Dubai’s Waterfront Project is one of the most recognisable landmarks of the United Arab Emirates city. Master planning for this ambitious engineering and planning project elevated the waterfront development to a property icon world-wide, and UniSA alumnus Carlos Buzzetti played an integral role in its success. Appointed as the highly sought-after Principal Planner for the Dubai Waterfront Project, he was responsible for the delivery of the overall masterplan for what was, at the time, the world’s largest waterfront and man-made development.
After the global financial crisis (GFC) hit in 2008, Carlos returned to Adelaide and was appointed the General Manager, Urban Planning & Environment at the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, where he is currently the Acting Chief Executive Officer.
Carlos shares what it was like working on the Waterfront Project in Dubai, how the GFC affected the city, and how he sees Adelaide transforming in the future.
Please describe your position as the Principal Planner for the Dubai Waterfront Project, including how you found the role and any challenges you faced.
Doing business in Dubai, was extremely fast-paced and dynamic. The governance arrangements and level of authority required to progress developments was surprisingly detailed and there were lots of checks and balances in place. Doing business in Dubai required me to understand different cultures and local customs, and ensure all stakeholders were kept well informed about the progress on projects.
Master planning for a new waterfront community had lots of challenges. Building man-made palm islands presented a range of environmental challenges. Nakheel, the developer, had a strong coastal monitoring and sediment replacement program in place to address these concerns, as well as progressing interesting initiatives such as constructing artificial reefs for local marine life.
The provision of social infrastructure within the waterfront development was also an interesting challenge, as the development had to cater for the religious and social needs of locals as well as westerners.
The biggest master planning challenge was where to place ‘back of house’ hard infrastructure, such as electricity sub-stations, waste transfer and disposal facilities and the like. As the waterfront was being developed in stages and land values were so high at the time, the location of ‘back of house’ infrastructure kept being shifted to ‘the next stage’ so I had to work closely with project managers to ensure those facilities were evenly and appropriately located across the entire development.
I would definitely consider moving back to Dubai if the right opportunity came up. My family really enjoyed living there. The local people were really warm and welcoming and it is a great place for families.
How did the GFC impact Dubai’s rapid urban development?
The GFC hit Dubai very hard and very fast. The office I worked in, which housed several hundred staff, closed within two years of my arrival and it has been a very slow burn since 2008 for developments in Dubai. I understand that more recent developments have been significantly scaled back in size and have a strong focus on the tourist market, which makes sense, given the climate for much of the year is very attractive to visitors from western Europe.
Please briefly describe your journey from studying at UniSA to where you are now?
I really enjoyed the lecturing approach at UniSA, as it challenged my mindset and was undertaken within a practical setting. To this day, I fondly recall participating in mock planning appeals and field visits to study urban design and environmental management. UniSA was also very proactive in connecting students with potential employers, which assisted me to obtain my first urban planning related employment. Twenty years later, I am proudly involved in a mentoring program that is jointly delivered through UniSA and the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), which assists students coming through the urban planning degree to navigate their way into the industry, with support and guidance from mentors.
Career-wise, I commenced employment at the City of Burnside in 1996 and spent just under three years working as an Urban Planner. I subsequently joined the City of Holdfast Bay in 1998 and spent five wonderful years working in the seaside community, two years as a Senior Urban Planner and three as Manager, Development Assessment.
In 2007, I had a desire to expand my horizon beyond Adelaide and I was lucky enough to be appointed as Principal Planner for the Dubai Waterfront Project, which initially aimed to house 400,000 new residents.
In late 2008, I returned to Adelaide, just after the GFC hit with full effect and was lucky enough to be offered employment again at the City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters and General Manager, Urban Planning & Environment.
What is your prediction for how Adelaide will evolve in the near future?
I think Adelaide is experiencing massive transformation right now. Heavy investment in public infrastructure and public realm improvements as well as policy reform in a range of areas has positively transformed the CBD more over the past five years more than I can ever recall. I think Adelaide CBD will continue to thrive as more and more people choose to live in the city but I also think the biggest transformation will be apartment living in the inner and middle suburbs. If we get the scale and form of this right, it could set Adelaide up for decades to come and underpin thriving local economies. In many ways it could be a return to village type living where people will access goods and services from local communities and perhaps move away from big box shopping. Investment in the proposed tram network will also dramatically change the face of Adelaide.
How do you envisage the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters transforming?
As demographics change and infill developments continue to change the face of inner and middle metropolitan Adelaide, we will see a greater mix of older people and young people living within our community, which means we have to adapt the way in which we do business and provide services to the community. I envisage more community hubs that provide a more diverse range of services and programs for a broad section of our community – many or most of which will be digitally based. I also believe new infrastructure will be delivered with a stronger focus on treating water quality before it enters our creeks.
Connectivity through the city will also be a strong focus and we will see a comprehensive city wide cycling network implemented over the next five to ten years. With creative and home-based businesses continuing to grow, this may influence and grow our night time economy as well, which will change the way we deliver programs and services. I would love to see more people out and about enjoying life in the public realm, where people can connect with each other.
Have you worked on any major projects in South Australia, if so which are your favourites?
In South Australia, I worked at Holdfast Bay Council when the Holdfast Shores development was taking shape in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s so it was great to be involved in the planning and development of public realm improvements along the coast.
My favourite project was leading the master planning of James Coke Park, a small, but much loved reserve, behind the Norwood Mall on The Parade. The implementation of the master plan has seen the park come alive and in spring and summer — full of locals and visitors having lunch, using the playground or just having a quiet snooze under a tree. As an urban planner, seeing underutilised spaces develop into living places is inspiring.
What is your advice for recent graduates, or in hindsight what is your advice to your younger self?
Work on your communication skills and capacity to build relationships AND … network, network, network. It’s simple advice but as an employer, I look for people who have excellent communication skills who are dynamic and confident and show a keen interest in the industry. I am also a true believer in the importance of networking so that prospective employers know who you are. Be persistent but respectful because if you aren’t, the next graduate will be.
As for my younger self, I honestly wouldn’t change much at all. I have been blessed with a great career so far in an area I’m passionate about.
International jewellery designer and UniSA alumnus, Peter Coombs, has been designing rare, if not one-off designs, since he completed his degree in 1986. His renowned handcrafted ‘jewellery for the face’ is widely celebrated with many happy customers including Sir Elton John, who has purchased numerous pairs over the years.
Recently, Peter generously donated a pair of his limited edition ‘4 O’Clock Champagne’ sunglasses to UniSA’s 25th Birthday Gala Dinner, which is included as one of the prizes in the Raffle.
We caught up with Peter to learn more about his unique and fabulous brand, Peter Coombs Eyewear, why he continues to call Adelaide home even though his sells more designs internationally, and his fundamental advice for new designers, including his philosophy - Show Up, Speak Up, Follow Up.
Why have you chosen to base yourself in Adelaide considering your significant global market?
Over the years I have been fortunate that my work has taken me to many interesting places which I’ve appreciated, however Adelaide has always been a great place to work. In the beginning a lot – maybe 70% - of my work went overseas. Over the years more and more is domestic. Being based in Adelaide has led to some outstanding commissions including the Lord Mayoral Medallion and Penfolds’ VIP Tasting Suite. Another proud moment was when a piece of my jewellery - based upon the City of Adelaide - flew five million kilometres around Earth on the Space Shuttle with Andy Thomas and was then presented back to the City.
Adelaide has never really thrown up limitations in creating. I have a good workspace and know a lot of people who I call on when the need arises. Most of my sales are not in Adelaide, but everywhere else is a plane ride away. The quality of designers and creative folk in Adelaide has always been really high – fashion, music, all aspects of design and the creative arts. We’ve always had quality educational institutions and mentoring options, including the JamFactory staff.
You have become an established and renowned international designer. Please describe your journey from UniSA to where you are now:
My final year (1986) at Underdale campus was a year of hard work. I remember arriving at the studio around 7am most days and remaining until 9pm most nights. First up, I would make a pot of Russian Caravan tea (I still do) and get stuck right in. This time was a gift, with access to a substantial machine workshops, studio facilities and the opportunity to continue to develop, to stretch my ideas and skills throughout the year culminating in a great final exhibition.
Throughout the summer I worked in my own studio and taught sailing, hopping on a plane to Los Angeles in February 1987.
The idea was simple and perhaps naïve, but within a couple of weeks the centrepiece from the Graduation Exhibition was in the hands of Sir Elton John, with thanks to l.a.Eyeworks. Thankfully, more pieces followed. This was an era before fax machines, the internet and email, so the only option was Show Up, Speak Up, Follow Up. This is a philosophy I still adhere to.
Apart from the technical skills acquired, how did your time at UniSA prepare you for the future?
At that time it was a full week, I think about 34 contact hours a week. Also three full days were spent in studio / at the work bench, along with drawing, rendering and photography.
The philosophy was by having a clear understanding of processes you could then further develop or research said process and be proficient on talking with others who you might subcontract with. For example, we studied casting and whether or not you carried out your own casting, you knew how to create cast masters, make moulds and prepare for casting. We were taught of the pitfalls as well as the possibilities.
When I was studying, the design metalsmithing and jewellery education was quite broad. I’ve always considered it similar to how musicians learn. They need to know all the scales and many, many standards. This knowledge gives you the skills to create your very own ideas. We were made to push materials to breaking point and from these test pieces you came to know the possibility of the materials, what might be too thin or too heavy. It’s an intimate knowledge.
To achieve this level of success must have taken a lot of hard and determined work. Were there any bumps in the road?
Throughout my career there have been a few hiccups, however thinking back over thirty years they all seem minimal. A supplier has failed to come through, the quality of finish was substandard, and I’ve had to start again after spending 20 plus hours. In every case there has been a scramble, sleepless nights and juggling until completion. I’ve tried to learn from each experience so as not to repeat them.
I was fortunate to learn my craft in a pre-digital age and know how to do most things manually. When all else fails I go old-school and work by hand. This is also the case when there is a ridiculously short time-line. This sort of work requires a high degree of concentration and calm.
What is your advice for other designers starting out with their own collections?
The most important thing you can do is to find your own voice and your own style. I’ve always loved strong bold lines and never wanted for the fussy; this has led to my own specific style. I now know a lot about designing and making eyewear, when I began I did not, but I am still proud of the first frame I made more than thirty years ago. If I were to design and make it today, the construction would be refined to a higher degree. This frame is not perfect, but led me to where I am today. My advice to anyone starting out is to begin. Miles Davis said his band would always walk into the music; they would start off shaky but soon got into the groove and no one remembered the shaky start.
Also, when developing a new product don’t be blinded for the sexy new technologies. These are excellent and may very well form a large part of your project. However there may be a process or technique that was prevalent in the previous century that will offer a better outcome. This is especially relevant in a time when there are many idle machines and potentially lost knowledge due to the shutdown of traditional production such as you might find in the car industry. Your first idea may not be perfect but you will learn from the exercise and the next design will have more insight. Make something you love and then share it with the world. You are the expert about your idea, product or process. The market wants to hear from you. Show Up, Speak Up, Follow Up.
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.
B. Jane Cowie
Glass Artist, Founder and Owner of Art Glass Solutions, Singapore
Master of Visual Arts, 2004
Glass Artist and UniSA alumna, B. Jane Cowie is the Creative Director at Art Glass Solutions Pte Ltd, a company she established in Singapore. Her elaborate glass sculptures and art installations, which adorn the foyers of luxury hotels and corporate buildings in Singapore and South East Asia, are testament not only to her immense talent as an artist and passion for developing new techniques and experimentation with new materials, but also to her skills as a businesswoman working in the tough Asian marketplace.
Jane has owned and operated Art Glass Solutions Art Glass Solutions since 2008. She travels widely to cultivate business contacts, suppliers and clients in Singapore, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia. Her company is now well established within the region and has created a diverse range of glass artworks and architectural installations, including “Enchanting…” at Merrill Lynch HarbourFront Place, “Complex Simplicity” at Ocean Financial Centre Singapore, and within numerous hotel lobbies such as the InterContinental Hotel in Foshan, China. Currently she is installing her latest artworks in Singapore’s imposing South Beach Complex within the interiors designed by the renowned Phillippe Starck.
Establishing a new business anywhere is a difficult learning curve, but for a foreigner working in Asia this has presented unique challenges which Jane carefully analyses, articulates and presents.
“When I started Art Glass Solutions with two colleagues, we ventured out into the business world after being employed. With little or no startup capital it was necessary to borrow money to survive. At the beginning we were lucky to get a few good projects, however most of these projects cost more money than what we earnt. Losing money is certainly stressful, especially in a foreign country, which made it increasingly difficult to continue. Yet I believed that creating artworks of excellence was important if the company was to endure and survive. Maintaining a high level of innovative development and unique creativity would ensure the long term survival. Finding the right projects and the right people to work with was hard work,” says Jane.
“Additionally, learning about who actually was the person making the decisions was also difficult to realise in the beginning. It took time and some costly mistakes to realise who was important and who was spinning us around. In the beginning we did a lot of developmental work that we were not paid for and subsequently kept losing money.
“The going was too tough and eventually my business partners went their own way and I was left to pay off the loan and struggle on. With little or no income for many years, my struggle to survive was palatable. I borrowed money just to pay rent, worked long hours, was teaching in the AGS studio, designed and developed artworks in the evening and continued to develop and promote the company. I learnt to not trust anything or anyone as I battled to do the best I could to create unique and innovative artworks. Finally I began to get the attention of a few key designers and developers in Singapore, and the projects started to come in at a regular, irregular rate.”
Jane learnt to make practical decisions, listened carefully and mindfully to observe the work practice of those she worked with in the Asian culture(s).
“Finally I learnt and began to understand the tacit knowledge required to survive. My business partners had left Singapore to find work in other countries and other sectors not as tough as the construction industry, within which AGS was positioning itself. Learning who to rely on, who made the key decisions and who would be paying was important. These were often different sets of people and required different skill sets to deal with each of these different groups.
“At one point I remember being asked ‘who is the most important person?’ My answer was considered and long, ‘Well the client is important as they have the money to spend on the artwork, the art consultant is important as they recommend me to the project, the interior designer is important they need to believe that what I design and create will complement their interior design, the architect is important as they have to like my designs and know it will fit well with the building’s structure, the main contractor is important as I need to work with them to install the artwork, my artist team is important as they have to understand and be able to create my vision, and finally the installation team must have the patience and ability to install the artwork in consideration of the timeline and my directives as the artist – after all my research, development, planning, making and layout composition.’
“As the artist I am part of a larger team of people who all work together to achieve a common goal – to design and build a very big object that is detailed, extra ordinary, interesting to look at and functional.”
Jane learnt to make practical decisions, listen carefully and mindfully observe the work practice of others.
“I have learnt not to trust the people who tell me I can trust them. This was a hard lesson to learn. I now rely more on observations, instinct and watch carefully for any signs that may indicate all is not as it first seems. Talk is cheap and mistakes are expensive. I always ask tough questions of those I work with and the many questions I ask assist me to determine if what people are telling me is correct or not.”
She found the language barrier difficult at first, but through the use of new technologies (Google translate) and her own intuition she now finds it relatively easy to communicate with project coordinators, glassmakers and suppliers.
“Not knowing the spoken language is naturally difficult, yet with translating apps on your phone and a keen eye for body language, I get by in most situations especially when someone is equally intuitive and observant. With my suppliers and the makers I work with we intuitively have a common bond of creativity and making, sharing a keen understanding of the material and process so we can understand each other without a translator, without words, but with gestures and drawings. It is these connections I truly value. Knowing we share the same passion for making, creating and innovating.”
Jane has always known that she would be an artist as her childhood home was filled with many artistic experiments. She studied at Sydney College of the Arts in 1980, one of the first years glass making was offered as a subject at an Australian university. It was here she learnt about glass casting, fusing, and cold working. She later travelled and worked in the USA, UK and Europe, where she witnessed glass blowing for the first time, and thought ‘this is what I will do for the rest of my life.’
In the late 1980s Jane returned to Adelaide as a trainee at Adelaide’s JamFactory - Centre for Contemporary Craft and Design. Living in Adelaide for the next 13 years, she had stints living and working abroad in the USA and Japan, later completed her Master of Visual Arts at the University of South Australia.
Her passion for art and for self-discovery have always led Jane to travel, so after completing her studies at UniSA she ventured again overseas to Asia.
“I had passed through Singapore on several occasions and it seemed like an interesting place to live and work. Taking the time to meet with people during my visits, I was offered the position of Glass Lecturer at Lasalle SIA College of the Arts in 2003. I was then asked to build and manage a hot glass studio at a local Architectural Art Glass Company. I designed, developed and made glass pieces for various standalone artworks as well as large architectural glass installations.
“Managing the hot glass studio meant I took a step away from the making process. I began to focus more on the concept development of an idea, was able to better undertake material research and had time to do the development works required in the early stages of each new project.”
Jane’s advice for graduates wanting to ‘make it’ in the world as an artist or designer-maker is to find a niche for their practice that is unique and specialised.
“Many ideas, beliefs and goals are shared amongst the greater global collective and just about everything can be reproduced and copied. Deciding what to make ‘your thing’ is important. You need to focus, commit and strive to go further than others, always pushing yourself to do the best you can.
“Continue to be creative, try to be one step ahead of current thinking and challenge yourself to continue learning. Remaining committed, true to yourself and nurturing your own individuality and creativity is important.”
Overcoming life’s challenges to make every day count
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism
New mother Kathryn Crisell was excited to finally head to university and pursue her dream of writing when a shock cancer diagnosis put everything on hold. After fighting the disease, she graduated from UniSA, raised her son and built a successful career in journalism, until the long-term effects of cancer treatment turned her life upside down once more. Today, Kathryn has gained a new perspective on life and has become a role model for those battling cancer and disability, helping others to overcome adversity and live a life full of possibility.
Tell us about your cervical cancer diagnosis and your journey through treatment and recovery. How did it affect your life?
My diagnosis was out of the blue – I was 33, had always been diligent with my pap smears and assumed I was safe. I had a number of tests that showed something was amiss, but I didn’t really think anything could be wrong, partly because my dad had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma in March that year. In my mind, there was no way I could have cancer at the same time as him. When the doctor told me I had cervical cancer, all I could think of was my baby son, Tom. My only hope was that I would survive to raise him. I had applied to study journalism at UniSA a month before I was diagnosed. When I found out I was accepted, I was ecstatic. It gave me the only positive news I would have for some time.
I had surgery just prior to Christmas, then had six weeks of radiotherapy and four rounds of chemotherapy which made me very ill. Once at the beginning I did ask, “why me?” and then immediately I asked myself, “why not me? Children die from cancer.” That thought is something I often share to give people perspective. After my treatment ended, I spent the rest of the year regaining my strength and looked forward to studying journalism. I knew then that I really wanted to provide a voice for people, to write stories that meant something. I’d always wanted to save the world, but now I knew all I could do was make my own small positive contribution, like so many wonderful people had for me when I was sick. I loved studying and the environment at UniSA. Being enveloped in thought gave me confidence in the abilities I always suspected I had but was unable to express.
You had a brief but very successful career as a journalist; what are your favourite memories and achievements?
Working at the Yorke Peninsula Country Times was supposed to be my short-term step to greater things, but it lasted about six years. I never thought community journalism would cut it for me, but it didn’t take long to fall in love with the job and the people I worked with. I covered everything from giant pumpkins to the clash of fishing rights and marine parks and beyond. I was able to find gold in the stories shared with me; there was inspiration and hope to be found in the most tragic events and I was in awe of the resilience of country people and their communities. Journalism gave me access to an incredible array of subjects, and it gave me insight to personal grief and how people deal with it – stories much bigger than mine and incredibly humbling. It’s the best job in the world and my only regret is that I didn’t get to university earlier.
You had to stop working after becoming disabled in 2013, can you share with us what happened?
Cancer treatment saved my life but did leave a number of side-effects, as radiotherapy was not as targeted twenty years ago as it is now. I’ve struggled to manage a damaged bowel since my treatment and have faced a number of cancer ‘scares’ over the years. In 2011 I joined a team in walking the City to Bay, but my legs didn’t seem to recover as they should’ve. I started to fall over occasionally, and my legs would go numb; I had little pain but developed a limp.
It took a year of scans, tests and neurosurgery before a neurologist diagnosed radiation induced plexopathy – my spine and nerves were affected by my cancer treatment in 1998. I have nerve damage in both hips, legs, ankles and feet and have to walk with a stick or walker for very short distances and use a wheelchair for anything else. I was unable to return to work, a devastating blow to someone who had always loved working. I became very bored and stressed, and finally Tom told me that I wasn’t the same person he once knew. He pushed me to study online, and I’m now completing a Masters in Writing part-time through Open University.
Tell us about your love for the not-for-profit organization Sailability and the opportunities sailing has given you.
Both study and sailing have given me my life back. I’ve met many amazing people through Sailability. Being on the water makes us feel free and happy, peaceful in mild winds and alive when it’s wet and rough. Many sailors of the class of boat used by Sailability have a physical disability, but this has no bearing on sailing ability, so it allows thousands of disabled sailors to compete against able-bodied sailors in competitions across Australia and around the world.
In October this year, Hiroshima will host the 2018 Hansa Class World & International Championships. Up to 60 Australian sailors will attend and I hope to be there with my sailing partner Pip, who had a stroke a few years ago. Competing as a team has given new meaning to our lives and we intend to get to Hiroshima with sponsors helping to raise the $15,000 required to finance our trip.
How has dealing with adversity not once but twice changed you and the direction of your life? How have you grown from it?
Having a child gave me a perspective on life that I never thought possible, but after cancer I realized the urgency of trying to make every day count. I thought more positively about life than I ever had before. Becoming disabled has thrown a lot of new challenges into my life but also enriched it. While I hate that I can’t walk on the beach with my son and my dog I know I was lucky to have ever been able to do it. I want to make a difference by raising awareness of the challenges of disability.
You believe that people facing adversity can contribute to society and put their skills to use in other ways than through business and careers. Can you elaborate on this?
There’s a lot I can’t do anymore, but what I can do, I do well and want to put to good use. Whether working or not, able-bodied or disabled, we all have something to offer. I’ve seen a deaf, non-verbal young man crippled with cerebral palsy pick out a message on his laptop about a boat design change he would like. I’ve seen an autistic lad juggle like the devil and make balloon animals and I’ve seen a blind girl sail solo. These people are contributing by showing what they can achieve and are providing inspiration and humility to the people around them. People with or without professional skills can find so much satisfaction in volunteering, out of helping someone other than yourself.
What advice do you have for others facing their own adversities, whether it be cancer, a disability or something else entirely?
I think talking about adversity is the key to survival. That might mean seeking help for yourself when you’re struggling, pointing someone in the direction of help, or sharing your story so that others don’t feel alone – not trying to outdo them, but letting them know you can relate. I’m not alone in feeling that some good can come out of every awful situation we face; it just takes time to see the bigger picture and find the richness in the detail.
Former Head of Marketing (Asia Pacific), Hospira Inc
Bachelor of Business (Information Systems), 1993
President, Mayne Pharma USA
After studying a Bachelor of Business in Information Systems, UniSA alumnus Stefan Cross began his pharmaceutical career at FH Faulding & Co one of South Australia’s largest companies. After more than 20 years in the pharma industry, Stefan has become President of Mayne Pharma Group Limited (Mayne Pharma) in the United States of America.
Mayne Pharma is an ASX listed specialty pharmaceutical company with its headquarters in Adelaide. Mayne Pharma continues to invest in UniSA students studying Pharmaceutical Science by furthering their education and careers through work-placements at the company’s product development and manufacturing facility based in Salisbury, South Australia. The hands-on experience gained through work-placement is a valuable advantage that Stefan believes helped him with his own career.
“I was fortunate to have two six-month industry placements during my degree. One was with SGIC and one with Faulding Pharmaceuticals. This hands-on experience gave me the opportunity to better understand what I wanted to do after graduation,” Stefan says.
“Faulding was very supportive and offered me a position prior to graduation, which began my career in the pharmaceutical industry. Faulding operated a graduate program, which gave me the opportunity to work across a variety of areas of the company. It was this diversity that gave me the core skills to move into a general management role which I now hold.”
The pharmaceutical industry has a strong history of collaborating with researchers to discover new and improved medications that prevent disease, have reduced side effects, or other major health benefits.
Mayne Pharma has a 30-year track record of success in developing new oral drug delivery systems and these technologies have been successfully commercialised in numerous products, including Astrix, which treats cardiovascular disease and Kapanol used in the management of chronic pain.
“One of Mayne Pharma’s strengths is reformulating existing drugs to make them work better for patients. For over 30 years our team at Salisbury have developed a number of new products that are marketed around the world today.”
Stefan believes he has been fortunate to live and work in the UK and USA, which broadened his perspectives and granted him a global understanding of the workplace and pharmaceutical industry. Having the opportunity to work in the US has been invaluable, as this is the world’s largest pharmaceutical market.
“The scale of the US market is so much bigger than Australia which represents just 1% of the global market. However, Australia has some very clever people in the pharma industry who have succeeded in developing and exporting many market leading products. Furthermore, the patient population and funding of the healthcare system makes the US market very attractive for Australian based pharmaceutical companies.
“Working in the US and Australia are very similar. Both countries have a similar work ethic and desire to help patients live a healthier life.”
Despite being reported as an extremely lucrative industry, pharmaceutical companies are not immune to financial pressures.
“The pharmaceutical industry continues to face cost pressures and growing populations mean that governments around the world have to do more with less. Mayne Pharma also plays a role here by providing a range of generic pharmaceuticals that are more cost effective than their brand counterparts.
Stefan’s valuable advice to recent graduates starting out in their careers is to, “take, or create, any opportunity you can get industry experience during your studies. It can open doors for career opportunities, but importantly it helps make the right career direction decisions early.”
Head of Development and Strategy, State Theatre Company, Adelaide
Master of Business Administration
Adelaide comes alive in February and March each year during the Adelaide Festival and the Fringe. This has become Mimi Crowe's world in her new role as Head of Development and Strategy at the State Theatre Company. After beginning her career as an actor, Mimi moved into arts administration and produced the acclaimed TARNANTHI Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, which was a career highlight.
After completing her Master of Business Administration (MBA) with UniSA in 2011, Mimi worked as the General Manager of the Office for Design and Architecture SA before moving on to the Art Gallery of South Australia as the Executive Producer of TARNANTHI.
Mimi started her career in the arts as an actor after graduating from Central Washington University with a Bachelor of Theatre Arts. Upon moving to Australia in 2001, she made the decision to develop her business skills and embark on a career in arts administration.
”South Australia has an incredibly strong and vibrant arts industry and I knew quite early on that I wanted to devote my career to supporting artists to deliver their artistic vision through solid administration and good management,” says Mimi.
It was this decision that led Mimi to complete her MBA.
”I knew a solid understanding of best practice management including economic and financial skillsets would be of importance to the art industry in the future. The MBA was crucial to enable me to best support art organisations with the highest possible level of business acumen required for agile, forward thinking organisations,” she says.
Mimi says her most rewarding professional achievement was producing TARNANTHI at the Art Gallery of South Australia.
“It was such a culturally, personally and professionally rewarding experience. I feel deeply grateful for having been part of such an important national event. Presenting the work of over 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists in South Australia (with over 200 artists coming to Adelaide for the opening weekend) was a truly unique and exceptional experience.”
