundraising.
Over the past five years, HappyCo has expanded its platform to offer clients a multitude of products alongside Happy Inspector, including Happy Manage, Happy Insights and Happy API, but one of Jindou’s proudest accomplishments is the Adelaide-based office they set up in 2014.
“Keeping a team in Adelaide is very important to me. Adelaide has a lot of very smart and promising people – our universities are some of the best in the world. However, there is a lack of great, dynamic and iconic South Australian companies for students to join after they graduate,” he says.
“People are forced to move interstate or overseas to find exciting opportunities and be challenged in their professional life. HappyCo are on a mission to change that. We want to provide a great workplace for people who are looking for a challenge and want to be part of a global company with lofty ambitions.
“In the long run, this will help improve the South Australian economy and create a stream of talented individuals who might go on to one day start their own companies and employ the next crop of local talent.”
While the technology industry has grown tremendously on a global scale, Jindou believes the tech scene in Adelaide is growing at a much slower rate than other major Australian cities. He is passionate about making HappyCo part of the solution to inspire creativity and further ignite opportunities for growth.
“There should be more success stories coming out of Adelaide. We need to focus on solving problems and adding value to the world – people can contribute and make a difference by working for a small company or starting their own companies. I hope we can all leave the world a better place than when we arrived,” he says.
“We are really starting to hit our stride in the business, so the future looks very exciting for HappyCo.
"The people aspect at the company really drives me to become better at my job; we have amazing people that go above and beyond what’s required in their work.
“My favourite achievement by far is seeing members of our team grow in their careers and become amazing professionals and we want to continue to find talented, passionate and hungry people that can help make our vision of ‘creating great places to live’ a reality.”
Poh Kait Lee
Director of Asia and Pacific, Air Canada
Poh Kait Lee’s career has taken him to great heights, with high-profile positions at Canon, Malaysia Airlines and Air Canada, after a fated night with former classmates over Bah Kut Teh (slow-cooked pork in herby soup) changed the course of his career forever.
PK (as he is known affectionately) explains that two years after he completed his tertiary education he bumped into old friends in his hometown of Klang in Malaysia, famous for its seafood and traditional delicacies, at a restaurant.
“That brief encounter with my ex-classmate was a game-changing moment for me because all of us decided to enrol into this MBA program. It wasn’t an easy decision though as the odds were up against me.”
“Firstly, I needed to fund the course on my own and at the time we were welcoming the newest addition to our family. Also, my job back then at Canon was very demanding with new roles and responsibility added onto my plate almost every month.
“However, after I had the opportunity to better understand the program, which was designed to suit executives like me, I was convinced.
"Most importantly though, I have a very understanding spouse that encourages me all the time. Hooi Leng Ng is not only my trusted wife, but a best friend, an advisor, and a great mother to our three children, so I soon learned how to cope with work and study-life stress and how to balance family life at the same time.”
Rapidly, he began climbing the corporate ladder at camera and electronic manufacturer, Canon, where he established himself as a valuable asset to the company with the knowledge and experience he had gained at UniSA.
A call from a head-hunter then pulled him out of the comfort zone that he had established in his 16-year tenure at Canon and into the aviation industry. Equipped with his experiential learning from UniSA, PK entered the aviation industry and lead Malaysia Airlines through one of its most difficult periods.
“I had a very promising future and career in Canon. Being a highly reputable company, Canon was a very profitable electronic giant and rewarded their employees well. But when I was told Malaysia Airlines were looking for leaders to turn the company around, to me it was a calling to serve the nation.
“In 2005, Malaysia Airlines was at the verge of bankruptcy and needed a transformational leader to drive structural changes in the airline. With my operations expertise, armed with an Australian education, I was extremely confident in adding value to this national icon of Malaysia.
“I’m a person who likes challenges and is inspired by self-actualisation, and I saw this as a great opportunity to test and to prove myself by accepting this risky decision to join Malaysia Airlines.”
After PK took the risk, he quickly made his way up the ranks becoming the Area Manager for Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen, displaying a natural talent for market analysis, revenue and management development and strategic partnership engagement.
Just three years later, he was promoted to Regional Senior Vice President (North Asia and North America) where he was responsible for overseeing operations across seven offices and dynamically led a team in achieving new heights.
PK was then appointed the Regional Senior Vice President (Australia, New Zealand and Southwest Pacific) position in 2013 overseeing one of the largest region and crucial markets for the company.
“Starting my aviation career with Malaysia Airlines without any airline experience was both challenging and crazy. But again, my education on Strategic Project Management at UniSA was put in effective use. At the same time though, I needed to unlearn all my technical skills and relearn another new set of airline skills.
“After turning around the North Asia and North America region in six months, I was posted to Sydney to lead the Oceania region. Australian flights were under attack from AirAsia X flying into Australia.
“Malaysia Airlines in Australia was on the right path until two major incidences put our focus on supporting the victims and their families as our top priority.”
In 2014 tragedy struck when two Malaysia Airline planes, MH17 and MH370, were involved in disastrous plane crashes.
PK played a key role in guiding the company through this period of turmoil and rebuilding confidence in the brand and Malaysia Airline’s perception.
“During the MH370 and MH17 incidents, I provided the much-needed leadership in crisis during the most difficult times for Malaysia Airlines,” he says.
“I also acted as the airline’s Emergency Operation Centre’s Chairman when the MH370 search was headquartered in Perth, working very closely with Embassies and Commissions, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Federal Police and local governments in designing very delicate family reception plans in Perth.
“It was also imperative to provide local emotional support not just to the families, but also to employees tasked with family assistance roles.”
As a result of PK’s strong leadership and tenacity, he was promoted to Regional Head of Sales for Oceania and Southeast Asia, spearheading its needed corporate restructuring and leading all commercial activities in these markets.
These days, he heads Air Canada as Director of Asia and Pacific, where he hopes to contribute to the long-term profitability of the company, making Air Canada and Canada the preferred carrier and destination for both work and leisure.
After so many high pressure roles with a range of great expectations on his shoulders, how does PK relax and recharge?
“I enjoy listening to my favourite music when I’m resting or travelling. An ability to maintain a positive mind when faced with challenges keeps me moving forward. You need to surround yourself with like-minded friends,” he says.
“I also love driving long distances while enjoying the beautiful sceneries along the journey. Such a holiday is a good opportunity for me to engage with my family and at the same time enjoy the drive!”
PK also acknowledges that having a strong family base and support is key in his many successes.
“I travel extensively but I try to maintain a happy family. I have Hooi Leng to thank for her sacrifices and support allowing me to have my undivided commitment on my career. We communicate and consults each other all the time to set expectation and fulfilling them.
“I will be lying if I told you I have a work and family balance. In my role I’m always away from home, but when we are together we create and add value to our relationship.”
“When asked for his best advice for recent graduates and those hoping to reach similar career heights in business, PK explained that remaining open-minded and teachable are key.
“Be humble and learn from others, even from your junior colleagues. Asking questions is the quickest way to learn, but it has to be done with courtesy, especially if someone is older. Work as a team. You are as good as what the team can deliver.
“AQ (adaptability quotient) will ensure you consistently deliver and perform. Be sensitive to cultural and language differences. Expose yourselves to diversity; try understanding the rationale behind certain practices or beliefs.
“Identify your purpose in life. Once you anchor that it will be your main source of sustainable leadership energy. Frankly, without this leadership energy I would have given up long ago.”
CEO, ANU Connect Ventures
Frontline Operations Supervisor Haydn McComas has led an adventurous life in law enforcement, from the Australian Army to the new national Australian Border Force and has always strived to expand his learning and embrace new opportunities throughout his career. Now the part-time lecturer and passionate volunteer firefighter plans to continue his education by pursuing a PhD at UniSA.
Shortly after joining the Army in 1985, Haydn was appointed to the Military Police where he quickly discovered a passion for policing and law enforcement, a career path he never envisioned before entering the Army. At the age of 23, Haydn left the military and joined the South Australia Police (SAPOL) and spent 14 years working in rural policing, traffic policing, general patrols and, eventually, in the field of intelligence analysis.
“One of the wonderful aspects of policing was the unpredictable nature of the work and the need to be able to not only manage a crisis or emergency but also bring some kind of order to complex and difficult situations,” says Haydn.
“I was also deeply touched by the humanity and tragedy of life that unfolds around us daily. In amongst such difficult circumstances I often observed ordinary people rise up to do incredible things.”
In 2002 Haydn saw an opportunity to join what was then the Australian Customs Service as a Manager in the Intelligence Branch. He moved into Learning and Development in 2006 to run recruit training for Customs, which introduced an entirely new career direction in adult learning. Haydn contributed to the design and delivery of leadership learning experiences for frontline supervisory leaders, and between 2010 and 2013 spent almost a year on and off living and working in Papua New Guinea designing and delivering recruit training courses.
“After almost 12 years in learning and development I felt it was time to return to operations and a position became available within the newly established Australian Border Force. It’s a complex and dynamic workplace; my role involves managing several different teams responsible for managing sea cargo, ship and other vessel movements into and out of South Australian based international ports.”
Haydn’s extensive tertiary education began as a Police First Class Constable within SAPOL, when his Senior Sergeant asked him whether he had completed any of the formal studies required for a promotion to the position of Senior Constable.
“I told him I hadn’t, to which he gruffly said, ‘if you don’t have a ticket you can’t get on the bus – and it’d be a damn pity if that bus just happened to come along.’ So, I studied an Advanced Diploma in Justice Admin at TAFE, which led me to a Bachelor of Social Science at UniSA.”
After completing his Bachelor degree and moving on to work in Customs, Haydn undertook further tertiary studies through a Graduate Certificate in Legal and Justice Studies at QUT, a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management at Macquarie University and a Graduate Diploma of Education at UniSA in 2014.
“I realized that throughout my academic journey, rather than work following learning, it was a case of learning following work. Law enforcement put me into new and interesting roles and each time I committed myself to diving in and undertaking study to do the best work I could. Each piece of learning has literally built upon the last.”
After finishing his Graduate Diploma and earning an impressive GPA, Haydn was encouraged by his UniSA lecturers to consider a Master of Education. His thesis explored learning for ethical leadership in a law enforcement environment, and this research journey took him to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and to Thailand and Singapore where he delivered learning experiences for the United Nations International Police Organisation (INTERPOL).
Alongside his professional career, Haydn is passionate about volunteering and was a volunteer leader with the Scouts for almost 20 years. Allowing younger volunteers to take his place within Scouts, he then moved to the SA Country Fire Service (CFS) where he has volunteered for past 6 years.
“Volunteering has been a constant thread throughout my life. As a young person, Scouting challenged me, allowed me to see what I could be and provided me with outstanding role models for what has become an adventurous life. As a volunteer leader I had the chance to positively influence other young people in the same way.
“As a Senior Firefighter with the CFS I have been privileged to serve as a crew leader in some quite challenging incidents. The greatest gift of volunteering with the CFS has been to serve alongside some truly authentic people whose sole motivation is to protect and serve their communities.
“I strongly encourage anyone, young people in particular, to consider volunteering. Organisations like the Scouts and the CFS offer experiences, learning pathways and formal qualifications that can help build careers.”
Haydn was recently appointed as an Adjunct Lecturer at UniSA’s School of Education, where he hopes to help shape and deliver expanded professional development experiences for adult learners. He also looks forward to conducting more consultancy work in the future, where he can deliver engaging and transformational learning experiences around ethical leadership for frontline leaders.
“I have also just been accepted into a PhD at UniSA; my project aims to further understand organisational culture and leadership learning pathways, and how these impact interpretations of what it means to be ethical amongst frontline leaders across the military and law enforcement regulatory spectrum.
