Alumni in focus 2017

Alumni from the University of South Australia are achieving great success in a range of areas and it is rewarding to hear their stories. Share some of these experiences through their profiles below or tell us if you have a success story that you would like to share.

Health Sciences

IT, Engineering and the Environment

  • Tim Bartrop, Owner and Engineer at Dr Tim’s Auto Engineering
  • Dr Caleb Sawade, Modelling & Decision Sciences Manager at McLaren Applied Technologies

Business and Law

Education, Arts and Social Sciences

 
Back to current Alumni in Focus  |  Past Alumni in Focus 2015-2016  |  Past Alumni in Focus 2011-2014

CREDIT:Jem, Autio, ParkeNarelle Autio

Award winning Photographer

Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts)

June 2017

Beginning on June 30, the University of South Australia’s Samstag Museum will be exhibiting a creative collaboration between esteemed photographer wife and husband duo Narelle Autio and Trent Parke entitled, The Summation of Force. The multi-channel video work explores the mythical power of cricket; more than an innocent backyard game, the sport is pitched as a metaphor for life.

Alumna Narelle has had an expansive career as photographer. Initially beginning as a photojournalist for the Adelaide Advertiser, she eventually went on to win awards such as the Walkley Award, Oskar Barnack Award, and World Press Photo Award.

Narelle discusses the uniqueness of Australia, the evolution of her photographic style, and the intricacies of collaborating with her husband.

Please describe your work.

Based in reality, candid, cinematic, and optimistic. Photography is like therapy for me, I like to search out what makes me feel better about the world.

I think my style has evolved over time but I am still drawn to photograph reality. I love waiting for a moment to present itself. Without fail, life will always give me something more amazing than my imagination could come up with.

I am a bit of a bowerbird and take inspiration from lots of different artists working in various mediums, but I am not one to totally study someone. I think the best work is done from the closest point of view. When you are truly connected on a personal level and not trying to emulate anyone. I have always allowed my life to lead the way and for the most part take inspiration from what is happening around me.

Please briefly describe you journey from studying a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) to where you are now.

After graduation my first job was as a photojournalist with the Adelaide Advertiser. I then travelled around the USA and onto the United Kingdom working throughout Europe for various British national newspapers and the then News Limited Australia (News Corp Australia). After returning to Australia I worked on staff at the Sydney Morning Herald for several years while establishing myself as an artist.

What are some of your career highlights?

Hard to say. Working as a photojournalist allowed me to visit a lot of incredible places and gave me a lot of unforgettable experiences but the best part was the privileged access I had to ordinary people with stories to tell. Photographing the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and being trackside when Cathy Freeman won gold was pretty special.

Congratulations on receiving numerous, highly regarded awards! Which award are you most proud of?

The Leica Oskar Barnack Award. I was the first and I think I am still the only Australian to win this award. It was for a series of photographs taken in and out of the water and around the coastline of Australia. It was extremely satisfying to be rewarded internationally for work done here in my own country about our relationship with the ocean, a great passion of mine.

You have travelled and worked around the world, where is your favourite place?

Australia is my favourite place, it is why I came back here and stayed. After working in the media industry in various countries for 10 years I was feeling uninspired... but I fell in love with Australia and photography all over again when I returned from overseas. My favourite trip was searching out family in Finland and visiting the island where my grandfather was born. I took my parents, at that time on their first overseas trip. It was incredibly moving. One of my favourite cities would be Seattle and Washington (State) – amazing coastline, so different from Australia but breathtakingly beautiful.

Please briefly describe your exhibition coming soon to Samstag, The Summation of Force.

The moving image work looks at the history of cricket through the backyard game. Opening up a conversation about attitudes to sport. From the innocence and fun of cricket at a grass roots level, through the anxiety of training and striving to be the best, and finally the worshipping of the sports professional.

Is this exhibition different to your others, or will it have a similar tone and presence?

It is different because it is a moving image work, something we have never done before but the subject matter revolves around our life and investigates and questions why things are what they are. The photography uses a lot of light and darkness so while based in reality there is a feel of a dream, in that way continuing on the themes of our previous work.

What is it like working with your partner? Do your unique skills combine well or, at times, contradict?

Bringing two different points of view together keeps the project energetic and the male and female perspective at times can be both enlightening and contentious. In most cases we welcome the artistic argument that inevitably happens when our ideas contradict. The first project we did together was almost twenty years ago so we know each other very well and trust each other’s opinion and honesty. This is a huge benefit as the work has been through a pretty rigorous editing process by the time it reaches an audience and it is incredibly rewarding to achieve something together.

Do you have any tips or advice for recent Visual Arts graduates starting out their careers?

Get a real job, one that pays money! Then work hard every spare minute you can to develop your art practice. Don't follow. Find your own story.


Angie and Raj BalamanickamRaj Kumar Balamanickam

Managing Partner and Senior Consultant at Impact Communications

Master of Arts Communication Management, 2003

March 2017

Masters of Communication Management alumnus Raj Kumar Balamanickam is celebrating the success of his small public relations agency, Impact Communications, which recently won two Gold awards in the Malaysia Public Relations Awards. He talks about aspects of corporate communications in the Malaysian market.

