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.

2018 - 2019

UniSA Clinical & Health Sciences

UniSA Allied Health & Human Performance


  • Dr Aidan Cousins, Doctorate by Research Engineering (Minerals and Materials)
  • Emilio De Stefano, Director & Principal, De Stefano & Co
  • Alex L. Kabwe, Principal Irrigation Engineer, Ministry of Agriculture, Zambia
  • Malcolm Lai, Managing Director, Head of Construction & Development - Asia, Baring Private Equity Asia Ltd
  • Aishath Niyaz, Consultant, UNICEF and Founder, aishaniyaz consulting

UniSA Business

  • Associate Professor Svetlana Bogomolova, Senior Marketing Scientist, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science
  • Andrew Bullock , Chief Executive Officer, 1834 Hotels - 1834 Hospitality, Chair, South Australian Tourism Commission
  • Josh Carmichael, Renewable Energy, Grid & Mobility Specialist (Transdev – Connexxion)
  • Professor Albert P.C. Chan, Head, Department of Building and Real Estate, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Chair - Professor of Construction, Engineering and Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Abok Dau, Financial Assistant, Anglican Diocese of North WA and Co-Founder and Chair, Athiolget Women’s & Children’s Health Association
  • Nahtanha Davey, Chief Executive Officer at SACARE
  • Jeff Ellison, CEO & Managing Director, SeaLink Travel Group
  • Kathryn Harby-Williams AM, CEO, Australian Netball Players Association
  • Becky-Jay Harrington, Disaster Management and Urban Resilience Consultant
  • Chad Hermsen, Portfolio General Manager – Retail (Global Real Estate) for QIC
  • Ken Ip, Group Head of Marketing, B.S.C. Group Limited
  • Shaila Koshy, freelance Investigative Journalist
  • Poh Kait Lee, Director of Asia and Pacific, Air Canada
  • Michael T. Smith, Regional CEO (Europe and USA), Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd
  • Helena Wu, Team Leader New Development, Santos Ltd and At Large Director, Society of Petroleum Engineers International
  • Dr Leo Yeung, Co-Founder, Cashmere Song Fashion Co Ltd and Founder, Maisson (Hong Kong) Commercial Property
  • Egidio Zarrella, Clients and Innovation Partner and ASPAC Head of Banking and Capital Markets, KPMG

UniSA Education Futures

UniSA Justice & Society

  • Marie Alford, Head of Implementation, Dementia Centre HammondCare
  • Felicity Chapman, Clinical Social Worker, Gerontological Psychotherapist & Sessional Lecturer and author
  • Melissa Davies, Legal Counsel at Lucas Total Contract Solutions
  • Haydn McComas, Frontline Operations Supervisor, Australian Border Force
  • Nadine Rachid, Electorate Assistant, Minister for Education (Government of SA)
  • Lizzi Wigmore, Marketing at Intrinsic and Founder of Cakelaide

UniSA Creative

Past Alumni in Focus 2017  |  Past Alumni in Focus 2015-2016  |  Past Alumni in Focus 2011-2014

Dr Leo YeungDr Leo Yeung

Co-Founder, Cashmere Song Fashion Co Ltd
Founder, Maisson (Hong Kong) Commercial Property

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), International Business

May 2019

Dr Leo Yeung has followed his heart, chased his family’s dreams and cleverly cross-stitched his fashion, business and property industry experience to carve out a niche property company Maisson Commercial Property and fashion brand Cashmere Song all over the world.

Dr Yeung started his career in the fashion industry in the late 1980s, working in far flung cities across Asia, North America and Europe. In 1989 he settled in Hong Kong as Design Manager for Esprit Asia.

“As a student in Hong Kong in the early 80s there were few opportunities for students to get a university degree, but higher education had long been a dream for me” says Dr Yeung.

When Esprit Asia publicly-listed in 1991, Leo found an opportunity to further his education. He quit and enrolled in a Master’s degree at Hong Kong Polytechnic University to explore the research topic ‘Push and pull factor in China Economic’ after Deng Xiao Ping’s South China tour.

His interest in furthering his education didn’t end however, he says, “I saw an interview with a PhD candidate who had just graduated at the age of 80 – he regretted not finishing his PhD 20 or 30 years before so he had more time to contribute to society. His interview drove me to undertake my PhD at UniSA in International Business.”

In the mid-90s, while studying, Dr Yeung was then invited to start up the Australian brand Jeanswest in China. He served as Director and General Manager for Jeanswest China from 1994, guiding the development of 1000 stores before the company publicly listed in 1996.

In the new millennium a serendipitous opportunity arose, leading to a career shift from fashion to commercial property.

“A renowned real estate company had invited our fashion brand to open a flagship store in one of their new shopping malls. I found the mall location good but the wrong trade mix,” Dr Yeung says.

“I suggested brands for the real estate company and the shopping mall opened successfully. Then the CEO of the real estate company asked me to join them as the China Commercial Property Retail Head.”

After a number of years leading teams in commercial property for different companies Dr Yeung started his own company – Maisson Commercial Property – an asset management company for commercial property development.

Dr Yeung says that different businesses have their challenges. He sees fashion and design as a merging of art and science.

“Property on the other hand is a complicated business,” he says. “Once we design and build a shopping mall there are thousands of workers in the mall at different periods of time." Regulations on construction, fire safety, legal… Each day presents a new challenge – which I enjoy.

“Currently I am working on a theme park project based on designs that were originally made by a famous Chinese Kung Fu internet game, which I hope will help more kids feel happy in the environment.”

In his spare time he is also supporting his wife’s dream to lead her own high end fashion design business – Cashmere Song - which he co-manages.

Dr Yeung’s wife Song Hong had harboured a dream to run her own fashion label since graduating from the Inner Mongolia Design School in 1992. When she decided it was time to pursue her dream she enlisted her husband’s support.

“We travelled to her home town to talk with the shepherds in the grasslands of Mongolia,” he says. “The local people like a drink and they are hospitable and willing to share their experiences."

“We started to talk with people about their changes in living and the culture due to development in Mongolia. They enjoyed their life in grasslands where they have their own culture, generation to generation. City development has changed their living and their culture as well.

“One night, I walked with my wife under the moon, the grassland was so silent, and we came up with an idea to develop a fashion brand by using the cashmere that the shepherds crafted.

“I put the Cashmere and her surname Song together as her namesake. We knew the brand should have Mongolian culture, using local materials but with international designs. And that’s how the brand Cashmere Song started.”

Originally the couple planned to open a small shop but this plan quickly changed from retail to wholesale to further sales that in turn help many in the Mongolian shepherd business. It now sells through showrooms in China, Hong Kong, New York and London.

When asked if he has plans to extend sales in Australia he says, “It is a great idea to have a wholesale showroom in Australia due to the different season in the southern hemisphere.”

“The brand has limitations to sell cashmere in winter – but our buyers expect summer lines, so together we have developed new technologies by mixing silk and cashmere for Spring/Summer, and mixing cashmere with leather or fake fur for Fall/Winter.”

With the high quality of the Inner Mongolia cashmere and Song Hong’s design skills, the brand has won multiple awards and is now featured in more than 500 shops in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, the United States & China.

Dr Yeung’s business and family interests bring him great joy, which he hopes to share with others.

“Happiness is all we need, I hope my skills through our endeavours brings more happiness to the people who enjoy them,” he says.

To learn more about Dr Yeung’s businesses, visit Maisson (Hong Kong) Commercial Property and Cashmere Song.


Paul AndersonAssociate Professor Paul Anderson

Associate Professor in Physiology

Head of Musculoskeletal Biology Research Laboratory, University of South Australia

May 2018

Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium could make all the difference in improving bone health and preventing and treating bone diseases, rare bone disorders and even breast cancer.

Associate Professor Paul Anderson is currently working on a diverse range of projects at the University of South Australia to study the impact of calcium and vitamin D levels and supplements on the health outcomes of various conditions.

Two of these conditions, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, are on the rise in Australia's ageing society, and according to Osteoporosis Australia, 66% of Australians over the age of fifty have either one of these diseases or poor bone health.

Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis can lead to bone fractures, a loss of mobility and independence, and an increase of mortality, and Assoc Prof Anderson says the key to prevention is nutrition and exercise, stressing the importance of calcium and vitamin D.