In her new position with the State Theatre Company, Mimi will be heading up the fundraising team but also taking a crucial role in strategic planning and government relations. She is excited about the challenges ahead.
“I think as economies internationally struggle, and budget decisions become harder, the arts industry has to be more savvy and proactive than ever at demonstrating both our tangible and intangible value in society. One of the elements I enjoy is acting as a translator between artistic vision and the world of business and government funding.”
Mimi says she has heard of too many people who want a change but are afraid to make the first step, so advises graduates to take the chance.
”There is no harm in trying. Put your hand up for opportunities and say yes when they come. If you think you would be great at a job, but not sure of your skillset then either put in an application or develop the areas that you are lacking for that role. UniSA’s MBA provides its graduates with such a broad and useful skillset, the possibilities for success are endless!”
View the Adelaide Festival of Arts and Adelaide Fringe Festival programs.
Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours)
Former builder Steven Cybulka has enjoyed a dream run into a new career as a sculptor. Less than 12 months after gaining first class Honours in Visual Art he is on his third commission in Bandung, West Java.
In his third public art commission Steven is developing a collaborative sculpture project with West Java artist Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo to symbolise the importance of the close artistic and cultural ties established between West Java and South Australia.
This artwork to be prominently located in front of Government House, will embody the concept of “sound passage”, an interactive metal sculpture with sound as the main element. The renewal of the Sister State Memorandum of Understanding in September 2015 at the OzAsia Festival in Adelaide has led to a reinvigorating of cultural and trade ties between the two regions.
The site for the work was unveiled on 3 April 2017 by the West Java Governor, Ahmad Heryawan, and the South Australian Investment and Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith. The site is in a long corridor of parkland that stretches from the front of the old Dutch colonial building, a significant gathering space for the Bandung people over time, having been a site for protests and more recently a food market.
“It was really important that the artwork wasn‘t going to interfere with the way people were using the space, nor interrupt the view along the corridor,” says Steven.
Steven’s West Java collaborator, Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, is a Bandung-born painter who studied at the Bandung Institute of Technology and the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. He has worked with different media, including industrial materials, and pigmented resin has become his signature medium.
Steven first went to Bandung to meet Arin in December 2016 and after choosing a location for the work, they returned home to work separately on ideas.
“It was interesting to see our similar creative processes and the similarities in the artists and art that we both appreciate,” says Steven.
During several visits to Bandung this year working in Arin’s large studio, the two have been able to collaborate to a produce an interactive sculpture in materials outside their usual medium.
“Arin wanted the sculpture to have an educational element so the work is interactive. It uses metals true to the traditional Sundanese instruments of West Java and which replicate notes from traditional musical scale when struck.”
Steven’s links with Indonesia date back 15 years, having visited there on surfing holidays since the age of 20, and through regular visits to help his friend who runs a surf camp on the island of Sumatra. Steven’s familiarity with Indonesian culture, coupled with his experience with public art and his work at the Adelaide Festival Centre, made him a front-running candidate for the West Java project, which is being managed by the Festival Centre’s OzAsia Festival.
He originally trained as a carpenter and spent many years in the building industry before being given the option to take over the home improvement business where he was working. Back problems and a waning interest in building work led to doubts about his long term future in the industry, and at the age of 27 Steven went overseas to rethink his future.
Steven had an interest in art and has been drawing since a young age, so he decided to go to art school and enrolled in TAFE SA’s Adelaide College of the Arts in Light Square.
With his building experience and knowledge of how to use the tools, sculpture was a natural fit, so Steven chose that as his major and “ended up falling in love with it.”
He says that all the things he had learned in the building trade, including his inherent knowledge of form, lines, and space, translated into the creative process and he harboured a growing interest in the way people use space. He went on to study a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the University of South Australia, completing in 2013.
He then applied for – and won – a residency as the inaugural South Australian Living Arts Festival (SALA) Adelaide Festival Centre Artist in Residence 2014. The five month residency was to make and present work inside Festival Centre.
“The building is heritage-listed, so finding a location for the work was a bit of a challenge,” Steven says, adding that the Dunstan Playhouse was finally settled upon as a location. (pictured above).
The installation, made up of wooden geometric shapes, responds to the energy, atmosphere, and physical structure of the building – one of Adelaide’s architectural landmarks – has remained as a permanent artwork.
In 2014 he was also accepted into Honours in Visual Arts at UniSA, which he completed over two years. During that time, as well as the SALA residency, he held a small exhibition at The Mill in Adelaide, had a solo show in Feltspace, staged a performance piece at Splendour in the Grass festival with friend Tom Borgas, and won his first commission.
“In 2015 whilst still studying I was awarded a commission from Adelaide City Council to develop a public work in at Ergo Apartments in Sturt Street. That was the first major public work I had put in an expression of interest for, so I was pretty happy to be just shortlisted,” says Steven, who won the $55,000 commission to develop art work (pictured).
Steven achieved first class Honours in Visual Art at UniSA, graduating in July 2016, and was invited to be involved in Primavera 2016: Young Australian Artists exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, 2016.
Steven will make two more trips to Bandung to work with Arin to complete the Passage of Sound sculpture before it is unveiled in November 2017.
In the meantime Steven has a commission for SA Power Networks – together with two emerging artists, Clancy Warner and Bianca Kennedy – for a work made with recycled materials to be installed in front of its head office on Anzac Highway.
Both he and Arin are preparing for separate exhibitions in Sydney in 2018.
Founder of PhysioConcepts Education
SA Pathology and University of South Australia
In 2012 Anuja Dalvi-Pandit made the ultimate decision to put her career, in the vast bustling city Mumbai, on hold and make the journey to Adelaide to further her education at the University of South Australia. Fast-forward five years, and Anuja is a Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy Consultant and active in putting together programs to help the next generation of physiotherapists in India – all the while finding time to run her own business, LiveActive Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic.
The clinic sees a variety of sports people walk in and out of its’ doors. From cricketers, to gymnasts, to Kabaddi Players, and even pistol shooters – the clinic is a hotspot for many of India’s high performance athletes.
“We believe these athletes have the potential to be the future of the Indian sporting industry and we are proud to do our part in helping them achieve their best,” says Anuja.
Before her time studying at UniSA, Anuja had already established a very successful career for herself. She had spent time working with both the Mumbai Cricket Association and the National Cricket Academy, as well as working for the International Tennis Federation. Anuja says her time spent building her career not only helped when she opened her own business, but also proved crucial in her studies.
“The experience I gained during these years proved instrumental in successfully completing my studies. If you have already worked at a good platform, you can absorb the most.”
In the years spent studying in Adelaide, Anuja says she was able to learn so much, not just about becoming a clinician, but also about appreciating the world around you.
“I never heard a clock ticking in Mumbai, but Adelaide taught me how life can be quiet and beautiful. I also met a few of my lifetime friends, and time spent with those beautiful souls will always be treasured.”
Despite being a growing sports industry, Anuja says in the rest of Mumbai, and by extension in India, sports medicine is still a fairly neglected area, with a lack of specialists having a critical effect on the country’s performance.
“There is a dearth of qualified professionals, which reflects on our sports performance as a country on the world stage. There is a constant need for good physios with international quality training and experience.”
Anuja says her time spent at UniSA has made her determined to bring a global standard of sports medicine training to India and is doing so by founding educational venture, PhysioConcepts.
“We are hosting three of the IMPA students in Mumbai for sports internships while planning to promote CPD programs for physios through UniSA and the South Australian Sports Medicine Association. As well as this, we also run a short term observership program for young physios at our centre.”
Anuja started LiveActive with a simple aim to improve people’s quality of life by optimising their recovery and function, something which her and her small team of physios have adhered to the whole time they have been in business. Included in LiveActive’s team is Anuja’s Husband Niranjan Pandit, a renowned physio who has worked extensively in both cricket and tennis.
“He is a constant source of support and we work together at all our clinics. I always wanted to set up my own business as I knew it would not only give me an opportunity to grow as professional, but also teach me administrative, marketing, and networking skills.”
“Having my own practice is the freedom I love, but it also comes with the added responsibility of overlooking admin, extended working hours, connecting with sports clubs and organisations, creating job opportunities for others, as well as forming and motivating team members.
“We are, however, blessed with a great young team at LiveActive, and it really makes the job all that much easier to love.”
As well as running LiveActive, Anuja spends a lot of her time working as a consultant for Activ8 Pilates Altitude and Rehab Studio, one of Mumbai’s leading studios in promoting the right to knowledge and fitness practice amongst the community. Here she establishes clinical and functional diagnoses, while planning rehab guidelines or referring clients on to other experts in the field such as orthopaedic surgeons or sports trainers.
With the art and science of physiotherapy rapidly evolving over recent years, Anuja says young physiotherapist’s entering the field need to have ample information behind them.
“Young physios need to be well informed on the recent evidences and changing paradigms of the field, as well as learning from experts and their own treasure of clinical experience.”
But above all else, she says the key to success is to respect those around you and take the time to find power from your surroundings.
“Sometimes it is hard to sustain, but look around you and I am sure you find your strength to keep going.
“A Poet says, there must be belief in the sun, otherwise no one would get up from bed.”
MH17 investigation for AFP
Bachelor of Accountancy (1995)
Stephen Dametto has taken his UniSA degree to the world after recently being appointed as the Senior Investigating Officer leading the Australian contingent into the Malaysian Airlines investigation (MH17) in The Hague.
Stephen studied a Bachelor of Accountancy (class of 1995) and a Diploma of Property (class of 1996) at the University of South Australia.
“When I commenced my degree in 1991 UniSA had a lot of energy as it had just become the University of South Australia. Its accountancy program was considered one of the best in SA and the place was buzzing.
“Once I completed my studies I spent three years working as an accountant at a mid-tier firm in Adelaide and completed the Chartered Accountant program. At the time I became disenfranchised with pure accountancy and started looking at other options. I took a chance and joined the AFP (Australian Federal Police).”
From there Detective Superintendent Stephen Dametto’s life in the AFP has taken him to the frontline of some of the world's biggest issues and events. When the Malaysian Airlines disaster (MH17) occurred, Stephen was sent to Ukraine as the Police Forward Commander and was responsible for setting up the Investigations Team with representatives from Ukraine, Netherlands and Australia. His vital work with the MH17 investigation is continuing. Stephen is currently living in The Hague and leading the Australian contingent into the MH17 investigation as the Senior Investigating Officer.
“The lives of 38 Australian citizens and residents – who were among 298 passengers and crew on board - were lost in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Some of the stories are soul destroying. This is a complex investigation as the plane was shot down over a conflict zone, which makes it extremely difficult to gather evidence".
He wants to ensure, “that I do my bit for the victims and their families, so there can be justice and hopefully some sort of comfort for them.”
Within 12 months of joining the AFP, Stephen became a Federal Agent and worked on one of the biggest fraud and corruption operations in Australia. The investigation involved an ex – Australian Tax Office Assistant Commissioner and resulted in their conviction.
Stephen’s work at the AFP has taken him all over the world, including two secondments in the United Kingdom. Once at the Metropolitan Police Service’s Counter Terrorism Command and the other at the National Crime Squad’s Money Laundering Investigations Team.
“I have had a varied career in the AFP which has had many highlights. Despite moving away from pure accountancy, the degree itself has given me many opportunities within the AFP. I have worked in Fraud and Corruption, Organised Crime, and Counter Terrorism.”
“In over 15 years with the AFP, I am particularly proud of forming and leading the AFP’s Terrorism Financing Investigations Unit (TFIU). This is a multi-agency taskforce with a national and international remit that investigates terrorism financing, uses financial intelligence in terrorism investigations, and provides training and capacity building to both public and private institutions all around the world".
“This has allowed me to present on terrorism financing at many international conferences, and facilitate workshops and training sessions in Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Hong Kong with attendees including prosecutors, law enforcement and financial intelligence experts from around the world.”
Stephen’s journey is the perfect example that you never know where your education will lead you. Even though Stephen is no longer working in his original field of study, he believes that his education at university “opened a lot of doors” for him.
“A university degree is a great thing to have no matter where your life takes you. I learnt many things during that time but in particular the different backgrounds and experiences of the professors and the students gave me an understanding of my place, and Adelaide's place in the world. Also, the importance of looking outward and making a contribution to your community. I am now doing a PhD in law and I believe that study never ends, wherever you are in the world or in your career pathway, you should embrace it and enjoy it. ”
"Adelaide is a great place to live and study. Something unique to UniSA."
Senior Healthcare Executive, San Francisco Bay Area, USA
Associate Diploma in Radiological Technology, (Radiography)
Among the thousands of alumni who have reconnected with UniSA during our three month Boarding Call competition is global marketing executive Glenn Davis. His successful career in healthcare has taken him around the world to the USA. where he's a senior executive in the Bay area with a start-up. In 2014 he was Vice President of Sales with Ekso Bionics, a medical device company that has pioneered the field of robotic exoskeletons to augment human strength, endurance and mobility.
Glenn gained his first qualification at UniSA – an Associate Diploma in Radiological Technology in 1986 - before moving to Melbourne to undertake further study and a position in sales at ultrasound company Acuson. He moved on to become their European sales manager in London before joining international healthcare giant Siemens as their Asia Pacific Marketing Manager based in Singapore. His stellar career with Siemens took him to Japan and the USA where he went on to become the Global Vice President, Worldwide Marketing in the Ultrasound Division for this US$700 million company.
You have had a very impressive career in medical devices - ultrasound in particular - with the global giant Siemens. What career achievements do you feel most proud of?
The greatest satisfaction in medical technology is seeing it being used in the clinical environment with patients, to make a difference in their lives. I am very proud of the work in interventional ultrasound with tissue strain imaging; that has the potential to reduce patient biopsies. Having five daughters, I also feel very strongly about improvements in women’s health and feel very proud of the education campaign related to dense breast education.
[Glenn worked for international healthcare giant Siemens from 2001 until early 2014. While working as Vice President, Worldwide Marketing in their Ultrasound Division Glenn was responsible for the Breast Density Behind-the-Scenes Video, which won four prestigious USA marketing awards. Watch the video here.]
You moved from marketing imaging devices to a company pioneering robotic exoskeletons. What excites you about the work Ekso Bionics is doing?
Every day we see and hear news on the topic of wearable medical devices. Until recently robotic exoskeletons have been more science fiction than fact. Today across Europe and the USA, exoskeletons are being used for gait training in the rehabilitation of stroke patients and spinal cord injuries. Robotics and medicine is growing at an unprecedented rate, with universities playing a key role in the development of technologies. When you see an individual walking for the first time since their injury or neurological event, it certainly makes me feel proud of what technology is capable of.
What’s next for 2015?
After working for a multinational across the globe and an exciting medical start-up, I have decided, together with another entrepreneur, to start our own medical device company based in the Bay area. We are still at a very early stage, but hope to achieve A-series funding over the next few months.
Who or what from your experience at UniSA still stays with you today?
My experience at UniSA can be summarized as providing me with the skills necessary to achieve employment straight after graduation and understanding that adaptability is a key for future success. I really enjoyed the diversity of the campus in the city, together with the partnerships the University established with local employers.
What is your advice to a graduate thinking about a career in medical technology today?
Medical technology is still a growth industry with significant investments being made by both start-ups and large multinationals. Disruptive technology and in particular the convergence of medicine, biotech and portable devices will bring exciting changes to people’s lifestyles and quality of life.
I see you are interested in Italian motorcycles. Which one do you own and where has it taken you?
I must profess to having a love of two wheels, both bicycles and motorcycles. My grandfather used to own a combined bicycle/motorcycle shop, and my mother used to take me to primary school on the back of a motorcycle. I currently have a DUCATI café racer, and two race bikes, having ridden in Asia and Europe. Both my wife and I love cycling, riding in the Berkeley hills three to four times per week. I am pleased to see UniSA contributing to the community through sponsorship of the Tour Down Under, the race where my wife and I first met each other.
follow Glenn Davis on LinkedIn
Joseph De Gennaro
Bachelor Arts in Accountancy (1988), FCPA, GAICD
As country CFO for global billion-dollar company, Coca-Cola HBC, Slovakia during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Joseph attributes his professional success to being imaginative and resourceful in managing the finance function.
Joseph was living and working in Ukraine, Belarus and Slovakia just after the Berlin Wall came down, when the Soviet Era ended and Eastern European countries became independent states. The political landscape changed dramatically and the economic situation was very challenging to navigate.
“Going from State-run to an emerging free market came with many financial difficulties, as access to foreign currency for imported equipment and materials was really tough,” Joseph says.
“While I was working in Belarus, the local currency devalued 550% during the course of one year, often falling 20% in a week. We would use our intuition and knowledge of the local economy to anticipate the large currency devaluations, in order to purchase locally sourced raw materials and equipment and stock pile them for later use. This included pallets of sugar, resin used for PET manufacture and vehicles – anything that would keep its value and was required for the business.
“We were continually finding innovative ways to enhance the company’s profitability and access to foreign currency (USD). For example, we would purchase resin locally, manufacture plastic bottle preforms and export them to our sister companies in Slovakia and Czech Republic to earn hard currency for international trade.
“Often convincing my Managing Director, an expatriate American, to approve our radical financial ideas was difficult. However, our team achieved great success and the company was able to minimise the impact of foreign currency movements on operating profits.”
Joseph started his successful journey in accounting in Port Pirie, located in rural South Australia. After one year, he moved to Adelaide and continued working for CC Bottlers Ltd, a locally listed public company, while studying a Bachelor of Accounting at UniSA part-time.
“I worked in every type of accounting position for CC Bottlers which gave me great exposure to the industry and the business operations, which has really benefited me in my more senior positions.”
Joe moved to the USA for two years in the 1980s before Coca-Cola Amatil bought CC Bottlers. He believes the biggest differences between working in the USA and Australia compared with Eastern Europe are the infrastructure, business models and level of economic development.
“In Eastern Europe there were strict systems in place, including the order in which you had to pay suppliers. There was such a vast difference in how you go about conducting business.
“One of the more memorable incidents was when our office in Ukraine was raided by the Tax Police, who were walking around with military style guns. A completely different experience to an audit by the Australian Tax Office!
“One of my many fond memories is from my time in Slovakia, for my 40th birthday the whole finance team organised a surprise party. I found the local staff had an amazing sense of community and incredible family values. They were highly educated, multi-lingual and extremely motivated. I experienced this across Eastern Europe.
“I worked with other expats from across the globe and the local staff made us feel so welcome, they really took us in and made us feel at home. They helped us in settling into their countries.”
In 2004 Joseph and his family moved back to Australia and he started working for the billion-dollar Japanese company, Hoshizaki Corporation, as the Finance & Supply Chain Director Asia Pacific of their Australian based subsidiary, Hoshizaki Lancer Pty Ltd. Hoshizaki Corporation is a world leader in Draught Beer and Soft Drink Dispense systems, Ice Machines and Professional Food Service Refrigeration and Freezer units.
“I feel fortunate to have only ever worked for companies who produce products that people enjoy.”
With hindsight, Joseph’s advice for recent graduates is to gain as much international experience and variety in different roles as possible.
“Working in a foreign country is great for your self-development, self-reliance and cultural and business awareness, which in-turn will improve your career.
“My wife has a Bachelor of Visual Arts with Honours and was awarded a University Medal for Academic Excellence, and our daughter completed a Bachelor of Journalism and is now studying a Graduate Diploma in Marketing. So our whole family are UniSA alumni!”
Illustrator and Owner of One Hectare
Bachelor of Design (Illustration Design)
“It all started in 2011 with a range of Christmas cards born from a passion for good design combined with a commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Like many new creative start-ups, we headed off to our local weekend market armed with our self-funded new card range to see if anybody else shared our vision of greatness!
“Six years later, after a design award or two and many more weekend markets and trade shows around Australia, One Hectare has its own dedicated online store and a retail studio in Adelaide's gorgeous Regent Arcade on Rundle Mall.”
UniSA grant taking Environmental Science student across the seas
Bachelor of Environmental Science
Environmental Science student Michael Dyer has always had a passion for the outdoors and the environment. As the recipient of the 2015 Cowan Young Endeavour Grant he embarked on an adventure that has heightened his interest in the world around him.
After briefly studying Mechanical Engineering, 22-year-old Michael decided it was not the right path for him and switched to a Bachelor of Environmental Science at UniSA. With a keen interest in ecology, ecosystem function, conservation and the role of mathematics in ecology, Michael joined the Biology Society of South Australia as an undergraduate representative in order to further his career in his field of choice.
“Throughout my life there have been three pillars I have been passionate about: mathematics, problem solving and nature; I wanted to study something which incorporated these themes,” Michael says.
In 2015, Michael received the Cowan Young Endeavour Grant and joined a crew of 23 other young Australians to sail on the World Voyage for 40 days across the North Sea - from Southampton to Amsterdam.
“The adventure on the Young Endeavour was the most awe-inspiring and greatest thing I have ever experienced,” says Michael.
“My most memorable moments involve sitting on the yards of the foremast, laughing with friends in the middle of the North Sea.”
While Michael learnt all the ins and outs of tall ship sailing, including maritime history and the rules of travelling by sea, his favourite aspect of the trip was learning about the ship’s navigation.
“I learnt how to read charts and navigate by the stars, RADAR and GPS – I gained a deep respect for those ancient mariners that traversed the seas with only the stars and a sexton – they truly were on the edge of the Earth.
“The voyage was a physical challenge as well as mentally demanding. It has shown me a world I could only have dreamed to be a part of, and allowed me to redefine my love of nature and history.”
After finishing his degree, Michael plans to move into post-graduate studies at honours level.
“I aim to study ecosystem function and plant movements in ecosystems, on a local and international scale, specifically looking at how invasive species move through ecosystems and what plant mosaics can tell us about disturbance or history.
“Through my whole experience studying Environmental Science I have realised that you never know where a single conversation can take you. It has the power to plant a seed of an idea into your mind, and with commitment, dedication and surrounding yourself with like-minded people, that idea can become an extremely powerful tool to shape your life and change the world.
“The Young Endeavour Grant helped me to follow my personal goals and dreams of visiting places and an old era; I was immersed in the old world of sailing and mateship.
“The grant allowed me to make connections for my own future aspirations in environmental science, specifically in telling the story of plant function and movement around the globe,” Michael says.
Learn more about how you can support scholarships, grants and prizes for UniSA students like Michael.
Founder of Diabetes Counselling Online and Recycled Interiors
Bachelor’s Degree Social Work (Hons), 1989
UniSA alumna Helen Edwards is a multi award winning source of inspiration. She founded an acclaimed diabetes counselling service, has published a children’s book, runs an online homewares store, is completing her PhD, and was a South Australian finalist in the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Awards and a state finalist in the 2016 Australian of the Year Awards.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child, she became aware of a lack of understanding of the condition and wanted to create her own counselling services to connect and support patients. In 2001 Helen founded Diabetes Counselling Online, which has helped thousands of people living with diabetes and their families worldwide.
Helen completed a Bachelor of Social Work with Honours in 1989. After 12 years working in the challenging yet rewarding area of welfare and child protection, Helen decided to pursue a different path very close to her personal life.
“To me social work is the holistic career when it comes to the helping professions because we address mental health and wellbeing alongside societal and political issues,” Helen says.
“I’d reached a point where I wanted help for myself and was unable to find it. At the time I started the counselling services, I basically quit my job and set off to create an online community which was, at that time, pioneering. Nobody was really using technology to support communities and online counselling was rare in Australia.”
But while her idea was much needed in the diabetes community, Helen struggled breaking into the field and faced multiple barriers and the advice that ‘people with diabetes should not work in diabetes as they carry too much baggage’.
Refusing to give up, Helen worked for two years to challenge the system and create a world where people with diabetes had a voice and better quality of life. Shortly after founding Diabetes Counselling Online, Helen studied as a diabetes educator to increase her credibility and knowledge in the field, and 15 years later the organisation is a continuing success.
“We’ve won multiple awards and helped thousands and thousands of people with diabetes and their families across the world to live healthier, happier lives. This hasn’t been an easy road, but I’m proud to use my personal journey to make a statement, because really, what is wrong with baggage?”
In 2014, Helen published a children’s picture book, Diabetes Can’t Stop Me, to help inform and encourage families to discuss diabetes with their children and to lessen the stigma.
“Families with young children with type 1 diabetes constantly live with the threat of high and low blood glucose, as well as terrible complications such as blindness, kidney disease, stroke, and nerve damage. There are double the rates of depression and greatly reduced wellbeing.
“The book aims to help children feel less alone, more empowered, and to make daily diabetes tasks easier. The soft toys which come with the book have spots on their tummies so they can take their injections along with their owner.”
In 2013, with a love of vintage and the stories that lie behind old stuff, Helen started blog and online homewares store Recycled Interiors, to help people create unique, beautiful and sustainable homes that care for the planet. The blog has won multiple awards and was a finalist in the 2014 Bupa Blog Awards.
Helen was a South Australian finalist in the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Awards and a state finalist in the 2016 Australian of the Year Awards.
In 2016 she will complete her PhD, through which she explores the personal and prominent area of pregnancy and motherhood among women with type 1 diabetes.
“I’ve continually come across a lack of understanding and services to support women during this critical time in their lives. After talking with many women with diabetes about their fears and anxieties and the ultimate joy of becoming a mother - I was drawn to a PhD topic both dear to my heart and under-researched,” Helen says.
“Given I was told at the age of 12 that I’d probably never have children, I have a unique position as an insider. I’m now in fact the mother of three healthy strapping boys!”
Helen has advice for recent Social Work graduates, telling them not to be afraid to try different, unexplored paths of work.
“Never think you can’t use your personal experiences in your work; engage with your clients as human beings and with a genuine desire to help and there will be better outcomes for everyone.”
Principal Architect at JPE Design Studio Pty Ltd
Bachelor of Architecture with Honours (first class)
(now the Bachelor of Architectural Studies + Master of Architecture)
A career in architecture has taken UniSA graduate, Josephine Evans around Australia, allowed her to push the boundaries of innovation, and connected her across the world. Having worked on a diverse range of projects, including the Athlete’s Village for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, the Walkerville Civic and Community Centre in Adelaide, tourist retreats in Perth and the recent new Learning Centre at Adelaide High School, Josephine’s next exciting project is UniSA’s Great Hall.
Tell us about the Great Hall project.
The Great Hall is not as traditional as it sounds. It will be a highly functioning place 24/7, a new home for UniSA Sport and a place for celebration. We very much see this building as a public realm for the city and the campus with green gardens and outdoor terracing, an indoor plaza that connects with and opens to Høj Plaza and specialised facilities for sports and wellbeing including a 25m pool. It will be a destination with a hall that acts as a chameleon, transforming itself into a theatre and events space. Most importantly it will be designed for the unexpected, with hidden services and integrated technology, ensuring the building performs well into the future.
What is your involvement in the project?
To be working with my own university to realise such a vision is quite a defining moment in my career. It’s a unique opportunity to be working and learning from both the Norwegian firm Snøhetta and Adelaide’s own Jam Factory, who form the lead design team in association with JPE Design Studio. JPE is the lead consultant on the project and my role is to lead the consultation with the various university groups and users, working closely with the UniSA project team. I will gather all of the requirements needed to successfully deliver the University’s vision for the project and translate that to the design team both here and in Oslo. Once the design is fully developed I will take the project lead role during the construction of the building to ensure the team delivers a centre of excellence.