The awards were for two campaigns developed for Unilever (Malaysia) Holdings Berhad: a Consumer Launch Award for a campaign to launch Comfort, a fabric softener, to the growing market of hijab wearers in Malaysia; the other was an Environmental Award for a campaign to encourage recycling among school children, for the Wall’s Paddle Pop ice cream brand. “Winning the awards were a real boost for the team, especially since it was our first time submitting for an award, since being established 10 years ago. Time was never on our side to participate previously. As a small agency, we are humbled for being chosen over some top competition but at the same time the award is validation of the level of work that our agency is capable of,” says Raj Kumar.

The Environmental Award was for a Wall’s Corporate Social Responsibility campaign called the ‘Paddle Pop Young Builders Award 2016’ directed at primary school children.

“The initiative is Unilever’s global business strategy called the Sustainable Living Plan. With the endorsement of the Ministry of Education, the strategy by the team at Impact Communications saw the entries from schools quadruple from the previous year. The client was immensely happy with the result as it helped position the CSR-driven competition as a key national level competition promoting recycling through creativity and art,” says Raj Kumar.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is an important part of public relations (PR) in Malaysia in terms of reputation and brand management and the work that he does, but Raj Kumar says CSR is not done correctly most of the time.

“In fact, the term CSR is misused. Many businesses engage in a one-off charity event and call it CSR. We are happy to have the opportunity to work with clients who know that committing for the long term to create a better future makes better business sense.

“For our clients with a global presence, their CSR blue-print is crafted at HQ. Our role is to look at the pillars and see how we can help the company make an impact on localised issues that are aligned with the company’s CSR blue-print. We also help companies look for partners to work with such as social enterprises. We research and talk to them on behalf of the client and then chart a long-term plan to ensure that the collaboration is beneficial to the community and is managed well.”

Consumers are exercising more influence on brands via social media and Raj Kumar says this means that “the work has expanded to include more places where we need to land our client’s story. We have to always consider how we engage with the audience and how we can create a brand experience for them that is fresh and yet still keep to the brand’s key messages.”

“The unique or distinguishing factor in public relations in the Malaysian market is the rapid change towards digital campaigns. This strong growth is gradually changing the landscape of the PR industry in Malaysia. While there is still demand for traditional media, agencies are now focusing on aggressively building up their digital and social media offerings,” he says.

Raj Kumar has a background in fundraising, project management and communications and was attached to the National Cancer Council as a project manager when he decided to study for an offshore Master of Communication Management with UniSA. Upon graduating, he won the role of General Manager of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF), responsible for communications, administration and fundraising.

He and his wife Angie combined their event management and PR experience and established Impact Communications in 2007.

“We took on the challenge even through the tough times, but perseverance and tenacity paid off. In 2009 we had an opportunity to migrate to Canada but we decided to stay on and see this through,” says Raj Kumar.

Raj Kumar joined the University of South Australia Malaysia Alumni Chapter in 2004 and was President from 2008 to 2010. He believes that the most important role that alumni networks can play in developing careers is to act as a bridge for alumni to interact effectively, through networking activities like social gatherings and professional career talks by alumni, where alumni get an opportunity to be exposed to business opportunities.“The respective Alumni Chapters should provide a platform for graduates to be able to perhaps have experience sharing, which may pave the way for good understanding of the respective professions, the industry and changing job landscape that can assist members in the current working and economic environment and will indeed help them in their career path,” he says.

“This year, Impact Communications celebrates its tenth anniversary, and we are proud of the work that has gone through, and thankful to friends and clients for their support, and we look forward to doing better. We have grown from a staff of just two to a strong force of thirteen,” says Raj Kumar.

“We regularly host student placements from various universities in Malaysia, and the students do their industrial training with us for public relations or event management.”

He advises new graduates looking to work in public relations to focus on core skills and build a credible reputation.

“Foundation is still key – good communication skills, good story-telling skills, drive, passion and commitment. Be a keen observer but also participate. Do take ownership of your own personal brand and your reputation too. If you are going to be a guardian to protect the reputation of the brand/company you are working for, you have to take the role seriously, especially in today’s media landscape where things can escalate. Don’t be shy to ask questions and learn from your team members. The older ones on the team will certainly value your input and your perspective, so do open up too. Be on top of current news from credible sources. If you can do all this, you will succeed.”


Jonathan BallJonathan Ball

Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy, Afghanistan

Bachelor of Nursing, 1995

January 2017

Jonathan Ball’s career is the epitome of extraordinary. He attends diplomatic meetings with the President of Afghanistan, has served as a soldier in the British and Australian armies in places such as East Timor and Northern Ireland, set up a professional ambulance service in Baghdad, and managed natural disaster response teams around the world.

After initially leaving the Army to pursue a nursing career, Jonathan was enticed back as an Infantry Officer which he served as for another 11 years, before moving on to AusAID and eventually the Australian Embassy in Afghanistan, where he is currently the Deputy Head of Mission.

Jonathan explains his remarkable career, which has taken him all over the world, shares the most challenging situations he has been involved in and why Syria is his favourite place in the world.