Osteoporosis is more often associated with women, as menopause causes the loss of estrogen which then accelerates bone loss, so his current clinical trial focuses on the various levels of calcium among post-menopausal women.

"This is an important study because while there are current recommendations as to how much calcium a woman should have, this is broadly based only on women who are lean," he says.

"The current data regarding bone health and obesity is very conflicting, so women who are clinically obese do not know how much calcium they should be taking to prevent bone loss and there is uncertainty in the medical community as to what to recommend overall.

"This study is really about seeing if post-menopausal women who are clinically obese respond differently compared to lean post-menopausal women when given calcium of equal doses."

The other key component to a healthy skeleton alongside calcium is vitamin D, and Assoc Prof Anderson aims to further understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which vitamin D can directly and indirectly improve bone health.

"We see a lot in commercials about how vitamin D strengthens your bones, but the actual science behind it is a bit imprecise."

Working with orthopedic surgeons at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Assoc Prof Anderson studies patient biopsies to understand the connection between vitamin D deficiency and poor bone health.

"These are osteoporotic patients who require surgery with an implant to mend a bone fracture.

"Often in the elderly, there is poor quality of healing after surgery, which is largely due to the poor quality of bone that is there to begin with – it doesn't respond well to surgery.

"We analyze the samples and take this information back to the surgeons, who have begun to recognize that part of their bone healing therapy should involve ensuring patients have adequate levels of vitamin D."

Poor bone health does not just affect the elderly though, and Assoc Prof Anderson and his team are also working with a rare musculoskeletal condition that affects children called X-Linked Hypophosphatemia (XLH).

A rare disorder that affects around one in 20,000 people, XLH is usually genetic but can in some cases appear in children with no family history.

"The mutation itself arises in a particular bone cell called the osteocyte, and causes an altered production of a particular hormone that triggers phosphate to be excreted from the body at high rates.

"Phosphate is vital for healthy bones, and without it a child's bones can become literally rubbery, and symptoms include bone and tooth weakness and pain, bow legs and even bow arms in severe cases.

"Treatments for this disorder are very poor at the moment; one of the negative effects of XLH is an excessive catabolism (breaking down) of vitamin D, so we are working on developing a drug that blocks this catabolism, which could heal the bone."

Assoc Prof Anderson's work surrounding vitamin D is not solely focused on bone health as he has also turned his attention to the strong link between vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer.

Working in collaboration with the University of Adelaide and McGill University in Canada, he is working with the same idea of preventing the catabolism of vitamin D as a means of cancer prevention.

"The kidney is normally considered the major organ for producing vitamin D, but we have identified that a variety of cells also produce it for their own purposes, including mammary cells in the breast.

"This production of vitamin D appears to improve cell differentiation, which is positive in terms of being anti-cancer, but if mammary cells cannot synthesize their own vitamin D, then there is a higher risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lung.

"If the cells lose this ability to produce the vitamin, they can become more cancerous, so blocking the catabolism of vitamin D might become an effective therapy for cancer prevention and treatment."

Assoc Prof Anderson hopes to continue this research in regard to colon cancer in the future.

Andrew Bullock

Chief Executive Officer, 1834 Hotels - 1834 Hospitality
Chair, South Australian Tourism Commission

Bachelor of Management (Tourism and Hospitality)

August 2019

The South Australian tourism industry is thriving and passionate South Aussie, Andrew Bullock, has spent a good part of this century immersed in the business climbing the ranks at 1834 Hotels - 1834 Hospitality, formerly known as Country Club Hotels & Resorts.

This experience, and knack for knowing what makes our state great, has also made him the perfect fit for his newest role, the Chair of the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) Board.

Before Andrew was heading the SATC Board,he began his career at Country Club Hotels & Resorts in 2002 while still studying at UniSA.

Throughout the two decades he has been a part of the company, he has been instrumental in the growth and expansion of the company across Australia and responsible for generation of annual sales in excess of $100 million.

The 1834 Hotels network is a “holistic management service” that offers a range of accommodation –including the Mayfair Hotel, The Meridien, the Barossa Weintal Hotel and even more cafes, restaurants and bars, golf courses, function and wedding venues – dotted both regionally and in capital cities throughout the country.

After initially starting out in sales, Andrew was eventually promoted to the Group General Manager, with this role encompassing all operational aspects of the group of hotels and resorts. But then in 2008, at 29-years-old, he became the Chief Executive Officer after founder Ian Conolly, both a mentor and a friend, passed away.

Andrew still cites Ian, the banker turned manager, as “the most inspiring person he ever met” having had a significant impact his professional career and still holds his advice and guidance close to his heart.

“He taught me that you don’t have to be a dictator in business to get positive outcomes, you need to be firm however positive outcomes are always possible with a positive outlook,” he says.

As CEO, Andrew led the company through a number of developments and its increasingly diverse portfolio. When he started, the chain managed a network of four hotels – this number has now grown to 23. And now with almost 1000 staff employed under the 1834 banner, it makes them one of the largest regional tourism employers in South Australia.

Andrew didn’t always imagine himself playing such a pivotal role in the tourism sector though. It was only after becoming involved in the industry that he realised he had a passion and inherent knack for it.

In his two decades with the company, Andrew says the best part of his job has been the opportunity to work with the wide range of people he’s been in contact with and he’s particularly proud of watching the 1834 group develop and grow.

“I spent some time in sales initially before becoming involved at a more senior management level,” he says. “I became very enthusiastic about tourism and hospitality in South Australia for a number of reasons. As well as the terrific growth we have seen in recent years, one of the most exciting prospects is the capacity we have for further growth.”

“I often find myself thinking back on theory that I learned at uni and now use in day-to-day work. I believe having that background from UniSA has allowed me to progress much quicker in my career and development.”

On top of his work managing the operations and finances, and devising key business strategies for revenue growth at 1834 Hotels, last month Andrew was officially named as the Chair of South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) Board.

Here he will use his extensive experience and knowledge of the sector to fulfil the SATC’s mission to make South Australia a destination of choice for international and domestic visitors.

“Tourism is one of the most exciting industries to be a part of. For me one of the great advantages is the economic benefits it provides local economies by being a reliable and sought-after exporter of goods,” he says.

The visitor economy created by tourism is important because much of the economic benefit it brings to the state flows to regional communities and also has a positive impact on other industries such as agriculture, wine, retail, education, real estate and transport.

Looking forward, Andrew believes that nationally we are at the cusp of further strong growth in the international markets.

“China is in incredible growth, now our challenge as a country is to ensure we continue to get our market share internationally and grow that market share,” he says.

“In South Australia the story is similar – we have seen terrific growth – now our challenge is to grow that further and see a greater market share of visitation to Australia visiting South Australia.

“As a potential net exporter the benefit and opportunity for the state is significant and in particular with the regional dispersal that tourism provides, we can see economic growth in regional South Australia from tourism activation.

“Tourism can also become the jobs of the future in areas that otherwise have limited opportunity.”

He’s right – who doesn’t want to go on a holiday?

As a seasoned tourism professional Andrew also knows a thing or two about hidden gems around the state too. He recommends the Riesling Trail next time you are looking to experience the best South Australia has to offer.

“There are so many wonderful spots in South Australia it would be hard to pick just one! I do have a soft spot for the Clare Valley – I think the opportunity to ride a bike along the Riesling Trail and pop into a few wineries on the way is such a terrific experience.”

Suzanne CaragianisSuzanne Caragianis

Managing Director, SA Hand Therapy
Certified Hand Therapist, Full Member AHTA

Bachelor of Applied Science, Occupational Therapy

May 2019

The eyes might be the window to the soul, but our hands are the vital tools that allow our minds to act upon the world – to prosper, shape our environment, and in many parts of the world, survive.

Suzanne Caragianis became fascinated with hands in her first anatomy classes at the University of South Australia while studying a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy). Her interest grew and hands became the focus of her over 33-year career, not only trailblazing hand therapy in South Australia, but also making a difference in places around the world needing it most.

“Hands are so complex and intricate, and so important in peoples everyday function and self-expression,” she says.

“They are the tools with which we take care of ourselves, express ourselves, show joy and love. They enable us to create, build, design and communicate. It’s not until someone has an injury or loses function that they realise the significance of their hands.