What is special about this project?
The Great Hall evokes great expectations. The idea to create a place that not only showcases the University brand and its presence in the city but also reflects UniSA’s culture and attitude is not unique. What is unique is that this building does not facilitate study and will bring people together to share a new university experience that is social, inclusive and also accessible to the public. The culture of the University is to foster collaboration and enterprise, encouraging students and staff to think broadly about what is possible in the 21st century. Bringing a global cultural understanding of public and educational buildings, Snøhetta will inform this conversation. These ingredients will result in a defining project, not only for UniSA’s City West Campus but also for the city and the State of South Australia.
What is the best thing about being an architect?
There is never a dull moment. I really enjoy working on a diverse range of projects and I live and breathe design. The contribution to how we express ourselves through the built environment has a gravitas that can be long lasting way beyond the immediate future. Making and crafting a building or place and learning about different materials and construction techniques is also fascinating for me, especially with technology moving so fast. How we communicate is going digital but our physical environment has a huge impact on how we experience a place and how we do things. I suppose I have always been interested in people and the environment and I go to work every day to explore this relationship. It is a demanding but rewarding career if you can get the balance right and also spend time relaxing and enjoying life, to feed your inspiration.
What has been the highlight of your career?
The first of many highlights was winning a national interior design award for my first interior design, working for Cox Architects in Melbourne on the Chisholm TAFE, Access and Languages building in Dandenong. As a graduate I was assisting across the project on many aspects of the design and took the lead on the interior as the office was so busy. Little did I know how innovative the client would allow me to be. The design set a benchmark for me of what is possible.
What do you still hope to achieve in your career?
I hope to build on my experience in education and public buildings but I’m also very open to any design related projects. I believe in collaboration, particularly between disciplines, and hope to continue working with other designers and passionate clients for years to come.
Highly regarded by its graduates, the 2015 Good Universities Guide rates the Architecture program at UniSA in the top category for Good Teaching, Generic Skills and Overall Satisfaction (Source Australian Graduate Survey). Find out more about studying Architecture visit unisa.edu.au/architecture
PhD candidate at UniSA, Fulbright Scholar
Bachelor of Physiotherapy
UniSA PhD student and physiotherapist Joel Fuller (Bachelor of Physiotherapy with Honours 2012), who is investigating the connection between running strides and sports injury, will travel to the United States to further his research as part of the prestigious Fulbright scholarships program.
Joel will use his Fulbright South Australia Postgraduate Scholarship to visit the University of Massachusetts.
He says he will use his time in the US to investigate whether there is a connection between running stride and injury risk.
“Running is an inherent component of most sports, so it’s important for understanding injuries,” he says.
“We’re looking at whether the structure and pattern of your running stride gives an indication of the health of your neuromuscular system – similar to how the structure and pattern of your heartbeat gives an indication of the health of your cardiovascular system.”
He says he will use his time in the US to investigate whether there is a connection between running stride and injury risk.
“We’re looking at whether the structure and pattern of your running stride gives an indication of the health of your neuromuscular system – similar to how the structure and pattern of your heartbeat gives an indication of the health of your cardiovascular system.”
Joel will set off in August with the goal to further investigate a stride assessment technique developed as a spin-off from his PhD project on footwear and running injuries.
“We developed some novel biomechanical assessment techniques that we thought had potential clinical application,” Joel says.
“We use a sensor inside the shoe to detect foot strikes and measure running stride rhythm.
“When running, no stride is the same as the last one. Previous work in motor control shows this variation is not just white noise, but instead contains a purposeful structure that results from fine-tuning of the running stride by the central nervous system.
“If certain stride structures and patterns can be proven to predict certain types of injury, our technique to assess running stride will give a good idea of a runner’s risk of injury.
“Currently biomechanical assessment can be equipment-heavy and time consuming. This technique is much simpler, and will be easy to use in practice. The complexity is in processing the stride information, not in collecting it and this processing can be automated.”
The University of Massachusetts will offer Joel the opportunity to work with a large group of high-performance athletes from the institution’s sporting programs. Joel says he is looking forward to tapping into the university’s expertise.
“This is a great chance to stay at the forefront of my field and investigate questions that have come up in practice,” he says.
“Down the track, I hope to translate my findings to clinical work, to benefit patients and end users.”
The Fulbright Program has been providing opportunities for educational exchanges between the United States and Australia since 1949.
UniSA’s second Fulbright Scholar of 2015, Adjunct Professor Rob Fowler, will travel to George Washington University on the Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Climate Change and Clean Energy.
For more information on Prof Fowler, Joel and the Fulbright Scholarship program, visit the Australian American Fulbright Commission website
More information on PhD research opportunities at UniSA.
Dr Martin Freney
UniSA Lecturer, School of Art, Architecture and Design
Bachelor of Industrial 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.
Bachelor of Design (Illustration Design)
“Amanda Graham writes and illustrates picture books and short stories for young children. Her first book, Arthur (ill. Donna Gynell, Era Publications), appeared in 1984 and won the UK Children’s Federation Award and was short-listed for the CBCA Awards.
“Amanda’s most recent book is Fancy Pants (Little Big Book Club), written by Kelly Hibbert.
“Other titles include Smart Dad (Omnibus), Wilbur (author Phil Cummings, Little Big Book Club), Picasso the green tree frog (ill. John Siow, Era Publications) and Educating Arthur (ill. Donna Gynell, Era Publications.
“Amanda writes, illustrates and teaches in the Adelaide Hills.”
Bachelor of International Relations
In 2008, Ahmad Hakim first arrived in Australia after surviving and escaping Iran in the midst of political unrest. In the years since he initially fled with nothing more than a blanket and the clothes on his back, Ahmad has gone from a dish washer, to the first Ahwazian Arab man in South Australia to graduate from university, to securing a role with the UN Refugee Agency – the same organisation that helped him register as a refugee and move to Australia.
Ahmad shares his story and why he believes communication is an important step towards healing.
“It is really hard to be a refugee. Sharing my story is really important for educating non-refugees about just how hard our lives are and the constant struggle we go through each day,” says Ahmad.
When Ahmad first arrived in Adelaide, he chose to fully immerse himself in English and Australian culture as much as possible. A mainstay of integration into his Australian life consisted of paying regular visits to the local shops, hoping to pick up as much English as he could.
“It was a very important and significant stage of my life in Australia because I saw myself like a new born baby, with no understanding of the language or culture. Learning about a new culture that I am going to live with for the rest of my life was vital.
“I am in Australia now, that’s where I am going to have my children and they are some of the values I’m going to teach my children.”
Ahmad’s goal to submerge himself in Australian culture proved worthwhile, within that first six months he secured a job working as a dish washer.
“When I started working in the Adelaide Convention Centre in 2009 with little English, my behaviour in dealing with the environment around me was different to other people - sometimes I would make mistakes and it was hard for me to explain why I did something that way.”
But Ahmad continued to do what he had always done, work hard. He rose through the ranks from dish washer to cook while studying Commercial Cookery at Regency TAFE, as well as working the evening shift at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. In total Ahmad was working 15 hours a day, six days a week.
After marrying and beginning his family, Ahmad decided at 35 that he would pursue the tertiary education he had always sought after by enrolling in a Bachelor of International Relations, knowing it was the right choice to help provide for his family.
“I always dreamt of going to university and this came at a time when we had our first young child and I knew I needed to establish a stable future for our family.
“It is very inspiring because people in Australia are very positive and forward thinking. Studying in Australia is very different from my country where education is limited to the elite and is not open to just anybody. In Australia, education is very inclusive and they don’t discriminate.”
Towards the end of his time studying at UniSA, Ahmad secured a role as Multilingual Liaison Officer for Senator Alex Gallacher, an experience he holds in high regard.
“It was great. They were very supportive and friendly. I was able to get involved from day one and learn a little about how the system works.
“I grew up in Iran where politics affected our lives on a daily basis - it is a popular topic although taboo. If I can get a job in politics in Australia I could provide valuable insight and analysis into Iran’s politics, possibly helping to support better relationships between the two countries.”
More recently, Ahmad moved to Brisbane and secured a job with the UN Refugee Agency, the same organisation that originally helped him move to Australia. Ahmad says the job is important to him because he is able to work with people, engage in dialogue, and share his story with others.
“I know first-hand what a difference this work makes to the lives of refugees, as do many of my work colleagues.
“A safe place to sleep, clean water, food and health care are like gold when you are living under the conditions that refugee status places you under.”
Since arriving in Australia, Ahmad has tirelessly put everything into his work to ensure he can create the best possible future for his family. Along the way he has formed an invaluable skillset. When asked what he ultimately wants to do with these skills, Ahmad said the most important thing he could do is hear the stories of others like himself.
“If I could use my skills to do anything, it would be to listen to the stories of refugees and immigrants and learn from them.
“When we listen to one another we do two things: we make comparisons to our own lives and we challenge our preconceived ideas and judgements about another person, changing the way we first thought about them (maybe we develop some empathy too).
“Secondly, to speak to someone who is listening allows us to offload the things that are on our mind, the things that upset us, anger us, make us laugh etc.
“When you have already been through a series of traumas, then placed in a city very different to what you know and you don’t speak the language, you feel very isolated and even more displaced.
“When you acquire the ability to ‘fit in’ more and communicate with the new society you find yourself in, having someone listen to you and your journey is healing.”
Consultant: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Development
University of South Australia
Associate Diploma of Arts (Aboriginal Studies)
Bachelor of Arts (Aboriginal Studies)
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.
Director of Performance Science for the Philadelphia Eagles
Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Movement)
After starting his career volunteering for the Australian Football League (AFL), UniSA alumnus James Hanisch has gone from strength to strength and is currently the Director of Performance Science for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Philadelphia Eagles are a hugely popular National Football League (NFL) club in the United States, and have sold out every game since 1999. James is responsible for testing, analysing and interpreting the player’s performance metrics, and then communicating recommendations to head coaches - and the athletes - to ensure the team can compete as best as possible.
We caught up with James after the recent Super Bowl to learn more about his fascinating career with the NFL, what it’s like ‘behind the scenes’ of the AFL and the biggest difference between the two giant sport industries.
Congratulations on your position as the Director of Performance Science for the Philadelphia Eagles! Please describe your time working for the NFL in the US.
Not sure where to start. It has been an unforgettable experience. I had always watched American Football growing up and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work at such an amazing franchise especially one where the owner is dedicated to giving us the resources from a performance science standpoint. We have a dedicated performance team here at the Eagles. Sport-specific technology has improved drastically over the past decade and we implement strategies using new sport science technology that makes the job exciting. This new technology consists of heart rate sensors to camera and force plate analysis. Although the job carries high expectations we have fun doing it.
Philadelphia is a great city with fans who are passionate. The Eagles organization is like a family and the owner goes above and beyond to make it truly feel like that. My wife and son are cared for extremely well, game day is exceptional, they have Christmas parties and events for the family, for kids and for the partners. It is a very inclusive place to work and it doesn’t go unnoticed.
What does your work day look like?
Depending on whether it is in-season or pre-season most of the days consist of helping players pre-practice with warming up, measuring outputs in the weight room, involved in practice, coordinating recovery session post practice and any additional conditioning the players need and then finishing the day discussing information with coaches and staff. Repeat.
You started your career by volunteering at the Port Adelaide and Adelaide Football AFL Clubs in Australia. Did you feel that volunteering was imperative to gaining a position in this field?
Imperative, no. But, invaluable, yes. Elite sport is a small community especially in the coaching/sports performance circles. Not only does volunteering give you an opportunity to learn and develop a specific skill set but it also allows you to understand the difference between a research/scientific and a practical approach. Human Movement gives you an outstanding base knowledge of sports performance across multiple levels, but nothing prepares you for the rigors of elite sport. Elite sport is demanding, long days, weeks and constant weekend work. Volunteering gives the opportunity to understand the demands and helps in the decision on whether I wanted to do this as a career.
It also helps develop networks. It is my belief that gaining employment boils down to this: It takes who you know to get a job and what you know to keep it. Networking is an important part of the business and volunteering helps start that.
Have you noticed any significant differences between the AFL and the NFL?
There are some big differences as well as many similarities. The main similarity is that the players are just people like everyone else whether that be in Australia, here in the US or around the world. We all idolize athletes and their talents but when you are in this environment you develop relationships with them by understanding that they are just normal people. The other similarity is good communication. A successful work environment really comes down to excellent communication. Communication of results, of standard and expectations and of performance. This goes throughout the whole organization from the players to management. As a Sport Scientist if you are too complex with reporting or analysis and cannot portray that information effectively to players, coaches or staff then your message, no matter how important it is, is not being utilized by the decision makers and you are not adding value to the program. This goes for both AFL and the NFL.
In terms of differences. The game is obviously different and the tiny nuances of the game have taken longer to understand than I expected, which is something that came easy in AFL growing up playing the game. Game day is a significant difference both from a spectator standpoint (it is like a full entertainment package), to in the locker room. The locker room in AFL before the game is intense and serious, the NFL locker room there is music blaring, dancing and an easy and calm before the storm. Culturally both environments are very different.
From an organization standpoint having an owner and the structure of leadership is different but also refreshing. You know who the owner/owners are and their vision for the business. Coaching wise, there are a large number of coaches all playing very specific roles which again comes down to great communication.
What is it like ‘behind the scenes’ at the AFL? What is the biggest misconception about the AFL (in your opinion)?
A big misconception would be time. We work a lot of hours and basically 7 days a week throughout the year. One of the biggest questions I get asked is ‘what do you do in the Off-Season?’. Although it seems like when the players are not here that would be the best time for us to have break. In actual fact for me that is the busiest time. When we are In-Season the days really just repeat themselves and you get into a rhythm. There is no time for personal development, solving problems or discussion on big picture outcomes. The Off-Season is a great time for that as well as our time to review the year, identify areas to improve and also plan the next pre-season and in-season programs. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes other than the day to day preparation for game day week to week.
What is your favourite memory from your time working with the AFL?
I have two:
1. Rather than just one memory I think it is more about the day to day. The conversations in the locker room, helping improve the players and the thirst for competition each day.
2. My first day as an intern the High Performance Manager asked me how my kicking technique was. I said it was ‘OK’. He needed my help with some extra conditioning with a player. That player ended up being Andrew McLeod who was my idol growing up. That was one of the best experiences I have had. First day on the job, involved in a goal kicking session with Andrew McLeod!
Please tell me about your time at UniSA studying a Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Movement). Why did you choose this course?
It really comes down to my passion for sport and competition. This degree has such a wide range of career possibilities and it is perfect for anyone who is passionate about competition and is unsure of their final direction in life. I have always thought the human body is fascinating. Its ability to adapt, push through pain and the constant ‘limits’ that are broken really fascinate me. This degree was perfect for developing knowledge of the human body and its capabilities but also how to practically apply solutions to the general population and athletes on solving problems whether it be through rehabilitation, biomechanics or physiologically.
I guess when it comes down to it. If you love sport like I do and enjoy being around like-minded people this is the degree for you.
Physical Education Teacher and Deputy Principal
Bachelor of Education (Secondary Physical Education)
Gavin Hirschhausen’s passion for sport has taken him all over the world. His adventures have eventually led him back to Australia, as a Deputy Principal and Mayor Candidate in Greater Geraldton, where his focus is now on the importance of health and activity in schools.
While working as a teacher, Gavin realised how important physical education and living an active lifestyle are to children, and that Australian schools need to place more focus on students’ physical and mental health.
“Mental health issues are on the rise, and the focus is on treatment, not the root issues – not a lot of work is being done to understand the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle; people need time for recreation and play,” Gavin says.
After graduating from UniSA with a Bachelor of Education (Secondary Physical Education) in 1995, Gavin Hirschhausen flew straight over to America to pursue a dream of working in sport, unaware of exactly how far a summer job at camp would take him.
“I had a couple of good PE teachers who believed in me, and I wanted to continue in a career with my love of sport.
“I travelled extensively after each summer and kept coming back to Camp Deerhorn in Wisconsin because of the positivity of the place and the huge impact they had on shaping young boys into men of respect, honour and compassion.”
In 1998, Gavin trekked north to Canada, where he struggled with money until a local ski school said they would offer him a job if he passed his Level 1 ski instructor course.
“I volunteered to take extra ski lessons and was awarded Ski Instructor of the Year at the end of the season – that little journey taught me humility and to be truly thankful for every opportunity. By that time I was well and truly addicted to the mountains,” says Gavin, who began working as an avalanche controller at Castle Mountain Resort in Alberta.
“This job involved a steep learning curve utilising all my outdoor specialist skills from UniSA. I loved every second of it; there’s nothing like having a stick of explosives between your legs on the edge of a steeply packed snow face to let you know you’re alive.”
After six adrenaline filled years in North America, Gavin returned home to Australia to decide where his career would take him next. His continued passion for sport brought him to Geraldton, Western Australia, where he worked as Sports Coordinator and PE teacher at two schools.
“It wasn’t until I got a job at Strathalbyn Christian College in Geraldton, that I found what I was looking for. As I built the Outdoor Education program there it became really clear to me how inactive and disconnected from creation a lot of kids were becoming. I became quite passionate about it and found myself leading more and more by example.”
Throughout his life and career journey, Gavin has discovered a lot about the pursuit of dreams and goals, and the importance of grasping onto opportunity. He recently ran for Mayor of the City of Greater Geraldton, and while unsuccessful, believes it was a valued experience that has expanded his horizons.
“I returned from twelve weeks study leave last year where I visited Germany and the US to look at innovations in education and leadership as part of my postgraduate studies, and had my eyes opened to the opportunities that exist back home.
“You should live your dreams, and dream big! Be humble and open to the opportunities that present themselves as there are many paths you may need to go down to discover which is right. It will take you longer than expected to achieve your goals, but trust yourself to have a go.”
Dr Caroline Hong, FAICD
CEO of CH Asia Australia, Chairman of China HR Australia, Asia HR Australia.
Graduate Diploma in Health Administration
The signing of the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement on 17 June 2015 heralds a new era in trading relations between the two countries. UniSA alumna Dr Caroline Hong has been a part of the evolving relationship since she participated in a trade mission to Shandong province almost three decades ago. She has an impressive career in health administration, consulting and public speaking and is widely recognised as an Australia-Asia SME Expert.
Asian born, Caroline grew up in Adelaide, and began her career as a dentist. She found herself drawn to the health administration path and progressed to become first woman CEO of the Australian Dental Association NSW & ACT.
Caroline runs her own consultancy CH Asia Australia advising on Australia-Asia cultural and business issues. She is a sought after public speaker and is a regular columnist on business topics.
With an equally impressive list of honorary positions, Caroline is currently Vice Chair, Sports Aviation Flight College Australia (SAA) and Co-Founder of Sydney School of Protocol Asians in Australia.
We spoke to Dr Hong about her career and her insights on doing business with Asia.
Tell us about the career achievements of which you are most proud.
My most proud achievement was when I became the first woman and first Asian to become the CEO of the Australian Dental Association NSW & ACT in 1997.
At that time, it was newsworthy. Some people perceived that I broke the glass ceiling for women and for Asians living in Australia.
That led me to an amazing next 10 years in the medical sector as the first CEO of a medical ultrasound peak association, the Australasian Society for Ultrasound in Medicine, responsible for Australia and NZ. Then I became the inaugural foundation CEO of the SME Association of Australia, leading me to my current international consulting business and public speaking.
You travelled to Shandong Province in 1987 as part of an Australian delegation to China during the early days of the South Australia - Shandong Province sister-state relationship. How far have we come in our dealings with China?
A lot has changed! It would be hard for most people to understand the pride I felt to be an Asian face representing South Australia travelling on a Diplomat passport to China in 1987. China was starting to connect with the outside world, encouraged after Deng Xiaoping took office in 1978, setting into motion the economic transformation of modern China.
Economic, trade and culture links for South Australia with its sister-province of Shandong, hold greater significance in doing business with China. It is ingrained in the Confucian philosophy of mutual respect by building and nurturing relationships with “family” and “guanxi” networks.
We have to start thinking of ourselves as part of the Asia region and Asia time zone. It is important to cross borders and oceans to get onto the other side of the equator to visit businesses and government bodies in Asia.
The China Free Trade Agreement, which was signed on 17 June 2015, will bring unprecedented benefits from a reduction in tariffs and ease of doing business for the South Australian people who are smart enough to think of themselves as part of the Asian Century, if not the China Century.
You say that doing business successfully in Asia is not just about market research, branding strategy and building long term relationships. How important are the soft skills, such as cultural understanding and learning an Asian language?
Very vital! Studies by Harvard University, The Carnegie Foundation and the Stanford Research Institute have shown that 85per cent of success in getting a job, keeping a job, and moving up in an organisation is due to people, or “soft” skills. Technical skills and knowledge account for 15 per cent.
It is complex, particularly when dealing with Asia. Businesses and government bodies that seek to understand and embrace culture to better position themselves in Asia generally do better than those who stay complacent.
Learning an Asian language is useful, but learning the culture is very important regardless of whether you speak the language or not.
What advice do you have for young graduates looking to a career in international business?
Have courage to venture outside Australia. Do that early in your career.
Stay connected with your University Alumni. The Alumni can play a pivotal role in connecting you to the outside world.
If you are lacking in soft skills, invest early to get personalised professional help to master those skills instead of waiting for decades to develop them through trial and error.
Follow your heart. Network incessantly. Travel widely.
For more about Dr Caroline Hong visit:
or connect with her on Twitter @CarolineHong, Weibo or WeChat: DrCarolineHong
Connect with Caroline Hong on LinkedIn
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.
Dr Ariadne Juwono
Senior Lecturer, Physics Department, and Deputy of Quality Assurance in Governance, Human Resources, Infrastructure & Finance Affairs, University of Indonesia, Jakarta
Master of Materials Engineering
Dr Ariadne Juwono’s interest in physics developed in high school and led her to an academic career at the University of Indonesia spanning 26 years. She works as a researcher in nanocomposites and other materials, and is responsible teaching quality and improvement.
Ariadne credits her father for sparking her interest in science as a child.
“My father, who was an aircraft engineer, introduced his children to science. I became interested in physics when I was in high school. I thought by learning physics I would know more about the world and science,” she says.
She has been an active promoter of science careers among young people, especially among women.
“I am very grateful when I see young girls become scientists. I would love to share my story on how challenging it is to become a scientist, especially a woman scientist, in Indonesia,” says Ariadne.
Over the past decade she has seen an upward trend in the level of participation of women in science and increasing numbers of Indonesian young women have achieved international recognition in science.
She was introduced to the discipline of materials science and the study of composites in particular, while studying for her undergraduate degree in Physics at the Bandung Institute of Technology.
Since the development of powerful microscopes gave scientists the ability to see nano-sized materials and study and manipulate their properties, research into composites and nanocomposites and related areas has led to discoveries in a huge range of scientific and industrial applications, from drug delivery to clothing manufacturing, and from chemical clean-ups to structural applications in vehicle and building design.
Ariadne’s interest in composites led her to pursue her Masters in Materials Engineering at UniSA in 1994-1996, under her supervisor Professor Strafford who was an expert in the same research field. Current Masters students can study materials science at UniSA’s Ian Wark Research Institute.
Ariadne obtained her doctoral degree from Monash University in 2005 with a dissertation on the behaviour of clay/ epoxy nanocomposites. She later returned to Monash for six months under the Endeavour Fellowship Program to study nanofiber fabrication using a force-spinner.
“For the last five years, I have been involved in biodegradable polymer research – still in the area of composites and nanocomposites,” she says.
“I have been working in research collaboration with the Indonesian Aerospace (IAe) company and the Agency for Assessment and Application Technology Republic of Indonesia. The polymer based composites have been used for structural applications. In the future, the biodegradable polymers – either the polymer itself or in composites and nanocomposites - will be used for medical application in a wide range of functions,” she says.
In her role as Senior Lecturer in the Physics Department between 1998 and 2010 she was responsible for organising the Basic Physics Laboratory for Mathematics and Natural Sciences and Engineering Faculties, where she saw student numbers almost double from 800 to 1500 students.
Since 2010 she has been responsible for academic staff teaching skills development and is now Vice Head of the Academic Quality Assurance Board, where she coordinates academic quality assurance among faculties in the university level.
Ariadne won the Best Researcher in Sciences from the University of Indonesia in 1997 as recognition of her achievement and contribution in physics and she is currently Chairperson of the Jakarta Chapter of the Indonesian Physics Association.
Jo La Spina
2015 Institute of Public Works Engineers Australia SA Division Professional of the Year
Bachelor of Civil Engineering and Masters of Engineering (Hydrology and Water Resources)
Engineering graduate, Jo La Spina, who is one of South Australia’s first engineers of water sensitive urban design (WSUD), has been recognised for the quality of his work, winning the 2015 Institute of Public Works Engineers Australia SA Division Professional of the Year award.
Joe, who works for Wallbridge and Gilbert Consulting Engineers, has designed many water sensitive projects in Adelaide. He says it was a real surprise to win the award but is grateful to be recognised by his peers.
“I had no idea I had been nominated for the award, and was quite surprised when my name was read out at the awards presentation. I’m grateful that my work has been acknowledged by the Civil Engineering industry”, Joe says.
Joe calls himself a ‘Green Engineer’, and says his work is a mix of delivering environmental outcomes and civil engineering.
“I explain my job as a mix of engineering and caring for the environment. WSUD is about integrating the urban water cycle, including stormwater, into the planning of urban design and infrastructure”, he says.
Joe’s design work includes the Adelaide Zoo, Victoria Square Redevelopment, UniSA’s M2 building at Mawson Lakes and Springwood Wetlands. Joe’s work has also revived a plant species on the brink of extinction.
“I’m proud to say I have completed a range of projects in this area. One of my first projects was at Aldinga beach, where my design discharged stormwater into a conservation park to reinstate water flow, bringing back a plant species that was thought to be extinct”, Joe says.
Joe also took his passion to his home, installing water sensitive design techniques throughout his house, which drove his peers to nominate him.
“My peers noticed I practice what I preach through my use of WSUD in my family home, which is one of the reasons I was nominated. I can boast that no stormwater leaves my house, I harvest and utilise it all year round”, Joe says.
Joe thanks the UniSA Civil Engineering teaching staff for where he is today, saying they introduced him to WSUD.
“I have to credit Professor Simon Beecham and Adjunct Professor John Argue from my study at UniSA, they have influenced me in Civil Engineering and WSUD techniques relating directly to my career. UniSA's Civil Engineering programs are practical, realistic and reflect what the industry needs, so I’m thankful to have studied there,” says Joe.
Applications for UniSA’s Master of Engineering with specialisations in Water Resource Management, Civil and Infrastructure or Transport are open now. Find more information here.
Executive Director at Groupo Culinaria
Le Cordon Bleu Master of Business Administration (International Hotel and Restaurant Management)
After completing his Le Cordon Bleu Master of Business Administration, Raul Leal continued to climb up the executive’s cuisine ladder in Mexico. In just a few years he had moved from Operations Manager at Mundo De Adeveras, a theme park, to becoming executive director at Groupo Culinaria, a well-regarded restaurant group. Raul discusses his progression to the top, why he chose to study at the University of South Australia, and his advice for recent graduates.
Please briefly outline your journey from studying a Master of Business Administration in International Hotel and Restaurant Management at UniSA to becoming the executive director at Grupo Culinaria.