Please describe your position as the Deputy Head of Mission in Afghanistan.

As the Deputy Head of Mission (DHOM) I am responsible for providing support to the Ambassador and managing the Embassy on his behalf. As the DHOM I manage our political, development, corporate and security teams. Post security is one of my most crucial roles and involves working with our own security staff as well as the contracted security team that actually provides our physical security. I also engage with the Afghan Government, the international diplomatic community and local and international non-government organisations (NGOs). Due to the peculiarities of Kabul, I actually spend half of my time in-country as the acting Ambassador or Chargé d’Affaires. As the Chargé, I am responsible for all Australians in Afghanistan, representing Australia at high level events, and engaging with senior members of the Afghan and international community.

What is like living in Afghanistan, including any misconceptions?

The Afghan people are a wonderful collection of cultures. They are generous, polite and welcoming. Some people would have you think that they all pose a threat to Australia, which just isn’t the case. The level of danger we face – as diplomats - is probably misunderstood. The threat is extremely high (including shootings, bombings, kidnapping and rocket attacks) but the security that is in place to keep us safe is second to none.

What does a typical day involve?

I get picked up from home in the morning by an armoured vehicle and body guards and driven to the Embassy. The day usually involves a series of meetings with Afghan Ministries or other embassies, coalition military forces, NGO’s or even the President. Moves away from the Embassy, to attend meetings, are always done in armoured vehicles with normally between four and eight bodyguards, depending how far from the Embassy we are venturing. Following a meeting, I will then report back to officials in Canberra (if it is deemed important enough) by email or through the diplomatic cable system. Daily, I will look at all the meetings and moves the Embassy is scheduled to do the next day and approve or decline them depending on the latest security updates. At the end of the day I am driven back home, normally with just enough time to get ready for one of the four or five official dinner functions I attend every week.

Briefly explain your journey from studying a Bachelor of Nursing at UniSA to becoming the Deputy Head of Mission, including how you transitioned from an Infantry Officer to the Iraq Programme Manager (responsible for $60M budget)?

While serving as a soldier I completed the Special Forces Patrol Medics course. I found the subject interesting so when I decided to leave the Army I thought a career in the medical field would be good. During the final year of my nursing degree I was offered a position in a newly formed unit in the Australian Army. As I had had some regrets about leaving the Army, I thought I would give it one last chance before starting a nursing career. The step back into the Army lasted another 11 years. Army service took me to places such as East Timor and Bougainville, and although I was posted as an Infantry Officer I used my nursing skills and qualification to provide medical assistance to local communities and work in military hospitals or clinics on an adhoc basis. In 2007 I was posted to Darwin and having achieved most things I wanted to in the Army, I decided to leave and stay in Canberra where I was then posted as a Senior Instructor at the Royal Military College Duntroon.

I successfully applied for a job with AusAID and asked for the vacant Iraq Programme Manager job, mainly due to the fact it was Iraq at the height of its troubles, and was as close to being in the military as I was going to get without wearing a uniform. The job required me to manage our development program to Iraq totalling over $24 million a year. This included supporting multilateral organisations such as UNHCR as well as identifying, planning and funding projects as diverse as agriculture, health and law and order. That job resulted in me being posted to Baghdad for 18 months following two years on the desk in Canberra. One of my biggest achievements was setting up a professional ambulance service in Baghdad in conjunction with International Medical Corps, a medical based NGO.

Following my time in Baghdad, due to the combination of my military and health training, I specialised in disaster response. This specialisation resulted in me being seconded to Jakarta as an advisor to the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency for two years. It also meant being contracted by the United Nations as a disaster response specialist resulting in UN deployments to disasters in places such as Pakistan, Laos, Sri Lanka and Burma. On returning to Australia, as Director Humanitarian Operations, in 2012, I managed about a dozen overseas disaster responses including our response to Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines in late 2013. This response included the deployment of a 50-bed surgical hospital (Australian Medical Assistance Team) from the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, based in Darwin. The combination of my nursing, diplomatic and military skills perfectly aligned to allow the hospital to be established in Tacloban and treat thousands of patients over the following month. This deployment was a highlight of my disaster/nursing career, as still being registered; I was able assistance in surgery, triage and outpatients as well as doing my actual Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) job as Mission Commander.

Following my time working in disasters, which coincided with the DFAT and AusAID merger, I shifted to the policy (rather than development) side of DFAT and when the opportunity came to apply for the position of Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan, I took it.

What is the most challenging natural disaster you have been involved with?

Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines due to the scale of destruction and the number of deaths, as well as the ongoing need to make life and death decisions regarding the treatment of individuals based on what limited resources were available. In addition, the complexities involved in establishing and managing a large field hospital in a location with no power or water combined with lots of players all trying to secure the same resources, including space, made the deployment very challenging.

Have you witnessed any situations that have made you impressed with humanity?

Probably the Philippines. I landed in Tacloban about 36 hours after the typhoon struck and for the next month every few minutes a plane would land carrying relief supplies from all over the world. It really highlighted to me that if humanity wants to mobilise to help each other we can and we can do it quickly.