“If they are damaged it can affect our survival in certain parts of the world. Our communication, our ability to earn a living and care for ourselves and others.”

After graduation, Suzanne followed her interest in hand therapy to the USA to work with Dr Harold Kleinert, one of the fathers of hand surgery.

He had a tremendous impact on her and it was here she also developed a strong desire to support the education of future therapists – especially fellow UniSA Alumni – influencing her own teaching and mentoring style over the past 25 years.

“My mentor Dr Kleinert told me, ‘we have a responsibility to teach all that we know; choose students who you think can be better than you and enable them to be better than you in one way or another’,” she says.

On returning to Australia from the US, Suzanne worked to establish a practice that mirrored Dr Kleinert’s values. Starting with a hand and occupational therapy consulting service in 1991, Suzanne’s business evolved into the SA Hand Therapy practice.

SA Hand Therapy now has five practices around the state and a number of dedicated hand and upper limb therapists, including their resident therapy dog Cooper, specialising in accident, injury, arthritis, nerve & congenital conditions.

“I wanted to establish a hand therapy centre of excellence in Australia that offered best practice, teaching and mentoring to students as well as doing collaborative research,” she says.

“Now we have five sites, a team of amazing talented therapists and two business partners, Michael Janetzki and Jordan Lefmann.”

Suzanne also teaches professional groups and GP’s about complex hand trauma and injuries, diagnosis and treatment. This passion for educating others in hand therapy – particularly in high risk areas – has also led to deep ties with the Indian and Bhutanese therapeutic communities.

“My medical missionary work in Bhutan began 10 years ago after several years of teaching in India with my dear friend and colleague Dr Raja Sabapathy, who was at the time the President of the Indian Hand Surgery Society,” she says.

“I visited Bhutan and discovered high rates of hand and upper limb injuries and burns from subsistence farming and cooking over an open fire. There was also a high incidence of congenital deformities and children’s injuries.

“At the time there were only four orthopaedic surgeons in Bhutan, no plastic surgeons or any hand surgery unless it was basic salvage procedures or amputation of a limb or finger.

“There were also no Occupational Therapists and the physiotherapy clinic at the main hospital in the capital, Thimphu, had no hand therapy or splinting service or training.”

After her first therapy training trip, Suzanne realised the country needed a formal hand therapy clinic to improve recovery for the injured. She set about establishing Helping Hands in Bhutan to facilitate training for medical professionals and therapists.

She also began fundraising to set up the clinic with the right mix of surgical equipment and trainers.

“Part of the program consisted of a continuing education course to teach doctors, surgeons, and therapists about hand and upper limb anatomy and basic hand rehabilitation in Bhutan,” she says.

“In order to get the Royal Government of Bhutan to sponsor and recognise the program, I developed a specialist course and a way of examining attendees so they would champion participants.

Another enjoyable part of the project has been involving other medical experts in her work, she says, “My friend Dr Philip Griffin – an Adelaide Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon – offered to work with me on the trips to teach basic hand surgery skills so we could role model a collaborative team of surgeon’s and therapist’s.

“University of South Australia Dean of Research (Health Sciences), Professor Susan Hillier, even assisted in running one of the courses. It’s still talked about many years later!

“Several years ago Dr Griffin and I also approached Interplast Australia and New Zealand to get involved and extend the program. They accepted and have extended the plastic and reconstructive and hand surgery work, sending teams of surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and hand therapists twice a year."

Suzanne and her project partners have now raised more than $200,000 for the initiative and have established two hand therapy centres in Bhutan.

Through this work a number of Bhutanese surgeons and doctors have also been sponsored to broaden their medical knowledge base and attend international conferences.

“I continue to sponsor training in Bhutan and support our hand therapy clinics there. Overall my goal for this work is to develop a sustainable hand program in Bhutan where we enable the Bhutanese medical work force to treat and rehabilitate people who have sustained trauma or have been born with a disability,” she says.

“My next goal is to sponsor the training of an Occupational Therapist at UniSA to help establish OT services in Bhutan.”

Josh CarmichaelJosh Carmichael

Renewable Energy, Grid & Mobility Specialist (Transdev – Connexxion)

Bachelor of Science
Bachelor of International Business

January 2019

When Josh Carmichael returned to his hometown of Adelaide in May of 2016, joining the South Australian Government in the midst of SA’s so-called ‘energy crisis’ after seven years at automotive manufacturing company DENSO, he could not have imagined what the next two years would entail.

As the Director of the Low Carbon Economy Unit, Josh put his business acumen to good use and led his team through the development and success of some of the state’s most extraordinary renewable energy projects – including delivering the World's Largest Lithium-ion Battery (100 MW Battery) – all while welcoming the newest member to his young family.

After making such a substantial contribution toward South Australia’s electricity sector being cleaner, more reliable and more affordable, he upended again to the Netherlands and joined Transdev, a leading mobility specialist and public transport operator, as a Low Emission Technology expert.

Josh takes us on a deep dive into his fascinating career, expertise in renewables, his time at the South Australian Government, and what he really thinks about Elon Musk’s tweeting habit.

Would you be able to tell us a little bit about what you are currently doing at Transdev (Connexxion) as a Low Emission Technology Expert?
Transdev operates everything from ferries to light rail train, trams and buses and autonomous shuttles as either the Global Transdev brand (as in Australia) or as a local brand like Connexxion in The Netherlands.

My role is to advise the organisation on how to best roll out buses, batteries, chargers and infrastructure for the expected boom in electric and fuel cell buses by 2025 – 2030 in The Netherlands, from a commercial, technical, chemical, procurement and operational point of view.

What motivated you to pursue this career path in renewable energy, how did your time at UniSA help shape it?

I’ve always been very interested in sustainability, but more from a business impact point of view - product development, strategy, supply chain and power balance perspective – than the environmental perspective. I would never have guessed while at UniSA in the early 2000s I would end up where I am now.

I chose good mentors who supported and encouraged me to say yes to every opportunity during my time at UniSA. My journey started when I said yes to a random opportunity to go on exchange. UniSA had just signed a new contract with The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in Hong Kong to do exchanges, and they found it hard to get people to go to China over Europe and USA in 2003, so they offered $5000 in grants to go and promoted it via the professors. I spoke to a couple mentors and they encouraged me to apply.

I was successful and met plenty of enthusiastic American and European students in Hong Kong – particularly the Dutch – which made me want to live and work in The Netherlands. So I moved after my studies, did my Masters and graduated in 2008.

I managed to use my Japanese language skills to get a job with DENSO in the middle of the global financial crisis, in a role that was meant to be industrial products but turned into innovation and business development across Telecom, Health, Security and Energy industries for over eight years.

I then said yes to a chance to relocate back home to SA with the government – while having no previous ambition to work in the public sector – in a role that I could never have imagined would be so good for me in terms of development, experience, knowledge and network. First in Hydrogen, then the big battery, virtual power plants and 20 other projects through the Renewable Technology Fund worth one billion dollars in private investments into SA as Director of the Low Carbon Economy Unit.

It was my pleasure to be a manager of such a capable team, in the thick of action with Cabinet support and fully decision making freedom with support of executives across government and my second-in-command, Richard Day.

Most recently I took a job with a public transport operator – never thought that would happen either – in the largest (again!) electric bus depot and fleet in Europe.

Speaking of your time with the South Australian Government, the state has a very complex energy market and power needs and you were involved in leading the massive 100MW Battery Project, could you describe your role and experience working on this significant development with a company like Tesla?

Pffft. Where to begin?!

There is no other company like Tesla. I’ve worked for a large international organisation before at DENSO (120,000 employees, $60B revenue), but Tesla was a whole different ball game. Everything is huge, quick and via the twitter account – which was very different way of working, especially for a Government agency and Premier’s office used to having their way.

The sheer scale, size, timing and complexity of this project was unprecedented. The 100MW battery was 5 - 20 fold larger than anything comparable on the market at the time. It was pushing the boundaries of engineering possibilities. Furthermore, it wasn’t a simple local project – it attracted close to 90 competitive global bids from all corners of the world. The process to decide the right partner was already the first challenge.

Every stage of the process was unique. We had to fit procurement, negotiations and installation in a nine month window. The installation phase alone – including the registration, licensing and connection procedures in the energy market – can take three months each from three different parties outside of the government’s control. So in total it would have taken 9 to 18 months with existing known technology. We only had three months for that; with a technology, rule book and protocol that largely didn’t exist.