Before I went to UniSA I was a mid-level manager at a restaurant group. However, I knew that in order to advance in my career, I needed a more advanced set of skills. That is why I chose to do an MBA in hospitality, which is the field that I like the most. I also knew that these new skills would be highly appreciated in my home country and this is why I decided to come back home right after I finished my degree. I had the honour of finishing top of my class, receiving the Dux award in 2016.
Right after I came back I was offered a position as Operations Director in a theme park, beginning an upward spiral of new and better positions in which I had the opportunity to apply my previous experience and new knowledge leading to my current position of Executive Director, and minority partner, in a restaurant group. As Executive Director I report directly to the board and I have the whole organisation under my supervision. I am in charge of the day-to-day operations of several restaurants, a cooking school, and a hospitality consulting firm.
What inspired you to study at UniSA?
I was looking to do a postgraduate degree in restaurant or hospitality management and after reviewing my options (New York or Switzerland) I decided that Le Cordon Bleu MBA in UniSA really was the best for me, since it was a full MBA with a Hospitality orientation and not the other way around. Besides, Australia sounded a lot more affordable and friendly for a student who is married with kids, and in the end it really was too. I have no regrets, I enjoyed the school and its professors a lot and we fell instantly in love with the country and its people.
How did you studies at UniSA help build your career?
The School and program reputations, plus the exoticness of a degree from Australia (as far as possible from Mexico), helped me stand out with head-hunters and companies. The advantage of having people interested in hearing your story plus previous experience and preparation from the degree have given me an edge in grabbing sought after positions.
What was you experience at UniSA?
My experience in UniSA was great. I have fond memories of the time spent in the MBA room doing research or group work with people literally from all around the world, or time in the cafeteria with friends and professors. I particularly remember how approachable and helpful all the professors and school employees were with everything, not just school related but in life and around Adelaide.
What is your advice for recent graduates?
Don´t take the job that pays the most, look for the one that gives you broader experience and the most responsibilities. Always learn something new and take chances. Don’t worry about the money, it will come later, have fun.
Bill Le Blanc
Executive Director & CIO of SA Health
Master of Business Administration
In 2013 UniSA alumnus Bill Le Blanc took on the role of Executive Director & CIO of SA Health. Since then he has begun to appear frequently in the media, drive innovation in health ICT, and has overseen the technology elements of the 'digital hospital of the future'.
Bill was recently announced by CIO Australia as the top CIO in Australia for 2017, in its annual ranking of Australia’s top 50 technology leaders.
The past few years have seen the construction and recent opening of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. Covering 10 hectares of land, the complex has over 6,000 staff, 40 operating suites, and is gearing up for full use of electronic medical records. As CIO of SA Health, Bill has spent his time driving business transformation through new technologies in medical imaging, pathology and electronic medical records, in addition to overseeing a wide range of new technologies being incorporated into the new hospital.
“As a leader, it is sometimes difficult to keep teams motivated in the face of public criticism, but conviction and drive to deliver has carried us through. It’s been through the hard work of a huge number of people over many years that we have this collective achievement,” says Bill.
The hospital’s construction has faced a number of criticisms from both the media and the public over the building period. While Bill says there have been a number of challenges during his time as CIO, the voyage he has taken with the hospital and SA Health staff has ultimately paid off.
“The new hospital requires different ways of working for hospital staff when compared to the old Royal Adelaide Hospital. Working together with clinical leaders, executive and administrative leaders, to take staff on the change journey and providing effective leadership and governance over the program of work, has been one of our key challenges.”
A major mainstay of the new RAH has been the introduction of a wide range of new technologies. From electronic bedside devices, to the pneumatic tube system, and even driverless robots, the hospital has aimed to be at the forefront of health ICT innovation, earning the title of the ‘most advanced digital hospital’ in the country. Bill says these advances in technology are critical for improving the lives of both staff and patients.
“The technologies in this hospital support a completely different way of working, where we are transitioning into radically new models of clinical delivery. It is truly a digital hospital of the future.”
Bill says these innovations are important not just for the future of health in South Australia, but vital for improving health on a global level.
“The population we have is living longer and with more chronic health conditions. It is unsustainable to continue providing services using the service delivery models of old, and hence constant innovation is required.”
Since becoming the CIO of SA Health, Bill has frequently appeared in the media on all things concerning health information technology. When initially taking on the role, Bill says he did not expect the level of exposure and media attention he has received, though in hindsight it should have been expected.
“I knew the role encompassed driving transformational change, but I did not anticipate that the attention this generates would play out in media or require me to speak publicly on it.
“With 20/20 hindsight, it is completely understandable because the technology function within our business has, over the same period, transitioned from being a support function to being integral to the delivery of clinical services to patients.”
Despite the newfound exposure, Bill maintains that it does not impact the way he works or does business. For Bill, the work he does is too critical to let outside influences change his perspective.
“It’s certainly at the forefront of my mind that outside SA Health the average punter forms their impression of what we are doing based on media stories, but it doesn’t affect the way I do business. The key is to just keep doing the right things and the rest will take care of itself.
“What we do is incredibly important for the entire community and this a constant source of motivation.”
Before studying at UniSA, Bill had spent 15 years progressing through the ranks working various tech roles. It wasn’t until his interests started to shift more into working with people, that he realised he could combine his knowledge with a new set of skills.
“I began to enjoy business and people leadership functions more than the technology piece. And while I was achieving a level of success in leadership I felt that the formal grounding and leadership frameworks inherent in an MBA program would help boost my workplace performance.”
Bill says both health and ICT are linked as growing industries, with both providing ample opportunities for recent graduates, particularly where the two intersect.
“There are many paths to the same destination and many of the jobs of the future in both these areas do not exist yet. There are people working in the health ICT who trained as doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, IT technologists and more.
“My advice for recent graduates who want to get into the industry, is to immerse yourself in it as much as you can. Read about industry trends, challenges and projects. Network with people already in the industry and don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. Once you are in the industry there is plenty of scope to move around.”
Poh Kait Lee
Director of Asia and Pacific, Air Canada
Master of Business Administration (MBA), International Business
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.”
Designer with Adelaide’s Shifty Jelly
Bachelor of Design (2013)
IT professional turned graphic designer, Chris Martin, joined Adelaide app developer company Shifty Jelly as their designer 18 months after he graduated with a Bachelor of Design, Visual Communication in 2013. In May this year he travelled to San Francisco with colleagues to receive a Google award for their podcast app, Pocket Casts.
Shifty Jelly received its award for the “seamless browsing” that Pocket Casts delivers. It has been downloaded more than 100,000 times in Google’s Play Store and has half a million users.
The four-person team from Adelaide was one of only six companies in the world to win.
Chris says that last year's release by Google of its new app design software, Material Design, was a turning point for Android apps.
"There was a lot of scattered design thinking – every app looked different to the next one. Google took it upon itself to create a system to tie the apps together aesthetically," says Chris.
The release of Material Design spurred a flood of redesigned apps onto the market, but Shifty Jelly spent six months perfecting improvements to their Pocket Casts app before releasing the new Android product.
“We actually launched Pocket Casts in 2011. It was mainly a reaction to the Apple Podcasting app. A lot of people felt like it (the Apple app) was being neglected and not offering enough features. With podcasts especially there is a really passionate community of people who listen," says Chris, whose company is now applying the design improvements they made on Android to upgrade their iOS version of the app.
To a graphic designer working with interactive software in a small city like Adelaide, the experience of travelling to San Francisco and meeting other people who are passionate about a niche area of design was fantastic.
“I met some really influential people, including the Head of Design at Google,” says Chris, who experienced some unique opportunities like attending a Google meet-up for some 400 specialists in interactive design.
“Chris began his career in IT where he worked for a long time before he became interested in design.
"I used to do a lot of IT design support work so I constantly kept getting people coming to me with things they didn’t understand about software, so I reckon I must have internalised that," he says.
Chris went back to university to study graphic design without really knowing how to merge his IT knowledge with his design skills. He knew that working in graphic design in advertising wasn’t for him, so after graduating he went freelancing for 18 months before landing this job with Shifty Jelly.
Chris says the app design community in general is very good at sharing ideas and he gets his inspiration from reading design news on Twitter and sites like Designer News and Site Inspire.
“I think a lot of other apps provide inspiration for me. I usually work on a particular problem for a while then I might go and research how other apps address the specific problem. I find it really interesting to look at another app through the lens of having already worked on the problem.”
Opportunities are opening up for graphic designers in app design.
"A lot of the big digital companies in the US are hiring graphic designers to work just on product design. Facebook has famously hired some of the top designers in the world."
His advice for new graduates breaking into design is to keep on top of the industry, get involved and to put their work on the internet through sites like Dribble.com
As someone who straddles the twin worlds of designer and developer, Chris believes it is important to be involved in the development process so you learn to speak the language of developers.
He finds listening to design podcasts is a way to feel more connected to the global design community. The San Francisco-produced podcast series Design Details features interviews with some of the best designers in the world - and naturally you can subscribe to Design Details through Pocket Casts.
Clive was Editor of The Australian from 2011 to 2016.
Editor of News Corp’s national daily newspaper, The Australian, Clive Mathieson began his career as a cadet at The Advertiser in Adelaide 23 years ago. The product of a style of in-house training that has disappeared from many news outlets, he has witnessed some massive changes in news delivery over the past two decades.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from UniSA in 1995, Clive cut his teeth working in The Advertiser's business section, before moving to Sydney to be business reporter at The Australian. He spent three years as business correspondent at The Times in London before returning to The Australian in 2002 to become business editor. After working in several senior editorial roles at the paper he was appointed editor in 2011. He enjoyed a stint on secondment with The Wall Street Journal in New York in 2013.
Clive shares some of his career highlights and insights into the craft of journalism in the digital age.
Which stand-out moments in your career are you most proud of?
Personally, getting a page one splash in The Times of London, one of the world’s great newspapers, stands out. Professionally, seeing the positive effects of some of the campaigns we have run on issues such as the education and living conditions of indigenous Australians. It might sound like a marketing line, but getting justice or action for the voiceless, changing the place for the better, is what it’s all about.
With the pressures of the 24 hour news cycle, fragmented audiences and multiple delivery platforms, what are key challenges you face to keep a national daily newspaper afloat?
There’s been an enormous change in the newspaper industry in the past 20 years. When I started at The Advertiser in Adelaide, there were words and pictures published once a day (in black and white). Today, we publish 24 hours a day on multiple platforms – the newspaper, tablets, websites, mobiles and, soon, watches and who knows what else.
But the underlying business has not changed; it’s quality content that keeps readers coming back and, hopefully, paying for it. If, like The Australian, you hope to charge readers for your content, you need to provide something that is unique, compelling and not available elsewhere. We can’t compete with the Daily Mail for celebrity news, for example. Chasing traffic with ‘clickbait’ would just destroy what the paper stands for. Instead, we can provide the best political and business news in the nation - news that a smaller but dedicated audience is prepared to pay for.
Some outlets – new, like Buzzfeed, and established, like the Daily Mail – will give their content away for free in the hope of building an audience large enough to make money through advertising. Others, like The Australian and other major newspaper groups, believe subscriptions are the way to go. Some have a mix. It’s a real challenge and no media outlet has found the perfect solution.
You must have met some impressive people in your time as a journalist in London and Sydney. Can you think of three or four with whom you'd like to share a long Sunday lunch?
I’ve had fleeting interactions with Clive James, in London 15 years ago and in my current role more recently. He’s one of the nation’s greatest exports, a true genius, and would definitely be there. This will sound like sycophancy, but one of the advantages of working at News Corp is the opportunity to spend time with Rupert Murdoch. He’s controversial, of course, but he’s among our most successful global business leaders, he’s incredibly insightful, passionate about topics such as education and health, and constantly curious – about the world, about technology, about the future of the media. More recently, I’ve met the former NSW Governor Dame Marie Bashir. I’d often wondered what the fuss was about when others raved about her, but she truly is an extraordinary, deeply engaging woman. What she has given to the country, and to worthy causes, is beyond measure. If there’s a theme there, it’s older Australians who’ve lived a life and have something to offer younger generations.
What advice do you have for today's graduating journalists trying to break into news — is deep-end therapy still part of the learning curve?
Despite all the technological advances, it’s the story-telling that keeps people coming back. And the basic rules apply: break news; be concise; be fair to all sides; be accurate; keep comment out of straight news reports; humanise stories.
Sadly, there are fewer old hands in journalism these days to help the younger ones. There’s less formal training so it’s much easier to pick up bad habits (I see so much commentary masquerading as news these days – and some grammatical howlers). Thankfully, some outlets, like News and the ABC, remain committed to in-house training. There is nothing better than learning on the job.
Despite all you read about the decline of ‘old media’ there is no more exciting time to be in journalism. Your opportunities for story-telling are greatly expanded – words, pictures, video, graphics, documents posted online. For good or bad, your interaction with readers is immediate. Your news-gathering sources are limitless thanks to the digital age. You have far greater access to people and information from all over the world.
It’s daunting because new competitors come along every week. But that keeps you on your toes and your journalism at its best.
Find out more about our Journalism and Professional Writing courses.
CEO, ANU Connect Ventures
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
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.”
Dr Jill McRae
Bachelor of Distance Education (1988)
Dr Jill McRae is a passionate advocate of civil and political rights. As the CEO of International Campaign for Humanitarian Relief of Syria Inc (ICHRS), she is currently working to help Syrians, especially women, children and the elderly living in refugee camps.
A dedicated and highly regarded champion for human rights, Dr McRae is appropriately suited to her current position having achieved an esteemed peace making career. Dr McRae has written extensively on international and regional peace initiatives, notably on Bougainville, West Papua, Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, and the Middle East. She is also a frequent guest lecturer, international consultant and conference delegate, mediator, scholar and esteemed poet.
Since 2014 Dr McRae has been dedicating her time and effort to the people affected by the Syrian conflict.
“In February 2014 the Syria Peace Talks failed in Geneva. At that point I got in touch with Hadi Bourghiba, an Imam from Auburn in Sydney and a friend of long-standing (he is also the unofficial head of the Libyan community in Australia). Together we set up Saving Syria! The International Campaign for the Humanitarian Relief of Syria,” says Dr McRae.
“Every week I compose and send out the Syria Newsbeat; this week will be the 119th. It is well-received, in particular because coverage of the conflict in the Australian media is less than satisfactory.”
One of ICHRS’ immediate priorities is to raise funding to establish a radio station in Jordon that is exclusively for the use of Syrians and dedicated to improving and facilitating communication amongst these groups.
“We want to establish a radio station in Jordan. The radio station means we can dedicate ourselves to helping the Syrians stay in touch with each other; that is their priority. Once established the station will be run by Syrian refugees, and will be for Syrian refugees, who are in camps and towns throughout the region.”
In addition to aiding the Middle East crisis, Dr McRae has travelled all over the world and worked on undoubtedly crucial projects, including the Australian federal policy change to destroy landmines. However, it is her ventures with native linguistic policy that resonates with her the most.
“All over the Pacific small island states respective education ministries were jettisoning the native languages as soon as children were at school (during the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s). They treated these unique languages as though they were unnecessary, and an impediment to acquiring ‘good’ English, the international language of renown.
“Linguistically that behaviour is suicide, as anyone with any knowledge of how we acquire language will tell you. I was influential in changing the policy in any number of Pacific Island countries, including the production of attractive books for younger kids in the languages of the region. Ironically my doctoral studies ended up in the area of meta-linguistics.”
Dr McRae’s Harvard work in Native American metalinguistics and narratives has received international recognition.
“In Maine I discovered a collection of Native American stories that North American scholars had overlooked. It is a study (the thesis, that is) that has made its way from library to library across the campuses of US, I am relieved to report (if not a little surprised).”
Growing up in rural New South Wales, Dr McRae did not envisage completing 13 university degrees – including at the prestigious Kennedy School of Government, Harvard – and a substantial record in the field of international development and peace making.
“I’m a Narrabri kinda gal, who grew up in the fifties and sixties,” says Dr McRae
“Nobody gave me any attention or encouragement until I got to Armidale Teachers College, at the age of 17. When I was at the ATC, Dylan Thomas changed my life. I heard Under Milk Wood, the play for voices that is arguably his best-known work and darn near cried with astonishment. I wrote this poem about him, and it won the college prize for poetry. Gave me a bit of confidence, see, to keep on with the poetry thing.
“It’s what landed me in Seamus Heaney’s course at Harvard - it was a course for poets, not about poetry.”
Seamus Heaney announced he would make his selection of students based on the poems they wrote and poked under his door.
“When Seamus put up the list, mine was the very last name. Seamus gave only two of us an A. At the end of the course he saw us individually, and handed out a page he had written about our poetry.
“Seamus got the Nobel for Literature the year after he taught me, though I think we can assume these two events are not causally related. Getting into that course, and the A are the things I’m proudest of, by a country mile.
“I didn’t acquire the degrees to become anything other than educated; that was ever my purpose… I wanted only to understand; it is a simple enough ambition.
“Have had the life of Riley, if you simply must know and it ain’t even over yet. Watch this space is my advice, okay?”
Master of Business Administration
Master of Communications Management
Bachelor of Applied Science
Louise Miller-Frost’s expansive career is centred around the community’s wellbeing – from leading a not-for-profit organisation which houses women experiencing homelessness, to providing community-driven perspective on the SA Medical Board and the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) Vaccines Committee.
This year, Louise’s vast experience in public health policy landed her an appointment to the TGA Vaccine Safety Committee.
“Vaccines have provided some of the most significant leaps forward in public health in the last century, unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation about vaccine safety and underestimation about the harm some of the diseases they address can cause,” says Louise.
“The role of the Committee, and my role as a Consumer Representative on the Committee, is about public safety and improving the health of the community in the fights against infectious diseases.”
With speculation and controversy surrounding vaccinations for children, Louise believes legislation can be used as a tool for changing behaviour.
“Legislation has worked in public health policy previously, for instance the introduction of the compulsory seatbelt legislation. This is particularly important when the health of the community, specifically young children, is at risk.
“But it is also important that people have a sense of security and safety about the medicines and vaccines that are released in the Australian marketplace, otherwise they will still opt out."
With conflicting information constantly available online to read, Louise says it is more important than ever for the public to feel confident about vaccination safety and the process new vaccines undergo.
“For a vaccine to be approved by the TGA and the Minister for release in Australia is a long process, often taking several years. Scientific evidence about its safety, quality and efficacy is analysed and assessed. After a vaccine is released for use in Australia, post-market monitoring continues to ensure ongoing public safety.”
As well as her work with the TGA, Louise is the CEO of Catherine House Inc., a recovery-focused homelessness service for women. With extensive programs available to women needing support services and accommodation, the organisation houses 48 women on a nightly basis.
“The issues that bring women to homelessness are often complex – we help them find housing, secure their income, connect with the services they need and make plans for their future.”
Since its initial inception in 1988, the organisation has grown to have a team of 50 full-time, part-time and casual employees – as well as a team of over 50 volunteers. Catherine House also offers programs such as National Affordability Housing Agreement Services programs, education programs and Mental Health Programs.
In 2016, Louise was appointed as a community member on the Medical Board of South Australia, a role that she says is critical in the board gaining another point of view from a community-driven perspective.
“The Medical Board deals with registration matters and complaints or notifications about medical practitioners. Sitting alongside medical professionals, my role is to represent a community perspective of the issues being discussed, community expectations and priorities in the way practitioners deliver health care and services to the community.
“Some of the issues we deal with are technical and clinical in nature, but others are about practitioner behaviour, communication or the way in which they practice. The overarching guiding principle is about public safety in healthcare, which is something I am passionate about.”
Before Louise was running Catherine House, she was working full-time in local government while her triplet sons were in primary school. It was at this time she decided to enrol at UniSA and study a Master of Business Administration online to help provide for her children and further her career.
“I was very time poor, but knew I needed a business degree to further my career. UniSA online gave me the ability to complete subjects after the children went to bed. And I really like the intensive subject format, which fitted nicely with my busy life at the time.”
Although Louise’s academic career has been varied – she also holds a Bachelor of Applied Science, and Masters Degrees in Communication Management and Public Health – she is adamant that everything she has learned has given her a diverse and useful set of skills.
“I have found that each one has added something to my skill set. It has been years since I completed the communications degree, but the principles I learned are standing me in good stead for engaging with our community of supporters at Catherine House.”
From movies to magazines, traditional media has long been criticised for perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards—thin ideals that generate low self-esteem among women and girls.
In a new meta-analysis study from the University of South Australia, researchers have discovered a link between increased use of social networking sites and the internalisation of the thin ideal—the degree to which women strive to achieve an ideally slim female body.
“When people regularly engage with social networking sites, like Facebook, the images to which they’re exposed encourage a psychological adoption of unrealistic beauty ideals, and this can lead to poor body image and low self-esteem,” says John Mingoia, PhD student with UniSA’s School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy.
“The greater the use of social networking sites, the more likely it is for women to be dissatisfied with their body. And given the rise of social media, this has the potential to place billions of female social media users at risk.”
The study assessed 1829 female participants, aged between 10 to 46 years, across six independent studies and found that those who predominantly used social networking sites for posting or viewing photographs, were at greater risk of body dissatisfaction, as opposed to those who used the sites more broadly.
“People using social media to post and view appearance-related items — things like photos, profiles, videos or selfies—were more likely to internalise the thin ideal,” Mingoia says.
“And despite the fact that social media lets users create, upload and control content themselves, the same unattainable body ideals we see in traditional media are also reflected in the online environment.”
Worldwide, across a day, the average person uses social media for more than 10 hours; over one billion people are exposed to Facebook, with 3.2 billion new photographs are uploaded onto social networking sites.
“The number of photos that are uploaded to social networking sites per day is astounding. And given the relationship between photos on social networking sites and the perceptions of body image, this should raise significant red flags for the wellbeing and self-esteem of its users.
“As a society, we must be aware of the role social networking sites can play in women’s internalisation of poor body image and we must seek interventions to help reduce the risk of body dissatisfaction.
“Media literacy training and educating users about the way photographs can be quickly and easily enhanced to portray idealised, but distorted creations, are critical if we are to disperse the toxic beauty myth on social media.
“And given the negative impact that unrealistic body images can have on women and girls, any action we take to help reduce the risk, can only be seen as a positive.”
Dr Gjoko Muratovski
Director and Endowed Chair: The Myron E. Ullman, Jr. School of Design
Design and Brand Consultant
Doctor of Philosophy, Design Research: Corporate Communication Strategies
With a career spanning over two decades, Dr Gjoko Muratovski has worked with some of the biggest brands and universities around the world.
During the course of his career, Dr Muratovski has been a design and brand consultant for governments, NGOs, and corporate brands such as the United Nations, Greenpeace, and Yahoo! Outside of a business setting, he has taught at universities such as Tongji University, the University of Cincinnati, and our very own University of South Australia.
Dr Muratovski discusses his extensive business and academic career, his efforts in promoting sustainable change, and how automation might impact design.
Outline your journey from your PhD at UniSA to heading up to the Myron E. Ullman, Jr. School of Design at the University of Cincinnati.
My journey from being a PhD student at UniSA to becoming a director of the Myron E. Ullman, Jr. School of Design in the US is a relatively short one, in academic terms. Within six years I have progressed from a PhD design graduate in Australia to becoming a director of one the best design schools in America.
Upon completing my PhD studies in 2010, I was offered a position as a design lecturer and course coordinator at the UniSA School of Art, Architecture and Design. Within a year I was offered a program coordinator role at the Faculty of Design at Swinburne University of Technology and conference chairman at the Melbourne International Design Week. Two years later I was recruited by the School of Art & Design at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, where I became a senior manager and department head. Last year I was offered the position of director and Endowed Chair at The Myron E. Ullman, Jr. School of Design at the University of Cincinnati.
I never seriously considered starting a career in academia before studying at UniSA. I always saw myself as a corporate designer working in industry. However, at UniSA I was encouraged to use my industry and research experience for the advancement of the higher education in design and to help my discipline evolve further by training the next generation of designers. I really enjoyed that and never looked back.
In your 20 plus years as a consultant you have worked with governments, NGOs, and corporate brands. What are your most interesting design consultancies, and why?
One thing I could highlight here is the establishment of the Greenpeace Design Awards. I was working on that while I was completing my PhD at UniSA. As the director of the Greenpeace Design Awards, I managed to engage more than 1500 creatives from over 70 countries to take part in the development of highly inspirational social and environmental campaigns.
Another very exciting project was consulting NASA Johnson Space Centre on design for spacecraft habitation and extraterrestrial environments. Mainly, the focus there was on the design of the interiors of the spaceships that could be used for deep space exploration and Mars colonisation. That is another project I worked on while I was at UniSA.
In my current role, I regularly engage with Fortune 500 companies on developing new industry and university partnerships and initiatives and this is something that I really enjoy doing. I like engaging with industry because design is an applied discipline. When leading businesses want to work with us as a school of design, this means that we have something of value to offer that goes beyond just educating students.
Last year the Chinese State Administration appointed you as a ‘high-end foreign expert’ at Tongji University in Shanghai. What does this involve?
The appointment as a high-end foreign expert is a very prestigious recognition. The process for this appointment is rigorous and highly competitive. While the nominations for these appointments are made by universities, the evaluation process is independently conducted by government officials from the Chinese State Administration. In this regard, I have been recognised as a high-end expert in design and innovation, and my role is to serve as an advisor to the Dean of the College of Design & Innovation at Tongji University, which is one of the leading design colleges in China. In this capacity, I provide advice on the design curriculum, on aspects of the administration and the management of the College, on internationalisation strategies, and on various research initiatives. This is a dual appointment between the government and the university, and it also comes with the title of guest professor at Tongji University.
You are also a visiting Professor at the Copenhagen Business School. Is it unusual for a designer to hold a professional appointment at a business school?
Design thinking today is seen as one of the biggest drivers of business innovation. The Copenhagen Business School is one of the very best business schools in the world and they have a great interest in better understanding the role that design can play in the business world. For many years my work has been sitting on the intersection of design and business and I feel equally comfortable operating in both domains.
It’s quite rare for a designer to be recognised as an expert in the field of business on the same level as in the field of design, especially by such a renowned institution, and I feel very honoured because of that.
More than five years ago you founded Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability (DESIS), working with UniSA and others. What do you mean by ‘sustainable change’ and how are you promoting it?
In 2010 I founded the first DESIS Lab at UniSA. The UniSA DESIS Lab is a part of the global network of interconnected DESIS Labs. This is an initiative supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and more than 50 universities from around the world participate in this network.
As the world struggles to sustain mass consumption as a lifestyle of choice, the need for sustainable behaviour becomes increasingly evident. Even though there are already a number of technical and legislative solutions underway, we still need to work on changing our consumption habits. This calls for social innovation strategies that can lead to promotion and acceptance of sustainable behaviour on a global scale.
The campaigns that had brought out the rise of the consumer society did so by inspiring a substantial change in our behaviour. Now we are at a point where our behaviour needs to be changed once again. We can do that by embracing and reversing the same consumer-driven approach that caused the problem in the first place, and introducing a new kind of social design and marketing – one that can lead to promotion and acceptance of sustainable behaviour on a global scale.
Automation is impacting on most professions and traditional jobs are disappearing. What is the future for visual and graphic designer? What is your advice to graduates who want to work in design?