During each natural disaster, I am often in awe of people who had absolutely nothing giving away their relief items to those whom they believe, needed them more. Or even just watching our own soldiers going hungry to make sure local children had at least something to eat.

Where is your favourite place you have been to and why?

Syria, because of the history and the people. Work took me to Syria on a variety of occasions and I loved it so much I took my wife there on our honeymoon in 2010. Unfortunately, Syria turned into turmoil about six months later. If we opened an embassy in Damascus I would be the first to volunteer.

What is the most challenging place you have been to and why?

I really can't identify the most challenging as everywhere is different. Disasters are challenging because of the death and destruction that surrounds you, whereas places like Iraq and Afghanistan are challenging because of the threats you face and the lifestyles you live in order to mitigate those threats. As a soldier, Northern Ireland was a challenge because of the hatred displayed by some while you were doing your job. Whereas some of my diplomatic roles have been challenging due to the people you sometimes have to deal with and be polite to, despite being fundamentally against everything they stand for.

Do you have any advice for recent graduates?

Only you can determine what your future holds and don't expect your employer to make decisions based on what’s best for you. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself and try something new, life is more fulfilling that way.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Prioritise looking after the people who work for you over pleasing those senior to you and that includes prioritising family over work.


Tim BartropTim Bartrop

Owner and Engineer at Dr Tim’s Auto Engineering

Bachelor of Engineering, Graduate Diploma in Business Administration

July 2017

Engineer turned business owner Tim Bartrop has had a steady career climbing through the ranks over the course of his working life. From initially studying a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of South Australia, to owning an $18 million business, to returning a failing business to profit, and now running Dr Tim’s Auto Engineering as a retirement hobby, Tim is the exemplifier of hard work and dedication.

For the majority of his career Tim was Managing Director of metal fabricators Barfab Pty Ltd, though he admits he was initially sceptical about taking on the role when it was offered to him by ABB Australia. Even with a pre-existing customer base and an established shop, Tim had trouble breaking out of the employee mould, so he and his wife decided to journey down to Adelaide during the Christmas break and consider their options.

“Halfway through the holiday my wife and I agreed we should take the leap into business so we packed up and left early to go back and tell ABB that we would accept the offer to sell us their fabrication shop,” says Tim.

From there Tim applied his tenacious attitude to the business, changing it from a small store into a business with an $18 million turnover and 100 employees working under him.

“Nothing in general employment prepares you for your own business where you are responsible for the final result and the money involved.

“So the learning involves building confidence in yourself, developing character, having people skills, and being customer focused.”

One of the keys to Barfab’s – and by extension Tim’s – success has been the training and up-skilling program that was put in place for its employees. Tim says valuing employees is critical in running an effective operation, with the program and extra training not only creating better employees, but an overall better working environment.

“Employees are more productive and loyal when they are achieving job satisfaction and personal development through training and challenging work.

“Our apprentices rose through our training system and became valuable employees, holding positions of leading hands, supervisors, and site managers – so our training paid off many times over.”

After over 15 years running Barfab, Tim decided it was time to retire. However, before he was able to do so, he was approached by Stoddart Steel House Frames. The business had suffered substantial loses for the past two years and asked Tim to come on board and help out. From 2013 to 2015, Tim took his strong work ethic and applied it to Stoddart. Within the two years he was able to bring them back to profitability.

Before taking on the reins at Barfab, Tim had a very stable career, always seeking out the next step to further himself. After finishing his Bachelor of Engineering at UniSA, Tim became an Engineering Manager at Pirelli Ericsson Cables at 27, followed by becoming Divisional Manager for Tyree Westinghouse Transformers at 30.

“I thought then that it was a good time to get some management theory at that stage, and did a Graduate Diploma in Business.

“At the age of 34 I was able to rise to the role of General Manager for Stratco, thanks to the mix of practical and theoretical background that I had by then.”

Tim says that when he started out as an engineer, he could see each individual step that was in front of him, but was not aware of the overall staircase he was walking up.

Tim’s time at Barfab allowed him to travel all around the globe for both work and leisure, particularly in places where he did extensive business such as China. This has continued in retirement, with Tim and his wife learning more not just about the world around them, but about themselves too.

“Since Barfab we have continued to see more of the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, UAE, Spain, and Portugal.

“We have found that travel is very relaxing and brings us closer together but also puts the world, life, and humanity in context through history.

“Travel has made my wife and I much more tolerant, giving us fantastic emotional intelligence.”

Even when Tim is not off traveling the world, he still keeps busy. After hanging up the uniform, Tim knew he could not let his hands be idle. He was quick to open up Dr Tim’s Auto Engineering, a retirement hobby he runs from home.

“My hobby business keeps me active, meeting people, solving problems, and earning money.

“It’s very important to be active and have goals to remain young in your mind and to be fit and mentally challenged.”


David BickmoreDave Bickmore

Director at studio–gram

Bachelor of Architectural Studies, Masters of Architecture

August 2017

Masters of Communication Management alumnus Raj Kumar Balamanickam is celebrating the success of his small public relations agency, Impact Communications, which recently won two Gold awards in the Malaysia Public Relations Awards. He talks about aspects of corporate communications in the Malaysian market.