But, we were able to make a success of this phase in the three months because everyone came to the table with a solution – not problem – mentality. We were also able to have frank discussions about what was wanted, what was needed, and able to be implemented in the energy grid at such a scale and speed.

My team in government did an enormous amount of work upfront working with key stakeholders to ask them about implementing a product that had not been tested at such size before – irrespective of who would win the project. That helped at the backend of the project when we went to implement the winning solution with Neoen and Tesla.

That’s an intense three months – and this was all happening under intense media scrutiny, wasn’t it?

The international media were using (sometimes inaccurate) local sources to report on the state of the project – since we were going to get it for free if it took more than 100 days – which added a lot of pressure.

That was alongside the speedy production and delivery of the balance of plant equipment (inverters, transformers, cabling, concrete etc.) and battery packs which were being delivered to site at breakneck speed via planes – just as they hit the end of production line – while building the site from scratch in a safe manner with no serious accidents on site in Jamestown.

If that wasn’t enough, we also had to plan two parties with global attendance and attention [including an appearance from Elon Musk, industry bigwigs, government officials and guests from all over Australia], without interfering with the site’s progress, onsite testing requirements, and performance of the products with no spare days in the schedule.

I’m guessing Elon Musk’s now infamous penchant for tweeting sensitive information didn’t help?

It’s well documented that Elon tweeted during the process that he could do it in less than 100 days, and then dared by fellow billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, said he would do it for free if he couldn’t. This created a problem and more complexity within the project.

The problem was some saw it as the unfair reason he won the contract (which it wasn’t), while others wanted to see us unfairly take him up on the offer. But we knew that would set the battery and renewable industry back years and give the Federal Liberal Party and coal lobbyists the ammunition to wipe our batteries and renewables by 5-10 years. South Australia needs all the energy storage it can get, so it made no sense to destroy the first major project to achieve that and jeopardise future investment into to the state afterwards.

To this day I think it’s still the only occasion in which a tweet has been successfully used in a commercial contract to hold a party liable for the content of the tweet – that’s pretty cool. In the end we didn’t need to activate it and South Australia benefited significantly from the 100MW Battery being delivered on time. Subsequent deals also brought other battery manufacturers into the state, with other projects like Sunjeev Gupta in Whyalla and more renewable projects; creating a new industry, jobs and hope. That’s even cooler.

That must have been so much pressure on you both personally and professionally?

Make no mistake, I had enormous support from internal colleagues, especially my partners Peter Hawkes and Chris Gosling, an executive team across government led by Sam Crafter, Premier and Ministers offices, and was externally supported by technical, commercial and legal consultants in a tightknit project team of about 20 people. Tesla and Neoen both also allocated significant resources to the project, which enabled quick responses from key stake holders to clear blockages in the road.

But yeah – I didn’t sleep much for 9 months. My real superstar on the project was my partner Martine. She also gave birth to our son James in the peak of the project in September 2017. All while working and helping me through all the tough challengers on the project as my unofficial advisor, supporter, motivator and positive thinker; especially when the going was really tough!

What do you love most about your field?

When I was studying at UniSA sustainability was a hobby for environmentalist. It wasn’t until I did my MBA in Holland that my professor said, “the key to getting sustainability mainstream is to make it a business decision; not an environmental one.” Get the CFO excited. The CEO will like an idea that he can write about in the annual report, but it’s the CFO that holds the pen on investment. You need to get the CFO excited.

I’m proud that from a hobby in 2003 to mainstream business decision-making, renewables are now maturing and seen as the future. SA is leading the world on so many areas – which I hopefully played a role in accelerating during 2016 – 2018. It wasn’t the plan, but it’s been a great journey.

Renewables are here to stay, and SA is a great place to be for that.

You’ve had extensive experience in the Netherlands as well, are there things their energy industry do that Australia doesn’t? Is there anything we can learn, and vice versa?

The world is on a path to transition to a more sustainable carbon constrained world. Australia is leading from the energy transition, but lacking in transport and building industry. Europe is leading from a transport perspective, but in a more orderly fashion.

We can certainly learn from each other. Australia can learn how to get bipartisan policy support and more orderly transitions – as well as how to transition the transport sector quickly while supporting the grid. On the other hands Europe can learn from Australia’s mistakes and the solutions that they are now deploying to fix those issues which are globally significant and show leadership at a faster pace – which Europe could use a bit more of – especially in the energy sector.

What do you love most about living and working in The Netherlands? Do you miss anything in particular from Adelaide?

I love Europe because everything is so close, and every place has its own rich history over thousands of years that still exists in small ways through their culture, food, and language. I love being a two-hour flight from my favourite cities in Italy and Spain for long weekends, summer breaks, or winter ski seasons.

I love The Netherlands because it’s so active on the bike – either to work, with the kids, for shopping or sport on the weekends. Also the work-life balance discussion is more mature. I currently have a daddy day once-a-week with my one-year-old son, James, and three-year-old daughter, Siena.

I miss my family and friends from Adelaide a lot, but am more fortunate than other expats because my partner is Dutch with an Australian history – so we both have friends and family in each other’s country.

I do really miss the weather, beaches and wineries. I’m a Henley boy (go Sharks!) through and through, which my partner also loves, so both miss hanging out at the Square with the kids and my parents for a coffee during the day, or a balmy summer night on the terrace with a beer with mates. I do miss my old colleagues at SA Government and exciting projects – but I don’t miss the politics and scrutiny.

Professor Albert P.C. ChanProfessor Albert P.C. Chan

Head, Department of Building and Real Estate, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Chair - Professor of Construction, Engineering and Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

PhD Business & Management

March 2019

Professor Albert Chan spends his days immersed in the Hong Kong buildings and real estate industry as one of the most respected figureheads in the area at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. 

He has studied the intricacies and needs of the industry for over three decades as a Chartered Construction Manager, Engineer, Project Manager, and Surveyor by profession. He then embarked on a PhD at the University of South Australia in the early nineties.

Professor Chan is recognised for his thoughtful, ‘outside of the box’ approach to creating solutions for the issues that affect Asia’s building and construction industry.

His career journey from studying a PhD in project management at University of South Australia has steered a course away from project managing large scale building works to research and teaching academia that has benefited thousands.

“As a high school leaver, I was fascinated by the many construction works being executed at that time in Hong Kong. I chose construction as my future career and aspired to become an engineer to project manage a complex development from inception to completion,” says Professor Chan.

“I have to admit, I never thought I would end up down the pathway my career has taken. I just kept pushing my own limit and always walk one step further and I have found that the outcome is often rewarding.

“As a Head of Department, I need to set a vision for the Department and I need to provide good leadership to motivate all colleagues and students to strive for excellence. I am mindful to provide a friendly and conducive environment to enable my colleagues and students to develop their full potential.

“I am a strong believer of leading by examples, therefore work closely with my colleagues as a team and share the gain and the pain with them.

“In addition to my administrative duties as Head of the Department of Building and Real Estate, I also engage actively in research.”

One area of research that has been particularly important to Professor Chan is the wellbeing of the many individuals who carry out the hard-work that the building industry depends upon.

“Construction workers have to work outdoors for long hours under hot and humid weather conditions, which may affect their health,” he says.

“In Hong Kong, their work requires them to do a lot of physically demanding tasks to make a living in a climate that can be especially challenging, so about 10 years ago I asked what we could assist and improve to make their work conditions better.”

Professor Chan and his research team devised a uniform to alleviate heat-stress and reduce associated health hazards. It was also important that the clothing be designed ergonomically to ensure it fits all situations.

“The fabrics we selected comprise specially engineered polyester fibres to provide superior breathability. The trousers were made from the proprietary material ‘Dry-inside’, which incorporates new moisture management technology developed by our research team.

The uniform was adopted as an industry standard in 2017. And as of September that year, more than 116,000 polo shirts and more than 36,000 trousers have been ordered by contracting companies throughout Asia. Importantly yielding a 20 per cent cost reduction and enhanced functionality.

As a result the health hazard of heat stress of some of the most under pressure workers in Hong Kong is much relieved thanks to the research and development of the uniforms from Professor Chan and his team.