“It’s important to always keep learning because the environment is constantly evolving. If you keep your professional development fresh, you keep your career fresh, and in doing so you continually pave the way to new opportunities for yourself.
“Embrace new and challenging experiences, even if they seem scary at first. I never thought I’d have what it takes to complete a Master of Education, but thanks to the commitment of my supervisors and my own perseverance, I got there—and now I can see my research making a real difference globally.”
CEO, ANU Connect Ventures
Almost three decades of working at the coal-face of commercialising promising technology has given Nick McNaughton, CEO of ANU Connect Ventures, a front row seat to the extraordinary changes we experience today thanks to the innovations generated by bright minds.
Nick currently drives ANU Connect Ventures, a $27 million fund to take promising research from the Australian National University, University of Canberra, Charles Sturt University and other Canberra based start-ups into the next phase of commercial viability. He is also a successful angel investor who is particularly interested in projects that offer the potential to answer some of society’s biggest challenges.
“In Australia we have this incredibly creative and inventive pool of entrepreneurs who are great at coming up with ground breaking discoveries. Our challenge as a country is we are not so good at commercialising these inventions. We need to work on the commercialisation side of the equation,” says Nick.
Nick started his career in the technology industry working for the software subsidiary of Apple Computer. He set up their Asia office.
“I would spend a couple of weeks each quarter in the US learning how the Americans sold technology. The US is the best in the world at marketing and selling technology – we have much to learn from them.”
His second gig took him to the East Coast of the US where he was working for Allaire who created the popular web development tool ‘ColdFusion’ which took the world by storm in the late nineties.
On moving to Australia, Nick started to focus more of his time on angel investment – private financing to help promising business start-ups move their venture to the next stage and attract venture capitalists.
“In terms of angel investing, one of my most exciting projects is Windlab, a renewable energy technology developer in Canberra. They use a proprietary software algorithm to identify locations around the world to build Wind Farms. It’s a great example of smart technology being used to provide new, clean energy. We just listed them on the ASX (WND).
In 2009 Nick also decided to undertake an MBA having wanted to do one for most of his professional life. After extensive research he chose UniSA due to the unique factors of the course including the ability to study online, part-time and complete his study within two years. He was also particularly impressed by the opportunity to foster international business experience.
“I chose UniSA because it allowed me to carry on working full-time but also include study projects in Denmark and China. I have been immensely happy with the program, the people I met and the outcomes of my studies.
“Australians are unique for their curious and inventive nature. In many ways we have had to be in order to survive. We live on an island and we are thus forced to be self-reliant, to travel and understand the cultures, languages and systems of our neighbours and allies in order to grow our concepts – this makes us incredibly worldly and open to learning and adapting.
“Through my work and studies I have travelled extensively which has encouraged my creativity and taught me innumerable skills. Each country presents different challenges for business due to different cultural and business norms. These experiences offer valuable chances to learn, so I would like to see more programs encouraging international experience for students and graduates.”
As for the future of technology and opportunity in Australia, Nick believes the future is only getting brighter as we move from the technological age into an age of innovation.
“There has never been a better time in the history of humanity to become an entrepreneur. We need to encourage our students and graduates to do it - go start their own business or develop their ideas. The future of Australian employment and opportunity will be driven by these new discoveries and inventions.”
Nick believes we will soon see huge advances, particularly in life sciences and artificial intelligence where there has been considerable global investment. However these advances pose new challenges.
“I truly believe that we will soon eradicate our greatest scourges – diseases like cancer, heart disease etc. It's no longer a matter of if, but when. But this does put immense pressure on our planet as we live longer, our population increases and we need more resources.
“The next big area for tech focus will certainly look at addressing these problems because they will need to. Things like food production, resource availability, water care and management, energy production etc.
“We must find better ways of living on this planet – so technology will play a critical role not just in how we take care of ourselves but also how we can live more sustainably.”
Nick also sees the Australian Government’s recent announcement about a space program opening many doors for business.
“Australia has already achieved incredible progress in this area on an international level and with this announcement we will see a new dawn for this industry soon.
“UniSA is already positioned well in this climate - in fact you are already a leader with your team of innovators who are world leaders in nanosatellites.
“Ultimately there are exciting times ahead but challenges as well – for our health, our environment and our children, but I think we are already tackling these problems well and we will see incredible changes in the years to come.”
Consultant, UNICEF and Founder, aishaniyaz consulting
A strong believer that ‘every little bit counts’ when tackling climate change and environmental issues, Master of Environmental Management and Sustainability graduate and Australian Awards scholarship recipient, Aishath (Aisha) Niyaz is on a mission to save the Maldives by raising awareness of environmental sustainability and inspiring other youth to find their voice.
Now working as a Sustainable Development Consultant for some of the most important humanitarian and developmental efforts in the area – including UNICEF, UNDP and Maldivian Red Crescent – Aisha says her time at UniSA further enhanced her knowledge and skills and boosted her confidence in advocating for sustainable development.
It was an opportunity that nurtured and bolstered her passion for sustainable development – a seed that had been planted from a young age growing up in the Maldives.
Environmentally conscious as a child, Aisha vividly remembers bringing her school bag home filled with food wrappers in an attempt to stop her friends from littering. However, it took joining a team of scientists from Australia and New Zealand conducting a study on the vulnerability of the Maldives to climate change to truly comprehend the scope of the issue.
“It was an invaluable experience which opened my eyes and helped me understand the fragile ecosystem of my home,” says Aisha.
This role as a Surveyor Trainee at the Environment Research Centre under the Ministry of Environment of Maldives, further ignited her passion for protecting the Earth.
“As an island nation of roughly 1,200 tiny coralline islands spread across the ocean, we are extremely dependent on imports for our survival. Climate change is very real to us, and over the past 15 years I have personally witnessed its negative impact,” she says.
“From increasing erosion of the islands, growing frequency and intensity of storm surges, droughts and flash flooding, to the prevalence of dengue and increasing prices of basic commodities – climate change threatens our very survival as a nation.”
When she returned home to the Maldives after completing her undergraduate degree from the University of Queensland, Aisha received offers to work with environmental consultancy firms, where a major part of the work was conducting Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs).
Advocating for environmental conservation and minimum harm in development projects, Aisha worked to convince clients to alter original project ideas that had the potential to cause irreversible environmental damage.
“My colleagues started calling me an activist and basically told me my job was to follow what the client wanted, which made me feel as if I was facilitating environmental destruction. So in 2010, I stopped doing EIAs and since then have worked as a freelance consultant, providing consultancy to UN agencies, tourist resorts, community-based organisations and government projects.”
Presently, Aisha is wrapping-up a Consultancy with UNICEF, Maldives. The role has involved creating awareness for community-based waste management in nine islands of the Laamu Atoll as part of the Low Emission Climate Resilient Development (LECReD) program, funded by the Government of Denmark.
On top of her independent consultancies working for organisations like UNICEF and volunteering work, Aisha created her own sustainable development consultancy firm ‘aishaniyaz consulting’ in 2016 to formalise her consultancy services and broaden the scale of making a positive difference.
She is also currently working on the final stages of publishing a children’s book on environmental consciousness with the hope of instilling love for the nature so that more children will grow up to become environmental stewards.
At the end of July the Maldivian Red Crescent (MRC) requested her to be part of the Steering Committee to advise in the development process of MRC's new Strategic Plan and has been closely involved with the process.
On reflection of her career, and balancing so many roles and responsibilities, she says there have been many invaluable lessons in her journey so far.
“Integrity is very important to me and I refuse to compromise on ethics and values. It can be very challenging and overwhelming at times when politicians and powerful corporations around the world destroy the environment for short-term political and financial gains,” she says.
“What stops me falling into despair is my faith and belief that ‘every little bit counts’ – one individual can make a difference with small, simple actions. Not littering, carrying reusable shopping bags and refusing to accept single-use plastics such as bags, straws, coffee-cups and water bottles can make a significant difference.”
Aisha believes global campaigns and movements for beating plastic pollution and climate change play a major role in enhancing environmental consciousness, enabling behaviour change and inspiring sustainable lifestyles, but she also stresses the importance of recognising ‘greenwashing’ amongst both small and large corporations and entities.
“For those aspiring to make a positive difference for humanity and the world, my advice is to always remember that change starts from within and to celebrate small wins. Self-care is very important, as is finding a balance between volunteering, paid work and time for family and friends,” she says.
“I also deeply believe in the concept of Gandhi – ‘be the change you want to see in the world’. History proves that people power should not be underestimated in bringing about significant change.”
Dr Michelle Perugini
Co-Founder and Managing Director, Life Whisperer and Co-Founder, Presagen
Bachelor of Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (Honours), University of South Australia
PhD in Medicine, University of Adelaide)
A passion for turning scientific ideas into beneficial businesses prompted Dr Michelle Perugini to take the leap from medical researcher to artificial intelligence (AI) entrepreneur, and her latest venture combines both fields to improve the success rates of couples undergoing IVF.
After finishing her Bachelor of Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology with First Class Honours in cancer research at UniSA, Dr Perugini fell in love with scientific research. Upon completing her PhD in Medicine, she went on to work at SA Pathology and the Centre for Cancer Biology, focusing specifically on Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and other blood disorders.
During her eleven successful years working in health and medical research, Dr Perugini developed a passion for entrepreneurship and loved the idea of building a product that could link the gap between research and the commercial sector.
“My husband worked as a research scientist for the Department of Defence, developing AI technology, and we were both experiencing a desire to translate our understanding of our disciplines into something useful to the real world. So in 2008 we decided to start our first commercial venture together,” Dr Perugini says.
“There was a whole range of commercial problems we could apply AI technology to, so we founded ISD Analytics and built a globally scalable product that worked to predict human behaviour in a range of industries such as health, education, energy and other government policy areas.
“We sold the product all around the world, and really enjoyed the experience and value that came from creating something scalable that could make a difference.”
After selling ISD Analytics to Ernst & Young in 2015, Dr Perugini and her husband Dr Don Perugini developed their second start-up company, Presagen. Working this time to develop an advanced AI platform for 1) human behaviour automation that uses unique defence technology, psychology and behavioural science to automate complex human-centric tasks, and 2) image-based medical diagnostics that analyses historical medical images to create accurate diagnostic tools.
A self-taught AI technologist, Dr Perugini realised the potential of the technology in improving fertility rates while she was mentoring PhD candidate Jonathan Hall.
“Jonathan came up with the concept around applying AI and computer vision technology to better select healthy embryos for implantation in IVF, and given my scientific background in stem cells and genetics, I was absolutely taken with the idea.
“I had trouble conceiving both of my children – I was actually booked in for IVF for my first child when I managed to fall pregnant with the help of hormonal treatment, so I experienced some of the torment of wanting to have children but not being able to.”
At the start of 2017, Dr Perugini, her husband and Dr Jonathan Hall co-founded Life Whisperer, an image analysis tool built upon Presagen’s AI platform that identifies the morphological features of healthy embryos often invisible to the human eye.
According to IVF Australia, the success rate of fresh embryo transfers resulting in live births in 2015 ranged from 8.8% to 37% depending on a patient’s age. Dr Perugini says the predictive power of Life Whisperer can significantly increase the chances of a successful pregnancy and improve current low success rates.
“A clinician makes a decision on which embryo to transfer to a patient based on a manual visual assessment through a microscope. This is a difficult choice as there are not many visible defining features that highlight which embryo is the best option.
“With Life Whisperer, the clinician can simply drag and drop images of the patients’ embryos onto the web-based tool which will apply our algorithm to assess and rank each embryo on the likelihood of success. It’s great because it’s non-invasive and provides the clinician with additional information and assurance.”