Initially starting out his career as a model maker at Adelaide’s HASSELL Studio, University of South Australia alumnus and one half of the creative brain behind studio-gram Dave Bickmore has spread his creative talent and style across South Australia to award winning acclaim.

Since its inception in 2014, studio-gram has churned out some of Adelaide’s most recognisable restaurants, cafes, and bars. The minimal sleekness of Pirie Street’s Abbots & Kinney, the smooth soulful tones of Union Street’s Mr. Goodbar, and the black and brass accents of the Barossa Valley’s St Hugo – Dave and his creative partner, UniSA Alumnus Graham Charbonneau, have been responsible for it all.

With each project they take on, they manage to consistently reinvent themselves, while still keeping a consistent style throughout each fit out, something they have become known for.

“We are probably known for our inventive use of space, material, and colour, but the thing that probably defines us the most is narrative – every project has a story that relates to the client and the people that will use the space.”

Their designs have become iconic across Adelaide’s landscape and the boys have gained significant attention from it. Their fit out for Pirie Street’s Osteria Oggi alone has won them the 2016 Robert Dickson Award for Interior Architecture and the prestigious 2016 World Interiors News Award for Restaurant Interiors. And this growing success has allowed them to start projects both interstate and overseas. Despite the success, Dave says studio-gram still critically considers which projects to take on.

“We only take on projects that interest us and offer something exciting. We don’t have projects that just pay the bills like some practices. Each project is treated with the same respect and investigations as the last, and are celebrated in their own way.”

Growing up in the Riverland town of Renmark, design has always been in his roots. His dad, a panel-beater turned winemaker, taught him to weld at the age of 10, and his love for making and creating only continued to grow from there.

“I’ve always loved making things and my friends remind me a lot that I had always said I was going to be an architect and I can only attribute this to my upbringing.”

During his time studying both a Bachelor and Masters of Architecture at UniSA, Dave was lucky enough to land a job at international practice HASSELL as a model maker. He worked on projects such as prototyping the roof structures of Adelaide Oval’s Western Grandstands, before being offered a fulltime position after graduating. He went on to work on a number of projects including the University of Adelaide Learning Hub and St Aloysius College Year 12 centre development.

After spending four years working at HASSEL, Dave decided it was time to move on, opening up studio-gram with Graham Charbonneau. Since its initial conception, the practice has grown to include three more staff members, all of which are UniSA graduates.

In 2012 Dave received the Jack Hobbs McConnell Fellowship, providing him with exposure to architecture in the Middle East, Europe, Norway, London, New York, and Hong Kong, with his research exploring the concept of architecture informing the identity of place. These travels helped inform Dave’s own work when he returned to Adelaide, citing it as a major influence in many of studio-grams projects.

“Travel has become one of the biggest influencers of our work. It inspires us, recharges us, and some of our best narratives are off the back of travel – the unexpected encounters, and the beautiful people we have met all over the world.

“It keeps us in touch with what is happening around the world, not just in the most recent design mag, but also in the backstreets of the most unexpected places.

“That is where our ‘real’ ideas are born.”

Despite Dave’s travels around the globe, he still decisively maintains that Adelaide is studio-gram’s main home.

“We are firmly grounded here in South Australia by family and friends, but choose to operate here in SA as we are surrounded by talented people.

“That said, we also aim to open a second office in New York within the next few years as a way of getting Graham closer to his family in Canada, and test ourselves against the best in the industry in what we consider to be the epicentre of the design world.”

So what does it take to be an award winning designer by the time you hit 30? Along with surrounding yourself with good people, and not being afraid to ask for advice, Dave says the main glistening golden key on the chain of success is being able to break the rules.

“We once read an article entitled ‘20 things not to do when starting your own architecture practice’. We did all 20 of them.”


Associate Professor Susan BranfordAssociate Professor Susan Branford

Head, Leukaemia Unit, Department of Genetic and Molecular Pathology, Centre for Cancer Biology

SA Pathology and University of South Australia

September 2017

Associate Professor Susan Branford and her team are researching the rare blood cancer, chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), to improve the lives of patients living with the disease and better identify those at risk of failed treatment and disease relapse.

Without therapy, survival for patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is devastatingly poor. However, with the introduction of new targeted therapies over the last decade, most patients now respond well to treatment and many have a normal life expectancy. Some may even be able to stop therapy after many years and maintain treatment free remission.

Unfortunately, not all CML patients respond well to treatment and some develop drug resistance. These patients are at risk of transforming to a potentially fatal acute leukaemia.

“Patients with CML have diverse genetic makeup which can make it difficult to predict who will respond well to treatment and who needs a different approach to give them a chance of long term survival,” says Associate Professor Branford.

"We are exploring the genomic variations of the disease that are associated with these differences in response to treatment so that we can develop biomarkers to identify patients at risk of disease relapse.”