“It was a great feeling of accomplishment to see these uniforms make such a practical and protective contribution to the overall wellbeing of construction workers in Hong Kong and beyond,” he says.

The research garnered Professor Chan the Construction Industry Council 2015 Innovation Award, the UK’s Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) Innovation Achiever’s Award, and Grand Prize and Gold Medal at the 44th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva, under the patronage of the Swiss Federal Government, the State, the City of Geneva and of the World.

He was also recently honoured as a high-achieving UniSA Alumni when he joined a number of other high-achieving Australia China Alumni at the 2018 Association Awards as a finalist for the Award for Research and Science.

Professor Chan also fondly remembers his time at UniSA, where he also lectured in the field of building and planning and further developed his academic skills.

“I was grateful to have received great supervision and care from Professor Tricia Vilkinas, Founding Professor for the School of Business, from whom I learnt not only the professional knowledge in my area of interest, but also other soft skills such as management, perseverance, lateral and critical thinking,” he says.

These lessons remain with Professor Chan as he leads his own Department now at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Under Professor Chan’s management, the Department has made significant contributions to the university’s Civil and Structural Engineering, and the Architecture and Built Environment disciplines, which were recently ranked among the top 20 QS Subject Ranking 2019 in the World.

Professor Chan sees this role as a crucial step in nurturing the next generation of much-needed infrastructure experts and innovators, and delights in being able to play a part in changing the once bleak landscape.

“There is a huge and continuous demand in the construction and real estate industry and because of severe scarcity of land supply, we need to construct taller and faster buildings. We need more young talents to join and work in this vibrant, challenging, and rewarding industry.”


Dr James CharlesDr James Charles

Associate Professor of Indigenous Teaching & Learning, Deakin University

Bachelor of Podiatry
Masters of Health Science (Podiatry)

November 2018

Dr James Charles could not have imagined how far he would eventually come after he decided to continue his education at the age of 27-years-old, and was immediately deemed illiterate, dropping out of high school a decade and a half earlier.

It has been a long and winding road for Dr Charles, now one of Australia’s foremost academic authorities on Aboriginal foot health, but he was supported along the way by the love of his family, and several UniSA Scholarships – including the Irene and David Davy Scholarship – providing vital financial support and confidence he was on the right path.

“High school didn’t work out for me and I dropped out to work with my uncle as a plumber when at 13 I was told I would have to repeat the year,” James says.

“Then in my mid-twenties, with two young children, I found myself starting to think beyond myself and feeling concerned about how I was going to help my children with their school work.

It was important for James to break the cycle of poor levels of education in his family, and to show his children that it would be possible to get a decent education and graduate from high school. He signed up for a TAFE course that would allow him to earn his Year 11 and 12 grades.

“When I applied for the course, the TAFE educator said ‘James, congratulations, you can join our course – you are illiterate’. I can see the lighter side of this welcome now, but it was confronting to hear this as a man in his mid-twenties.”

A proud Kaurna man, born and raised in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, it was also important for James to find a way to give back to his community. This goal eventually led him to enrol in the Bachelor of Podiatry at UniSA with a focus on Aboriginal Health.

“I was a mature age student amongst mostly 19 and 20-year-olds, but I found an amazing mentor in Associate Professor Sara Jones who gave me on-going support and help. She also provided podiatry services to the Aboriginal community, which really resonated with me.”

“I worked hard and proudly graduated with a Bachelor of Podiatry, and continued into my Masters at UniSA.”

Dr Charles is just one of many students that were crucially helped along the way to graduation through UniSA’s scholarship program.

The University is proud of its legacy and commitment to equity as the university in South Australia with the highest rate of students from a disadvantaged background, successfully completing their degrees.

In fact, nearly 30 per cent of commencing students to UniSA come from an economically disadvantaged background. The University also receives more applications from students who qualified for the equity category than any other, so support from UniSA scholarship donors is more paramount than ever.

Now with the benefit of hindsight, James is also a passionate advocate for supporting university students with scholarships when they are struggling to make ends meet and complete their studies, as he was fortunate enough to receive several scholarships, including the Irene and David Davy Scholarship.

As a father of five while completing his own studies, James is well aware of the additional stress that juggling multiple responsibilities can place on students.

“Without this financial support I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have been able to continue to study full-time, and I may not be where I am today without it.”

James says that knowing that these generous people, basically strangers, believed in him and wanted him to succeed was an additional motivation, “I am still in touch with the family who supported me and they have been following my success – I hope with pride knowing just how much their support made my career possible.”

Without the generosity of people like Irene and David Davy, the potential of countless individuals – like Dr James Charles – would not have been realised. When they succeed, we all succeed.

He is an inspiration for Aboriginal people, not only for his personal example of achievement, but also in the fantastic work he is doing to research and teach in his field. In 2008, he was the inaugural Chair of the Indigenous Allied Health Network and in 2017 he was named national NAIDOC Scholar of the Year.

Now an Associate Professor Indigenous Teaching and Education, and Coordinator Master of Public Health in the Institute of Koorie Education and the School of Medicine at Deakin University, James was also honoured this year for his outstanding achievements at the UniSA Alumni Awards.

“Sadly, Aboriginal people – especially those in rural and remote communities – are at higher risk of foot health problems than the general population.

“As part of my podiatry work, I was visiting clinics and community centres for Aboriginal people around Australia and I kept seeing the same types of problems. Through my research, and then my PhD, I found that Aboriginal people have high rates of equinus – reduced movement at the ankle – that can contribute to serious issues and lead to ulceration and amputation, especially as people get older and heavier.

“There were some academics who didn’t believe my suspicions that there is a genetic element which contributes to this problem – I was told poor foot health was ‘just a result of smoking and diabetes’.

“I am really glad I trusted my instincts and continued to focus on my work. Ultimately by trusting myself and staying dedicated to my education, I have been able to help so many people improve their health and wellbeing.

“Now I am also working as an academic supporting Aboriginal students studying health degrees. I see first-hand the wide barriers that students face and I know how challenging juggling study with work, family and life.”

To find out more about the Scholarship Fund, and how you can donate visit: the Giving website.

Dave CourtDave Court


Bachelor of Visual Arts, (Honours)

July 2019

As the weather in Adelaide heats up and the city braces for the most jammed-packed festival month of the year, you may notice the sweet, sunny colour palette of artist Dave Court’s art start popping up around town.

A great honour for any Adelaide creative, the 27-year-old University of South Australia Visual Arts graduate won the coveted 2020 Adelaide Fringe Poster Design Competition in celebration of the Festival’s 60th anniversary, which will run next year from 14 February to 15 March.

Dave – who is now more comfortable referring to himself as an ‘artist’ – is adept at a multitude of forms of art including painting, designing, illustrating, photography, but it was his diamond design, ingeniously created using aerosol spray paint, which will act as a sparkling emblem for the diamond anniversary of the Adelaide Fringe.

“I’ve entered the Fringe poster competition several times before, but this time I kept it super simple, clean and design-y, and also with zero digital design elements, which I think is a good signifier of my integration of art and design processes,” Dave says.

“It’s just a huge privilege and honour to be chosen. I think it will sink in properly when the artwork starts showing up on trams and bus stops, I’m really excited to work with the fringe team to deliver some cool stuff over the festival season.”

Describing his work as “varied, collaborative, accessible, experimental and technical” it’s clear Dave’s talents aren’t limited to just one thing, having tried his hand at everything from large-scale mural paintings, clothing labels and retail stores, creative director of Yewth Magazine, and venue design and the creation of immersive installations for SALA Festival and the Spin Off, Field Good, Laneway music festivals.

“I like bringing a multitude of influences to my work, and pushing myself to try and make things in different modes or media, which also keeps me from getting bored doing one thing all the time,” he says.

“I see working to create things that are a part of a larger event or venue as a way to get art in front of an audience that might not ordinarily engage with it – it’s something that isn’t in a gallery or specifically a ‘public art’ work – which I think there should be more of.

“It creates a more enjoyable and unique experience for attendees of a space and gives them something that they will remember.”

Dave says this desire for creativity in as many mediums as possible, was nurtured during his time at UniSA where he was afforded a lot of space and time try different media and ideas.

“The teachers I had at the time, especially Christian Lock and Dr Paul Hoban, really pushed experimentation as a driving force of making things,” he says.