Automation will impact design as well, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that designers will become obsolete. The nature of the design profession is such, that with every new technological development, the basic premise of the design job itself changes. Many functions that designers did in the past, prior to the use of computers, do not exist anymore, but design as a profession continues to evolve and adapt. The same will happen when automation starts taking over some of the current functions. This, as it has been the case in the past, will simply open new opportunities and new avenues for designers to explore.
Then again, with or without automation, things will change. Many of the 21st century problems and challenges are far too complex to be approached in a conventional way and from a monodisciplinary position. Designers today, and even more so in the future, will need to work in a manner that transcends disciplinary boundaries. Design graduates will need to be prepared to challenge conventions and constantly look at things from a different perspective. After all, complex problems require creative solutions, and being creative is what designers do.
Masters of Aboriginal Studies student and Administrator: UniSA Indigenous Support Services
Bachelor of Sport & Recreation Management, 2013
As a shy teen Sophie approached the University's Indigenous Support Services and had a tour of UniSA with her family to see what her tertiary options might be. From there she has completed a full circle and immersed herself back into the UniSA community; as student, scholarship recipient and staff member. Sophie is an active member of the Deadly Alumni Chapter, and as one of the 25th Birthday Enterprising Faces.
Sophie’s enthusiasm for education was instilled in her at a young age by both of her parents. Sophie’s late father and her mother - who is a primary school teacher - both valued the importance of education.
Sophie completed a Bachelor of Sport & Recreation Management in 2013 with the support of two scholarships; the Business School Indigenous Scholarship and theIndigenous Access Scholarship.
“These scholarships were incredibly helpful for my studies. I lived two hours away from the Mawson Lakes Campus and the financial assistance covered my petrol costs. I learn through conversations, so to be able to afford the petrol to attend my classes was essential.”
“I believe that everyone should look into their opportunities and apply for scholarships and grants. Anything is possible regardless of who you are. Study your passion and find out about your pathway options.”
While Sophie was studying she worked as a Community Development casual employee for the Port Adelaide Football Club. When she graduated from UniSA she was offered further employment with Member Services throughout the Adelaide Oval transition and continued involvement in Indigenous and Multicultural Engagement.
“Working for Port Adelaide Football Club is like working with family. However, I realised that I am community minded and wanted to spend more time working with youth and support services.”
Sophie started working with Mission Australia's Youth Drug and Alcohol Services providing support for five different programs, and also found time to volunteer for Green Team, which is an Encounter Youth Services program, to increase her skills. While the experience was highly valuable for personal and professional development, Sophie decided to return to UniSA and study her Masters in Aboriginal Studies.
“I was seeking new challenges and this was something I had wanted to pursue for a while.”
As well as her studies, Sophie is also employed at UniSA’s Indigenous Support Services and is providing advice to potential and current students – just as she previously received.
“It is important to me to make sure other people are supported when considering tertiary education and while studying at UniSA, like I was.”
She is also an active member of the Deadly Alumni Chapter, which is an initiative for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander UniSA graduates to connect with each other. Sophie is hoping to draw upon her community experience and assist in establishing a mentoring service within the Chapter. She is also working on new events for Chapter members and encourages others to join.
Sophie Murray’s personal and professional motto is inspiring; “if you have an opportunity to help others, then take advantage of it.”
Sophie’s advice for new graduates is, “Always say ‘yes.’ Volunteer your time and work as a casual to gain experience and find out about what you want to pursue. Find an organisation that you admire and start small to gain the relevant skills and network. The opportunities are endless.”
“Don’t be a do-gooder, do-good.”
Graduate Diploma, Social Science (Health Counselling)
For the past 14 years, UniSA alumna Merlin Nathan has been volunteering her time and professional expertise to support children with disabilities and injuries in the worn-torn Gaza Strip and the West Bank in Palestine through the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF).
Among the many horrors of a continued war are the injuries and permanent disabilities innocent children unnecessarily receive from bullet wounds and explosions and subsequent psychological trauma.
The PCRF is a non-political, non-profit organisation that was established in 1991 by concerned people in the U.S. to address the medical and humanitarian crisis facing Palestinian youths in the Middle East. It has since expanded to help suffering children from the region, based only on their medical needs.
As the former Head of Occupational Therapy for the Head Injury Rehabilitation Service, a department she established, Merlin has certainly acquired instrumental medical and organisational wisdom. Funds raised by the PCRF allow Merlin to travel to the Middle East twice a year to meet with professionals in clinics and care facilities so she can share her wealth of information and further educate and mentor staff. As well as treatment, Merlin assesses the local facilities, determines the most effective way for them to operate and the equipment required to care for the children in need.
“The most important aspect of any world-class voluntary health organisation is its primary objectives, which should be to develop eventual self-reliance and autonomy through direct health care and education of its focus group. We are hopefully meeting these objectives with each visit to Palestine for its clientele and its professionals,” Merlin says.
“One of the reasons why Occupational Therapists and other medical professionals in Gaza Strip and West Bank benefit from mentoring is because they are restricted to where they can travel, so their potential for further learning is limited. By going there, I am bringing with me new information, treatments and specialised equipment.
“On one trip I visited Farah Centre in Nablus City (West Bank), and was asked to assist in the assessment of the children attending and training of staff. I had the opportunity to offer to extend their skills base and facilitate a number of new treatment approaches and planning strategies for the team to consider. Some primary concerns for the mothers of the children with disabilities other than mobility was the management of toileting, feeding and general requirements. We were able to look at their wheelchair seats and modify them accordingly with the financial support from PCRF.
Merlin’s husband, who is an Eye Surgeon, first visited Palestine while on a trip to Jerusalem. He witnessed the incredible need for more medical treatment and equipment and started volunteering with PCRF in 2000 with the support of Australian Friends of Palestine.
“Although my husband’s skills were greatly needed, he realised how essential mine would be. I started volunteering with PCRF in 2002. The dedicated staff running PCRF are incredible, especially Steve Sosebee, who established the organisation of which I am very proud to be a part.
“While studying the Health Counselling Degree at UniSA, I reflected upon the concepts of empathy and sympathy. I realised that empathy is not just about reflecting back a client’s feelings, but actually putting those reflections into use and doing something to make a positive change.”
“Volunteering in Palestine has also helped me personally. It is the antithesis of everything I have here in Australia; I am a woman travelling often unaccompanied through the Middle East, a Catholic in a predominately Muslim area who is living a privileged life by comparison. This has taken me out of my comfort zone for the better.
“Our Australian Government Officials in Palestine have been very supportive of our work, and have provided funds for new equipment and made us feel very welcome.
“Travelling from Tel Aviv – where I fly into to – to Palestine, Gaza Strip and West Bank is difficult as there are numerous check points, heavily armed by the Israeli military along the way. However, travel for me with an Aussie passport is much easier than for my Palestinian support team, who can often be held up for hours.
“Life for children with disabilities in Gaza Strip and West Bank can be really challenging. The roads are really narrow and uneven, it is densely populated, settlement camps have now become 2 to 3 storey homes and often there are large extended families living in the one house. This is not ideal for someone in a wheelchair.
“One of my favourite memories is when I met some children and adults at the El Wafa Rehab centre in Gaza, who had never been to the beach before. We helped the children from their wheelchairs and carried them into the ocean, some for the first time – it was a really a beautiful experience to observe.
“Over time, I have seen Palestinian’s opinions about disabilities evolve. Families come together to support the children, especially as more wives become widows and an increasing number of children become disabled, which are sadly the realities of war.
“I feel very fortunate to be in a position of a lucky Australian where I am able to give back to ‘the world.’ I have been provided with this opportunity, and I am so grateful that I can share my professional knowledge to help people living in this devastating situation.
“There are many ways in which people can get involved besides volunteering. By increasing your knowledge or awareness of the issue or considering involvement with the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement. The smallest gesture here can really be of impact there.
If you are not in a position to donate money, you can donate your time to help another person in need. I have been touched by the random generosity of many people who upon hearing of my work have donated goods and services that have gone on to make a big difference to the lives of the children and staff.”
Scholarship Program Lead, Westpac Bicentennial Foundation
Bachelor of Management (Marketing)
“Every time someone spends money, in some way they are casting a vote for the kind of world they want.”
Alissa Nightingale is truly dedicated to helping others in need. Within 10 years of completing a Bachelor of Management (Marketing) at the University of South Australia, she has worked with various not-for-profit organisations, is on the Board of the Peter Couche Foundation, and has recently launched The Nightingale Collective – an online accessories and homewares store that supports artisans and their communities in developing countries.
Alissa explains why it is important to purchase with purpose, how every individual has the power to make a global difference, and who her online store is supporting and how.
The Nightingale Collective is such a wonderful initiative selling beautiful pieces from all over the world. Please describe the company and your inspiration to launch it.
The Nightingale Collective was born on a trip to Nepal while I was working for The Fred Hollows Foundation. It was evident that local artisans had incredible talent but were not supported for their work or had access to new markets. I wanted to bridge the gap between talent and opportunity and provide a platform for responsible commerce.
My trip also coincided with the devastating Nepal Earthquake of 2015. I saw how the community not only required substantial aid – but they needed a stable economy and investment in their local industries to rebuild.
By purchasing something from The Nightingale Collective you buy some beautiful art, jewellery and accessories knowing the proceeds are directly going to help people and communities recover and rebuild from natural disasters, war and many other injustices.
I want to encourage a more socially conscious consumer, one who knows and cares where the product they buy is made, the stories behind the people who made it, and how their purchase can provide a meaningful impact for communities. I believe ethics and style do not need to be mutually exclusive.
The name, The Nightingale Collective, is also a nod to my grandparents who instilled a strong sense of social justice in me at a young age.
Please tell us about some of the artisans you are supporting through your online store..
One of the artisan groups we work with is Purpose, whose jewellery is handcrafted by survivors of modern-day slavery in India, with proceeds benefitting International Sanctuary. By providing meaningful employment through International Sanctuary's social enterprise, Purpose, women are able to support themselves and obtain job training and experience. Through iSanctuary's wide range of holistic care services young women can begin to heal and grow in mind and body.
Another is a partner in Kenya that works with women who are deaf. In Kenya, unemployment rates for the deaf are as high as 85 percent, as the deaf are generally considered to be unsuited for work. This discrimination is heightened against deaf women, who are often mistreated by their spouses or families. Through providing safe work making jewellery, these women gain skills and a fair income to provide for their families, as most are also single mothers.
What are some of the community programs that are financed by the online store?
When sourcing our products we ensure the artisans, who are often women, receive fair wages, positive working environments, and are supported by community development programs that improve the lives of their families and the wider community:
• Community programs for women in Peru, who make our gorgeous hand knitted toys, with a focus on their economic, sexual, and political rights.
• Supporting International Sanctuary, a non-profit that provides holistic care for young women rescued from sex trafficking in India.
• Supporting youth education and community health for women and their families in Guatemala.
How can people make a real difference as an individual?
People should realise the incredible power they have as consumers to demand change. Every time someone spends money, in some way they are casting a vote for the kind of world they want.
I think it’s important that individuals give consideration to more than just price when buying something – if it’s too cheap, why? And what impact is that having on both production practices and on the livelihoods of those who make it.
Often those at the end of the supply chain – whether a farmer or a garment worker – are those that are most negatively impacted by our quest for the cheapest carton of milk or t-shirt.
In your opinion, what are some of the main issues facing women living in developing countries?
I think a major issue facing women in developing countries is economic insecurity. This issue is heightened considering the fact that woman face more barriers in almost every aspect of work – from gaining employment to receiving fair pay and safe working conditions.
It is also incredibly difficult for a woman to rise above poverty when she doesn’t have equitable access to healthcare, land, employment, or financial services.
A quote that captures this is from former President of the United States Bill Clinton when he stated that “Women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, and produce 50 percent of the food, yet earn only 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property.”
But it’s incredible what woman can do when given the opportunity and resources. For example, microfinance has had a significant impact on women in developing communities. When Noble Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunis founded Grameen Bank close to 97 percent of small loans were going to poor women. He found that not only did women make better use of the loan but had a better track record for repayments, were a huge untapped labour pool - and the women who received loans were more empowered and often adopted healthier lifestyles.
Please briefly describe your pathway from studying Management (Marketing) to where you are now:
I was fortunate to start my career at UniSA’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute while studying marketing. It was an amazing experience seeing the Institute work with global brands like Mars, Coca-Cola, and P&G all from Adelaide. The knowledge I gained from their evidence-based marketing has been invaluable throughout my career.
It was whilst working at a wonderful Adelaide agency, Hughes PR, an opportunity arose to work with the Fred Hollows Foundation to manage their major donor and corporate partnerships - something I could not have predicted while studying my degree but a role I grew to love.
During my time at Fred Hollows I was inspired to start The Nightingale Collective, an ethical fashion brand that brings together handcrafted pieces made by talented women artisans around the world.
And I am lucky that I now get to combine my passion for social enterprise in my role with the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation where I have the opportunity to support other social entrepreneurs who are passionate about making a difference.
Have you noticed a difference between working for not-for-profit and private companies?
That is a really good question and I have thought about quite a bit. By the very nature of the structure of a not-for-profit means the organisation is reliant in the generosity of many, whereas with an organisation like Westpac it is the one organisation and the direction and support is provided by the Board. Maintaining revenue streams for not-for-profits is always a challenge, particularly in such a competitive environment.
What I have noticed is that smaller organisations have tended to be more nimble, and able to act on emerging opportunities more quickly, so there is a sense of satisfaction being able to see ideas come to life in a relatively short time frame.
But it is inspiring to see passionate people within both the NFP and private sectors who are committed to making a positive difference, and increasingly we will see the lines blurring, as collaboration and partnership increases across sectors.
Founder of Food for Education
Bachelor of Nutrition and Food Sciences (2013)
When she began her studies at the University of South Australia, Wawira Njiru was committed to making a difference back home in Kenya. Through her passionate and hard work she is now improving the lives and futures of hundreds of children.
Wawira is the founder of Food for Education, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the health, wellbeing and educational prospects of children in Ruiru, Kenya. In 2010 Wawira studied a Diploma of Health Sciences at UniSA, before starting a Bachelor of Nutrition and Food Sciences in 2011.
Upon graduation in 2013, Wawira knew she wanted to use her education to make positive changes in Ruiru near Nairobi in Kenya.
“When I came to the University of South Australia, I had a clear goal in mind: to do something to benefit my community in the long term,” she says.
“Many children are forced to choose between staying in class to learn and going out to the streets to beg for food.”
Throughout her studies she learnt about the impact of food insecurity on communities, and began researching ways to improve everyday lives of Kenyan children.
“A feeding program was identified as something the schools and community really needed implemented, but did not have the resources to do.”
In November 2011, while volunteering with World Vision’s Vision Generation, Wawira organised Food for Education’s first fundraising event along with UniSA graduate Sam Odgers (Bachelor of Pharmacy 2012), who was volunteering with OakTree at the time.
“We held a community dinner in Adelaide and raised $1680 to construct a make-shift kitchen and purchase an energy saving cooker and utensils. We started providing everyday lunch to twenty-five children in January 2012 and have provided food to over eighty children in the three-and-a-half years since.”
Food for Education is based in Ruiru Primary School, where along with school lunches, it provides basic amenities and runs a mentorship program with local university students who give the children someone to look up to and aspire to be like.
“Our work has a strong focus on sustainability; we believe the most effective and long-term solutions come from within a community, not from the outside,” says Wawira.
Food for Education works on engaging with the entire community of Ruiru through its Double Portion Restaurant, opened in 2013, which serves nutritious, low-cost food to over 100 community members a day.
At twenty-four years old Wawira is also exploring the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases in Kenya through a Masters of Public Health at the Kenya Medical Research Institute.
“My research will fill a gap in knowledge in an under researched area in this part of the world and hopefully provide insights that will form the basis for further research.”
Food for Education is working hard to reach more schools in Kenya, where millions of children are forced to choose between an education and basic survival.
“We are crowdfunding to raise money to reach all 800 children in Ruiru Primary School and are looking to expand to more schools in the near future,” says Wawira.
“We are seeking to raise $25,000 to construct a bigger kitchen and storeroom, purchase utilities such as water tanks and cookers, and lease land to farm to become sustainable.”
“It is an invitation to everyone to help us build the future of Kenya by investing in our work.”
“The kids inspire me the most. They work hard to be able to get opportunities that come so easily for others. I am so privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to their future.”
Learn more about Food for Education’s mission
Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice
Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne
After a life-changing opportunity to work for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Catherine Ordway knew she had found her niche in sport law. She has since worked tirelessly to raise awareness and help create a fair and equal sporting industry internationally – for both men and women.
From reviewing sport disputes in tribunal hearings, lecturing at the Masters level at four Australian universities, travelling the world to present on governance and sports integrity, consulting sports organisations, and advocating for gender equality in a male dominated industry, Catherine has become an international leader in her field. She is also currently undertaking a PhD in governance and integrity while consulting to a number of sport association boards and ethics panels.
“My passion for sport came from the rush it gave me, the friendships I made, and the joy that comes from seeing people pushing themselves to be the best they could be. It was these feelings, combined with a childhood thrill I still have for murder mysteries and solving crimes, that gave me the desire to put my efforts into clean sport and anti-doping,” says Catherine.
Catherine started out working in criminal law and personal injuries, but had a yearning to do something more closely aligned with her passion. After learning about the possibilities presented ahead in putting on the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, she became determined to support the efforts of elite athletes and fuse her career path with the opportunity of a lifetime.
“The question that wracked my mind though, was how I was going to make that happen” she says. “Everyone I asked says that it was impossible to work in sports law. But with the overconfidence of youth, I declared that ‘if there was one job out there, I was going to find it’.”
Catherine discovered the Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Association (ANZSLA) had recently been established, and were calling for first time presenters. Seeing it as a chance to impress potential employers, and drawing on insights from playing national level handball, she submitted a paper to the ANZSLA conference that posed the question ‘how are foreign athletes in national teams being funded by Australian tax payers?’
“I won the conference prize, and my paper caused a shakeup of the Australian Sports Commission funding conditions. A short time later, when the law firm assisting the Australian Olympic Committee was looking to open a Sydney office, and wanted a fourth year lawyer, the then ANZSLA President, Hayden Opie, recommended me. That kicked off an amazing adventure, which is still continuing!”
This opportunity allowed Catherine to experience the Olympic Games in a way that is only accessible to a few. During this time, she prosecuted more than one third of all global anti-doping cases.
Bachelor of Medical Radiation (now Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science)
Graduate Diploma in Medical Radiation (now Graduate Diploma in Medical Sonography))
Catrina Panuccio is one of Adelaide’s leading sonographers. She has been providing essential services to women and children in Adelaide for over 20 years, including being one of the first sonographers to offer new ultrasound practices for endometriosis treatment which avoids patients undergoing two invasive procedures.
Catrina values the opportunity she had working closely and independently with recognised specialists, and is passing her knowledge onto her fellow UniSA alumni who she employs at her own successful ultrasound practice Specialist Imaging Partners.
“For the past four years I have been actively involved in promotion and awareness of endometriosis, and the importance of a detailed ultrasound,” says Catrina.
“Detailed endometriosis ultrasound has many advantages for patients with known endometriosis or who have symptoms of it, including the streamlining of patient management and the avoidance of two invasive procedures and anaesthetics.
“I have given various talks about the advancements in ultrasound to specialists, general practitioners and fertility centres, and I have been invited to present at the EndoMarch awareness week on various occasions.”
As well as helping people with the often debilitating condition of endometriosis, she also introduced new ultrasound procedures for people in Adelaide suffering from prolapse and incontinence.
“I worked with two internationally recognised urogynaecologists who together helped me introduce pelvic floor sonography to Adelaide.
“Today, I am still promoting the benefits of transperineal ultrasound for prolapse and incontinence in women and have spent much time educating and teaching others about its clinical applications.
“Pelvic floor ultrasound is being utilised for surgical planning for women with prolapse and incontinence, and is particularly helpful for those with recurrent prolapse symptoms.”
Despite this undeniably impressive success, Catrina believes her greatest career achievement has been opening and managing her own sonography–based ultrasound practice in North Adelaide, which employs four sonographers who studied at UniSA.
“Whilst successfully running my own ultrasound practice has been one of the greatest challenges of my life, the inspiration that drives this practice forward is to treat patients the way I would like to be treated. Be honest, be concise, friendly, compassionate and professional.
“At the same time, the focus is to provide a high quality standard of scanning embracing innovative advancements in the applications of ultrasound.”
“With a boutique focus on women’s health and paediatric ultrasound, I have chosen a team of sonographers who are dedicated to their profession and respectful of others. They take pride in their work and are motivated to achieve the best possible results for our patients and referrers.
One of these sonographers isAlison Deslandes, who completed UniSA’s Graduate Diploma in Medical Sonography so she could get her accreditation, and later returned to complete the Master of Medical Sonography.
Catrina also employs Elodie Richards as a medical receptionist who is currently studying a Business degree at UniSA, and believes this employment is giving her a unique opportunity to gain invaluable skills in front desk management whilst still studying.
Catrina is grateful not only for the education she received at UniSA, but also for the confidence and interpersonal skills that helped her achieve her successful career.
“My competitive nature always means that I aim for 110 per cent and UniSA provided a great support for this, encouraging me to succeed further as a high achiever.”
Catrina has always enjoyed teaching others and still maintains a close relationship with UniSA by delivering guest lectures to current students. She has also participated in an education group for rural general practitioners and Emergency Department doctors to help them gain essential skills required for emergency or Focussed Assessment with Sonography (FAST) scanning, and has also been involved in teaching obstetric registrars and midwives the basics of ultrasound.
“When I engaged in my studies at UniSA 20 years ago now I never imagined I would be where I am now. This is a true example that you can make whatever it is that you want of your professional career. Studies give you all of the foundations to achieve great things – it’s a big competitive world. Believe you can do it and your opportunities will be endless.”
Find out more about studying postgraduate Medical Sonography at UniSA here.
CEO and co-founder of Suntrix
Bachelor of Arts (Library and Information Management), 1995
Graduate Diploma in Computer and Information Science, 1998
Suntrix, a business that won both the Telstra SA Business of the Year and Telstra SA Medium Business of the Year in 2013, Jenny says was started over the kitchen table.
“My husband and I started the business from home, doing residential installations, firstly for family and friends and then finding out that there are actually a lot of people out there looking for a company that was value for money, that knew what they were talking about, that had that honesty and integrity,” she says.
Jenny manages the strategic direction of Suntrix, Suntrix Commercial and Suntrix Monitoring, and is now helping her residential, commercial and wholesale clients save money and reduce their carbon footprints, as well as overseeing continued growth and diversification of the brand and its processes.
Jenny was able to share her knowledge and experience by speaking at the Node’s Industry Friends of Low Carbon Living forum in August this year, where she addressed the importance of good designs and panel placement when it comes to solar systems and optimising performance.
Richard is a member of the Research Node’s Strategic Management Committee and says his role involves looking at ways to educate the community and home builders, not only on technology that is available but the economic benefit of building more sustainably.
“I chose this industry because I care about the planet, but having a background in business I understand there won’t be a behavioural shift in the population until there are more economical options,” Richard says.
“We are not going to shift the mass population’s behavior until we produce homes and technology that is simply a better economical choice than building cheaper poorly-designed homes and paying a lot for dirty coal power ongoing through the old model.
“People now have the choice of taking control and having independence from the old electricity model.
“It is important to tackle anthropogenic climate change because we have no choice – business as usual will see a four-degree temperature rise over this current century which spells disaster for our future generations!”
Jenny agrees with Richard and believes low carbon businesses have huge growth potential and will provide many long-term benefits.
“Low carbon living, renewable energy, all types of technology relating to that is the way of the future and I think it’s admirable and the university, in particular, should be commended for the work they’re doing and the foresight they’ve had to set this team up, to actually focus on it,” Jenny says.
“We want to make the world a better place any way we can.”
Jenny was named the 2016 Telstra South Australian Business Woman of the Year in October 2016, and then won the national award, the 2016 Telstra Business Women’s Entrepreneur of the Year in November 2016.
Head of Global Programs, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Bachelor of Arts (Communication, Media & Culture)
“My days are started with the assumption that lives can be better, and that people can do more to add value to our society.”
UniSA alumna, Jessica Perrin, has travelled all over the world working for not-for-profit organisations driving social change and helping those with debilitating health conditions. This includes meeting the parents of the last child to be diagnosed with polio in India while supporting UNICEF to eradicate the virus, interviewing refugees in Jordan and managing communications for a children’s charity in Vietnam – just to name a few.
As the Head of Global Programs at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Jessica is determined to free the world of human trafficking and slavery. Her focus is on social policy and finding solutions to empower women worldwide. Even in her spare time Jessica is working towards a better future. She recently co-founded an app, Not My Style, which provides information to shoppers about the treatment of garment workers.
Please provide further information about your work at the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
My career has given me unique insights into the world of NGOs, corporate foundations, social enterprises and the United Nations, and on the other foot, into the corporate sector and the business of social good.
I have always been impact focused and mission driven. I’ve been at the Thomson Reuters Foundation for close to 3 years and am now the Head of Global Programs. In this role, I face the daily challenge of determining how best we can serve a vibrant community of 2,500+ NGOs and social enterprises across 170 countries. This means building effective and innovative systems, driving strategic change, leading a team split across seven countries, and generally having fun while we make lives better.
I am responsible for scaling the Foundation’s legal pro bono program, TrustLaw, globally, introducing pro bono in emerging markets, obtaining pro-bono legal support for leading NGOs and social enterprises and developing strategic research programmes on crucial policy issues, such as women’s rights and social innovation. Our impact at TrustLaw is significant, and it is my job to ensure every organisation we support meets our due diligence criteria, that our regional managers encourage the growth of pro bono through strategic relationships with law firms, and ultimately, that we’re driving social change.
I also lead the Actions from Trust Women - an annual conference committed to finding real solutions to empower women and to fight slavery worldwide. At each conference, speakers and delegates propose innovative solutions to address social challenges. These Actions have included the establishment of a financial working group to fight human trafficking, legislation to protect two million Filipino domestic workers and legal strategies to combat human trafficking in India.
If you could draw more attention to one particular challenge or situation happening in the world right now, what would that be?
There are 36 million people currently enslaved across the globe, more than at any other time in history. The trade of human trafficking and slavery is unfortunately thriving instead of declining, with an astounding USD $150 billion in yearly profits – that’s more than three times the profits of Apple.
These faceless people are the children working in mines to extract minerals for our mobile phones, the fisherman trapped at sea so we can make a cheap prawn stir fry and the women making our clothes. I discovered that I have four times more clothes than my mother had in her wardrobe 30 years ago, and I paid a lot less for them. Today, the lead time from a designer's sketchbook to my wardrobe is just weeks, even though 97% of our clothes are made overseas. More clothes, faster and cheaper: fast fashion. It seems like an efficient system, until you stop to think about who makes your clothes. There are around 40 million garment workers, most of them women, in the developing world.
Outside my day job, I have always committed to volunteering my skills to support social change, and the plight of human trafficking was a cause so profoundly disturbing that I knew I had to do something. In 2014, I co-founded Not My Style, an app to be launched in July that will rate how much fashion brands share about how they treat the women and men who make our clothes. The app will give shoppers what they want (access to information - no one wants to buy clothes made in sweatshops!), and ultimately, push for garment workers to receive the fair treatment and wages they deserve. Fashion brands have repeatedly told me that shoppers don’t care about the conditions in which their clothes were made, as long as they’re cheap. We’re here to disrupt that myth and create a consumer movement to push fashion brands to improve the conditions for women who make our clothes.