CML is linked to two genes that mutate and fuse together to become an oncogene (a tumour inducing gene) called BCR-ABL1. If a patient develops resistance to drugs that bind with the BCR-ABL1 gene they are at increased risk of the disease progressing into the acute phase where the number of immature white cells (blasts) increases to high levels in the blood. Without appropriate treatment, these individuals have high mortality risk.

“By exploring the BCR-ABL1 gene defect, we can gain a better understanding of how well a patient will respond to therapy,”.

Assoc Prof Branford’s team are also comparing the genetic differences between patient groups to better understand why there are different responses to therapy and outcome.

“Patients who respond well to treatment are being compared to those who had the poorest outcome. This work will also allow us to develop novel diagnostic tests to better predict response in order to guide appropriate drug therapy. It may also aid in the future development of drug therapies to combat drug resistance.

"Ultimately we hope to give haematologists the information they need to make the very best treatment decisions to maximise their patient’s chance at beating the disease.”

Earlier this year Susan was recognised for her work on molecular monitoring to improve the outcome for people with CML by the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine with an Award for Significant Contributions in Molecular Diagnostics.

To support important cancer research at UniSA, please visit: https://donate.unisa.edu.au/donate-to-cancer-research.


Andrew ChanAndrew Chan

Founder & CEO, ACI HR Solutions

Master of Business Administration, Marketing

December 2017

A passion for travel, hospitality and helping people achieve their career aspirations, has led Andrew Chan to build his own successful human resource firm, ACI HR Solutions, with offices throughout the Asia Pacific.

On graduating from high school in Sydney, Andrew went straight into work and progressed quickly through sales, business development and marketing management for a series of large airlines and hotel chains. But it wasn’t until relocating to Singapore in 2004, when Andrew was offered an opportunity to lead the regional arm of a large recruitment and executive search company, that he discovered his niche.

“Since joining the tourism industry, I have discovered that incorporating a HR element into my work is something that motivates me every day. The best part, and why I am so passionate about it, is that I am constantly able to meet and interact with inspirational people and learn from their experiences and success,” Andrew said.

After completing an MBA at UniSA in 2010, Andrew could combine his broad experience of the tourism and human resource sectors to start his own venture.

“Having utilised head-hunters throughout my career, it became apparent that understanding the nuances and macro-talent issues of an industry, required people from within the industry to appreciate. In addition, the inability to truly understand candidate requirements, their experiences and skills, can only result in misplaced aspirations,” he said.

“So we identified a need for a specialist firm that is owned and operated by people from within the travel, hospitality, lifestyle and tourism industry, to compete against the major generalist recruitment firms.

“I founded ACI HR Solutions in 2012, not long after completing my MBA, as my studies gave me the necessary tools and confidence I needed to combine with my experience to set up my own business.

“We ensure that all of our consultants have worked in travel, tourism and/or hospitality and are genuinely passionate about both the client’s success and the industry as a whole.”

This recipe has proved itself as ACI is now considered one of the region’s leading boutique recruitment firms, and Andrew has expanded the company throughout the region with offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney.

“We have been quite fortunate in recent years to be recognised by industry peers with a number of awards, including being crowned the Recruitment Agency of the Year in 2017. That was certainly an honour, but having my team with me on stage as we received the award, and sharing the excitement with them, was the best part and a proud moment for us all.”

It has not always been an easy path to navigate however. Andrew was leading TMS Asia Pacific when the global financial crisis hit. He describes it as one of the toughest experiences of his career, when TMS scaled back operations in the region by over two thirds.

“I went from being the CEO of nine office locations with over 80 FTE, to having to retrench two thirds of my manpower and close six offices – all two weeks before Christmas, it was terrible but getting through that period was one of the most important learning experiences I’ve had.

“It is a lesson that still guides me. The start-up phase for ACI during the first couple of years was particularly hard, as we were a small to medium enterprise without external funding so it was a fine line between spending and returns.

“Being the owner of a business offers me a degree of flexibility and freedom. But there is also little opportunity to switch off. Rather than reporting to someone above, I believe that it’s an even higher level of responsibility knowing that ultimately the buck stops with me and the decisions I make impact everyone within the business.”

Andrew’s interest in helping people achieve their career ambitions has also led him to a role in guiding others as a speaker and mentor at tourism conferences, events and educational institutions.

“There have been considerable changes in the human capital landscape over the years, as organisations struggle to engage and retain their best talent and fuel growth. I am a firm advocate of the need for leaders to change from the ever-popular command-and-control type management, to a more holistic mentoring approach to help overcome these challenges.

“This year we created the ACI Mentor of the Year Award as a way of encouraging more people to see the benefits of a more democratic leadership style, that allows staff to grow professionally and learn to be more creative and invested in their work.

“We received entries detailing some truly inspiring stories about mentors, before we eventually crowned Dr Jennifer Cronin, President of Wharf Hotels in Hong Kong, our Mentor of the Year in 2017 for her dedication to her staff and her work.”

Another area that Andrew hopes to influence, is to see a better transfer and delivery of education, training and skills across the Asia Pacific.

“Millennials are said to be the most educated generation in history, but in developed countries we’re still facing a skills shortage, with more of the working demographic retiring than entering the workforce — this will become a major problem for years to come.