In June 2017, Dr Perugini partnered with Monash IVF, one of Australia’s largest IVF service providers, to leverage thousands of stored embryo images to conduct a retrospective study. Life Whisperer demonstrated its AI outperformed embryologists in identifying the most viable embryos among the medical images of almost 600 patient cycles.
It also performed over 30% more accurately than an embryologist when identifying which embryos resulted in a successful pregnancy, and was able to correctly classify embryos 148 times where the human experts were incorrect. In turn, the AI was incorrect only 54 times where the embryologist was correct.
Life Whisperer’s early achievements and exciting potential was recognised in September 2017 when it was announced winner of the ‘Best Idea – One to Watch’ category in the 2017 Talent Unleased Awards, judged by tech and business moguls Sir Richard Branson and Steve Wozniak.
Dr Perugini’s vision and passion for Life Whisperer was also recognised by InDaily in June 2018 who announced her a winner in their inaugural 40 Under 40 list, celebrating the achievements of South Australia’s leading business leaders under the age of 40.
Dr Perugini believes Life Whisperer’s technology will be a game changer for the IVF industry. Her focus this year is on finalising clinical trials and getting the product to market, and she is excited to improve the IVF journey for couples not only by increasing success rates but also by lowering the financial and emotional burden of the treatment.
“I know so many people who have gone through multiple IVF cycles that have failed, and it’s extremely difficult. There is always the expectation of success, but then four years and many cycles down the track they come to the realisation that they may never be able to have children, and it has such a profound impact on them.
“It’s such a wonderful thing to know that our skill sets and this technology can improve fertility rates and do something so socially valuable.”
Founder Partner, Piro
You have probably heard of Dove’s Self-Esteem campaign to change our perception of beauty. The campaign’s fame is largely thanks to the Dove Evolution video that features a model who is primped and polished with makeup, photographed and then altered in photoshop.
What you may not know is that the video was the brainchild of award-winning creative director and UniSA graduate Tim Piper. On release it immediately went viral and won Tim and his employer at the time two Cannes Lion Grand Prix awards, the gold standard for media advertising.
We caught up with Tim recently while he was in Adelaide taking a break from his busy life in New York where he co-runs creative agency and production company Piro.
“I started my career in Adelaide with a graphic design collective that was set up with some fellow graduates, then I heard the local advertising industry produced commercials in Adelaide and I was hooked,” said Tim.
“I ended up at a small firm directing a commercial for RAA without realising that I was the director” he laughs. “We didn’t have a huge budget so we invested in a cinematographer (to shoot on 35mm film) and I would scribble thumbnail boards for each of the scenes, then discuss with the cinematographer how to tell the story. I didn’t know at the time that I was essentially acting as the director.”
Tim quickly made a name for himself, winning local awards for TV categories. Soon he had a portfolio of work that allowed him to establish himself as associate creative director in Toronto, Canada.
It was there he won the two Grand Prix Lions for Dove Evolution amongst other awards for various clients.
“After this big win I realised how frustrating the industry could be. Despite this ad doing so well I didn’t get the next stage of the creative work for Dove’s campaign.
“They gave the next film job to a top European director and we had to scramble enough money to put together our next pitch, Dove Onslaught - which they ended up using instead of the expensive European production.”
But after his experience on the campaign, Tim had started to explore a business model that he sensed could turn the traditional advertising method on its head.
“The concept we’ve been working on at Piro is about creating marketing that is as engaging as the shows people watch or pay to see.
“In one case the entertainment industry has paid a license to show the marketing content. Meaning our client is getting paid for their marketing (and not the other way around). This is quite possible and should be a goal of marketers, but the infrastructure or business model is not apparent to brands right now.
“It’s a disruptive model. But it has to be, as I’ve learnt that in the advertising and media buying industry there is little to no incentive for creativity to thrive.
“If we can get brands to spend money intelligently within entertainment infrastructure, then we can do something really exciting. Certainly more effective than traditional, interruptive advertising and more typical branded entertainment efforts.”
Tim’s approach is embedded in discovering the specific cause or value that brands can align themselves to. Then the creative team works with the brand to come up with a concept that is very different to the strategically placed Coke can in your favourite television series.
“What’s needed is really an entirely new industry - because the entertainment business is so different from the marketing and advertising business. They don’t talk the same language. With Piro I bring marketing and advertising experience and my partner Daniel Rosenberg brings his 20 plus years of experience producing film and TV so we can tackle this divide.”
Shortly after teaming up, Piro attracted the attention of Chipotle - a major fast food chain in the US.
“We were really lucky that Chipotle wanted to work with us. They’re all about ethical farming, sustainability and getting people to realise that fast food can be kind to animals, people and the environment.
“They’ve had a hard time with some of the big industrial farming organisations in the US. So we sat down with Chipotle and came up with a four part Hulu series called Farmed and Dangerous.
“It was a satire on the industrial food lobbyists. Chipotle invested their marketing budget in a creative team with an Oscar nominated screenwriter to help us develop the script and some great actors. It ended up becoming one of the most successful shows on Hulu.”
The show was supported with branded and non-branded content including a Huffington Post portal that became that sites most successful social impact section.
Shortly after the series aired, a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found the show to be the most persuasive piece of social awareness entertainment released in the last few years. It was the show most likely to cause viewers to change their habits – beating several acclaimed activist documentaries, such as ‘Food Inc’, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and other social cause blockbusters.
Most importantly, Tim and Daniel proved their model works. The numbers were assessed both in-house and by an independent party, showing a conservative 800% return on investment. It was an incredible result for a fresh, bold approach.
Now Tim and the Piro team are working to engage more brands in this new take on branded entertainment. One that is straight-forward about the brand as a culturally relevant part of society.
“When people think negatively about branded entertainment I ask them to picture this scenario. Imagine a sports goods company says to a studio that they will help make their film, but only if they have a leading major star scream his love for their product over and over and that the product should also be a character in the film.
“That’s the most absurd thing you’ve ever heard right? Well, then picture Cast Away with Tom Hanks and his relationship with a Volleyball brand - Wilson, his only friend on the island.
“People assume that this type of marketing is expensive but it’s really not when you compare it to traditional marketing expenditure.
“Brands don’t have to make a creative endeavour worse, they can enhance it. Find something important to align the brand with and let creative people come up with something new and magical that’s able to deliver brand awareness that’s on strategy.”
For more information about Tim’s work visit www.wearepiro.com.
Curator at V&A Museum, London
In amongst the precious treasure trove of over 2 million objects – a myriad of furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics – spanning over of 5,000 years of human creativity, Sarah Quantrill is busily working away preparing for her next display as an Exhibitions Manager at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
She is tending to a glistening gold satin evening dress, with silver thread embroidery and couched gold metal thread lined with silk organza, from Christian Dior’s H-Line Autumn-Winter 1954 Haute Couture collection. As one of Christian Dior’s most controversial silhouettes, the press engaged in the debate whether H-Line should stand for ‘Heavenly’ or ‘Horrid’ when it was first released.
The dress will soon take its place among hundreds of other stunning Christian Dior dresses, celebrating the designer’s history and influence, which will line the 166 year-old arts and design museum, named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the London borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
“My current project is the exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams which will open in the Sainsbury Gallery at the V&A on 2 February 2019 and is based on the exhibition Christian Dior: Courturier du Rêve that was held at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris last year," she says.
“I saw Christian Dior: Courturier du Rêve in Paris and loved the exhibition for the incredible content and the execution of the set works, and I am looking forward to being part of the team to deliver the exhibition at the V&A – and to be working with such exquisite dresses!”
As the largest fashion exhibition the V&A has staged since Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015, the exhibition spans from 1947 until the present day, and will include perfume, accessories, photographs, film, sketches and hundreds of dresses – including Princess Margaret’s 21st gown – which will be keeping Sarah on her toes as Exhibition Manager well into the new year.
“On any given exhibition you may be working with a variety of internal and external stakeholders such as artists, conservators, fine art transport agents, text editors, exhibition 3D and 2D designers, sound engineers, lighting designers, costume and object mounters and exhibition set work contractors.”
“It is always an exciting role and each day brings something new.”
Making art was Sarah's original passion, and an important beginning to her early career. After studying drawing and painting at the North Adelaide School of Art Art (now TAFE’s Adelaide College of the Arts), she took a year out to work in the Tate Britain bookshop in London and there discovered museums were the environment she most wanted to contribute to.
However Sarah credits her time at the University of South Australia, studying a Bachelor of Visual Arts and majoring in Art History & Theory in the following years, as a major influence on her eventual career in museums, boasting an eclectic professional life that has taken her all over the world to travel for work.
“The degree enabled me to consider what options my career path might take and the teaching staff at UniSA were inspirational and incredibly supportive of students. They encouraged both experimentation and scholarly research,” she says.
“One of the highlights of my study at UniSA was a textiles field trip to the Flinders Ranges organised by Emeritus Professor Kay Lawrence and led by Dr Ruth Hadlow. We spent several days exploring the landscape and its histories, and using natural materials to create sculptures, installations, and natural textile dyes.
“It was a brilliant experience.”
Following UniSA, Sarah completed a Masters of Curatorship at Melbourne University and was then lucky enough to obtain a role at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) as a documentation officer progressing to various Registrarial roles in acquisitions, loans, and exhibitions.
After stints at NGV and Tate, Sarah has now been at the Victoria and Albert Museum for almost five years in the Exhibitions Department as an Exhibition Manager.
“I love working at the V&A, it is a vibrant and dynamic museum and I work with a highly skilled, professional and enthused team. I hope to continue working on exciting museum projects and exhibitions that engage the public and encourage new and young audiences to the arts,” she says.
As an advocate for museum and gallery spaces as places of independent academic knowledge and research, new ideas, and as places to protect objects and material of social, cultural, historic and religious significance, Sarah is not resting on her laurels when it comes to the representation and intersectionality of such cultural institutions.
She is a strong proponent of museums being a space of architectural wonder, a place for being curious and a place to engage in learning for everyone. This includes the elevation of talented women and minority groups in the industry, worthy of top roles and responsibilities, gaining more recognition in such a creative and culturally important space. Sarah notes that South Australia is leading the way in some respects.
“One thing that I would love to witness within my working career is a marked increase in women holding more senior management and leadership roles across the arts sector, and the recent appointment of Rhana Devenport to the role of Director at Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) brings with it hope that this shift may happen sooner rather than later.”
Despite Sarah’s career taking her from Adelaide to Melbourne and now to London, and being fortunate to travel for work visiting cities in Russia, Canada, America and Europe to oversee the installation of exhibitions and loans, she still undeniably has a soft spot for Adelaide.
“I think that the future looks bright for Adelaide, with the recent phenomenal success of increased visitor numbers at AGSA with Nick Mitzevich as Director, the much loved Adelaide Festival continuing to grow, and Adelaide Contemporary, in whatever form it manifests, has the potential to continue to transform the North Terrace precinct,” she says.
“It is exciting to keep an eye on what Adelaide is up to from afar, and if there was ever an opportunity to work on exhibitions within one of Adelaide's cultural institutions, coming home to my beloved festival city would be a career dream come true!”
South Australia’s Commissioner for Public Sector Employment
The old saying that ‘pressure makes diamonds’ rings true for Erma Ranieri.
There is much to be said about a young migrant woman who grew up in Adelaide’s western suburbs who became the 2014 Telstra South Australian Business Woman of the Year and is South Australia’s Commissioner for Public Sector Employment.
Erma is known for her dynamic, adaptive and values-based leadership, which she embeds in all facets of her role as Commissioner. As Erma reflects, this approach helps her fulfil her vision to build a modern, inclusive world-leading public sector.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be in a position where I could be bold, make real change and contribute to make things better,” Erma said.