You have travelled all over the world working for NGOs and charity organisations. Which moment stands out the most?
I have been so fortunate in my career to have experienced some remarkable moments, from interviewing refugees in Jordan, to living in Vietnam as a Communications Manager for a local children’s charity, and cycling 500km through Laos supporting the work of CARE Australia - however the one memory that stands out was in India. I moved to India in 2011 to work for UNICEF and support the efforts to eradicate polio. We were charged with the responsibility of launching an emergency response campaign following a newly identified case of polio. I travelled to a small district called Howrah in West Bengal just outside Calcutta to meet the family of the child who had been diagnosed. It was the middle of the Indian summer and we travelled from dawn on motorbike and on foot to reach the village in the scorching sun. I observed the activities of the thousands of volunteer health workers who were proudly moving from house to house, and door to door to ensure that every child under the age of 5 had been vaccinated. Houses were marked with chalk to note if the children had been vaccinated, posters on light posts shared the urgency, and Imams in mosques were speaking to their congregations about the importance of vaccinations. Every effort was being poured into the fight to ensure no child in India would again suffer the debilitation on polio. Unbeknownst to us at the time, that case of polio in this small village in West Bengal is now recognized as the last known case of polio in India. As we headed back to Calcutta late into the evening, fatigued and hungry, I remember feeling an unexplainable optimism, which years on was rewarded when India was officially declared polio free.
What is your best piece of advice for recent graduates?
I have loved transitioning from being a student who tried to absorb all I could from peers, colleagues, tutors and role models, to helping students as they embark on their careers. Many of the roles I’ve been fortunate to take on have been through an introduction or an idea from someone I respect. We’re not meant to take on the world alone, so network, you’ll be amazed by the people you meet and their willingness to help you on your way. I like to think that behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back – make sure you meet them. I have a million favours to repay for where I stand today, and so will never say no a coffee with a student starting their career. It is your job to ask for that coffee!
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
Bachelor of Industrial Design
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.
Chairman of the Sydney Swans
Bachelor of Applied Science in Property Resource Management
UniSA alumnus Andrew Pridham has paved a successful career bridging two industries, blending sharp business acumen with a passion for sports. An esteemed investment banker, Andrew is the Chief Executive Officer of Moelis & Company, and has previously held leadership positions at UBS and JPMorgan. Andrew joined the Sydney Swans Board in 2002 and became Chairman in 2013.
As the 2016 Australian Rules Football (AFL) season kicks off at the end of March, we caught up with Andrew to hear more about his journey and explore how his time at UniSA provided a launching pad for his success.
Tell us about your time studying Property Resource Management (PRM) and how this equipped you for your career.
I had a great time undertaking the PRM Course. The fact that the course essentially involved 30 or so students in each year journeying through the course as a group meant that we all became very good friends. It was a very personal and nurturing experience. The curriculum was very progressive/advanced for the times and the lecturers and tutors very dedicated. The course was also very practical and we all enjoyed the numerous field trips. I still catch up and even work with a number of fellow alumni – all of who are now lifelong friends.
The degree has had a profound impact on my career. I quickly discovered that the analytical techniques we had been taught were considerably ahead of what was being practised in business, both in Australia and overseas. Having a jump start on what are now basic methodologies enabled me to progress in business far more quickly than otherwise may have been the case.
You’ve had a successful career as one of Australia’s most eminent investment bankers. Tell us about your journey.
After graduation in 1988 I moved straight to Sydney to work in development and funds management. Ultimately through happenstance I found myself in investment banking, specialising in property. In the late 80’s and early 90’s Australia was in a deep recession and there was turmoil in the property market. Things were very bad. This was particularly evident in the unlisted property sector where very large funds had to freeze redemptions and commercial property was almost impossible to sell. I had a very strong view that the only solution was to list these funds, therein starting the dramatic growth in the Listed Property Trust (now known as REITS) sector. It was right place at the right time for me.
In 1999 I was appointed to the UBS Global Management Board, and relocated to London as the Global Head of Real Estate. I returned to Australia in 2002. After a brief period in retirement (working in the primary school tuckshop) I was coaxed back into investment banking by a number of old clients and I founded my own investment banking boutique. This was very successful and in 2004 I sold the business to JPMorgan, where I became its Head of Investment Banking and ultimately Executive Chairman of Investment Banking. In 2009 I left JPMorgan and established a joint venture with New York Headquartered Investment Bank Moelis & Company.
Your two positions, Chief Executive Officer of Moelis & Company, and Chairman of the Sydney Swans Football Club, are – at least on the surface – quite different. Do the two positions require similar skills or different capabilities?
I often hear people say running a professional football club is no different to running a business. This has not been my experience. I consider both activities to be materially different, requiring different skills and ambitions.
Running an investment banking business is all about hiring and retaining the best possible people, having the correct business model and capital structure and providing services that clients need and value. If you get this right, revenue and profits follow. The aim is to maximise profit on a sustainable basis.
Running a football club has many of the same attributes, namely people, business model and capital. However, that is where the similarity ends. Football is far more about passion and delivering happiness to the millions of people who follow every aspect of the code. Winning games is profit, premierships are special dividends. Member and supporter loyalty is the balance sheet. There are many things we could do as a football club to increase profit. However, if this is at the expense of winning games and making our fans proud we will not pursue it.
I think many hard-nosed business people would find it difficult to run a football club if they apply the same principles and skills, as the motivation of those in the football industry is generally different than in business.
Serving on the board of the Sydney Swans is a coveted role. What do you enjoy most about it?
Being on the Swans board has been a great privilege and I have enjoyed every minute, especially winning the AFL Premierships in 2005 and 2012. At the conclusion of the 2013 season I was appointed as Chairman. This has been an interesting ride. AFL is never short of passion, controversy and is occasionally a lightning rod of important social issues, often forming an important component of the national debate. Nothing can really prepare you for this aspect of the role, excepting perhaps the common sense I learnt in life, including at UniSA.
Do you have any words of advice for today’s graduates?
Follow your instincts, be straightforward, be truthful (especially to yourself) and always do what is right, not just what is easy. Pursue what you are passionate about and give it everything you have.
The employment landscape is far more competitive than when I started. Your first step is to get as good a grades as possible – this will assist getting the attention of employers, getting an interview. However, contacts often open the doors. Don’t be shy. Utilise any networks you have to get a start in your chosen career. Contacts and introductions are still a major way people get employed.
In hindsight if you could go back in time would you change anything?
The way the Swans played in the 2014 AFL Grand Final comes to mind. I have no regrets, I have had a very fortunate career – could have been better could have been worse.
What can the Sydney Swan supporters expect to see from the team this year?
I think we still have a very strong team. If we can keep our best players on the track we will be more than competitive. Our youth could well flourish and complement our most experienced players. Never underestimate the Sydney Swans.
South Australia’s Commissioner for Public Sector Employment
Associate Diploma in Business (Personnel/Industrial Relations)
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
Bachelor of Design (Illustration Design)
“Matthew’s work has been published and highly awarded both nationally and internationally.
Notable awards include two Pinnacles and numerous distinctions from the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) Awards; President’s Award—Design Institute of Australia; Gold Chair (Best of Show) twice—Adelaide Advertising and Design Club; Best of Show—Australasian Packaging Awards; Awards of Excellence—Communication Arts; Gold—Graphis; In Book—D&AD.
Matthew is a past president of the South Australian chapter of AGDA and a past vice president of AGDA’s national council. He is also asked regularly to judge awards programs and give lectures on design and branding to the design and wider business community.”
Viticulturist/Managing Director, Retallack Viticulture
Bachelor of Education, 2000
Bachelor of Applied Science (Conservation and Park Management), 1994
Born into a family of viticulturists, Mary Retallack has carved her own path in the wine industry to become an award-winning business owner and a champion for women in the male-dominated agriculture industry.
Winner of the Australian RIRDC National and SA Rural Woman of the Year in 2012, and the Emerald Grain 100 Women in Australian Agribusiness, Mary is a passionate advocate for women in the wine industry.
Mary grew up on a ‘fruit block’ in the Riverland and comes from a family of third generation viticulturists. She left home at the age of 16 to study a Bachelor of Applied Science (Conservation and Park Management) at the University of South Australia. After completing her degree she continued into post graduate studies in Natural Resource Management.
“I fell back into the wine sector as the vineyard planting boom took off and over the past two decades I’ve worked in Australia and overseas as a viticultural lecturer, project leader, extension specialist, vineyard manager, in cellar operations, and as a viticulture consultant and researcher.”“During this time I also completed a Bachelor of Education, Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and participated in the Wine Industry’s Future Leaders program and the Australian Rural Leadership program,” says Mary.
In 2009 she started her own business, Retallack Viticulture www.viti.com.au, which offers a broad range of viticultural consulting services.
Her advice to other women making their way in the industry is to focus their efforts on the things they are most passionate about.
“Don’t overcommit and maintain healthy boundaries between work and personal life. Take time out to reflect and recharge. Look after your health as it underpins everything you do. Be brave and persistent, generous and kind. Put your ‘hand up’ for opportunities. Don’t take no for an answer if you know there is a better way or if you can create one!”
Mary says that winning the awards has opened doors to a range of opportunities. She currently sits on the ‘Women of the Vine’ Global Symposium Advisory board, which is dedicated to supporting and advancing women employed in the wine industry around the world.
She also a participant in Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA) ‘Women Influencing Agribusiness and Regions’, a government initiative which allows her to encourage and mentor other women into the industry by highlighting rewarding career pathways and opportunities for development.
“I also actively work behind the scenes as a mentor and am working on an initiative to encourage not only more women into the wine sector but also the next generation,” says Mary.
She says that fantastic opportunities exist for women in agriculture.
“However, in the wine community viticulturists and winemakers each make up less than 10% of the team. It is important for us to not only be seen and heard, but to be actively contributing at the decision making table. There is an opportunity to encourage more women into agriculture roles, to demonstrate career paths and ensure women have equal access to all aspects of agriculture. This includes ensuring workplaces are family friendly and flexibility is offered to support those with young families, so we don’t lose women who are at the top of their game.”
“Gender diversity is a financial imperative to all agribusinesses and it is well recognised that diversity also helps facilitate better decision-making,” she says.
Mary currently sits on the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (Wine Australia) board, and is undertaking her a PhD researching beneficial companion plantings of native insectary plants in vineyards.
Mary advises recent graduates to “find a range of mentors who can offer support and share their networks and most importantly ‘sponsors’ who can actively help open doors to opportunities”.
Vice President Transformation and PMO, PepsiCo Asia, Middle East & Africa
Bachelor of Applied Science (Recreation Planning Management), 1992
Post Graduate Certificate in Legal Practice, 1998
Alexandra (Alex) Richardson has made her distinct mark on the field of corporate human resources at the global billion dollar company, PepsiCo, by developing more opportunities for women. She has been widely recognised for her inspiring work, including receiving The International Alliance for Women World of Difference 100 Award in 2014 for her contribution to the economic empowerment of women across Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Alex is currently the Vice President of Organisation Transformation at PepsiCo in Dubai – a company that values the importance of investing in equal opportunities for women in the workplace. PepsiCo is the world-wide manufacturer of household brands such as Smith’s Chips, Quaker Oats, Doritos, Tropicana and Gatorade, with an estimated annual net revenue of US $64 billion.
“PepsiCo has a long history of women role models, we were the first major company to have a woman on the Board of Directors in the 1950’s. Our current Chairman and CEO, Indra K. Nooyi, is one of the most inspiring and influential women in the world,” Alex says.
Alex has received multiple awards for her work in the corporate human resource sector, particularly for women’s rights and support in the workplace. In 2012 Alex received an external Global HR Leadership Award for her work at PepsiCo, which the same year was also voted as Asia’s Most Women Friendly Employer by WIL Forum Asia, the Best Company for Women by AmCham and received the HKIHRM Award for excellence in Talent Management. In 2013 Alex received a PepsiCo Global HR Award for excellence in her work on a joint venture for the company’s Vietnam Beverage business.
Alex has been extremely adventurous in looking for opportunities to develop her professional career, and has changed the corporate world for the better through her initiatives to increase diversity.
“It is critical that we have a workforce that reflects the consumers we serve, and women dominate consumer purchasing decisions for food and beverages.
“As part of our talent management agenda, my team and I led programs that were recognised for increasing executive female representation to above 40 per cent in some markets, through a combination of flexible work practices, gender inclusion initiatives and we set targets in leaders annual objectives to improve female representation linked to their annual merit and bonus scores.
“Key to women’s leadership initiatives are including men, enlisting men to advocate for and pull more women up is critical. Other initiatives that have been impactful are gender intelligence workshops aimed at understanding and appreciating gender differences in the workplace, and fostering more gender inclusion.”
“We also support programs that address the gender imbalance in the workforce, such as encouraging girls to stay in school in Pakistan and encouraging mothers to return to work in India,” Alex says.
Alex believes having more female representation at board and executive levels, and supporting programs that allow women to balance work and family are the biggest challenges facing the corporate workforce.
“There is not enough critical mass of women influencing decisions around the table. I believe both lead and lag indicators are necessary, such as mentoring or sponsorship initiatives, and ensuring gender diverse slates in hiring as well as having representation KPI’s impacting leader’s performance ratings.
“Supportive programs that enable women to balance work and family are also critical to stop the leaking pipeline of women mid-career.”
Prior to moving to Dubai, Alex was based in Hong Kong as Senior Director Talent Management for PepsiCo’s Asia Pacific Region, encompassing 23 markets.
“I feel very fortunate to have lived in worked in Asia (Hong Kong) and now the Middle East (Dubai). My family have also benefited from the cross cultural experience living abroad and my nine year old son is almost fluent in Mandarin,” Alex says.
Her advice for women returning to the workforce following maternity leave is to keep in contact with management and take the initiative to communicate career aspirations.
“Try and stay in touch during any break in work. Returning to work post maternity leave can be daunting and for some it can be a whole new world, so maintaining contacts with colleagues and management can help ease the transition.
“Take the initiative to contact your manager regarding your return to work plan and take advantage of any flexibility options that the organisation may have. Once ready to get back on the track be bold and communicate your career goals with people of influence - don’t run the risk of assumptions being made about your career aspirations.
“For women - don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t have it all, you can with some trade-offs.”
Alice Rigney AO PSM DUniv
Pioneering Aboriginal educator
Tribute to first female Aboriginal school principal in Australia
Graduate and Honorary Doctor of the University
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)
PhD in high performance sport candidate with Port Adelaide Football Club
Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Movement and Health Studies) with Honours 2011
Human Movement honours graduate and PhD student Daniel Rogers describes himself in three words:
living the dream.
As the inaugural recipient of the University of South Australia and Port Adelaide Football Club (PAFC) PhD scholarship in high performance sport, he gets to spend every day doing what he loves – working with elite athletes.
Daniel’s PhD research involves investigating how various physical capacities contribute to physical performance in elite players. He has access to PAFC players and to state-of-the-art facilities at both PAFC and UniSA.
“It (the partnership with PAFC) means that I get invaluable experience working in a high performance sport environment. While I have research to do, more than half of my time is spent assisting strength coaches and physios in their daily tasks so it’s applied. In this way I can gain important applied skills while also working in an environment which stimulates ideas and guides my research,” says Daniel.
“It’s the environment I aspire to work in one day and it’s great to work with people who I’ve admired from a far for some time.”
After finishing his undergraduate Human Movement degree in 2010, Daniel wanted to gain further knowledge in sport science, which led him to complete his Honours project at UniSA.
“I then took a few years out of studying and worked and volunteered with sports teams. Through this I developed a particular interest in the area of athletic development and I figured the best way to gain more knowledge and answer certain questions was to go onto a PhD, says Daniel.
Daniel’s days usually start around 7:30am and finish between 5pm and 8pm.
“During that time I assist with the set up and complete any assigned tasks during (usually two) training sessions (gym and on-field). Throughout the day I get an hour or two to work on my PhD work. I do this four days a week and usually attend uni on Fridays. On the weekends I attend Port Magpies games to assist with game day duties,” says Daniel.
His advice for others thinking of pursuing a career in sport or exercise science is to know the science inside out.
“Any role within a sports club also requires ‘soft skills’ – communication skills, teamwork skills, leadership skills, etc. These are probably more important than your theoretical knowledge.
“The most important thing is to get applied experience. As soon as possible, get out and volunteer as much time as you can afford. This will help you network and refine your ‘soft skills’. Be proactive and work hard – people value these qualities. Also, be persistent – it’s a competitive field but can be very rewarding - so be patient.
“It also helps to practice what you preach. For example, if you want to teach people how to perform strength training exercises, make sure you can do them reasonably well yourself.”
CEO of Climate Mundial, London
Bachelor of Building (Hons) 1997
Daniel Rossetto is a world-leading specialist in climate finance, clean energy development and carbon markets. He is Managing Director at Climate Mundial Limited in London which is a specialist climate finance provider for it global client base.
Daniel completed his Bachelor of Building with Honours at UniSA in 1997, the year the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was adopted. Almost two decades on, with a successful career in renewable energy and international development, Daniel reflects on the likelihood of compromise to be being reached on the future of limiting greenhouse gases at the forthcoming United Nations climate summit in Paris later this year.
“The Kyoto Protocol, signed by all countries in 1997, was a good first step. All countries – everyone from the U.S. and Australia through to Morocco and Gabon - are busily preparing their own national contributions to include in the Paris agreement. It’s an exciting time as we’ve rarely seen universal cooperation on this scale before,” says Daniel.
And what of the progress made in Australia?
“Australia, at its core, is a cooperative nation filled with people driven to do the right thing economically, environmentally and socially. In South Australia, when I began working for Government at the end of the 1990s, we had not a single wind-farm in the state and solar panels were only used in off-grid applications. Today the state produces 40% of its electricity from renewable sources. When you see change like that in just 15 years, it makes you know change is possible and compels one to think boldly about the future,” he says.
Connect with Daniel Rossetto on LinkedIn
How a scholarship is transforming a single mother’s life
Bachelor of Midwifery
A scholarship is providing Chantelle with the opportunity to attend university and turn her dream of a better life into a reality. After completing the Foundation Studies course at UniSA College, Chantelle pursued her studies and her tenacity payed off - receiving the David Pank Undergraduate Scholarship in 2015. The financial assistance from the scholarship has enabled her to study a Bachelor of Midwifery while continuing to support her children.
“Pregnancy with my son introduced me to the incredible profession of midwifery, but it wasn’t until I had my daughter and experienced a poor level of support and professionalism that I decided I had to apply to university to become a midwife,” Chantelle says.
“I knew I could do a better job supporting women through their journey to become mothers.
“I’m a single mother with two young children so finances are always tight. Scholarships are so important because they can help students, like me, who are trying very hard to create a better life for themselves and their children.
“This scholarship has been incredible for me, and I’m eternally grateful for being chosen and having the extra support to follow my dream.”
Receiving the scholarship has significantly helped Chantelle with the costs of day care, travel to placements and appointments, uniforms, textbooks and parking. It has greatly reduced her financial stress and allowed her to focus on her children and on pursuing a career as a midwife.
“I love being there as an extra support for pregnant women and their partners. I love the rapport I’m able to build with them, and the thought that they’ve trusted me and allowed me to share in the incredible and personal experience of birth with them.
“Lifting a newborn baby onto their mother’s chest and seeing the emotions and relief on both parents’ faces is indescribable and unlike anything I’ve experienced. This is my dream career, I love every aspect of it.
“My goal is to be offered a job in my grad year, and then acquire a more permanent employment position. I hope to one day build my own house so that I don’t have to keep moving my children around from house to house in rental properties.”
In 2013 Chantelle was offered a position in the Foundation Studies course through UniSA College, and her experiences with her tutors and lecturers made her decision on where to complete her studies very easy.
“They were some of the most amazing people I have ever met – they were all incredibly supportive and helpful, and I remain friends with a number of them to this day. After this experience I knew I wanted to continue my degree through UniSA."
By supporting students through the 25th Birthday Scholarship Fund, you too can help students, like Chantelle, change their lives and turn their dreams into a reality. Please visit unisa.edu.au/25thscholarshipfund to learn more.
Genevieve and Jaime Sanchez
Genevieve Sanchez , Editorial Coordinator, LEGO (Billund, Denmark)
Graduate Diploma in Communications (Public Relations)
Jaime Sanchez , Element Designer, LEGO (Billund, Denmark)
Bachelor of Design (Product Innovation) 2013
Master of Design (Industrial Design)
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’.”
Eexploring identity through art
Bachelor of Visual Arts (Specialisation Sculpture)
Through creative multi-media forms including moving image, installation, photography and sculpture, multi-disciplinary artist and UniSA graduate Derek Sargent explores themes of young adolescent sexuality and identity in Western society.
Derek is a recipient of the 2016 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship and was the winner of the 2013 Constance Gordon-Johnson Sculpture and Installation prize.
After receiving a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Specialisation Sculpture) from the South Australian School of Art in 2012, Derek graduated with first class honours in 2013.
But despite having his work exhibited nationally, Derek did not always plan on becoming an artist.
“I never did art in high school and didn’t start art school until my mid-20s,” Derek says.
“I think I’ve always been a creative person but it wasn’t until I went to art school that I found a way to channel that creativity – I went because I was interested in photography but once I got there an entirely different world that I didn’t know existed opened up.”
Derek’s practice, which combines personal ethnography, research from queer theorists and the history of homosexuality in Western society, focuses on how popular culture reinforces standard gender and sexual roles.
The term 'queer' now represents a cross section of marginalised self-identifications, yet it still remains unaligned to a specific identity. The ‘product’ of this contextualisation of queer culture is an amalgamation of gender, identity, and homosexual studies that emphasises the incompatibilities between these theories and heterosexuality in current society. You can read more about this theory on the Samstag Museum website.
“The lack of specific imagery and representation in mainstream media available to queer adolescent boys is what drives my work and is a platform for engaging in the underlying fear of adolescent sexuality in our culture," Derek says.
“I work mainly with popular culture as a source material and I’m fascinated when something queer infiltrates it – I spend a lot of time trawling the internet and it’s always exciting to find something from the past that breaks the heteronormative narrative.” (Heteronormative—a belief in people falling into distinct genders that align with ‘natural’ biological roles in sexuality and identity)
Former Co-Director of the Adelaide FELTspace, a nationally recognised artist-run initiative, Derek has had his work exhibited across the country, including at the National Graduate Exhibition at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, which he says has been one of his greatest achievements as an artist.
As one of the recipients of the 2016 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Arts Scholarship, Derek will be able to further his visual arts study and continue to explore sexuality and identity within the formative years of adolescent development on an international scale.
The scholarship gives the winner a tax-exempt payment equivalent to US$45,000 for 12 months of overseas study plus return airfares and institutional fees.
“The Samstag Scholarship is a massive opportunity to further my career, to be able to study and create alongside other artists with similar interests and goals and to get exposure to the international art world,” says Derek.
“I have been lucky enough to have so many supportive teachers at UniSA who inspired and motivated me, and art school gave me the opportunity to meet many like-minded people and make connections that will last a lifetime.”
Derek says involvement and experience are vital for new graduates and artists who want to make their mark in the art world, as he says it can be hard to keep up the momentum after leaving school.
“Self-discipline and self-motivation are important, so you should get involved as much as possible: exhibit, volunteer and go to openings.
“Make opportunities happen, don’t wait for them to come along – just go for it.”
UK Managing Director, Global Publisher, Ole Media Group
Bachelor of Arts (Journalism), 1989
With technology and the digital world continually growing and evolving, it can be challenging for businesses to remain relevant online and ahead of their competitors. Former journalist and UniSA alumnus, Tim Satchell, is succeeding in his career as a leading digital communications expert and is currently the Managing Director for the global company, Ole Media Group.
Ole Media Group is a dynamic digital media company specialising in publishing, marketing and advertising in both the online and mobile worlds. The global company guides a range of clients in Africa and the United Kingdom and has plans to expand into the Australian market.
Tim has kindly shared his wealth of knowledge, including his opinions about ad blockers and his predictions for social platforms in the near future - plus what Facebook is planning to do next.
What are your predictions for social media platforms and online behaviour in the future?
Facebook are talking about their platform becoming video-dominated within a few years, a version of YouTube. Instead of hiring more journalists, our editorial hires now are mainly graphic designers to create videos. It is surprising to witness just how more successful our content marketing is on Facebook now that we are using short video clips, rather than only posting headlines with a picture.
I do see social media platforms becoming even more dominant than they are now. Not necessarily just Facebook, millennials are already losing interest in that, but across a range of social platforms.
Some successful new publishing brands are not even setting up their own website, they are establishing media brands within social channels, taking their message to where the audience is, rather than trying to drive the audience to their own site. Facebook are encouraging publishers in this process by becoming less controlling, more sharing, of the advertising dollars.
I can see the logic, but at the same time I don’t want to be the turkey that voted for Christmas; you need to have an independent base and focal point. So it’s a matter of keeping our feet in several camps to reach the widest audience, but not become reliant on others to promote and commercialise content on our behalf.
Our newest brand, PlanetFootball.com, will have its own website soon but for launch we have focused on Facebook and generated over 20k followers in the first two months.
How are ad blocking companies affecting online advertising?
Ad blockers are a pain in the backside. Advertising provides the revenue lifeline that funds quality journalism. People who use ad blockers are going to downgrade the quality of their favourite media brands by drying up their funding.
10% - 20% of readers across our various sites are using ad blockers, which means we have 10% - 20% less budget to spend on journalists and developers.
It’s often said that native advertising is the way to circumvent the ad blockers but I don’t believe a rash of advertorial, blurring the lines between editorial and advertising, is a good thing for readers or the integrity of media brands. Native advertising sales is also labour-intensive and so only works for the biggest media players; it’s not a model that scales down for smaller publishers.
Ad blockers also tell the publishing industry that if we made ads less intrusive that would halt the spread of ad blockers. That’s tosh, of course. Subtle, unobtrusive ads are easily ignored and so generate very little money, so down that route lies the same ruin for publishers.
In any case, users of ad blockers will never carefully analyse each site to decide which meet their personal standards for advertising and which don’t. They’ll just tick a box in their browser that bluntly blocks advertising from all publishers.
To rub salt into the wound, ad blockers are taking money from publishers to whitelist their sites and display their ads even though readers presumably expect their ad blocker to block all ads from all sites. It’s an old fashioned extortion racket rather than a public service: I’ll stop smashing in your grocery store windows if you pay me a monthly protection fee.
Why did you choose to buyout the company from Sky Sports to form Ole Media Group, and what is the main difference between the providing online services in Africa compared with the United Kingdom?
Sky’s purchase of 365 Media included an unwanted 20-person editorial operation in Cape Town. We struck a deal with Sky to take it off their hands and set about tapping into the African digital media market which was in the very early stages then of significant growth.vThe biggest difference is the devices used to consume content.
Mobile internet is completely dominant in Africa but the quality of phones and bandwidth is well behind Europe, so video content is yet to take off in Africa. Instead, old fashioned text message subscriptions are a significant part of our business in Africa.
South African ad agencies and operations lag behind the UK in the way they buy and sell media but that works to our advantage, having a foot in both camps. Three years ago we established AddSuite, our advertising business, because we could see that programmatic advertising was quickly growing its share of the digital ad market in Europe and the US, but that it was yet to really catch on in Africa.