“Developing nations have the human capital to address an aspect of this problem, but insufficient access to higher education and training has prevented them from fully addressing the issue.

“I wish I had the skills to do more. I try to involve myself as much as possible in initiatives run by industry associations such as PATA, by offering my expertise, and speaking to students through workshops and seminars in developing countries, in order to help these organisations create more opportunities.

“The most important lessons I have learnt that I would pass on to others, is to be resilient, be nimble and always be willing to learn.

“Personally, I embarked on my MBA during one of the busiest and most turbulent periods of my life, but an industry mentor of mine had convinced me that it would be worth the time investment and a decision I would not regret, and he was right. Having my parents attend my graduation ceremony in Singapore was probably one of the proudest moments of my life, and one I won’t forget.

“Whilst it’s important to have strategic goals and plans in place, both professionally and personally, the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start over is an important virtue to have.”

This is testament to the success Andrew’s company is now experiencing. “We are careful when it comes to growth. However, I do believe that there’s still a white space for travel, tourism and hospitality recruitment, with very few specialist firms across Asia, Middle East and India. I’m confident that the market has potential and our aim is to grow across those regions.”


Frederick Chu with kids from My Special Corner education centreFredrick Chu

Founder of My Special Corner

Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood Education)

March 2017

“Teaching young people with special needs is my calling in life.”

University of South Australia alumnus Frederick Chu is the founder of My Special Corner, a Singapore education centre specialising in both academic and non-academic programs for students who have learning and behavioural difficulties. The centre focuses on finding each student’s unique talent and working with them to develop their skills for future careers. Recently celebrating their 10th anniversary, Frederick is proud of his students’ achievements and their various successes.

After working as a teacher in Singapore, Frederick became intrigued with how children with special needs thrived in appropriate support programs. Frederick decided to investigate this further and completed a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education at UniSA and then a thesis on this topic. He discovered new information and methods that could aid students and their parents and founded My Special Corner in 2006.

Frederick’s notable work at My Special Corner has been featured on Channel U, watch here: https://www.facebook.com/162572187146124/videos/1006302732773061/

Why did you choose to establish My Special Corner and support students who have learning and behavioural difficulties?

I founded My Special Corner not only to help many children who struggle academically but also to assist them with realising their own talent. Finding their unique set of skills gives them the foundation and the hope to work towards a career in their future. The other area of my work is to empower parents with special needs so that the child gets an ongoing learning consistently at home, as well as in the centre.

I supposed one can say it is a “calling” to teach people with special needs. I was often drawn by how they respond to learning, their ways of looking at things differently and how professionals like myself can enter their world and extend their perspective so that it allows them to pay attention at more things around them.

Tell us about the career achievements of which you are most proud?

Looking back to my first 10th anniversary on my own, I’m confident and proud to say that I’ve seen numerous successful stories of my students. Most of them are still in touch with me even though they had graduated from My Special Corner. This is definitely evidence to show the impact that the work had on them. Some of them even volunteer their time to come back to help out when I run camps and holiday programs. Such behaviour is beyond monetary reward because they will bring this positive attitude to their future job and/or people they meet and impact others as well.

Please share some of your student’s success stories.

I first got in touch with student “J” when he was in pre-school. He was diagnosed with ADHD/anger issues, and when I first worked with him he was very rebellious and uninterested in his studies. I remember vividly how he tried to throw a pen-knife at me when he was only nine - when all I wanted him to do was to shift his toys to the study table. At the centre he did academic studies as well as baking programs, which he embraced. Today, as a teenager, he has harnessed the latter and is working as a baker and pursuing this as a career. He also volunteers his time at the centre to teach students and buys the ingredients for baking classes.

Another student, “H” came to the centre when they were five years old, after being diagnosed with autism and struggling with language and communication skills. He scored a B grade in the Primary School Leaving Exam (English), and went on to study in the express stream. He is now confident of his own self-image. He may be quieter in crowd, but no longer too shy to carry a conversation. He is also able to give his opinion and express his needs better now, which helps others to understand him better and avoid any miscommunication. He is popular among his friends and, according to his parents, he has even forged more friendships than his twin brother who is not autistic!

What are the methodologies you employ at My Special Corner?

My Special Corner adopts results proven methodologies, namely ABA, TEACCH and Mediated Learning Experience that help students integrate their learning.

The ABA method is a structured program that develops students’ social and behavioural skills. The TEACCH method focuses on the individual by creating and implementing unique learning programs which complement the learning style of each child. Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) is developed by Dr Reuven Feuerstein, an Israeli psychologist, who believed that intelligence is modifiable and not fixed. With his Instrumental Enrichment (IE) designed to enhance the cognitive skills necessary for independent thinking. IE aims to sharpen critical thinking with the concepts, skills, strategies, operations, and attitudes necessary for independent learning; to diagnose and correct deficiencies in thinking skills; and to help individuals "learn how to learn".