“Anyone who knows me knows I am driven by purpose. When you are in touch with your purpose, what is important to you and your instincts, you design your life according to your priorities and you are willing to make sacrifices and trade-offs.
“And, in my experience, you will have less regrets.”
Erma’s story is one of overcoming adversity against the odds— speaking English as a second language, negotiating male-dominated environments, working part-time and caring for a family member with a disability are just some of the challenges she has overcome to achieve her personal and professional aspirations.
Life wasn’t always easy and disadvantage was commonplace. But, it always lifted Erma’s spirit to see people help her family when they needed it most. As Erma explains, it was these experiences that cemented her commitment to be a connected and adaptive leader – a leader that builds resilience, capability and the capacity of peers and colleagues.
“My experiences growing up often made me feel like we weren’t on an equal footing with other people.
“The acts of kindness from others to my family still motivate me to make a difference. My experiences taught me a lot about compassion and how to build resilience.
“As Commissioner and leading the Office for the Public Sector, I draw on these experiences to guide me to be an adaptive and connected leader - a leader that fosters inclusivity, innovation and purpose. As a steward of the public sector, it is my priority to ensure our workforce reflects the diverse community we serve.”
As Erma recounts, her work ethic was established early. At just 12 years old she was running the local deli on Saturdays. Growing up, she wanted to be a psychologist and earned a place at university. Her parents, however, had a different view.
“My parents were very traditional and weren’t supportive of me continuing my education. So I joined the ‘dole queue’ until I won a job with the Registrar of Motor Vehicles filing registration cards for my first boss, Rod Frisby.”
Erma found a mentor in Rod, and with his support she enrolled at the South Australian Institute of Technology (SAIT) (now part of UniSA) to study Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations.
“I have always had a keen interest in transformational change, adaptive leadership and human behaviour.
“My study gave me a taste of that with the foundational pieces in industrial relations, policies and reforms. Back then, HR management was considered ‘back room’, but it is now well and truly the right hand for any chief executive.
“I studied part-time and worked full-time, and anything I learned was practical and translated into my professional life. It was excellent grounding for the career that lay ahead of me.”
It was the mentorship and guidance Erma received over the years that motivated her to establish her mentoring program for 11 aspiring female public sector leaders, which was launched on International Women’s Day in 2017.
“I know the value of a great mentor, and how it has helped me build personal resilience.
“I wanted to give back, and share my experiences to help build other women’s skills and confidence. This program is very personal, and personifies my mission to foster transformational change in other people’s lives. Nearly a year on, I am proud of the program’s impact and what we have achieved.”
While becoming Commissioner was not planned, Erma says working in an administrative position in the then Commissioner’s office when she was 23 years old, piqued her interest in the role. Recognising this role required rigour and enthusiasm, Erma worked tirelessly to climb the public sector ranks.
With her purpose, values and ethics as her foundation, she embraced innovation, courage and tenacity to drive sector-wide reform. This led Erma, for example, to pioneer job-sharing at the executive level as a general manager at the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA).
“At the time, many women ‘levelled-down’ or left when they started a family, but I refused to give up. At the time, a job-share at that level was unheard of. It took tenacity, but we made it work.”
This courage paved the way for other women, and as Commissioner, she has helped implement a whole-of-government Gender Equality in Leadership strategy, to ensure more women are represented in leadership roles.
2014 saw Erma achieve two significant milestones: she was appointed Commissioner and was named the 2014 Telstra South Australian Business Woman of the Year, where she was recognised for driving change and reforms to make the South Australian public sector more efficient, flexible and responsive to change.
“Being awarded Telstra Business Woman of the Year was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
“I am passionate about tapping into what motivates people and how people can reconcile both work and life. This award helped open the door to many more opportunities to challenge work place ‘norms’ that enforce conformity and impact employee wellbeing.
“It put the spotlight on these issues and I hope it helped many people—both men and women—think differently about work and what can be achieved.”
As Commissioner, Erma has continued her commitment to sector-wide reform, with the roll out of initiatives that foster a ‘One Government’ approach.
“To deliver a world-leading public sector we need to embrace different ways of thinking to deliver public value.
“In both my office and in the public sector, I see purpose, values and behaviours as driving our performance, building our capacity and our capability to deliver for our community.
“That’s why my team advocates innovation, flexibility and inclusion at a whole-of-government level. These are grounded firmly in the public sector values, which are: Service, Professionalism, Trust, Respect, Collaboration & Engagement, Honesty & Integrity, Courage & Tenacity.
“Importantly, all agencies form ‘One Government’. That’s why we need connected leadership to ensure we are inclusive and we collaborate to achieve great results for our sector and our State.”
This sector-wide approach is evident in many initiatives Erma and her office oversee, which can be viewed here.
“Our initiatives are bold, but rightly so.
“Our purpose - what we do and why we do it - motivates me every day.”
For more information about the Office for the Public Sector visit www.publicsector.sa.gov.au
Alice Rigney AO PSM DUniv
Pioneering Aboriginal educator
The late Alice (Alitya) Rigney AO PSM DUniv was Australia's first female Aboriginal school principal and one of University of South Australia’s most distinguished graduates. She devoted her life to education, teaching more than 5000 Aboriginal students, and mentored and inspired many more.
Born at Point Pearce on the Yorke Peninsula, Rigney was an Elder and matriarch of the Kaurna and Narungga Aboriginal Nations of South Australia.
Dr Rigney was among the first cohort of Aboriginal teachers to graduate from the UniSA’s De Lissa Institute. She one of the first Aboriginal employees of the South Australian Education Department and the first female Aboriginal school principal in Australia.
She established the first urban Aboriginal school in Australia, the Kaurna Plains Primary School. Now there are 20 such schools in Australia modelled on Kaurna Plains. Before her ground breaking initiative, there were no urban Aboriginal schools in Australia that taught Aboriginal children in their own language and culture.
Her outstanding leadership and contribution to Aboriginal education has been recognised through several national awards.
The University of South Australia awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in 1998. She received a Public Service Medal in the 1991 Australia Day honours and a United Nations Association of Australia, South Australian Division award in 2013.
Post-teaching, Dr Rigney took on significant roles in the South Australia's Guardianship Board and Aboriginal Education, Training and Advisory Committee. She was Ambassador for the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training's National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. Throughout her life she continued her strong connection with UniSA. She was a regular visitor and an inspiring speaker and guest at the School of Education’s Reconciliation Week morning teas.
Alice Rigney passed away in May 2017. In June 2018 she was awarded an Order of Australia (Posthumous) for her outstanding contributions to education.
(Photo courtesy L Rigney 2007: Permission granted by Family to use image in public)
Genevieve and Jaime Sanchez
Genevieve Sanchez , Editorial Coordinator, LEGO (Billund, Denmark)
Jaime Sanchez , Element Designer, LEGO (Billund, Denmark)
In pursuit of their dreams of working in communications and design, Genevieve and Jaime Sanchez, both UniSA graduates, picked up their young family and relocated from Adelaide to Denmark to work for one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world, LEGO.
LEGO, a family-owned company whose famous little building brick has captivated the imaginations of generations of children and the young at heart, is nestled in the small rural town of Billund in Jutland, Denmark. To work there is to experience creative play and learning every day.
While the multi-billion dollar company now has theme parks, factories and offices all over the world, LEGO headquarters remain in Billund where its first workshop began building wooden toys in 1932. Both Genevieve and Jaime love working for the company whose mission to inspire learning through creative play is reflected in the workplace.
“It really is wonderful working for LEGO,” says Genevieve who in February 2018 started working as Editorial Coordinator for the company’s publishing team.
“Aside from having a very supportive and friendly team around me, the general feeling across the company is one of inclusiveness and there is a spirit of playfulness in everything we do.”
Genevieve’s husband Jaime, who has always had a passion for drawing and design, works as an Element Designer for LEGO and says he loves working on products that have such a positive impact on consumers.
“I get to fulfil a childhood dream working here. Toys have such a strong emotional resonance because they invoke happy childhood memories. For a lot of children who may not have had great home lives, toys were a respite and a happy place for them. To see kids playing with and enjoying toys I’ve designed is a wonderful feeling,” he says.
Genevieve and Jaime’s LEGO journey began in 2015 after Jaime’s Data Analyst role he held in Adelaide for 15 years was made redundant. Before their daughters were born, Jaime had begun to feel disillusioned in his future career prospects and wanted to work in a field that inspired him. Returning to UniSA in 2006, he studied a Masters of Design (Industrial Design) part-time.
“I undertook some work experience and built up my design portfolio, and in July 2015 I obtained a five-month internship at LEGO in Denmark, so Gen and I took the kids and spent six months in Billund and travelled around Europe.
“During my internship I worked on the LEGO Super Heroes theme, and one of my major accomplishments was to design Spiderman’s Web Blast which has been used in four different LEGO sets.”
Genevieve, who had studied a Graduate Diploma in Communications (Public Relations) at UniSA in-between backpacking and working abroad, worked as a project officer at the University of Adelaide for seven years before becoming a Communications Coordinator in 2011, and took long-service leave to embark on their six-month stay in Denmark.
When they returned home, Jaime worked briefly for an exhibition design firm and as a jewellery designer – but he really wanted to return to LEGO. He started applying for permanent positions and only a year after settling back into Australian life he landed his Element Designer role for the Danish toy company.
When they returned home, Jaime worked briefly for an exhibition design firm and as a jewellery designer – but he really wanted to return to LEGO. He started applying for permanent positions and only a year after settling back into Australian life he landed his Element Designer role for the Danish toy company.
“So we sold the house, packed everything up and moved back to Denmark,” says Jaime. “Since starting back I have designed products for Star Wars, City, Harry Potter, Super Heroes, Collectible Minifigures, Speed Champions and lots of cool, secret projects that will be announced soon.”
“So we sold the house, packed everything up and moved back to Denmark,” says Jaime. “Since starting back I have designed products for Star Wars, City, Harry Potter, Super Heroes, Collectible Minifigures, Speed Champions and lots of cool, secret projects that will be announced soon.”
While Jaime began his new role at LEGO, Genevieve volunteered within the small community and at their daughters’ school before starting her own freelance business and gaining clients from some of the biggest companies in Denmark.
“I’m proud of achieving this while coping with being so far from home, family and friends and such a dramatic change in lifestyle. I got my foot in the door at LEGO in January 2017, writing social media and website copy. Then the position of Editorial Coordinator opened up and I jumped at the chance. Our team works with publishing partners to produce LEGO books and magazines and my role includes reviewing plots, scripts, illustrations and final layouts of a wide range of publications.
“Before I started working here, the LEGO offices seemed a bit like Willy Wonka’s factory and I was Charlie Bucket. It’s really inspiring to work with so many people from all across the world; the Billund community is really lovely and close-knit so we’ve made some great friends. When the weather is nice we love to explore the forests surrounding town and we’ve visited many of the little hidden parts of Europe.”
“Before I started working here, the LEGO offices seemed a bit like Willy Wonka’s factory and I was Charlie Bucket. It’s really inspiring to work with so many people from all across the world; the Billund community is really lovely and close-knit so we’ve made some great friends. When the weather is nice we love to explore the forests surrounding town and we’ve visited many of the little hidden parts of Europe.”
The opportunity to move their family overseas has been a life changing experience for Genevieve and Jaime, who recommend everyone jump out of their comfort zone and explore all the possibilities the wide world has to offer.
“It isn’t always easy, especially if you have a family travelling with you, but you’ll be richer for having done it. We get to travel with our kids and show them the world; it’s been such a mind-expanding experience for all of us,” says Genevieve.
“The next few years will pass no matter what you do,” says Jaime. “Spend some of that time trying out living and working overseas, so you can look back and say ‘I did it’.”