In 1996 you moved from Australia to London and co-founded Online Editorial Bureau. What inspired you to leave your career as a journalist and move into this sector of the industry?vI left Canberra, where I had been working as a political correspondent for The Advertiser, after the 1996 election with the intention of spending a year in the UK on a working holiday visa before returning.
I got a job in London with Cityscreen on Reuters and soon got talking with its two owners about creating a new business. We saw an opportunity to provide a one-stop content shop to brands and corporates who wanted to set up their first websites and intranets.
Traditional content providers were not well set up at that time to deliver content to digital publishers, so we worked with them to convert their editorial into digital feeds.
Then we packaged it all together to become a department store for digital content, offering the likes of Press Association, Reuters, AccuWeather, Universal uClick (Dilbert, Garfield) and astrologer Russell Grant.
Our first client was the bookmaker William Hill, for whom we built the most basic of websites. They would fax us their latest odds twice a day and we’d spend hours manually inputting and uploading them.
Soon our main business was working with mobile network operators like One2One (now Everything Everywhere), Vodafone and BT Mobile (now O2) to fill their early wap portals with content and create text alert packages, ie, daily horoscopes and goal alerts for your favourite football team.
So I didn’t consciously choose to leave journalism, I became the commercial guy by default to grow the business and pay the bills. I got immersed in the business and cancelled my flight home.
Will your business come into the Australian market?
Australia is definitely on our radar because it’s such a similar market to the UK.
The most obvious starting point for us is our publishing division because 10% of our traffic derives from Australia & NZ and our rugby, F1, soccer and cricket sites all have a natural audience there.
We have a full-time journalist based in Australia and commercially we have partnered with a Melbourne ad sales agency specialising in sport, Interplay Media. We will look to build that up over time.
Dr Caleb Sawade
Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical & Mechatronic) with Honours
While studying his degree in engineering at the University of South Australia, Dr Caleb Sawade was offered the opportunity to undertake an internship with the McLaren Technology Group in America – a household name in motorsport and Formula One since its creation in 1966. What happened next was a series of events that he could never have foreseen, landing him with a PhD to top it off.
Dr Sawade discusses his transition from technical intern to modelling and decision sciences manager, breaks down the inner workings of McLaren, and delivers some insightful advice for new graduates.
Please briefly describe your journey from studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical & Mechatronic) with Honours, to where you are now
During my undergraduate studies at UniSA, I travelled to the USA to work for McLaren in a technical internship. It was a great experience and exposed me to the high-paced engineering of motorsport. Towards the end of the placement, they asked to sponsor my final year honours research project: a rehabilitation simulator for the GB (Great British) Rowing team.
After completing my degree, I began working as a Mechatronic and Systems Engineer at SMR Automotive in South Australia. The position allowed me to experience multiple areas of the business and understand in more depth the manufacturing in the automotive market.
A year later, McLaren offered to sponsor a PhD, in the UK, on one of many proposed ideas. The list was fascinating, but I declined as I wasn’t interested in doing a PhD. After some persuasion from the technical director, Dr Caroline Hargrove, I decided to go for it, packed my bags and moved to the UK – not without my fiancé, of course.
It was the best career decision I have ever made. The PhD at Southampton University was an incredible experience. It was focused on how to use virtual environments and robotics, to accelerate the rate of elite athlete learning. I worked with TeamGB and UK Sport to develop simulators for extreme sport and Olympic programmes, subsequently leading to a gold medal at the Olympics. It was a slightly strange PhD, as although it was an Engineering Sciences Doctorate, there was a large amount of cognitive and neuroscience research, which was a steep learning curve. At the end of the PhD, I consulted for UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport on sports such as Rowing, Sailing, and Cycling, before joining McLaren Applied Technologies full-time.
Now, as the Modelling and Decision Sciences Manager, I manage the data science, simulation engineering, and business analytics disciplines within the business. It’s amazing to work with such a talented group of people on some really exciting projects.
Please describe your position at McLaren Applied Technologies in the UK
McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT) is one of the McLaren Group companies, consisting of McLaren Racing (the Formula One team), McLaren Automotive (a high-end supercar and hypercar manufacturer), and McLaren Marketing (an exclusive brands and marketing company). MAT is mix between a consultancy and product company. We work on internal products, and with clients, across multiple industries to bring high performance engineering and software to the wider world. The business is focused on five key industry areas: motorsport, automotive, public transport, health and wellness, and strategic partnerships. Each are connected by common technologies we develop and scale across industries. We work closely with McLaren Racing and McLaren Automotive to help them develop the latest technical advancements in their respective fields.
Unfortunately I can’t discuss most of what we do as we confidentially work for fortune 500 companies and interact on technical development years before they enter the marketplace. These technologies cover everything from autonomous vehicles, medical devices, transportation systems, and consumer goods. But there are a few examples I can discuss.
Born out of Formula One, we develop simulators for the automotive industry. Human-in-the-loop driving simulators are not a new idea for car manufacturers, however most of them are used for driver training, ergonomic assessment, or safety testing. Our latest simulator changes this, as it reproduces the sensations of driving very well, allowing engineers to develop the car not the driver. Performing vehicle dynamic assessment in a virtual world drastically reduced development costs. It means we have had to model the car in great detail and understand how humans perceive driving. Our focus is to ensure the driver makes the same decisions they would in the real car. By making the same decisions, we can understand how to best manipulate the car to maximise driver enjoyment. McLaren Automotive is one of our clients who we help develop cars like the McLaren P1 and 720s.
We have worked with US bike manufacturer Specialized for years. Initially we took our Formula One know-how of composite materials and applied them to bike design and manufacture. This reduced the weight and increased the stiffness. But we didn’t want to stop there, we wanted to know how and why an increase in stiffness alters the riding experience. So we built a dynamic computational model of a bike and rider. Every detail possible was added – from tyres rolling over stones, to the forces the rider exerts on the handlebars. The model allows Specialized to optimise key performance metrics of all their bikes before they even build one.
My focus at the moment is building and managing the Modelling and Decision Sciences team, soon to be around 40 engineers. We work on all areas of the business and are expanding fast. Our approach is novel because we mix Simulation Engineering, which is concerned with the fundamental physics and detail of how things work, with the newer field of Data Science, which is taking data and building machine learnt models to quickly understand problems. Most companies normally have one or the other, but our approach with both means we develop novel algorithms, which outperform those previously developed. We are the algorithm factory of the company, and together with our software development and hardware teams we create novel products you probably interact with daily.
What is your best piece of advice for recent graduates?
Learn as much software programming, data handling and mathematics as possible. All industries need it, and it will compliment all degrees.
Don’t be afraid to go back to university, undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, as it will enable you to learn and be qualified in what you love.
Spend equal amounts of time building a good team, as worrying about your own career – people will follow you if you have their backs, and together you will succeed faster.
Bachelor of Visual Art Glass with Honours
Yhonnie Scarce is one of the first contemporary Australian artists to explore both the activist and the aesthetic power of glass. Born in Woomera, Yhonnie is a descendant of the Kokatha people from the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre region and the Nukunu language group from the Port Augusta area. Through artwork that she describes as ‘politically motivated and emotionally driven,’ Yhonnie explores the historical and ongoing treatment of Aboriginal Australians. As seen in a diverse range of glass-based installations, Yhonnie particularly seeks to examine the on-going effects of colonisation on Aboriginal people, the impact of the removal and relocation of Aboriginal people from their homelands and the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families.
In 2003, the University of South Australia awarded Yhonnie a scholarship for Indigenous achievers. She has been a highly successful ambassador for the University, having exhibited at the Harvard Art Museum, Massachusetts in 2016, as part of the Tarnanthi Festival at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 2015, the 19th Biennale of Sydney in 2014 and the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Most recently, her work Burial Ground was shown alongside Auguste Rodin in the 2017 exhibition Versus Rodin at the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Yhonnie’s extraordinary talent shines through her aesthetically stunning pieces. Through her work she expresses a powerful and thought-provoking message.
“Growing up Aboriginal in Australia was tough and is still tough continually fighting for equality,” says Yhonnie.
“As an artist, I have the unique ability to draw attention to historical and current racism in Australia, and my intention is to prompt people to have honest and open conversations about the treatment of Aboriginal people.
“Not enough has been said, and still in this day Aboriginal people are prematurely dying.
“By addressing the problem, we – as Australians – can start to properly heal and mend existing wounds to move forward into a happier future.”
Yhonnie’s pieces reflect the overall issues facing Aboriginal people, which are derived from historic research, oral history, current political messages and actions, and from her personal experiences.
“As well as this, in the Aboriginal community we believe our country has memory. I visited Woomera last year and was receptive to the energy given from the land, which I have portrayed through my work.
Yhonnie’s unique talent was recognised early. While studying a Bachelor of Visual Art at UniSA, she was the recipient of the Irene and David Davy Scholarship.
“The scholarship really helped me with my studies in many ways. One is that glass can be expensive, so the funding allowed me to purchase materials to explore this medium and improve my skills. The other is that it helped me establish myself in this competitive industry when I was first starting out.”
“At the outset, Yhonnie impressed with her quiet determination to succeed and we have followed her career with great pride since that time, revelling in her achievements,” says Margaret Davy, Trustee of the Irene and David Davy Scholarship.
“The aims of the scholarship are to help support our scholars in their first degree - and equally to ask of them to be role models for the next generation of indigenous students to start an academic career. In the last 17 years, all of "our" scholars have graduated and the majority have gone on to further successes in their chosen fields. We are so proud to number Yhonnie "one of ours" and bask in her reflected successes.”
When Yhonnie looks back on her time studying at UniSA, she believes those four years were the best and happiest time of her life.
“Those years changed my life.
“I am forever grateful for Gabriella Bisetto, she is the head of the glass studio at UniSA and is an amazing and supportive person, and I am proud to call her my friend.”
Yhonnie’s career is continuing to thrive. She is internationally recognised as a leading Australian contemporary artist and her work is exhibited all over the world. The exhibitions she is most proud of are the Harvard Art Museum, Venice Biennale, and Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary and Torres Strait Islander Art.
“I have been so fortunate in my career as an artist. Through my work, I have travelled places that I never could have imagined. I’ve been to New York four times and to Europe multiple times.”
She believes her success is due to her consistent hard work, determination, considers herself extremely lucky.
“I have been working as an artist professionally for 12 years, and believe artists in Australia, and around the world, are some of the hardest working people – it is not an easy industry!”
Her advice to recent graduates and hopeful professional artists is to work hard, don’t give up, be grateful, leave your ego behind, and continue to be humble.
“Humility will get you far in this industry as well as in life.”
When Yhonnie first graduated she kept a two year plan. However, having achieving great success she is now at the stage where she would prefer to just continue what she is doing, while living happily and healthily.
Despite her global success, Yhonnie chooses to live in both Melbourne and Adelaide, and continually ‘comes home’ to create her remarkable glass pieces at the JamFactory.
“The JamFactory feels like home to me. Aside from the logistical benefit of the workshop being available seven days a week, I prefer creating glass pieces there as the crew are amazing, I feel inspired and excited in the space, and I am more productive.
“Ultimately, I hope my work is able to leave a legacy and create opportunities.”
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.”
On the frontline of the fight against Ebola
Master of Business Administration
If someone had told him five years ago that he would study in the Caribbean and work in West Africa, Matt Simpson would never have believed them, but that is exactly what happened for this UniSA MBA graduate, who decided to head back to university for post-graduate study ten years after receiving his Bachelor’s degree.
Armed with a Bachelor of Information Systems from the University of Melbourne, Matt began his career with Apple in 2003, working as technical support and team leader located both in London and Sydney.
After leaving Apple he became an ICT Coordinator for Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College in Sydney, until an opportunity presented to his wife posed new possibilities for his own career too.
“My wife was offered a year-long volunteer assignment in Dominica (East Caribbean), which gave me the opportunity to focus on post-graduate study while I went to support her,” Matt says.
“I’d already started seeking out MBA courses, and UniSA was highly regarded and offered the most flexible study options – I ended up being able to do more than half the course from a Caribbean island!”
Matt finished his Masters of Business Administration at the beginning of 2015, and in January he flew across to West Africa, to Sierra Leone, to work for Concern Worldwide as an Ebola Response Manager.
Concern Worldwide, an international humanitarian organisation, has been working in Sierra Leone since 1996, and as part of this team, Matt helped the fight against the spread of the Ebola epidemic in one of the two worst-affected countries in the world.
“As an Ebola Manager in the district of Tonkolili, my role was to coordinate Concern’s surveillance activities; teams would receive community alerts about sick or deceased persons, and others would travel to collect information about their symptoms and recent contacts.”
Matt’s roles included building informal relationships and developing communications with partners and communities, as well as assisting a local NGO, Real Women in Action Sierra Leone, with basic budgeting, reporting, marketing advice and human resourcing guidance.
Matt’s experiences during his time working and living in one of the poorest districts of Sierra Leone have stayed with him since his return six months ago, and have influenced him both professionally and personally.
“Before I arrived, I was given the great advice to rid myself of preconceptions, and in the end I became very good at two things: preparing for any eventuality, and continuously asking questions and checking my understanding,” he says.
“I feel more resilient – to change, and to challenges; I have a better understanding of where my limits lie, and when to ask for help.
“Personally, this experience has made one thing clearer: the joy in growing and learning, as opposed to the futility of comparing ourselves with others – plus, a hot, clean shower is something truly special when you’ve gone months without consistent running water!”
Matt, living once more in Sydney, has recently joined Qantas as part of a new Service Integration team, focusing on business value and the employee experience, and says that considering his career journey so far, he cannot imagine what awaits him in the future.
“I never saw myself studying in the Caribbean or working in West Africa; I feel fortunate to be in Sydney now, working with an exceptional organisation on an ambitious change project.”
Matt has this message to new and future graduates starting out in the world: “you can guarantee that opportunities will present themselves to you, in some way, throughout your career.
“You can’t predict when, or what they will look like; just be prepared to say yes to things that feel right.”
Bachelor of Business (Marketing)
Robyn Simpson has had a fascinating career involving acrobatics, choreography, performance flying, and dance. From travelling across the globe, to co-founding a circus for survivors of trafficking and having a pivotal role in the ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Robyn shows no signs of slowing down.
In 2010, Robyn and a small team of co-founders set up Circus Kathmandu, Nepal’s first and only circus. All artists in the circus are survivors of trafficking or vulnerable situations, and strive to raise awareness about modern day slavery.
“The anti-trafficking work they do now is vital because trafficking is increasing in Nepal and Circus Kathmandu has a unique way of getting people’s attention and engaging a community with the issues,” says Robyn.
“Through circus, the young artists are fostering a love of learning and demonstrating gender equality and the power of the creative economy.”
"It’s potent because they’re living examples of what they’re teaching, and they’re defenders of human rights and children’s rights because of what they’ve experienced."
In the seven short years since Circus Kathmandu’s foundation, the group have profoundly turned their lives around, fast becoming a national export. The group have put on workshops in a number of different areas such as earthquake displacement camps, spinal injury hospitals and with street children. As well as this, the group has performed at some big name venues like Glastonbury Festival, and for people such as the Ex-Prime Minister of Nepal.
“They’re versatile, talented, and inspiring. Culture, creativity, and tourism are assets that can be further developed to economically benefit Nepal, help reduce poverty, and as tools against social injustice. Circus Kathmandu is proof that it is possible – it began with people from the lowest socioeconomic stratum with minimal options for the future. With assistance, Circus Kathmandu has tools to help rid Nepal of trafficking, and to protect and promote the rights of women and children.”
More recently, Circus Kathmandu has been involved in a new documentary, Even When I Fall. Tracing the lives of two members of the circus, the film follows their journey over six years as they confront and accept being survivors of child trafficking and corrupt Indian circuses, taking control of their lives and looking towards the future.
“My secret goal is that the film creates a global storm and that the problems resulting in human trafficking are resoundingly defeated – that the film creates pressure in the right places to make real systematic change to poverty, gender inequality, lack of education and corruption.”
Long before her involvement with the circus and the Olympic Games, Robyn was studying a Bachelor of Management in Marketing, when she decided to pack up her things and move to the bustling city of Mumbai. During her time there, she taught dance and PE at the American School Bombay, studied yoga, danced in Bollywood music videos, and continued studying by correspondence.
Robyn then won a dance scholarship to Vienna, and moved to London from there. She danced with the English National Opera and did daily classes with the Richard Alston Dance Company. It was not until a colleague convinced her to audition for the Millennium Dome Show – a multimedia show akin to Cirque du Soleil – that her career path would take a rapid hook turn, launching her into the world of acrobatics.
7000 people auditioned for the Dome Show, with Robyn recalling the process being as tough as an army boot camp.
“The first day involved doing sit ups, squats and other strength exercises and then getting up onto a trapeze bar. People were cut after each round of exercises. Over the next audition days we did dance, acting, team work, and then finally a height test, and I was accepted onto a full-time circus training course in preparation for the Dome Show.
“The course was an incredible and rapid entry into the world of traditional circus – trapeze, corde lisse, circeau – and contemporary circus where I did bungee trapeze, abseiling, sway pole, and flying.”
Even while she was effortlessly gliding through the air on a trapeze and balancing up a 100 foot sway pole, Robyn still continued to study, gaining her Marketing degree during this period.
Over the course of her career, Robyn has worked on many large scale events in sport, fashion, music, and film.
“Working on London 2012 was the culmination of a ten-year goal and is a definite career highlight.”
“Being part of the Opening Ceremony as the ‘Hero Mary Poppins’ that defeated Voldemort to rescue the children was a magic moment. As Aerial Captain, I improvised and tested equipment, and helped 30 aerialists with their flying.
“Touring with Muse and having 200,000 people simultaneously roar as I jumped out of a flying UFO still makes my heart race a little when I think about it.
“Doing movement direction, or devising on films like Les Misérables is great because what you create lasts - they’re not ethereal like live performances.”
Although Circus Kathmandu has already come a long way since its inception, Robyn is adamant that there is a lot more to do to cement the sustainability of the organisation, and a large part is creating a high-profile show for tourists, allowing the business to grow.
“Ultimately, we’d also like our own training space and performing arts and circus school to continue training circus and social circus practitioners, as well as generating a love of creative learning in future generations.”
Robyn is returning to live in Australia this summer with her young family and is looking forward to the opportunities available here to pursue her interests in dance, choreography and circus.
Dr Kirsten St. George
Chief, Viral Diseases, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health
Bachelor of Applied Science in Medical Technology
Masters of Applied Science (Medical Laboratory Science)
Doctor of Philosophy (Infectious Diseases and Microbiology)
As the Chief of Viral Diseases for the biggest state public health lab in the United States, Dr Kirsten St. George is responsible for detecting, researching and informing the relevant authorities on viral diseases, including Zika and influenza.
Dr St. George has made a prominent and positive impact in science during her career spanning more than 35 years and has worked in laboratories in multiple countries. From basic research, to clinical laboratory medicine, to reducing the fatality rate of high-risk transplant patients, to now leading a public health virology laboratory and regulatory authority on 300 clinical labs.
Her career achievements were recently recognised at the Clinical Virology Symposium in Georgia, US, where Dr St. George was presented with the 2017 Diagnostic Virology Award – an international honour which acknowledges an individual whose contributions to viral diagnosis have had a major impact on the discipline.
The Wadsworth Center’s Virology Laboratory conducts surveillance, outbreak investigations and reference testing, develops new testing methods, performs viral evolution and genomic research and trains post-graduate students and fellows. The Laboratory also holds several national reference center contracts, for example providing weekly influenza surveillance data, including full viral genomic sequence, to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, on samples from 22 of the US states. The laboratory holds similar federal contracts for measles, mumps, gastroenteric and other viruses.
Additionally, they play a key role in response efforts when there are major new pathogen events, such as Zika. The lab developed Zika tests in 2015, tested more than 11,000 suspected Zika cases in 2016, and has published several papers on the virus.
“When Zika emerged in Central and South America, it initially was a matter of responding to an outbreak situation. But it’s gone on so long that it’s no longer an outbreak response – this is the new normal, this is dealing with a new huge disease situation as we have dealt with dengue fever,” says Dr St George.
“However, the disease incidence is decreasing. Whether there is going to be another wave - we are yet to see. Or if we [the United States] get more local transmission – they’re the things we are now watching closely.
“The Wadsworth Lab has always been pretty famous for developing lab methods and detection techniques, and with the assistance of funding we have been able to develop a large panel of viral detection methods.
“In my field, the speed of diagnosis has been one of the biggest changes as well as the volume of data that we are able to quickly collect.
“Previously, it would take months to see genetic changes in viruses – we would have to grow the virus and then biologically test them. Now, with rapid advances in technology, we perform ‘next generation sequencing’ which means we collect genomic sequence data and we can get the virus information in days, a week at most, and sent to the CDC the following day.
“When my Assistant Director for Research was starting to use next generation sequencing, I said to him that the speed of the technology is now so powerful that he generates more virus sequence data in a week than I generated during my entire PhD.”
Among the changes she has seen in Virology, Dr St. George commented on two that she expects to continue:
1. “With the new sequencing technology and the associated data, there are some important decisions that we need to make. Having the ability to generate huge databases of sequence data, there is a temptation to keep doing it and yet it is vastly exceeding the capability to analyse it properly. So to just keep generating more and more data starts to become pointless. We have to sit back and think about what we are going to do with it, and not just dump more data into the database – especially if it’s not curated, it’s not annotated, it’s not edited properly – and there is a lot of that going on. This is a powerful area that has the potential to be very useful.
2. “On the other end of the scale we have increased miniaturisation of diagnostic tools. With these powerful field deployable devices, we are moving away from big labs and big core facilities. People can go out into the field and to the bedside with equipment that can do highly sophisticated things and spit out a lot of test results very rapidly. The middle has gone - it’s instantaneous. There are new sequencing devices that are as small as a mouse trap, and you can carry one in your pocket and record the data on a computer immediately. These are incredible.”
Dr St. George’s career started at UniSA where she graduated with a Master’s Degree in Applied Science and worked in basic science and research in Adelaide before moving to Tasmania to work in diagnostic medicine.
“That was a fabulous experience, I had a wonderful director, Dr Richard Tucker, who I still correspond with from time to time. He was a wonderful clinical mentor and I learnt a lot from him.”
After five years, she was awarded a Fellowship by the Abbott Company to work at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the biggest transplant centre in the world at the time.
“They were performing more than 800 transplants a year.
“Transplant recipients experience major problems with viral infections, and as a virologist it was the perfect place to explore virology studies.
“With paediatric haematology transplant cases, and infections such as cytomegalovirus, we had fatality rates as high as 30% in the high-risk groups. With new treatment regimens and trials, the fatality rates were down to 5%. Some of those trials took years, but when you get Drops of 25% in fatality rates – that’s incredibly rewarding.”
While Dr St. George was assisting the Director of the Virology Department in overseeing all of the applied research programs – in collaboration with the infectious disease physicians, the transplant surgeons, and industry scientists - she completed her PhD on the side. The Director, Dr Charles Rinaldo, is, she says, “a brilliant immunologist and virologist, as well as a great research mentor.”
However, “By the time I had finished my PhD, I was at the extreme end of tired. I needed a good rest. I was well into my 40s, I thought, I could just give up science and grow flowers instead.
“I was very fortunate to be able to take two months off and come back to Australia to think about my options. I decided to leave academic medicine and go into public health. The opportunity of Director of Virology at Wadsworth was a big attraction. I went there in 2004 and in 2008 I was promoted to Lab Chief.”
Yet despite her indisputably impressive career, Dr St. George remains humble and continually credits her successes to the teams she works closely with.
“Nobody works as an individual. My achievements are the collective work of many collaborators and teams over the years.
“It has been very rewarding building a really solid team at the Wadsworth Centre, and mentoring young scientists and seeing them grow and develop and achieving in their own right. I take pride in their work, it is tremendously rewarding.”
Her best piece of advice for mentoring and leading such a large and dynamic team is to provide them with opportunities and trust her staff.
“Provide them with opportunities to let them grow and develop and trust them. Let them do it. Once you give them a project, don’t micromanage it. Be there to support them and come to you but don’t get in their way. Let them go with it and trust them to take care of it.”
After a fulfilling career, Dr St. George plans on retiring back in Adelaide where her family lives.
“I’ve missed my friends, family and Cornish pasties. No one knows what a pasty is in New York!”
Howard Lawrence Sumner
Bachelor of Education (Junior Primary and Primary)
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’.”
Bachelor of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences (Honours)
Singaporean PhD student Melissa Tan(Bachelor of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences with Honours 2012) is developing a vaccine for chikungunya, a severe mosquito-borne virus re-emerging in Asia and the Caribbean with a heightened risk of spreading to Australia.
Melissa is developing a chikungunya vaccine in her project with the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences.
Symptoms of chikungunya virus include fever, joint pain, headaches and rashes which can drag on for months and become severe and disabling.
Spread by mosquitoes, the virus can exacerbate pre-existing health conditions such as cardiac and liver disease, and worsen neurological conditions. Despite the severity of the illness there is no vaccination or cure, and to make matters worse, conditions are building to make Australian outbreaks more likely.
“There’s increased risk now because of outbreaks in places like Asia and the Caribbean, and with so many Australians travelling to these areas the possibility of a local outbreak is heightened,” says Melissa.
“Plus we’ve got carriers such as Asian tiger mosquitoes and yellow fever mosquitoes residing in Queensland and the Torres Strait.”
Adding to the urgency, a recent mutation in the virus has allowed chikungunya to be carried by mosquitoes in temperate and urban environments.
Against this backdrop, Melissa’s research seeks to construct an efficient chikungunya vaccine that can be rolled out cheaply, rapidly and in large quantities, and be stable enough to allow periods of storage.
Her research is benefiting from a UniSA partnership with biotech company Sementis, which has been collaborating with the Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory headed by Associate Prof John Hayball. The collaboration is providing Melissa with access to development approaches and sophisticated, time-saving technology.
“We are following the Sementis approach of using their novel SCV platform technology for our vaccine development,” she says.
“We modify the SCV platform to include proteins specific to chikungunya.
“The hope is that we can get it to mimic chikungunya, and that the body will respond by building immunity.
“Other researchers are looking at creating a vaccine using different methods, but many of these are expensive because of factors such as licensing. Ours has potential to be very cost-effective.”
Having just commenced the third year of her PhD, Melissa is nearing completion of vaccine construction. The next step is rigorous preclinical testing, with an eye towards possible commercialisation down the track.
“We sent some of our vaccine to Queensland for analysis with live virus. Tests on mice showed they were protected against debilitating effects of chikungunya,” Melissa says.
“This was really encouraging, and we are now preparing to publish.
“We’ll be running lots of tests in the months to come to look at the body’s response.
“We’ve got all these resources here, including a new FACSAria fusion sorter, which automates cell sorting and helps save weeks and weeks of manual labour,” she says.
“This is a great opportunity to work on an exciting vaccine with the potential to help millions of people worldwide.”
The original article was published in UniSA’s Research Edge newsletter.
Lih Yin Tan
SA Pathology and University of South Australia
PhD student Lih Yin Tan is building upon current immunotherapy treatment to ultimately block cancer cells and stop tumours from growing, specifically improving treatment for melanoma.