Though the methodology sets the framework, the emphasis on learning processes is also very essential. These theories place emphasis on the constructive activity of the student, the cognitive- developmental and socio-cultural appropriateness of the learning material, and the involvement of the teacher in the design and implementation of classroom activities above and beyond a mere provision of information. Hence, the students are usually given time to think, analyse and make decisions about the problems before putting them into action. Students then need to re-look the process before carefully deciding their next direction. This process helps them to be actively engaged in the problem that they are facing, thus allowing for learning to take place with positive energy. Students learn and pick up concepts, knowledge, attain confident and positive disposition.

How did studying a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood Education) help you with My Special Corner?

The course gave me a good foundation and knowledge of theories, both typical and atypical human development, teaching methods and working with community and cultures that one can be in to tap on the resources. These are all helpful when I am working with the families as I can use the principal to get them help when needed.

With globalization, cultures and practices tend to cross path. In this, it is also imperative to be aware and have abilities to understanding different contexts families face. In this sense, my horizon was widen to understand working with larger group of students with different background.


Stefan CrossStefan Cross

Former Head of Marketing (Asia Pacific), Hospira Inc

Bachelor of Business (Information Systems), 1993
President, Mayne Pharma USA

September 2017

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.”


Steven-Cybulka-West-Java-sculpture-collaborationSteven Cybulka

Artist - former builder turned sculptor

Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours)

April 2017

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.


Anuja Dalvi-PanditAnuja Dalvi-Pandit

Founder of PhysioConcepts Education

SA Pathology and University of South Australia

September 2017

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.”


Illustrated stationary by Nerissa DouglasNerissa Douglas

Illustrator and Owner of One Hectare

Bachelor of Design (Illustration Design)

October 2017

“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.”


Amanda Graham's illustration of wombatAmanda Graham

Children’s Book Author and Illustrator

Bachelor of Design (Illustration Design)

October 2017

“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.”


Ahmad Hakim and daughterAhmad Hakim

Fundraiser at the UN Refugee Agency

Bachelor of International Relations

November 2017

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.”


James and Coby HanischJames Hanisch

Director of Performance Science for the Philadelphia Eagles

Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Movement)

February 2017

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.


Raul Leal

Executive Director at Groupo Culinaria

Le Cordon Bleu Master of Business Administration (International Hotel and Restaurant Management)

September 2017

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 BlancBill Le Blanc

Executive Director & CIO of SA Health

Master of Business Administration

December 2017

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.”


Dr Jill McRaeDr Jill McRae

CEO, International Campaign for Humanitarian Relief of Syria Inc

Bachelor of Distance Education (1988)

July 2017

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?”


Louise Miller-FrostLouise Miller-Frost

CEO of Catherine House Inc.

Master of Business Administration
Master of Communications Management
Bachelor of Applied Science

December 2017

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.”


John MingoiaJohn Mingoia

PhD student with UniSA’s School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy

September 2017

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 MuratovskiDr 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

May 2017

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.


Alissa NightingaleAlissa Nightingale

Scholarship Program Lead, Westpac Bicentennial Foundation

Bachelor of Management (Marketing)

May 2017

“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.


From left: John Fahey and Catherine OrdwayCatherine Ordway

Senior Consultant at Snedden Hall & Gallop

Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice
Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne

September 2017

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.


Catrina PanuccioCatrina Panuccio

Managing Director of Specialist Imaging Partners

Bachelor of Medical Radiation (now Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science)
Graduate Diploma in Medical Radiation (now Graduate Diploma in Medical Sonography))

August 2017

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.


Female portrait design by Matthew RemphreyMatthew Remphrey

Designer at Parallax Design

Bachelor of Design (Illustration Design)

October 2017

“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.”


Caleb SawadeDr Caleb Sawade

Modelling & Decision Sciences Manager at McLaren Applied Technologies

Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical & Mechatronic) with Honours

August 2017

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.


Yhonnie ScarceYhonnie Scarce

Australian contemporary artist: This is no fantasy

Bachelor of Visual Art Glass with Honours

August 2017

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.”


Circus KathmanduRobyn Simpson

Co-Director and Co-Founder of Circus Kathmandu

Bachelor of Business (Marketing)

October 2017

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.


Kirsten St GeorgeDr 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)

November 2017

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!”


Lih Yin TanLih Yin Tan

PhD Student, Vascular Biology and Cell Trafficking Laboratory, Centre for Cancer Biology

SA Pathology and University of South Australia

September 2017

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


Dan Withey, Reality, Acrylic on Canvas, 300cm W by 200cm H, 2017Daniel Withey

Artist and Illustrator

Bachelor of Visual Communication (Illustration Design)

October 2017

“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.”


Andrew Wong with awardAndrew Wong

Founder, Strike Petroleum Pte Ltd
Certified Independent Director (SID)

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

July 2017

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.


Paul WrightPaul Wright

General Manager, Park Hyatt Beijing

Master of Business Administration, General Management

June 2017

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 with one of her full size render piecesPoh Ling Yeow

Media Chef and Artist

Bachelor of Visual Communication

October 2017

“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)Lydia Zang (Yan Yan Zang)

Operations Manager of Merchandise, Shanghai Disney Resort

Masters of Business Administration

June 2017

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.”

And finally,

“Thanks and have a magical day!”