PhD Candidate, UniSA and CBNS
Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science
Bachelor of Pharmaceutical and Medical Sciences (Honours) (First Class Honours)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Pharmaceutical Science – Oral Drug Delivery
Early career pharmaceutical scientist Hayley Schultz was recently awarded the UniSA Research Degree Excellence Grant, recognising her promising work to improve the oral absorption of drug molecules in patient treatments. The Grant is helping Hayley with her important research which could change the treatment experience of men with advanced prostate cancer.
With the funding from the Grant, Hayley will attend a series of international conferences in Singapore in September and the US next month, including workshops and meetings with academics and industry in pharmaceutical science, where she will present her work.
“Last year I had the opportunity to attend the International Pharmaceutical Federation Conference for Pharmaceutical Science in Sweden—it was an eye-opening experience, so I’m really looking forward to this next opportunity to grow my international knowledge," she says.
“As an early career researcher I need to take every opportunity to grow my research profile and network with others in my field. I’m so grateful to the donors who supported the establishment of this award as it will help me achieve my PhD and gain the industry knowledge I need to continue in my career path.”
Winning the Gould Experimental Science Grant in 2017 has also cemented Schultz’s position as a rising star in the field of pharmaceutical research.
“I am so inspired by Dr Ian Gould AM, who I first met in 2017 when I was interviewed for the grant.
“He has had such a diverse career and has taken opportunities as they have been presented to him, which is really inspiring and affirming for me, as I have never had a clear career goal in mind, and like Dr Gould, I have taken opportunities as they have come.”
One of these opportunities recently included selection as a finalist in the 2018 SA Fresh Scientist media training program—designed to help early-career researchers develop media and presentation skills to the non-scientific community.
“As I start to think more on the next stage of my career I am very interested in working in clinical trials. I would love to be involved in a trial, to be giving a treatment to people because it could be the next big breakthrough medication—I think that would be really exciting.
“I hope to learn more about clinical trials on my tour of US Industry next month; who knows, if my drug delivery formulation succeeds maybe I will have the chance to take it to trial.”
Reworking the formula for better prostate cancer therapy
Hayley Schultz is researching a new oil based formulation with high drug loading to improve the oral delivery of poorly water-soluble drugs. She is currently trialling it as a treatment for advanced prostate cancer.
Drug molecules have quite a challenge ahead of them when they enter the body via the oral route. They must dissolve in the contents of the gut before being absorbed across the gut wall and entering the bloodstream. This is especially so for drugs with poor water-solubility.
“When drugs have poor water-solubility they don’t dissolve or absorb very well, so large oral doses are given to ensure enough of the drug enters the bloodstream so it can have a therapeutic effect,” says Schultz.
This is a major hurdle for pharmaceutical scientists working to develop oral medications. As much as 40% of current and new medications have poor-water solubility, where only small amounts of the drug actually enters the bloodstream upon oral administration.
“Testosterone stimulates prostate cancer cells to grow, so patients are often given an androgen depletion therapy (ADT) that blocks the production of testosterone.
“A particularly complex ADT oral treatment is used in castrate resistant prostate cancer called abiraterone acetone. It is prescribed in very high doses because only about 5% of the drug is absorbed due to its poor water-solubility.
“It is also highly sensitive to the pharmaceutical food effect, so if a patient eats food too close to taking their tablets they can absorb greater, unknown and potentially toxic levels of the drug. This is because the drug dissolves much better in the oily or fatty food digesting in the gut.
“The new oil based formulation has the potential to deliver more drug by mimicking the effect of food on this ADT treatment to improve its absorption.
“The oil helps the drug to dissolve and absorb easier in the gut resulting in high and consistent amounts of drug entering the bloodstream regardless of whether the patient has eaten food close to the time of administration. This means that we can reduce the dose as more of the drug will be absorbed with the help of this approach.
“This is significant for these patients as they have such a difficult therapy regime that requires them to remember to fast every day and then take large quantities of tablets.
“My work has shown that this approach is possible and could drastically improve the quality of life of these patients.
“Ultimately, I would like to see this formulation provide better drug delivery for many different types of pharmaceutical treatments.”
Co-Founder of Secure Nest
Clinical Psychologist, Private Practice
Psychologist and UniSA alumna Sally Skewes and her husband Joseph have created Secure Nest, a new online eHealth tool to support schema therapy clients and therapists, empowering people struggling with various issues to change negative life patterns.
The lens through which we see the world is often coloured by our childhood experiences. As children develop they learn rules and concepts about how the world works, what to expect and how to behave based on these experiences. These ideas become deeply felt and often unconscious beliefs. Psychologists call them ‘schemas’.
A relatively new form of psychological treatment, schema therapy is proving to be a valuable tool for people who struggle in their daily lives with anxiety or depression, or have been diagnosed with a personality disorder.
“In schema therapy we focus on the emotional experiences of the present moment, and find the links back to the unmet emotional needs that arose in childhood that are often the root cause,” says Sally Skewes, a Clinical Psychologist and practicing schema therapist.
“In my studies I saw the value of the schema therapy approach because of its integrative model that emphasised understanding and healing the core negative themes with origins in childhood. The focus on childhood needs and development resonated with me.”
Most families work hard to do their best by their children, but it doesn’t always go to plan. For some, parents, significant authority figures, and important peers can leave scars, both physical and psychological.
This can result in individuals forming certain unconscious beliefs about themselves. For example, if an individual feels abandoned by an important person in childhood they may grow up believing that relationships are difficult and they will eventually be abandoned again.
This belief can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms that become self-fulfilling prophecies – in other words, situations play out in a similar pattern and these individuals struggle to maintain relationships.
“My interest in the therapy was strengthened when I was having some personal problems myself,” says Sally.
“I tried cognitive therapy but it had limited effectiveness for me. Then when I was completing my schema therapy training, my supervisor really helped me to get to the bottom of where my difficulties with self-worth were coming from.
“In this supportive environment I learned so much about myself. My schema therapy supervisor was strong, accepting and kind, and through this experience of being known and seen by another, my confidence grew. I feel it was this connection and therapeutic relationship that led to positive changes in my life.
“I realised in this process that I was not aware of my themes – why I had these difficulties or how to solve them. This lack of cognitive awareness could be why cognitive therapy didn’t work for me.”
Schema therapy is centred on helping clients feel happier, improve relationships, make major life changes and undergo deep personality change. There is a focus on feelings and thoughts that are outside of the client’s awareness, and reparenting oneself with the help of a therapist to change deeply held thoughts and beliefs about past experiences.
“We created Secure Nest because there can be a considerable waiting time for patients to access schema therapists,” says Sally.
“In Australia only 10 psychology sessions are funded under Medicare each year, regardless of diagnosis. Even for less severe difficulties, this is rarely enough and leads to the most vulnerable clients being unable to access the help they need.
Sally and her husband Joseph, an IT specialist, developed Secure Nest as a secure portal where therapists and clients could continue to interact between treatment sessions. It also allows people to access schema therapy tools and learn about the therapy and their own patterns while they wait to see a therapist.
“We really wanted to create an effective e-health tool to enhance the connection between therapy sessions to help catalyse the change process,” says Sally.
“We hope the portal will also lead to broader accessibility, further research and acceptance of schema therapy as it is still a relatively new field.”
Sally and her team have been bolstered along the way through UniSA’s Innovation & Collaboration Centre (ICC) Venture Catalyst program in which they received a $50,000 grant and support to turn their idea into reality.
The ICC’s flagship program gave the team invaluable experience in refining their offering, learning how to market and pitch their idea to possible investors. It also allowed them to progress the idea from an early stage project to a working prototype recently piloted in South Australia and Europe.
“We have learnt how important it is for the culture and values of our business to align with our own personal values. It has also been valuable to learn and work with colleagues and individuals with complementary skills, as well as get feedback from therapists and clients,” says Sally.
“Our next stage will be to conduct research to clarify how best to offer eHealth tools and combine them with face-to-face therapy. This is a new area of clinical practice and research in schema therapy so the possibilities are largely unknown.
Secure Nest can be trialled for free at securenest.org by therapists and their clients, or by individuals who don’t yet have a therapist.
Michael T. Smith
Regional CEO, Europe and USA, Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd
When asked what sparked his interest in real estate and property development, Michael Smith highlights a conversation he had by chance while purchasing a van to start up a part-time courier business.
Fast-forward two decades, Michael has firmly established himself in the real estate and investment industry, with a firm hold on the Asian property market, where he has made a name for himself.
“It was quite serendipitous that I ended up enrolling in the UniSA real estate course as I did not have any friends or family in the industry,” says Michael, who now leads the European and USA interests of multi-billion dollar investment company Mapletree Investments.
“Truth be known, I left school to do a Bachelor of Arts, which I began to lose interest in halfway through. I started a courier business on the side and whilst purchasing a van, the seller told me about the real estate degree that he was completing at UniSA – this conversation resulted in me transferring to UniSA.
“From my first day I was drawn to the industry and the huge potential it offered on multiple fronts.”
He says he may be biased but believes UniSA’s property and real estate program are some of the best in Australia, having immensely informed his career, and planted the seed for his giving back philosophy.
“I particularly liked the breadth of subjects that we were taught such as Property Finance, which became an increasingly important part of my career. I also enjoyed the hands-on practicality that the course provided through field trips to country South Australia and Sydney in our final year.”
These experiences at UniSA, and a year in Shanghai working with a developer, set the tone for the beginning of a successful 21-year investment banking career which sent Michael all over the world.
“The course also provided me with a better understanding of the cliché ‘it is not what you know but who you know’ as I met people that have been incredibly influential in my career.
“This included Mark Steinert, the current CEO of Stockland who shepherded me firstly to Sydney, then Hong Kong and then back to Sydney again to join him at UBS in 1996 with Andrew Pridham, John Carter, Darren Rehn, Phil Redmond and Chris Monaghan – all of whom were UniSA alumni,” explains Michael.
Michael made waves firstly at UBS Investment Bank for 10 years, working his way up to Managing Director, then at Goldman Sachs for another 11 years as Head of South East Asian Investment Banking and Head of Asia Pacific Real Estate Investment Banking, eventually making partner, before departing early 2017 for Mapletree, based in Singapore.
Now as Regional CEO of Europe and the USA (EUSA) for Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd – valued to have S$46.3bn assets under management as at 31 March 2018 – Michael manages 17.5% of Mapletree’s holdings, in “a role that is quite unique, given the breadth and scope of the real estate markets” he now oversees.
“Since joining Mapletree, we have opened offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Amsterdam and Warsaw, and we will soon open in Atlanta and Dallas. Much of my work as a member of the senior management team is in the execution of our business model, based on five-year plans, across 12 economies,” he says.
Michael says he is also fortunate to have had the opportunity to act as lead advisor on significant real estate transactions in his career, including Swire Properties sale of their US$2.3bn Hong Kong-based shopping mall (subsequently purchased by Mapletree) and the challenges such acquisitions and responsibilities pose.
“Across my career, I cherish the human interactions that have enabled me to meet and work with some of the most influential people in the real estate industry across multiple jurisdictions.”
“I also enjoyed the creative side of the business too, particularly the convergence of the physical real estate markets with the financial markets. Above all, I enjoyed and embraced the challenges that come my way - this is something you can only truly understand if you are passionate about your craft,” he says.
After Michael left UBS to join Goldman Sachs, taking up the role of Head of South East Asia, he quickly made partner, where a portion of compensation is placed in a ‘GS Gives’ account.
This initiative helps provide more than US$1.3bn in grants to 6,000 non-profits across 80 countries, and Michael’s old colleague – and fellow UniSA property graduate – Andrew Pridham inspired him to use this funding to support property students at the University.