While immunotherapy, the idea of alerting immune cells to the existence of cancer in the body to allow them to find and destroy the disease, has been proven to be one of the most successful treatments for melanoma, it has significant limitations that need to be addressed.
The overall aim of Lih’s research is to build on the knowledge already known about immunotherapy and take it to the next level. While cancer cells hide behind blood vessel barriers in the body, immune cells are only allowed entry if they have the right access code (aka proteins) to get through. Lih’s work looks at finding and identifying these protein codes, and giving them to the immune cells so they can function effectively.
“The white blood cells need to have the right access codes that correspond to the protein locks on the blood vessels to get past the blood vessel barrier and into the tumour, where they can do the killing," says Lih Yin Tan.
“Apart from normal blood vessels formed by specialised cells, melanoma cells themselves can also form blood vessel like structures, a process known as vasculogenic mimicry. We’ve shown that the melanoma cells also express the same protein locks like the normal blood vessel cells, which provides extra assistance for the melanoma to grow and metastasise.”
As well as this, Lih’s research is looking at a key protein called desmoglein-2 (DSG2), which controls melanoma cell-cell adhesion.
“It is important for cells to be able to bond to each other to form these blood vessel-like structures. What we have identified is by blocking this DSG2 adhesion molecule, these melanoma cell lined blood vessels do not form.
“With collaborators in Melbourne, we have already identified that blocking DSG2 slows tumour growth.
“My PhD is contributing towards a bigger cancer treatment, but there is still a lot of work ahead and further research is required to combat tumours.”
Just over a year ago, PhD student Lih Yin Tan gave a presentation at the University of South Australia Three Minute Thesis competition entitled Mission Immune Possible. The presentation put forth the idea of harnessing immunotherapy as a treatment for cancer by giving immune cells the right access codes to find and beat cancer cells. Lih won the People’s Choice Award, as voted by the audience. Jump ahead a year, and her research is now well underway. Watch her video here.
To support important cancer research, such as this, please visit: https://donate.unisa.edu.au/donate-to-cancer-research
Bachelor of Business (Marketing), 1984
Tackling climate change is the number one priority for UniSA alumni Jenny Paradiso and Richard Turner. Jenny and Richard have both established award-winning and successful solar energy companies, and recently teamed-up to share their wealth of knowledge with those involved with the Research Node for Low Carbon Living.
UniSA’s Research Node for Low Carbon Living, which was co-funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL), is a hub for technological, social and economic research, aimed at developing and utilising low carbon products and services.
ZEN Energy is the most awarded business in the solar industry nationally and has such a good business model that it achieved two years of 600 per cent growth during the global financial crisis. Richard and his company, ZEN Energy, have also won a number of awards such as 2014 Runner Up National Innovation Award from the Clean Energy Council and 2011 Excellence in Environmental Sustainability Award from the Technology Industry Association.
Richard says that the ZEN Energy team are passionate and focussed about climate change and the economic future of South Australia.
“ZEN Energy will help position South Australia for future prosperity,” Richard says.
Professor Shudong Wang
World-renowned researcher, Professor Shudong Wang, is leading the team at UniSA’s School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences in the fight against cancer. Prof Wang’s research focuses on drug discovery and development in forging inventive multidisciplinary approaches. She is currently working to beat childhood leukaemia using new orally deliverable drugs – with financial support from Tour de Cure.
Mixed lineage leukaemia (MLL) is the most aggressive form of blood cancer in children. Currently, only 20% of children with the MLL gene are cured, despite patient’s receiving high intensity chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation. The rearrangement of the MLL gene is the most common genetic event occurring in children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
This very unfortunate prognosis emphasizes the pressing need to develop more effective therapies for treatment. Prof Wang and her team have identified a highly potent and orally deliverable CDK9 inhibitor drug molecule that blocks the manifestation of MLL genes and causes the cancer cells to die.
“This advancement is very significant, as it has the potential to provide a new oral drug that is highly efficient and a safe treatment for childhood leukaemia,” Prof Wang says.
“The next step from here is to progress this drug discovery program towards clinic and develop this new drug - which has minimal side-effects - to treat the disease.”
“CDK9-mediated expression of cancer survival proteins is a hallmark of many types of cancers.
“As such, our CDK9 inhibitor drug candidate represents ideal therapy for a wide range of cancers beyond AML and ALL.
“For example, we have previously shown that CDK9 inhibitor can be effective in treating ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.”
Prof Wang is an internationally recognised leader in the development of cancer therapeutics and has a strong track record with several drugs in pre-clinical and clinical development. She also heads up the Centre for Drug Discovery and Development at the University of South Australia. Tour de Cure has recognised the high potential and social value of Prof Wang’s research, and has pledged a significant donation to help this come to fruition.
Tour de Cure is an Item 1, not-for-profit cancer charity. Since 2007, Tour de Cure has raised in excess of $24 million and funded over 252 cancer research, support and prevention projects, leading to 18 cancer breakthroughs. Tour de Cure conducts an annual ‘Research, Support and Prevention Project Tender’ where beneficiaries submit project funding requests to their Board. Prof Wang and her team are one of the successful applicants in 2016.
To support Prof Wang’s research and help to find a cure to cancer, including childhood leukaemia, please make a donation online.
Bachelor of Physiotherapy
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.
Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Movement)
Are fitness and health part of your 2016 New Year’s resolutions? UniSA alumna and personal trainer, Kirsty Welsh, can help you get on track and motivated. Kirsty has transformed lives and is helping people get back to the basics of movement.
Graduating from UniSA with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Movement) in 2008, Kirsty began a successful personal training business in Adelaide before moving to Sydney to work behind the scenes on Channel 9’s BIG: Extreme Makeover in 2011.
After six months of living in the USA where she competed in her first and only fitness competition, Kirsty moved back to Sydney to continue her business, give health speeches to high school students, and to write and blog about her holistic approach to health. Many of her articles have appeared in various Australian publications.
She has always been a spiritual junkie, but it was after suffering from injuries that she decided to take up yoga. Excited over its healing benefits, Kirsty trained as a yoga instructor and began incorporating it into her personal training sessions with clients.
Earlier this year she moved back home to Adelaide where she continues to work as a personal trainer. She has recently opened her own yoga studio which she says is a place for people to learn how to listen to their body and to understand not to take life too seriously.
Why did you become a personal trainer?
I started studying Music Performance but never felt satisfied. I then moved to Human Movement, which was a breath of fresh air to me; it was immediately fun and attracted a bright and optimistic bunch of people. It was very motivating to work among people who also got excited about muscles and our capacity for movement, performance and health.
I had no intention of being a personal trainer until the second year of my degree when I studied a Certificate 4 in Fitness. The ability to really make a difference in the lives of others and be part of the prevention of poor health rather than just the cure – that’s what excited me. It brought new spark into my life.
What makes you so passionate about health and fitness?
It’s evolved along with my personal growth. I began by loving the energy, the health, the buzz, the strength of self and the community. Now it’s about the holistic experience, how movement makes us feel, and how great overall health can change our moment to moment experience. It can open the door to real happiness.
Tell us about your holistic health and fitness philosophy
I believe there is no right or wrong – what is true for one person may not be true for another. But we all have a mind, a body and a spirit, and each component needs nurturing. It’s about finding our own best blend and allowing it to evolve and change to meet our needs at the time.
I believe in simply listening to your body. We live in a world that demands and expects too much – you should move how you feel. If you need to hit something, pop on your boxing gloves and do it. If you need to breathe and stretch, do it. You can’t expect your body to keep burning fuel when there’s nothing left. Choose to feel health and happiness first, and the aesthetics and the body will follow.
Do you have any advice for young graduates?
Stay humble. Build your foundations and seek advice and mentorship; you need to know your weaknesses and be okay with asking for help, but also know your strengths and how to build on them. It might take a number of years, but find your unique niche. Take notice of what makes your heart sing and do it. And always be patient; keep learning and evolving.
Bachelor of Communications, Media and Culture
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!
Managing Director, Bodysystem Physio
Lead Physiotherapist for Rowing Australia
Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy) Hons
Kellie Wilkie’s career as a physiotherapist has taken her all over the world supporting elite athletes at the top of their game. Most recently, she travelled to Rio, Brazil, with the Australian Rowing Team as the Lead Physiotherapist for Rowing Australia at the 2016 Olympics.
Kellie supports the athletes during the peak of their professional sporting careers, and works with the coaches to ensure they are the best they can possibly be. In her ‘spare’ time she owns and operates a successful Physiotherapy business in Tasmania.
We interviewed Kellie while she was in Rio right in the middle of the Olympic Games. She shared her insight into what it is like being a part of the Australian Olympic Team, how the athletes cope with the enormous pressures, and how she worked her way to Rio.
What is it like being a part of the Australian Olympic team?
It is an honour to be able to support such amazing athletes and coaches trying to get the very best out of themselves. Knowing the journeys of the individual athletes and seeing them striving to reach their goals on the world stage is a pleasure. It is quite inspirational and has helped me get the best out of myself as a team member and a person. I am really proud to be part of the Australian Rowing Team.
Is the Rowing Team confident in winning medals?
After the minor rounds we have five medal chances left from eight boats competing. We are hopeful of at least four medals.
How do the athletes deal with the enormous pressure of the Olympics?
Athletes and coaches try to treat the Olympic Games just as they would a world championship that they have completed in for the three years previously. There are other pressures they need to deal with at the Olympics including media, increased interest from family and friend and increased security. We try our best to stay flexible and keep all daily activities of training and arriving at the boat park as familiar as possible to reduce this stress. Increased stress can not only impact negatively on performance, but can also influence pain states if someone is carrying an injury into competition. The Rowing team is calm and confident. We are not trying to get overexcited as that is likely to impact on performance.
What is the one thing that the viewers might not necessarily learn about the Olympics?
Very small mistakes can be the difference between progressing to a final and having a chance to win a gold medal and missing a final. The margins are so small at the top level that any mistake is costly. You can prepare so well for four years but you have to perform at every round of racing to have success - there are no room for mistakes. It is cut throat at this level!
What is Rio like?
Rio is a vibrant city full of happy, friendly people. It is winter and it is warm and humid, it is light early in the morning and dark at 5.30pm so it reminds me of holidaying in northern Queensland.
The most difficult aspect of being in Rio is having your wits about you all of the time. There are Australian Olympic Committee security requirements that need to be followed so all down time needs to be planned. You cannot just go out for a walk by yourself during down time.
Have you travelled to the Olympics in previous years? If so, what is the difference?
Yes, I travelled to London. The London Games were very different. The team stayed in the Village and was dependant on Village transport, food and accommodation. In Rio, we are staying in an Australian Olympic Committee sub-site with our own dietitian, control of our transport and we are accommodated with other Australians - this limits our exposure to germs from all areas of the globe.
Do you require different types of physio skills for elite athletes, and what is the most intense injury you have treated?
Absolutely. Travelling with elite athletes requires you to call on all of your skills to be an efficient and effective team member, a positive influence and an ability to form relationships with athletes and coaches where they do not depend on you but they have your full support whenever needed.
The other area I have become involved in is performance optimisation. I have spent many hours in the coach boat with coaches working collaboratively to get athletes to move as efficiently and effectively as they can. It is not all about injury management.
We have been managing a rower with low back pain and it can be very hard when you know that the timing of the injury will impact on performance and that particular athlete may not achieve what they are truly capable of after four years of preparation. It is devastating for them and we need to provide the best possible support as a team around an athlete with an injury just prior to competition.
What is the training like for the athletes in the lead up to the Olympic Games?
The athletes were based in Italy for three months prior to the games. They competed in two world cups during that time. We had changes in medical staff supporting the athletes throughout this time. I spent the last three weeks with the team in Italy and have come into Rio with the team for two weeks. There is a second Physio and a Doctor travelling with the team.
How did you start working Rowing Australia?
I am the Lead Physiotherapist for Rowing Australia and have been for this Olympiad. I was first asked to look after a Rowing Crew Preparing for the Athens Olympics in 2004. At the time I was working with the Tasmanian Institute of Sport Swimming Program and they were happy with the work I was doing so they asked me to start supporting another sporting program. Since then I worked with National crews training in Tasmania and in 2008 I was asked to travel with my first National Team. I travelled with the Junior Team in 2008, Under 23 Team in 2009, Senior Team in 2010 and 2011 and I was the one of two Physiotherapists that supported the Australian Rowers at the London 2012 Olympics. The Lead Physiotherapist was leaving this position at this stage and I was asked if I would like to take it on. It was the first time that a Physiotherapist has held this position outside of the Australian Institute of Sport. It has been challenging doing this from Hobart and has required significant travel, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the four years. I have travelled with the Senior Team internationally for four years this Olympiad and this has culminated in the supporting the Australian Rowers at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Please describe your journey from studying at UniSA to owning your successful private physio practice, including any advice for recent graduates:
I graduated from the UniSA with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy with first class honours and the University Gold Medal for academic achievement at the end of 1998. I started work in private practice in early 1999 in a busy sports practice in Tasmania (my home state). I loved the sporting clientele and I created opportunities to support local athletes, so I had the ability to treat acute injuries and affect performance at a development level. However, after almost two years I felt burnt out. The practice I worked in had a high turnover of clients and I had added to my work load with the extra sporting opportunities I had taken on. I decided to have some time out and work in my father's small business while I looked for opportunities. Just two years after graduating and with some exposure to small business, I started my own business out of a need to create an employment opportunity for myself that ensured my health and happiness was prioritised.
Sticking to the principles of why you started your business is of the utmost importance. My aim was to enjoy work, not work seeing clients more than 38 hours per week and ensure I stayed healthy in doing so. There have been several occasions where I could have extended opening hours or shortened treatment times for greater profit, but this would have only landed me back in the same position that I was as a new graduate. Building a profitable business whilst respecting the mission statement you first set yourself has been challenging at times but well worth persisting with.
When I started my business I needed to leave significant earnings in the business to re-invest in systems and equipment. In the early stages it is always difficult to ensure you are paying yourself enough whilst balancing growth. Having a very good appreciation of your cash flow on a daily basis and a thorough budget that is updated with actuals on a monthly basis is imperative to this.
I am now moving on from my Lead Physio role with Rowing Australia. I have juggled family commitments, my Rowing Australia role and running a private practice for four years - this has been a challenge that can only be sustained for a certain duration of time. I have twin boys who have just turned 10 and I need to travel less to be able to stay at home and support them through their late primary and early high school years.
Bachelor of Visual Communication (Illustration Design)
“Clean lines, vivid colours and solid shapes are the mainstays that make up Withey’s characters. Their simplicity combines human and animal forms into creatures that are neither one nor the other. It’s also worth noticing that his characters are almost exclusively masculine suggesting their role as the artist’s alter egos. Together with their tribal elements, his characters hold a totemic quality, each with its own subtle emotion used to capture Withey’s feelings at the time it was created.”
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Hard work and perseverance to overcome the poverty that pervaded his childhood has led Mr Andrew Wong to excel at his chosen profession and become a successful entrepreneur in the South East Asia oil industry.
After graduating from a MBA at the University of South Australia, Mr Wong was inspired to start his own petroleum company, Strike Petroleum Pte Ltd, based in Singapore – cementing his place as an authority in a field he has now worked in for 45 years.
It was not an easy decision to make but it certainly turned out to be the right one. Now, 17 years on, Strike Petroleum is going from strength to strength in an industry predicted by Global Market Insights to be worth over $13 billion USD by 2023.
Mr Wong’s career has been an extraordinary example of a whole-hearted approach to realising a life of his own making – to fulfil his vision and dreams and to ensure his family does not live in poverty.
“I tell people, without apology, that I was brought up from a poor family and had the privilege to know what poverty means to me. So my desire in life was to get out of it,” says Mr Wong.
When he was hardly a year old, Andrew’s mother took her children (Andrew and three older sisters) by wooden boat from Singapore to her ancestral home of Hainan Island, China. “She had hoped, at least, that we would not go hungry as her mother owned a padi (rice) field. But we soon discovered it was not what she had expected and that we were all required to work hard in the fields in order to survive. When I was six, my eldest sister wrote to our father to tell him how miserable life was there and he applied for a visa to return us all back to Singapore.
“Being poor is not shameful, because it is not your own doing but the circumstances you are in. One can rise up by taking a good look at the intrinsic strengths within and start to build up a vision to achieve one's goal in life.”
After completing his Singapore-Cambridge ‘O’ Level Examination and understanding that his parents would not be able to afford to help him finance tertiary education, Mr Wong decided to pursue a career as a teacher. The Singapore system allowed him to study and work in the profession in order to achieve his qualification, which he completed while also serving his mandatory National Service.
Then in 1972, Mr Wong decided to take an opportunity to work in the Marine Marketing Division at BP Singapore. This was his first foray into the oil industry where he discovered a passion for the industry due to its highly service-oriented nature. He also discovered a passion for marketing and business development.
“Everyone has an intrinsic value to discover and no one is ‘good for nothing’. In my early years I was quick to discover my strengths and interests but I also had challenges to overcome.
“I made the mistake of comparing myself to other sales people, who were long in the industry and all have the ‘gift of the gab’ – so I felt intimidated at times. But I quickly learnt that my clients preferred my ‘listening ear’ to their needs and how sincere I was in my service to them so I took a different path from my colleagues and our sales were the highest in the company.”
For the next 25 years Mr Wong worked for a number of petroleum companies, most notably as Deputy Managing Director cum General Manager of the Multi-National Company ELF’s Singapore Division (now merged with Total Oil) – a role he held for 17 years.
“During this time there were many interesting opportunities to learn, particularly when my French boss at ELF asked me to venture and carry out business developments in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam, where I realised I also had a talent for resolving cross-cultural challenges.
“During my tenure at ELF I had the privilege of attending international symposium meetings in interesting places like Madeira and Morocco. I also won the 1990 Best Determines Meilleur Vendeur and received a two-week paid holiday to Spain to watch the Formula 1 in Barcelona!”
Mr Wong said that being brought up in a poor family where his siblings were not able to access university, made pursuing higher education a life-long goal. In 1994, while working at ELF, he decided to enrol in the University of South Australia MBA Distance Learning Degree.
“I was in the 5th Intake of UniSA’s MBA program. The uniqueness of this course was that it had an ALP (Action Learning Project) to be submitted at the last semester of our course. The ALP has truly helped me in my career as I often think five years ahead of what we do. Someone said ‘change is the only constant,’ which is so true – especially in marketing where some sales strategies and methods can be obsolete or changed over time.”
Mr Wong is quick to point out that running a business holds many challenges that require determination to overcome – but there are key lessons that can be learnt to sustain success.
“When running your own company it is important to be focused and devoted to your core business and to never give up. It can be trying and challenging at times – or most of the time – but customers and associates look for such companies which can give good returns in providing reliable goods and services for the long haul.”
"I have learnt the curves of three recessions in my career,” said Mr Wong, describing how the marine industry can be particularly at risk during economic uncertainty. However, having weathered economic ups and downs Mr Wong kept his company in good health throughout the downturn, even securing a fully paid 60 year property lease in 2009.
Now, Mr Wong has found some time in his busy schedule to join the esteemed University of South Australia Singapore Alumni Committee to help other alumni attain their own aspirations and support the work of the university in the region.
Master of Business Administration, General Management
Since beginning his career in a corporate training program at the age of 22, General Manager of Park Hyatt Beijing Paul Wright has travelled the globe with Hyatt Hotels. With over 20 years’ experience in the field, Paul has taken his management expertise and applied to hotels in Bali, China, Australia, Dubai, and South Korea - transforming the way they do business.
Paul explains where the last few years have taken him since completing a Master of Business Management Administration at the University of South Australia, what it is like to move all around the world with a wife and children, and how the economic boom in China has influenced the hotel industry.
Please briefly describe your journey from studying an MBA to where you are now.
Since completing my MBA in June 2009, key highlights have included being appointed Hotel Manager of the Grand Hyatt Beijing in January 2011, and then two years later, my first General Manager assignment to Incheon Korea in December 2012. This hotel underwent a major expansion, adding an additional 500 rooms, making it over 1,000 rooms in total, and also re-branding it to Grand Hyatt Incheon.
In the same year the expansion opened in 2014, I was also nominated as a Global Top 10 finalist for the Jay A. Pritzker Award for Leadership – this Hyatt award recognises general managers from around the world in over 650 hotels who have consistently demonstrated their ability as leaders, coaches, and mentors. They are high achievers leading top performing hotels and are viewed as role models of company values. In addition to my nomination that year, the hotel team was a Global Top 5 Finalist for the Hyatt Thrive Leadership Awards – this award recognises a Hyatt Hotel that embodies the company’s commitment to thriving communities by demonstrating exemplary leadership in environmental sustainability and/or community engagement.
In August of 2015, I was offered the opportunity to return to Beijing to become the General Manager of the Park Hyatt Beijing, a leading luxury hotel in Beijing and all of Asia Pacific. The hotel most recently received a Top 10 Gold List ranking by Conde Nast Traveller, rating it as among the Top 10 best hotels in all of China.
What is the biggest misconception about working in the hotel industry?
That an amazing building, fancy design, beautiful interiors, unique art work, and lots of cutting edge technology makes a good hotel. Location is indeed always important, and these physical aspects I mentioned can for sure make a hotel experience truly memorable and special. However, the most successful hotels are always the ones where the service is genuine and unrehearsed with warm, passionate, caring employees who treat the guests and their fellow colleagues like family, always using empathy. That is the real ‘secret sauce’ for any hotel which wants to create a solid reputation and enjoy a profitable future, with loyal guests who highly recommend it to their own circles of friends, families, and business associates alike. It is what true authentic hospitality is about, just read Trip Advisor and you will understand quickly the point I am making. To achieve this culture and have it alive in a hotel is really hard work and it all starts with the general manager and their leadership team ‘walking the talk’.
How has the economic boom in China had an impact on your work?
The economic boom has seen not just the hospitality industry dramatically change, but all industries. The number of hotels under development by all hotel companies is just staggering and this is not only continuing to change the balance of supply and demand, creating ever more competition, but it has particularly made finding talent very challenging. Hotels are great training grounds to take very inexperienced recruits and build a solid base of skills, especially in customer service and sales. Therefore as other customer service and sales based industries like retail, financial services, automotive, luxury goods, call centres, real estate, etc. all grow and expand, they often come ‘fishing’ for employees in hotels, offering them higher wages and more benefits. Often younger employees, especially millennials, are attracted to try different industries and something new. Hospitality does demand employees to do shift work, weekend work and quite often long hours, so a nine-to-five weekday job paying more is attractive to some who are not that passionate or really 100 percent sure they wish to be in hospitality long term. So due to this boom employee turnover in China, particularly in hospitality, it is high regardless of all the efforts you make to provide top class working conditions, paying well, and providing attractive benefits. With high turnover, maintaining service and product quality standards, and high customer satisfaction in a hotel is indeed a real challenge.
You have worked for Hyatt Hotels in Australia, Bali, Dubai, South Korea, and Beijing. Do you have a favourite country or city to work in?
I can honestly say that there is not one favourite, each have had their own unique qualities and things I have loved and also been frustrated with. In saying that, we had our daughter in Melbourne and our son in Bali, so these two places do have special importance to both myself and my wife.
What’s your biggest achievement?
From the age of 12, I decided to become a hotelier and that dream has come true, allowing me to live and work in so many fascinating places, and to live a ‘global life’, continually experiencing and learning from the many different cultures I have been exposed to. It has made me such a different person, and it has also allowed my wife and two children to experience the same. So I am not most proud of any one thing or event, but more of the journey and where it has brought me today, the person I have become, and how I see my children benefitting from such a lifestyle and upbringing.
In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?
Not when it comes to building and developing my career, being a long serving loyal Hyatt employee, and taking the opportunities as they arose. However, I am a passionate snow skier so if I look back on things maybe taking a gap year between completing my undergraduate degree, really committing myself 100 percent to my career and commencing my corporate training program immediately with Hyatt at the age of 22. It would have been great to go on a working holiday and work in the ski fields of Canada, USA, or Europe, even if just making coffees or pouring beers in a bar, while enjoying some skiing on my days off. Something like that would have been really fun, I think, and also a great life experience.
By Keir Hale
Poh Ling Yeow
Bachelor of Visual Communication
“Yeow's works emphatically explore notions of belonging and origin. As a fifth-generation Chinese Malaysian Yeow's paintings are an attempt at reconciling this heritage with her Western identity. Her traditionally-influenced scenic pieces and sometimes whimsical use of Chinese iconography acknowledges the fragmentation of her Chinese cultural experience.”
Lydia Zang (Yan Yan Zang)
Masters of Business Administration
Working for Disney could be considered a magical fairy-tale. Spending your day with Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Goofy, and Donald Duck. Watching children’s faces light up as their dreams come true ‘meeting’ their lifelong heroes. Opening the imagination of both the young and young at heart.
Behind the delightful fantasy is a well organised, billion dollar company, employing over 62,000 people worldwide with themed franchises in resorts, theme parks, cruise ships, merchandise and film. This empire shows no signs of slowing down too - continually evolving and remaining incredibly popular for generations.
One person who is a contributing member of this empire is Lydia Zang, who is currently the Operations Manager of Merchandise at Shanghai Disney Resort.
After joining Walt Disney English Education Co. in 2009, she was continually promoted from Centre Manager to District Manager, National Sales Manager, and eventually Area Manager, responsible for 380 cast members across multiple cities in China’s east region. In her current role she manages merchandise operations across 10 locations in the resort.
Lydia confirms that Disney really is the happiest place on earth and her favourite character is Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Underneath its playful exterior are the hardworking and dedicated staff.
“People think Disney is fun place, therefore they think the job is only about fun. Our job is fun but not only for fun. Our goal is to exceed the guest expectations, our cast members need to put more effort to achieve this,” says Lydia.
Developing staff and growing the business are what Lydia is most proud of.
“I have developed more than 20 managers at Disney English. I helped them grow from sales or trainer to a manager.”
When Shanghai Disney Resort originally opened, Lydia started with just one cast member growing to 400 cast members.
“We opened beautiful Disney Park successfully together.”
Responsible for so many employees, Lydia focuses on building a strong and happy team by motivating and engaging the cast members through inspirational leadership and storytelling.
“To make sure the guests are happy, I start by making my cast members happy. They are the people who make Disney magical. In the meantime, I also set a SMART goal for my team to achieve. When we achieve the target we always celebrate the achievements together and recognise and appreciate improvement and good performance.”
“Before I studied an MBA course at the University of South Australia, I was a team leader at an International school. I had limited leadership skills and business sense. The MBA course has opened my eyes and mind. It has given me a good foundation of business strategy and people management skills.”
Lydia has learned through experience how to make work easier – work smart and productive, and empower employees.
1. Make your expectations clear - make your style and preference clear and organised so your team always knows your expectations.
2. Make people feel good about their job - build trust by trusting others to do their jobs and through recognition by giving credit to others.
3. Make people want to work with you - be respectful and compassionate. Understand what it means to be a servant leader.
Her advice for recent graduates starting out in their careers is to find a job that they are passionate about at a big company with room to advance.
“Start with a global and big company rather focus on salary and position. Usually a global company has more opportunity and you will learn more.
“Attitude is most important. Don’t complain and do more, learn more.”
“Thanks and have a magical day!”
Clients and Innovation Partner and ASPAC Head of Banking and Capital Markets, KPMG
Bachelor of Accounting
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.