“I was able to use all the workshop facilities to try a range of different things which all feed into each other, glass making, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, printmaking, and photography.”

As a result, Dave has well and truly making a name for himself in the Adelaide arts and cultural scene, even joining the board of Renew Adelaide last year.

When asked about his involvement in Adelaide’s burgeoning industry, and developing platforms for new talent, he says it’s the people that matter.

“I think all of those kind of involvements are what it’s all about, being a part of a community and making things with my friends, and meeting people who have become my friends through making things with them,” he says.

“I like watching people be good at what they do, and doing what they love, whether that’s in music, art, fashion or whatever.”

“Being involved with all these different areas myself has informed my practice, whether it’s involving more photography in my artwork, learning how to document my work well or being approached to make music videos and artwork for musicians.

“I just recently sent copies of Yewth Mag to an artist in Kenya that I met painting murals here in Adelaide because he’s looking at starting his own art magazine there, which is sick, and I wouldn’t be able to do that unless I had this specific combination of background experience.”

A recent highlight for Dave has included his recent ‘City of Music’ large-scale mural project on the West facing wall of 128 Hindley Street, carried out in partnership with Music SA through the City of Adelaide, Music Development Office and UNESCO.

The stunning work of art involved painting the largest wall in the city with an abstracted story of Adelaide’s musical history, celebrating Adelaide as a designated UNESCO City of Music.

The project which spanned more than six months, including planning and preparation, was accompanied by a documentary – made by friend and frequent collaborator Lewis Brideson – that followed Dave as he interviewed iconic SA musicians and industry heavyweights to research for the mural.

He isn’t about to sit back and admire his work just yet, though, with many projects already in the pipeline to keep an eye out for, including involvement in the SALA festival, a new indoor mural at the National Motor Museum, an installation collaboration with Arlon Hall at the City Library, and a painting at Northern Sounds System.

Dave does periodically come across his work unassumingly, though.

“Sometimes I’ll go to someone’s house and they have a painting of mine up, or I’ll see someone wearing a t-shirt that I made years ago that I had almost forgotten about, but it’s been a constant part of that person’s life on a daily basis, which is a great privilege and kind of intimate in a weird way,” he says.

“…And painting a big wall is kind of like that on a huge scale. There are how many hundreds of people that look at that painting every day on their commute, or out of their office window, which I hope brings some sort of joy or colour to their day.”

Guor Michar and Abok Dau and familyAbok Dau and Guor Michar

Abok Dau is Financial Assistant at Anglican Diocese of North WA and Co-Founder and Chair of Athiolget Women’s & Children’s Health Association

Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management)

Guor Michar is Pharmacist at Friendlies Pharmacy and Co-Founder of Athiolget Women’s & Children’s Health Association

Bachelor of Pharmacy

June 2019

Abok Dau and Guor Michar‘s tale of survival and triumph is remarkable.

After surviving a childhood disrupted by war in Sudan, Guor’s conscription as a child soldier, and 17 years in refugee camps, the couple have resettled in Geraldton, Western Australia, crafted successful careers in pharmacy and business administration, and started a young family.

Now the couple are also working tirelessly to save lives in poverty stricken regions of South Sudan through their Athiolget Women’s & Children’s Health Association, providing lifesaving medicines to the most vulnerable in the country.

When Abok and Guor were children in Sudan, the mounting political tension in the country eventually consumed the remote southern region where the pair spent their childhoods.

The decades-long war that led to the separation of the Republic of South Sudan from North Sudan has cost millions of lives and left millions more living in poverty, without access to adequate medical care, food, and countless other vital services.

From a young age, Abok’s and Guor’s experiences instilled in each a sense of the fragility of life.

“My early childhood in South Sudan was traumatic due to the war and also the numerous deaths of my playmates at a very young age,” Guor says.

“I was consumed with fear of death as I saw many families, including my own, losing many of their little angels to malaria, typhoid, dysentery and diarrhoea.

“Wailing and mourning would overcome the village and I felt a chapter was closing on our community as every other child born was expected to live for only a month.

“Babies would be kept behind closed doors to protect them from ‘evil spirits’ outside the family hut - a family hut that was surrounded by little unmarked dirt graves that looked like anthills. The fear of stepping on those little graves stoked fear of death even closer.”

As the war intensified around them, famine and poverty became a daily reality for most and disease and malnourishment took many lives. In the South, where the war was most intense, the rebels decided to recruit young boys.

When Guor was just nine he was conscripted and marched for three months to an Ethiopian refugee camp where the rebels trained the young soldiers.

“The reserve camps in Ethiopia were also refugee camps where military activities such as further training, military planning and firing squads were highly practiced,” he says.

“We were over 50,000 boys from different parts of Sudan. Every year, the boys between the ages of 14 and 18-years-old would be armed and sent to the frontlines to fight.”

While Guor and Abok did not meet in Ethiopia their stories traverse the same landscape.

Abok and her family also made the long journey to Ethiopia where they hoped to reunite with her father who had been wounded in the Pochalla war. But when the Ethiopian government was overthrown Guor, Abok and her family were forced to flee back to Sudan. Once again they faced many months of trekking across war-torn countryside.

“We re-entered Sudan in May 1991 and were faced with starvation and constant aggression. We were forced to walk hundreds of kilometres from Pochalla in Sudan to Kenya and arrived in 1992 to seek refuge in Kakuma Refugee Camp,” says Guor.

“We had to walk back into Sudan where the war was very intense. Many people died on this journey, drowning in the rivers or re-joining the fighting,” says Abok.

Guor and Abok were forced to spend the rest of their childhood, another 11 years and 13 years respectively, living in the camps, surviving on low-nutrition supplies of maize, beans, and what vegetation the women and girls could find in the nearby bush.

Many children in the region quickly became malnourished or suffered abnormal growth and anaemia. Guor became very anaemic but was one of the lucky ones to receive a blood transfusion in 1996.

School was a saving grace of the refugee camp. In South Sudan where Guor and Abok were born there were no schools in an area home to more than 120,000 people. So when the opportunity arose for the couple to get their schooling in Kenya they took it very seriously.

Guor worked hard on his studies and was sponsored by the UNHCR to settle in Australia in 2003.

Abok’s experience was similar.

“When I got an opportunity to go to school in Kenya like Guor, and many other children, I took it seriously. I was even lucky enough to be listed among those who were taken to Canada by World University Service of Canada (WUSC),” she says. “But because I was waiting to come to Australia with my family, they couldn’t let me be part of those who were accepted.”

We arrived in Perth, Australia in 2005 where I studied English and Human Resources and continued to work as an interpreter with the On-call and WA Translating and Interpreting Services.”

Once Guor and Abok were settled in Australia they were both eager to further their studies.

Abok transferred her studies to UniSA when the opportunity arose to complete a Business degree with a major in Human Resource Management. She is now working as a Finance Assistant while raising three children and administrating the family’s charitable work with the Athiolget Women’s & Children’s Health Association.

“Graduating from UniSA with a Bachelor of Business was a proud moment for me because raising young children while studying is one of the tough jobs,” says Abok.

“I was glad when I received my results that I would be graduating – I could not believe it because my daughter was only one-month-old when I sat for the final exam.”

Guor’s awareness of the many deaths he witnessed from untreated curable diseases drove him to pursue a career as a Pharmacist.

In 2005 he enrolled in UniSA’s pharmacy program where he was Golden Key International Honour Society and the founder and the president of the Sudanese Tertiary Students Association that brings Sudanese students from all South Australian universities and TAFE together.

Guor has now been serving his local community as a pharmacist for 10 years.

After their studies the couple was compelled to established the Athiolget Women’s and Children’s Association – a charitable organisation that provides essential medicines to the countless innocents affected by the war in South Sudan where medical care is difficult if not impossible to find for many curable diseases.

In January 2012, Abok and Guor were involved in supplying of lifesaving drugs to people in South Sudan, mainly antimalarial, antibiotics, antiepileptics, pain relief, worm treatment, and schistosomiasis.

“The impact this meagre supply had on the local community was considerable as lives were saved and changed for the better. As a result, Athiolget Women’s and Children’s Health Association was born to carry on this generous work to all those in the area” says Guor.