“When Andrew Pridham invited me to attend the hard-hat opening of Pridham Hall, his generosity inspired me to give back to UniSA, and after thinking about my own experiences, we devised the Asian Experience Travel Grant.”
Recalling how influential winning the Jones Lang Wootton scholarship was in his final year at UniSA, and how the subsequent travel had opened up the world to him, the Asian Experience Travel Grant was established with a generous donation to support high-performing students who have enrolled in the Bachelor of Business (Property) degree.
The grant allows students to undertake an intensive Asian study tour that incorporates six of the most important regional cities in Asia – Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo, which in many cases, may otherwise be beyond their financial means.
For the first time this year, the grant was awarded to Arya Loodin, a current Bachelor of Business double degree student in Finance and Property, which took him on a life-changing journey throughout Asia this past July.
“Facilitating access to opportunities similar to the experiences I was fortunate enough to achieve in the early 1990s will give students like Arya the chance to forge a deeper understanding of the Asian real estate market,” says Michael.
“My desire to give back and foster the next generation of UniSA graduates stems from my gratefulness for all the opportunities that I have experienced on the back of the time I spent at UniSA. Not just the education, but also for the contacts and connections that have helped sustain my career.”
Howard Lawrence Sumner
Hitting the fabled Sydney Opera House at the end of July 2018, is The Long Forgotten Dream, the first major play from Ngarrindjeri playwright and University of South Australia graduate, H Lawrence Sumner, with the Sydney Theatre Company.
In his own words, The Long Forgotten Dream – directed by Neil Armfield and starring Jada Alberts and Wayne Blair – tells the story of a PhD student returning home to her ancestral land having found the remains of her great, great grandfather in a museum in England.
She wants her father to conduct a ceremony welcoming the bones back to country, but he is reluctant, having spent years ignoring his community and building a wall between himself and everyone outside his home. An emotional and unique story inspired by real life then ensues.
Speaking about his play making it to the Sydney Opera House, Sumner is remarkably measured, acknowledging the work that has gone into creating the play and is still being done in the current workshopping stage, but does recognise what the achievement symbolises for his writing.
“The Opera House stage has a well-earned reputation for excellence. It’s our Carnegie Hall, I suppose. So, making it there is great. It says something about the quality of work, but that was the Sydney Theatre Company’s call, not mine,” he says.
After completing his Bachelor of Education (Junior Primary and Primary) in 2001, Sumner taught for quite a few years and then came back as a lecturer to UniSA in the Unaipon School as Course Coordinator and lecturer for the Aborigines, History and Colonialism course.
However, having semi-retired from education and turned full-time writer, he has certainly “upped the ante” in the last few years presenting his first major play with the Sydney Theatre Company.
Despite having written and directed a number of theatre works since the early nineties, Sumner believes his time at UniSA hugely informed his career as a successful playwright, which has resulted in his work now being showcased on the most famous stage in Australia.
“UniSA helped me strengthen my argument muscle. Writing essay after essay on Piaget, Bourdieu, and every other innovation in education helped me find my particular voice and a way to frame an argument,” he says.
“That’s all playwriting is – framing an argument in another format. There is no secret to it.”
While at university, Sumner also received a scholarship and says he was grateful for the support and encouragement during his time at UniSA.
“The Irene and David Davey scholarship helped tremendously with the purchase of text books and course necessities such as a decent pack to carry my teaching gear in.”
It feels fitting in a month that honours NAIDOC Week and celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal people that The Long Forgotten Dream is premiering at the Sydney Opera House.
Speaking to the Sydney Theatre Company Magazine, Sumner discusses the importance of making sure diverse stories come from diverse voices and how the Sydney Theatre Company has championed The Long Forgotten Dream.
“It’s one thing to write about Aboriginal people, but it’s a totally different thing to include pieces by Aboriginal writers. With Kip Williams (Artistic Director) and the rest of Sydney Theatre Company there is a clear distinction between ‘speaking of’ and ‘speaking as’,” he says.
Now at 53, H Lawrence Sumner is showing no signs of slowing down. He has big plans for the next few years including a number of new plays and even plans for a National Aboriginal Theatre.
“I have six more plays I’m working on. Another play was a finalist in the Griffin Theatre Lysicrates Prize this year and the other four are being written, tightened, honed and shaped under lock and key in my writing room at Goolwa. So I’ll have seven plays by the time I’m 58.
“Within the next two years, myself and a few industry colleagues will begin the structural framework for a National Aboriginal Theatre, and I’m visiting Scotland in September to investigate the organisational framework of their own National Theatre.”
When asked why it is important as an Ngarrindjeri writer to tell stories of his history and family, he explains that to him it’s not about an innate need to tell stories, but more a sense of defiance.
“I could fall back on the age-old trope that we are a storytelling people. But I don’t think we are. I think Aboriginal people are a people group who live a very tough and very complicated narrative that is often mistaken as story,” he says.
“Our historic narrative is one of a peaceful and orderly existence that was thrown into chaos by the introduction of people who had no concern for that narrative. The ensuing violence, decimation and struggle only served to confirm that we needed to fight to maintain our own narrative in the face of destruction.
“That’s a writerly way of saying ‘we’re still here, you can’t kill our stories’.”
Film Stills and Fine Art Photographer
Bachelor of Visual Arts(Photography & Cinematography)
Bachelor of Communication Studies (Literary Studies, Art)
Lisa Tomasetti in conversation with Joanna Kitto
Australian photographer Lisa Tomasetti makes portraits rich with cinematic drama. Her most recent body of work takes prima ballerinas from the Australian Ballet off the stage and on to the street, capturing their movement and grace in Paris, Tokyo and New York. Viewing these works, it is no surprise that Lisa has also been drawn to the spectacle of the film set.
Tomasetti first stepped on set in 1996 as the photographer for Scott Hicks' David Helfgott biopic, Shine. Since then, she has worked on films including Dead Heart (1996), The Dish (2000), Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), and The Sapphires (2012).
Many of her portraits of actors, their characters and the crew are currently on display in Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits at the University of South Australia’s Samstag Museum of Art. Samstag Associate Curator Joanna Kitto sat down and spoke with Tomasetti about capturing the essence of a film on set. Joanna: As an artist with a photographic practice spanning three decades, what first drew you to film?
Lisa: I was raised in quite a theatrical family. From the age of five, I was attending Bunyips Children’s Theatre and going to drama school at Carclew in Adelaide. It felt like I was always in the theatre—most of my holidays were spent putting on pantomimes—so I felt very comfortable with actors and fiction and creating stories. Later, I went to the University of South Australia’s South Australian Art School [now called the School of Art, Architecture and Design] and graduating I wanted be involved with photography so I began photographing theatre. I worked on a TV series in Adelaide and then in 1996, worked on Shine and it all happened from there!
Fine art photographers have long-held roles within the film industry, from Rennie Ellis and Max Dupain to Robert McFarlane and Carolyn Johns. Despite this, the on-set stills photographer is perhaps the most underrated of all in the industry. Starstruck turns this idea on its head, drawing our attention to the photographer and giving the portraits the opportunity to be assessed as works of art, still integral to but now also independent from the film. What was it like to see your film stills in the gallery?
That’s true. Starstruck really brings film stills photographers out into the open. After seeing the exhibition, people are actually talking about what we do! Starstruck gives them an insight into our work; it is incredibly important to have a good image to sell a film, but not many people know about what the job actually entails. This exhibition also gives the audience a glimpse behind-the-scenes on set, and shows images from well-known films people never have seen before. They’re not always the obvious choices!
What are the key differences between your work as a film stills photographer and a fine art photographer?
My two roles are incredibly different. With my arts practice, I have control over the image. I am able to set up my own tableaux and dictate the direction of the outcome. With film stills, I am part of a much bigger team and don’t have the same sense of autonomy. You have to be as quiet and discrete on set as possible and work in the ‘shadows’—with sixty people in a small space it’s so easy to get in people’s way! You really do have to pick your battles, reading the atmosphere and the mood of the actors and finding a balance between asking for the shot you need and letting the moment pass as to not cause stress.
In Starstruck, we see behind the scenes on film sets through your camera. Across your career, has there been a particular actor or director you have admired, or stand-out performance you have witnessed?
I have always loved working with Cate Blanchett. I photographed her in Little Fish and Truth and her attention to detail and ability to transform into her characters is a privilege to watch and a joy to shoot. I recently worked with Bruce Beresford on Ladies in Black and that was like having a masterclass in brilliant directing!
There is a striking shot in the exhibition from the set of Shine, taken in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, can you tell me about this moment?
This still was taken early on in the Shine shoot, and was my first day on set taking stills for a feature film. [Director] Scott Hicks was lining up his view-finder on [lead actor] Geoffrey Rush, deciding which lens to use. The entire time the crew were there setting up equipment and cameras around Geoffrey and he just stayed in character, seemingly oblivious to any distraction. This photograph shows a truly trusting relationship between this director and actor.
Another film in Starstruck that has been hugely successful internationally is The Sapphires, following the story of four young Aboriginal girls who leave their rural mission community to sing for US troops during the Vietnam War. What was it like to work on that set?
Working with Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell and Chris O’Dowd made my job incredibly enjoyable. They immersed themselves so deeply in their characters, which allowed me to capture truly beautiful portraits. When you have the honour of trying to convey the mood of such sensitive scenes, I feel compelled to do justice to the actor’s performance. The story itself is a personal one as well. [Writer] Tony Briggs based The Sapphires on his mother’s experience, and everyone who worked on set developed a deep connection to her life. It was wonderful to be a part of.
[Image: Director Scott Hicks lines up a shot on actor Geoffrey Rush through his viewfinder by Lisa Tomasetti, Shine, 1996, Courtesy Momentum Films, National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.]
Director, Silver 2 Gold High Performance Solutions
When Katrina Webb graduated from UniSA she couldn’t have imagined the path her career would take. From winning gold at the Paralympic Games to running her own leadership business and finding a second home in Nepal, Katrina’s journey has become an inspiration to thousands.
As part of an athletic family, sport was always going to play an important role in Katrina’s life. But, she was aware that there was something different about her – a mild weakness on her right side that she worked hard to overcome to gain a netball scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport.
This opportunity was a dream come true, but it was also where she discovered that the weakness was caused by a mild form of cerebral palsy. Unsure of what would happen next, Katrina was quickly sought after for the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games where she won two gold and a silver medal, and went on to win four more medals at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Paralympic Games.
During this time Katrina was also completing a Bachelor of Physiotherapy and working with her mentor Marc Colquhoun to set herself up as a business and make the most of her athletics career.
“Shortly after I finished competing I got married and we have since had three boys, so this made coming out of athleticism an easier shift than other athletes’ experience,” said Katrina.
“My boys helped me switch paths again and taught me how to become selfless.”
A recent inductee to the SA Sport Hall of Fame, Katrina now uses her story to inspire others to make positive change in their lives.
“I have discovered that you don’t need a disability to feel that there is something different about you, like you’re not sure where you fit. You end up trying so hard to be something that you’re not – and that’s just hard work.
“Teaching people to be their true self – their authentic self, is the most important part of my work now. It is powerful for me because I’ve lived through it and when I accepted myself and became the Katrina Webb I wanted to be and loved every bit of, all of these doors opened.”
Katrina’s business has now grown to include her Silver 2 Gold leadership training workshops and an annual conference, the ‘newday summit’ which brings local and international perspectives together to inspire leadership for the greater good. She also leads the Adelaide Crows Women FIT for Leadership program, works as a public speaker and provides wellbeing and resilience training at SAHMRI.
In her work, Katrina uses the principles she learnt from working with a sports psychologist to get back to a gold winning level of performance for the 2004 Paralympic Games.
“As a professional athlete, winning gold in Atlanta and then losing it in Sydney was one of my hardest life lessons.
“All the work I poured into winning gold again at the Athens Games, has become the heart of what I do in leadership – helping people turn their own silver moments into gold.
“It is fascinating to me that generally people may only see a psychologist when they’re burnt out, suffered a trauma, or struggling with a mental health problem, because as an athlete we use psychology to get the very best out of ourselves.
“While psychology is focused on identifying, treating, and preventing mental illness, it is also about finding your best self and I think this is often overlooked.
“I try to pass these lessons on and I engage psychologists in my programs to give people the tools they need to be resilient and authentic, to live with purpose and in a way they want to be remembered, and to put their values into action.”
Over the past 10 years, Katrina has also had some unique opportunities to further grow her leadership training and business on a global scale.
“There have been these amazing moments in my career. I was the first torchbearer to enter the stadium at the Sydney Paralympic Games opening ceremony. In 2006 the International Paralympic Committee asked me to speak at the UN International Year of Sport and Physical Education in New York alongside Roger Federer and they have since asked me to be their ambassador on several occasions.
“This year I had the chance to speak at the Global Transformation Forum alongside Usain Bolt and Sir Richard Branson. And another opportunity opened up when I was chosen to be one of 100 leaders to join the inaugural CSC Leaders initiative in London and Mumbai.
“Through CSC I met Dr Tshering Lama, who was Director of Child Reach Nepal at the time. He is truly one of the most inspiring and generous people I have ever met and takes every opportunity to improve the lives of people in Nepal.
“Together we do a lot of work running programs in Nepal to help people, particularly children at risk of trafficking. Trafficking is a huge global problem and once your eyes are opened to it, like mine have been in Nepal, you just have to do something about it.
“We do a lot of work over there to try to intervene through education. Nelson Mandela said ‘education is the best weapon we can all have in life’ and research shows it is key to keeping kids safe.
“I also sit on the Crows Children’s Foundation Board and for part of this work I have been leading treks in Nepal to Everest Base Camp. The last two treks have helped raised $90,000 for children in Australia and Nepal.
“So, now that my work is leading to more and more international requests, I’ve realised that I’m doing something right.
“I would like to see the newday Summit reach an international audience and have that wonderful ripple effect that gets people influencing more and more people to use their leadership to help others and forge human connections.
“When you look at the mental health problems we currently face, it’s a really worrying place. We have disconnected from people, which is a real vulnerability for developing a mental illness and we have also disconnected from what really matters to us. If I can help people to connect with and find their true self – then I know I’m doing my best work”.
When asked what one piece of advice Katrina could offer from her leadership work she emphasised the importance of understanding what values and goals are most important.
“One of my steepest learning curves was saying yes to everything because I love to help people. I was doing quantity not quality and any strength when taken to the extreme becomes a weakness.
“It is important to work out what is important to you, where you want to spend your time, to learn how to say no to those things that are not aligned with your priorities and values.
“But also you need to learn to say yes to those things that are, those things that probably make you feel a bit uncomfortable and nervous, because deep down you know they are the things that have the most riding on them.”
For more Silver 2 Gold tips – visit katrinawebb.com.au.
Deciding to take the leap and embarking upon your true dream job can often be too daunting to initiate with all the ‘what ifs’ swimming around in our 2am sleepless minds. But to Lizzi Wigmore, leaving her stable corporate position and pursuing her true creative passion was a no-brainer.
Was it difficult to leave a long-term position at a stable company to pursue your true passion? What made you decide to finally ‘take-the-leap’?
Funnily enough it wasn’t a difficult decision, because I got to a point where I valued my happiness more than a stable corporate job. While I certainly pondered the decision, I knew in my heart that this new opportunity set my soul on fire, made me smile when thinking about it, and sparked a motivation that I hadn’t felt for quite a while. It just felt right. I’m a big believer in following your intuition, and my gut feeling was telling me to leap towards Intrinsic... so I leapt! If something feels that right, and that good, then just do it and see where it takes you.
What is it about this Intrinsic that you feel encapsulates “you”?
Intrinsic just feels like it’s me to a T. It’s all about inspirational quotes, beautifully designed products, and a rainbow of colour. Their aim is to spread joy, happiness and love in the world, and I just love everything about them! Their product, their inspiring words, their mission, the husband and wife founders... I love it all, and importantly, I believe in the brand.
One of my favourite quotes by Adèle Basheer - Intrinsic founder and inspiring wordsmith - is “The universe works in mysterious ways, trust that everything happens at the right time for the right reason.” This message has guided me through much of my life, and so I think that I was ready and it was the right time to ‘come home’ to Intrinsic after so many years, to take their marketing and communications to a new level. I had dabbled in a few different jobs, developed a variety of skillsets, built my experience, developed myself both professionally and personally, and reached a point of clarity of what I wanted from my future career.
You said, “If you love something, you’ll never work a day in your life.” What does this mean to you?
Loving what you do means waking up excited to go to work, smiling as you go about your day, getting enjoyment out of most tasks, feeling your face light up as you tell people about it, thinking up ideas outside of work time, and genuinely having fun and feeling happy at your workplace.
In your opinion, what are the essential ingredients required to truly love your job?
The key is to know yourself and focus on your likes, passions and desires. Focus on what draws you in and what you get enjoyment from. It can be little things like hobbies, weekend pursuits, or specific tasks in your current job. Whatever makes you smile and ignites a spark in you, focus on that! That is the feeling you want to nurture, that is the feeling you want to turn into a job and a career. Everyone has something that makes them spark, so find that something, and figure out how you can turn it into your career. If you can take what you already love and turn it into a job, then you will wake up every morning excited and motivated for the day ahead. It’s just about finding that spark that lights you up.
What advice do you have for others about pursuing their passion in their own careers, when employment can be unstable in our current environment?
Obviously we need to work to pay our bills - everyone does. But even if you’re in a job that isn’t truly aligned with you, try to find the little things in that role that make your soul shine. Find the parts of that role that you enjoy and that make you smile, however small they are. And focus on them. Then aim to increase those ‘happy parts’ in your next role. Whether it’s gaining experience in a certain area, going back to study, or starting your own business. Just figure out what are your happy parts, and plan to have more of them in your next role. Onwards and upwards!
What advice do you have for recent graduates who are looking for opportunities in their field of study?
I would highly recommend utilising your uni degree for networking and work experience opportunities. I undertook two internships while at UniSA and both resulted in paid work, boosted my resume, and gave me fantastic contacts. I even got a house sitting gig for the owner of the PR firm where I did one internship! And the Marketing Manager at the other internship became a close friend and mentor, and even offered me a job upon my return to Adelaide from overseas. Contacts are key in Adelaide - it’s all about the relationships.
Internships and work experience give you a taste of what the industry is like, and for me, this left me wanting more and knowing that I had studied the right field.
You have also started a beautiful cake decorating business. How you become involved in this?
This passion and skill kind of came out of nowhere! I have always been a sweet tooth and loved desserts, but never once thought it would turn into a cake making business! It started just over a year ago when I made my sister’s 30th birthday cake. It wasn’t your average cake, as I had seen a bunch of cake inspo on Pinterest, and I wanted to try something a bit more special. I received so much beautiful feedback and people saying I had a real talent for it, so I decided to dabble my hand in cake making and see where it went.
I’ve always been creative, and so cake decorating is a fun way of tapping into my creativity to come up with unique cake creations. I love everything from researching different cake styles, designing how my cake will look, trying new techniques, and seeing the end result bring a smile to my customer’s face. My cake business Cakelaide is still in its early stages, but it’s become a passion that I’m exploring to see where it takes me!
What are your long-term goals?
I love the marketing, PR and communications industry, even more so now that I can focus on a brand that I truly love. While my career has focused in digital marketing so far, I’d be keen to explore my creative side at some point, maybe in graphic design or photography. Whatever the case and whatever I end up doing, I just want to enjoy my work and ensure it brings a smile to my face. So that is what I’ll pursue more than anything - that feeling of joy and happiness in loving what you’re doing. Because as the saying goes, “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life!
Journalist & Presenter, France 24 International News
Co-Founder & Host, The 51 Percent
Both curious and passionate, Annette is a journalist who has simultaneously fitted in and stood out, thriving in the media industry. Originally from Adelaide and now based in Paris, Annette has reported all over the world from parts of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
In an extensive career, she has worked for the Melbourne Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and SBS Television Australia. While based in the Middle East, she became a Jerusalem correspondent for France 24.
Her experience includes covering a wide range of international news and affairs, including historic events such as the death of Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and the Gaza war in 2008. Since returning to Paris in 2010, she has also interviewed a range of figures for France 24 from world leaders to Hollywood actors.
Annette has also always been determined to make a difference to gender equality. She created and hosts “The 51 Percent” – a France 24 show that challenges the status quo and social norms through reflections on women who are reshaping our world.
In 2015, recognising her achievements, Annette was named by UN Women as one of the 20 inspirational global voices on women in the media, and just this November was awarded another accolade from the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA).
Annette Young, along with her France 24 colleague Virginie Herz, won the joint gold medal in The Ricardo Ortega Memorial Prize for broadcast media for their special earlier in the year on the rising number of U.N. female peacekeepers.
The 23rd annual UNCA Awards will take place in New York on December 3 with guest of honour, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, 2018 UNCA Global Citizen of the Year Award Amal Clooney, and 2018 UNCA Global Advocate of the Year Award Adrian Grenier.
Not letting her many accolades slow her down though, Annette recently spoke about her professional journey and her relationship with France and Australia as an expat, while in the US covering the political chaos, historic midterms and Kavanagh hearings.
Could you tell us more about your background? What made you choose journalism as a career option?
When I was 14, my school sent us home with a career guidance questionnaire. I remember asking my late father what he thought I should do and he replied with a smile: “Well, you’re good at English, you always pinch the newspaper off me in the morning and most importantly, are very nosy, so why not be become a journalist.” His best friend, John, was a journalist with the Guardian in the U.K. and I suspect Dad was always envious of John’s life.
But Dad was completely spot on with his suggestion and now, all these years on, I can’t even contemplate doing anything else which says a lot about the level of job satisfaction. I completed my journalism degree at the University of South Australia, ended up with a cadetship at the Melbourne Age, and did a stint in Canberra with them before joining the Sydney Morning Herald. After six years at the SMH, I made the switch to television and joined SBS Television where I worked first for World News before joining Dateline as a producer.
What do you remember from your time at UniSA, has it informed your career in any way?
My journalism degree served as an essential tool in helping to get my career started. Having said that, I was the first graduate cadet at the Melbourne Age to be hired with a journalism degree since at that time, there was a degree of cynicism about the quality of such courses. That of course, has long disappeared, as UniSA journalism graduates (along with other journalism graduates) have proved their mettle. My bosses also quickly realised the course had provided a strong practical element which meant I knew how to write and report.
I would strongly encourage anybody wanting to pursue a career in journalism to do either an undergraduate, or these days, even better still, a post-graduate journalism course.
I also have very fond memories of my time at Magill; through its work attachments, I made valuable contacts with people in the industry. More importantly, I made wonderful friendships that have lasted to this day. Our family also has a strong connection to UniSA with my late father lecturing in architecture when it was SAIT and my niece completing her degree in medical radiation science at the City East campus.
Why did you choose to leave Australia and work in Paris?
My mother was French and from Paris and so it’s not a completely random choice but in 2000, my then-French partner wanted to return to Paris and I followed him. During those three years in Paris, I started working for Agence France Presse. My first years in Paris were tough; my French language skills were far from great and for foreigners who live here, it can be far from easy. The culture was not then particularly foreigner-friendly; not to mention, the bureaucracy, and the long cold and gloomy winters. It was so difficult that I decided to head to the Middle East (yes, you read this right!).