“During the war between North and South Sudan, I believe a big percentage of the 1.9 million people who perished between 1983 and 2005 was due to diseases like malaria, dysentery, diarrhoea, typhoid, STDs, bilharzia and kala-azar or visceral leishmaniasis – many easily curable diseases.”

“From my family, more people died from diseases, especially women and children, than being caught in the conflict. This belief has been my driving force to fight a disease war over a political or economic war that is still being fought today in both countries of Sudan and South Sudan.”

Abok first travelled to South Sudan to establish a clinic in Akot, a remote village in Ruweng State in 2015. The community came together to build a hut for the clinic, which since 2016 has treated 60 people per day for tropical disease treatments.

Abok and Guor also fundraise through the Association to fund medicines and clinic costs.

Thanks to the support of their local community, the organisation is now working to establish a modern clinic in the area that will be able to store medicines and continue to run health services for the area.

“I am very proud of my wife who has worked so hard to make sure the Association keeps its objective of providing lifesaving medicines to women and children,” says Guor.

The couple have now made a home in Geraldton, Western Australia and are proud parents of their three children Michar, Akur and Ayen.

The children are heavily involved in the Athiolget Women’s and Children’s Health Association fundraising and community, and will carry on this vital work for generations to come.

For more information or to make a donation visit: Athiolget Women’s and Children’s Health Association.

Nahtanha DaveyNahtanha Davey

Chief Executive Officer at SACARE

Graduate Certificate, Business Administration
Graduate Diploma, Business Administration
Masters, Business Administration

June 2019

From her humble beginnings, Nahtanha Davey has ascended through the South Australian business industry to become the leader of SACARE, providing vital housing and care services for those affected by disability.

Her tenacity and ambition led her to the 5-star MBA program at the University of South Australia, and when she graduated in 2010 it set her on a rewarding path leading ethically-based companies with strong ties to our community’s most vulnerable.

Mum to “two beautiful young girls and an amazing husband”, Nahtanha was previously the CEO at Brain Injury SA where she led successful improvements and enhanced frontline service delivery for people living with acquired brain injury.

And with SACARE’s promise that every person should have access to the very best services and accommodation, enabling them to live enriched, fulfilled and independent lives – it’s easy to see where Nahtanha’s values lie.

She joined SACARE at a very exciting period in 2018, just in time to oversee the opening of The Gums, SACARE’s newest $14m property for people needing high-quality health care, injury recovery and transitional services.

“It really is a privilege to be working with such an incredible team, supporting South Australians living with disability at SACARE,” says Nahtanha.

“I see myself as a values-based leader, passionate to continue to build onto and grow my expertise at the leadership level to support community-based organisations to thrive.

“I enjoy the community business sector, our broader not-for-profit sector, and I enjoy supporting worthy government initiatives at the local level to build strong foundations, manage change through good governance, stakeholder engagement and align to best practice.”

At SACARE, Nahtanha is responsible for making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources, while being the public face for the organisation.

There are times when her role can be quite hands-on and times when she spends her day dealing with the higher-level company strategy.

“Seeing members of our community be rewarded for the efforts of our strategic initiatives is what keeps me going,” she says.

“Knowing that we make a difference and provide hope to the lives of people who have endured some of the most harrowing experiences.

“I get to work with beautiful people daily, people who are adapting to a new lifestyle because of their traumatic experience and acquired disability. We get to help them achieve much more and enable them to thrive in their environment, it’s very rewarding.

“I am passionate about being accountable and driving governance and quality to achieve outstanding results. I enjoy redeveloping governance systems and turning around organisations. I enjoy working in very complex environments, particularly politically.”

Her commitment to change, travel and experience has successfully contributed to her executive career. It took a lot of drive and passion to show courage and resilience as a young woman in a leadership role, which she secured after completing her 5-star UniSA MBA.

“One of my most memorable experiences during my time at UniSA was the International Business in China Intensive School opportunity which saw us travel to Shanghai and Beijing, extending on experiences and learning the value of building strong relationships.”

She believes this experience enabled her to strengthen her learning and capacity in this space which has led to many successful negotiations throughout her career as a result of these learnings. Her advice to graduates?

“Step outside your boundaries, don’t just sit still. Take off and learn what other parts of the world are achieving, find yourself a great coach or mentor and please keep learning.”

Melissa DaviesMelissa Davies

Legal Counsel at Lucas Total Contract Solutions

Bachelor of Law
Bachelor of Journalism

January 2019

University of South Australia Law and Journalism graduate, Melissa Davies, has been honoured with the Lawyers Weekly Women in Law In-House Lawyer of the Year in 2018 – placing her amongst the country’s top legal professionals.

2018 Women in Law Awards recognises some of the best and brightest in the profession across 20 categories for which lawyers and firms can nominate.

In-house lawyers, like Melissa, are at the forefront of a company’s day-to-day operations, influencing both legal and business decisions. This award recognises outstanding performance by a female lawyer working in-house including both corporate and public-sector lawyers.

The 27-year-old works as Legal Counsel for Lucas Total Contract Solutions, a privately owned civil construction and mining company founded over forty years ago with projects in multiple locations throughout Australia.

The company has a core commitment to support South Australia, its home state, and has been a key participant in some of the state’s landmark civil construction projects.

“Being an in-house lawyer at a civil construction and mining company means my day looks different every single time. Some days involve reviewing contracts, drafting joint venture agreements, negotiation of terms and conditions, resolution of disputes and preparation of board reports; yet other days I need to don my steel cap boots, throw on my high vis and walk around on site,” she says.

It’s quite a turn of events given Melissa wasn’t interested in studying law. It was only after enrolling in her Journalism degree and sitting in on a law lecture to learn about the significance of student association rules that she became hooked.

“I never thought I’d study law at university because I felt I was very different to the stereotypical law student.”

Having no links to the legal industry during her studies proved to be a challenge, which Melissa grabbed with both hands. She dedicated time to researching firms that specialised in the area of law that captivated her interest and contacted a few of the partners offering to undertake work experience for free.

One of the partners offered her the work experience opportunity which she says secured her a clerkship with MinterEllison and later lead to full time employment. Melissa stayed with MinterEllison for a couple of years before accepting the in-house role at Lucas Total Contract Solutions.

This spirit to overcome challenges has put Melissa in good stead. She was “thrown into the deep end” 12 months ago when her legal manager resigned, but after an extremely busy year Melissa is still the sole lawyer for the civil construction and mining company.

Throughout that period, she reviewed more than 200 contracts, increased monetary thresholds for purchase orders, created a joint-venture with an Indigenous corporation, settled four major disputes before reaching litigation, implemented new processes business-wide, and created subcontract templates.

So, it’s easy to see how she stood out among the nine nominees.

Melissa is most proud of this professional achievement and wants other graduates to achieve the same success. Her advice – work hard.

“The first two years at uni is hard, don’t quit during this time. The first couple of years after graduating is hard, with long hours and being in an environment where you’ll know the least and feel disposable, again, don’t quit!”

“I promise it gets better. From my experience, after two years of full time work is when the magic happens.

“Seek out mentors and network with people of all different ages. I am lucky to have had some great mentors along my journey. I still catch up with two of them monthly for an early breakfast before work.

“It is incredibly rewarding to seek objective advice and support from people who have walked in your shoes before. It’s never too early to look for a mentor. Join a mentoring program or ask someone for their time. You won’t regret it.”

Yvonne East


Bachelor of Visual Arts
Master of Fine Arts (Research)

June 2019

Yvonne’s East’s artwork has been displayed all over the country. You may have spotted her stunning local murals for the Adelaide Aquatic Centre, Adelaide Festival Centre, and in Victor Harbor, or her works in the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, the Frankston Arts Centre in Melbourne, and more regionally in the South Coast Regional Arts Centre, Goolwa and the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery.

This year, though, you can visit Yvonne’s vibrant portrait of Green’s Senator and first Muslim woman elected to any Parliament in Australia, Dr Mehreen Faruqi and her gorgeous pup, Cosmo, at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney until 28 July 2019 with her artwork being selected as part of the prestigious Archibald Salon des Refusés exhibition.

Yvonne has come a long way from working in her studio, an abandoned nightclub in Victor Harbor, when the Alexandrina Council Arts Officer, Leah Grace, heard about an artist working away in there and came for a studio visit, leading to her first solo show.