A few years on, I ended up working as a Middle East correspondent for France 24 English but by 2010, I had was ready to swap hummus for foie gras again. Since then, I’ve been working as a news presenter for the network. In 2013, I created the program that I now host, “The 51 Percent,” which is about how women are reshaping our world.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a journalist and presenter?
On our first day at journalism school, a lecturer told us that for those who are natural journalists will find that “newspaper ink gets into your blood.” He was right; it does except of course, back then, newspapers had not been decimated by the digital revolution. Still, the sentiment of what he said was so true.
It’s more of a lifestyle choice than anything else. I sometimes joke that it’s like signing up for a religious order with the long hours, the shift work, the stress, the low pay (I’ve watched my friends in other professions zoom past me financially a long time ago). But this is still over-shadowed by the professional joy I still receive. I’ve interviewed people from all layers of society be they world leaders, Hollywood actors, West Bank settlers or Palestinian militants, through to poverty-stricken parents in a village in southern Laos determined to carve out a better life for their children or a Bangladeshi trade unionist who took on the global garment industry and vastly improved working conditions for her fellow female workers. Dad was right; I am very curious by nature and always wanted to know what made people tick. We journalists are given a rare, privileged access to people’s lives. For that alone, I am truly grateful.
There have been difficult times too. In the course of my career, I’ve covered war, an intifada, and violent protests. I was on-air hosting the France 24 news during the shootings at the kosher supermarket in Paris in January 2015 and then incidentally, on-air again in November 2015 as news started coming through of the terrorist attacks being carried out at a number of Paris restaurants, the Bataclan theatre and the Stade de France. We didn’t know it at the time but one of those killed at the Bataclan was a studio technician who had just ended his shift at France 24 and was walking out of the studio as I walked in to begin mine. As I get older, reporting or covering violence for me has become tougher. The professional distance that you use to keep a level head, starts to shrink. You begin to understand and appreciate just how fragile life is.
But no doubt, creating “The 51 Percent,” has been among the most personally and professional rewarding times of my life. I’ve met wonderful women and men along the way since we began the show. Giving a platform for my guests’ views on the need for equality in all aspects of life is something I feel very strongly about.
Where did you get the idea to create TV program The 51 Percent? What’s your vision for the program?
I created the program along with a French colleague in 2013. As senior journalists, we both passionately believed about the need for a different take on the news. A take reflecting that women do indeed make up 51 percent of the population but are still way behind, even in the most open of societies, in terms of being represented in all fields. Just thinking about the gender pay gap, or the extremely low number of senior female politicians and CEOs in Australia, for example.
I like to think it’s our job to make the unfamiliar, familiar; to challenge those cultural biases that we all have. Everybody stands to benefit from equality. The beauty of working for a global broadcaster is that we can look at all parts of the world and report on a wide variety of stories. France 24’s Arabic and Spanish networks also now have their own versions of our show.
The world is not only confronting a digital revolution but a gender revolution also. It will be just as transformative. Take a look at how much has changed in the last 50 years for women; not to mention, the last 12 months with the #MeToo movement. Still, we have a very long way to go before true equality is reached.
How do you find the experience of working in Paris? Does it match your expectations?
Thanks to my Parisian mother, I’m probably not your classic Australian expat (the irony in that less than a few kilometres from where I work, my great-grandparents, grandparents, great-uncles and aunts, and cousins are buried in a family crypt) but Paris has challenged me in many ways. Of course, to the bulk of the world, it’s a stunningly beautiful city to visit with its superb architecture, history and culture. But people forget it is also a real, living city too with all the inherent problems of a large metropolis.
Despite its rigid adherence to tradition, Paris, and France, has changed since I first came here in 2000. More and more young people have lived, travelled or studied abroad. They have experienced other cultures and in Paris, English is much more widely spoken than when I first arrived, which itself is an important sign. For instance, when I first came, there was barely a vegetarian restaurant to be found; organic food was to be scoffed at; the idea of a gap year for students was unheard of; and as for decent coffee, well, forget that!
This has all changed and there is now an English-speaking president who understands the need for France to move forward and embrace change, as opposed to outright rejecting it. Not to mention, a determined group of Australian baristas and cafe owners and their ever-growing number of French fans who love their “flat whites.”
I always say to any Australian contemplating a life abroad, “just do it.” There will be crappy periods as there will be very happy times. But the experience adds an incomparable richness to your life that cannot be measured on a CV. Your life-coping skills will be majorly enhanced; you understand that your own culture’s way of doing things is not the only way and maybe, not necessarily the best.
What do you miss most about Australia?
Where do I start?! The weather; our unique sense-of-humour; the glorious food; the coffee; our diverse society (although sadly, that is still not reflected in the media, political representation or other positions of leadership as much as it should) and the sheer beauty of its landscape. I miss how even when your eyes are firmly closed, the searing sunshine still penetrates through. Or the scent of eucalyptus that I always inhale as I step outside the airport terminal when I go home. “Home.” There you have it, the fact I still call it home says so much.
What’s your favourite way to spend a day in Paris?
I would head to the Marais, particularly the Northern Marais (or NoMa, as some jokingly call it). It was one area that was not razed during the 19th century by the master urban planner, Baron Haussmann and many of its medieval buildings still remain. Walk through its streets, have brunch at “Fragments” cafe, visit the Picasso Museum; walk along the rue de Bretagne and then wind your way south. Head to the Musee Carnavalet which gives you a wonderful taste of the city’s art and social history. Then walk towards rue Vielle du Temple and all of its shops. From there, head to the River Seine, and enjoy an “apero” at one of the many bars nearby. For dinner, I’m currently a big fan of “Ellsworth” restaurant which is in the first arrondissement and a wonderful example of fusion cooking at its best.
To read the original interview on Advance visit: http://bit.ly/2yyvCVv.
Clients and Innovation Partner and ASPAC Head of Banking and Capital Markets, KPMG
Identified as the flag bearers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive thinking have always been of interest to KPMG Partner Egidio Zarrella, who believes this ever-evolving technology will transform the world in years to come.
What some might consider the work of futuristic science fiction is already widely present in today’s societies, with AI and cognitive thinking impacting our everyday lives and industries such as healthcare, finance, manufacturing and logistics.
As the company’s youngest ever Global Head and current Senior Partner and Head of Banking in China, Egidio is passionate about starting the conversation surrounding AI development and believes it’s important to always strive for new knowledge and understanding of our ever-changing world.
How has your interest in technology shaped your successful career in financial services?
I always had a knack for technology and knew it would play a pivotal part in the future of the industry. After I graduated I went straight to work as an auditor for the firm Arthur Young, which was one of the Big 8 accounting firms of the time, then 18 months later I moved to Sydney to complete my professional year as a chartered accountant. I was really keen on working in technology and computers and became Manager of the Information Systems Audit Group, where I worked for quite a few years.
After Arthur Young became Ernst & Young, they sent me to Canada to continue working in the technology sector of the business, where I was promoted to Senior Manager. After three years, my wife started to miss home, and we decided we wanted our future children to be Aussie kids, so we came back to Australia. I planned to keep working for Ernst & Young in my home town of Adelaide, but KPMG found me when we got back – I ended up joining them and 18 months later I became their youngest partner and ran the consulting business for a few years before returning to Sydney to take on the National Technology Practice for the firm.
At 36, I became KPMG’s youngest Global Head and held the position for eight years, during which we built a US$1.5 billion business with 10,000 people globally, which was incredible. What I loved more than anything during these years were the clients. I’m a very lucky guy, to have had these opportunities to travel around the world and meet so many interesting people. You have to love what you do, and I made it because I love my job and always try to have fun with it.
After my time as Global Head, KPMG’s Chairman of China asked me to move to Hong Kong and I’ve been here in China for 10 years. I’m currently the Senior Partner for the firm’s biggest account in Asia, HSBC, one of the biggest banks in the world. I’m very privileged because of my great interest in technology – I have worked in financial services for 31 years but I’m one of the very few partners globally with a convergence of the financial and technological. As Global Head I travelled all around India, China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore – all countries where technology went through the roof as people moved their back-office operations to this side of the world. Thinking about where the world is going to go now in regard to technology, it’s going to be amazing; what I’m seeing now is seriously unbelievable.
Tell us how AI and cognitive thinking are changing the future of business.
In the blink of an eye we’re seeing the rise of AI here in China, where we’re currently setting up cognitive architects and systems. The first article I ever wrote as a young partner was on AI, and that was 21 years ago. Nobody seemed to believe me then, but AI is going to impact every business – it’s already drastically taking over the financial sector and we need to be prepared. Look at our phones, they have AI inside them, but people tend not to think about it because they assume AI doesn’t directly affect them. When I first started my career, they had only just introduced punch cards, and now my iPhone has more power than all the PC’s at the time put together. People can make the mistake of underestimating China, but here technology is already so intuitive, they’re the world leaders in technology. It’s always easy to spot foreigners in China because they’re the only ones still using cash, whereas 84% of the Chinese population are using WeChat, a social media and mobile payment platform with over one billion monthly users.
Every quarter here in Hong Kong we host an event for 400 of our clients, and I always ask the audience: how can we walk into a world where AI and cognitive is literally learning at a speed no humans can achieve, if we don’t understand it? I ask bankers if they know about algorithmic trading, but hardly anyone understands it. Algorithms are now trading most of the world’s trade flows – trillions and trillions of dollars go through it, so we’re already in a world of AI. I’m not a futurist, but it’s already impacting my profession so I’m helping to drive the change. For some reason every time we talk about AI, we always end up talking about the Terminator and Skynet – let’s get rid of that for a second. I don’t believe the world is going to end up as machine against man. It’s not about machines replacing humans, it’s about humans and machines working together, and the results will be amazing. We’re soon going to live in a world where the technology is so advanced, it will look just like magic.
Why is it important to create discussions about technological advancement and the future world of AI and cognitive thinking?
I think the danger for many people is they think after they’ve graduated that they can stop learning. I am a ferocious reader and learner and even I’m barely keeping up with all the new developments in AI. We need to influence students and graduates to learn about it, because if you’re in a profession or business then it’s going to impact you, whether it is this year, the next or further into the future. The question is when do we start to prepare for this change – when it has already happened? We need to teach graduates not only what they’re going to need for today, but the ways of the future. Having robust conversations with each other is exactly what we should be doing, and what is really important, especially for new accounting graduates, is to consider and learn about the technology side of the industry.
We should never stop learning, no matter what, whether we’re reading about AI and cognitive or any other topic. If we’re not constantly reading, then how can we know about the world? In the last year of my degree I studied philosophy and poetry, just to enrich my learning with something different. To gain empathy for the world and its people, we need to learn about perspectives and opinions different to our own.
Areas of study and research
- Health Research
- Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA)
- Centre for Cancer Biology
- Centre for Drug Discovery and Development
- Centre for Population Health Research
- Centre of Research Excellence for the Prevention of Chronic Conditions in Rural and Remote High Risk Populations
- International Centre for Allied Health Evidence
- Medicine and Device Surveillance CRE
- Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre
and Social Sciences
- Art, Architecture and Design
- Communication, International Studies and Languages
- Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy
- Hawke Research Institute
- Asia Pacific Centre for Work Health and Safety
- Australian Centre for Child Protection
- Barbara Hardy Institute
- Centre for Research in Education
- Hawke EU Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence
- Centre for Islamic Thought and Education
- International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding
- Research Centre for Languages and Cultures
- Zero Waste SA Research Centre for Sustainable Design and Behaviour (sd+b)
IT, Engineering and
- Future Industries Institute
- UniSA College