Yvonne's primary focus for her art is on painting and drawing. But she has a particular talent for capturing the essence and interior world of an individual through their portrait.

Yvonne has always been innately fascinated with the human form and a person’s identity. Drawing on conscious and subconscious social structures and norms that influence how we perceive, carry and present ourselves in the world to construct her art.

“I have always been interested in the human form, perhaps this comes from early years spent as a dancer and learning through direct observation, noticing the nuances in people’s movement and a fascination with the forms, shapes and surface of the human face and figure,” she says.

“The great thing about portraiture is engaging with another person, it is a process of collaboration. I don’t go into a sitting with a definite pre-existing idea, what happens is that we sit and talk, I listen to what the sitter is passionate about, the way that they see the world, a particular way they may hold their head or physical gestures they make while they are speaking or thinking.

“While I can’t sit directly in their shoes, it is a process of empathy, and I’m always humbled by my subject’s generosity and what they are willing to share with me. In this sense it is an organic and reiterative process of discussion and ideas between two people.

“I’m fascinated by how people present themselves in relation to their professional role and social influence. There is a great history of portraiture to draw on and I love to play with how paintings can generate meaning.”

With her career going from strength to strength, Yvonne still regards her time at UniSA as pivotal in the development of her skills as an artist as she explains when developing creativity it is essential to question your motives, what you are passionate about, and the way you want to live your life.

“It sounds like a cliché but going to art school changed my life,” she says. “I had grown up in the country, I was married, and going to art school invited a whole new way of seeing the world and asking difficult questions about why things are the way that they are.

“It was a great lesson in critical thinking. I had some influential teachers that are brilliant artists (Annie Newmarch, Greg Donovan and Rob Gutteridge to name a few) who essentially ‘blew my mind’ and expanded my view of the world.”

Looking back at other pivotal moments in her career, one of the biggest highlights for Yvonne was winning the inaugural Country Arts SA Breaking Ground Award in 2011.

"It was a prize, that along with funds to support myself while I created a new body of work, also facilitated a solo exhibition in 2012 in the fantastic Artspace Gallery at the Adelaide Festival Centre,” she says.

“I got to create work that was challenging and combined traditional drawing and painting practice with a 24 metre digital projection installation. It then went on to tour to major South Australia regional galleries for two years.

“It marked an enormous development in my work and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity.

“I also remember being in awe the first time my work was selected for the Dobell Drawing Prize and hung in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

“It was strange to see the work that I had developed in the privacy of my studio in regional South Australia, while my son was still very young, to then be shown in a major Australian Gallery that I had always loved and admired on previous visits.”

Another highlight Yvonne counts as an important step in her career was being commissioned to paint the Honourable Chief Justice Susan Kiefel AC. Which eventually became a finalist in the 2018 Archibald Prize, Australia’s most famous and beloved portrait prize.

“We had the sitting in her chambers in the High Court in Canberra,” she says. “It’s probably the most nervous I have been for a sitting, but the Chief Justice was wonderfully at ease and generous with her time.”

Of the honour of being hung in last year’s Archibald, she explains she felt incredibly lucky to be selected as it is a sought after art prize, and counts the visibility and exposure it offered to herself and subject, an important honour.

“I think last year nearly 1.7 million people visited the Archibald so I felt incredibly proud to have made visible a portrait of first female Chief Justice of Australia, painted by a female artist,” she says.

“The fact that a 5-year-old girl can visit a major institution, such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales and see a powerful and intelligent woman recognised in this way – it just wouldn’t have happened when I was younger. It’s great to have these roles models – a case of ‘if you can see it, you can be it’.” (Image: Yvonne in her studio by Yasmin Mund)

Warren Guppy

Senior Manager Metropolitan Services, Aboriginal Family Support Services

Bachelor of Social Science (Community Service)

April 2019

Now leading one of Adelaide’s key metropolitan social service teams for Aboriginal Australian support services, Warren reflects on his working life starting at the young age of 14 as a Trolley Boy in the carparks of his local Target. This time was followed by a number of years moving from Perth to Melbourne and finally Adelaide in hospitality – flipping pancakes, working as a bus boy, and a two year apprenticeship in silver service.

Beneath all of this hard physical work however – a passion for social justice and a keen interest in ethics was brewing.

“I have always had a strong sense of doing what is right,” says Warren. So, when he moved to Adelaide in 1990 he decided to follow his interest and enrol in the Bachelor of Social Science (Community Service) with the UniSA antecedent, the South Australian Institute of Technology.

It was here that Warren says he began to learn Australia’s ‘true history’ and the unacceptable and harsh treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“I chose electives and topics that allowed me to continue to learn about Aboriginal Australians, which eventually led me to do an eight week student placement with the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement in my final year of study,” he says.

“This was another huge learning curve. It was around the time when the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and its recommendations were being implemented.

“At the conclusion of my placement, they offered me a three month contract. Before I knew it nine years had passed.”

Warren remembers his time at the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) fondly as a place of learning and forming lasting friendships with people who work tirelessly to achieve real justice for Aboriginal people in South Australia.

While at ALRM, Warren worked on the reporting of how the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody were being implemented.

“I had the honour of working closely with Tauto Sansbury – and a number of Aboriginal Elders and community members – as the Secretariat to the South Australian Justice Advocacy Committee, of which he was Chair.

“The committee was tasked with monitoring the Government’s implementation of the 339 recommendations that came out of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

"Part of my role was to support the Committee to meet its Terms of Reference which included community consultations to ensure Aboriginal communities were having a say about how the recommendations were being implemented.

“Despite a number of reports, sadly, it remains that Aboriginal people are still overrepresented at all levels of the criminal justice system and funding levels to Aboriginal legal services have not improved.”

When an opportunity arose at Adelaide City Council, Warren made the hard decision to move on from ALRM. He then spent nine years across a variety of roles including Reconciliation Officer, Manager of Grants and Sponsorships and Senior Policy Officer, before moving to the Aboriginal Family Support Services (AFSS) where he has since served as a Senior Manager of Regional Services and Metropolitan Services.

“In my current role I manage a number of teams including an Aboriginal Gambling Help Service, a Family Based Foster Care team, a Youth Homelessness Service, a Community Safety and Wellbeing team and a number of other areas including communications, child protection reform and cultural officers and the Berri and Murray Bridge offices as well,” he says.

“Some of the biggest challenges in this work is ensuring that we continue to reflect on the work that we do and make sure we are doing a good job.

“Unfortunately, the removal of Aboriginal children and young people from their families, communities and culture, remains as one of the most significant challenges for Aboriginal families and communities across Australia.

“At AFSS we work hard to ensure that child protection authorities engage with Aboriginal communities, and where possible, involve Aboriginal people in the decisions that affect their lives and the lives of their children.

“It is always a cause for celebration when our efforts result in Aboriginal families being able to keep their children and young people at home or, if the children have been removed, in being successful at helping families get their children back to family, community and culture.”

One of the projects that Warren is particularly excited about at the current time is the AFSS Child Protection Reform–Aboriginal Community Engagement Project.

“This is a new two year project we have achieved support for from the Sidney Myer Foundation,” he says.

“We strongly believe that all Aboriginal people have a right to be heard and to be involved in all decisions that affect their children and young people. This project will engage Aboriginal families and communities across the northern suburbs of Adelaide and Port Augusta about child protection.

“AFSS’s role will be to facilitate genuine, meaningful and honest engagement with local Aboriginal families and groups to create pathways of communication between Aboriginal groups and the Department for Child Protection.

“Our goal is to share information about the changes in the child protection system and to consult with Aboriginal parents, extended families and local communities – with the focus to improve outcomes for Aboriginal families and find ways to keep Aboriginal children within their family and communities.”

Deanne Hanchant-NicholsDeanne Hanchant-Nichols

Consultant: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Development
University of South Australia

Associate Diploma of Arts (Aboriginal Studies)
Bachelor of Arts (Aboriginal Studies)

February 2018

Deanne Hanchant-Nichols is determined to increase employment for Aboriginal people. Her driver for change is her intention to see real transformation and growth within Aboriginal communities, which is why she is developing such effective strategies that embrace culture and history.

Deanne was recently recognised for her outstanding work in the community and equal contribution to UniSA, receiving one of the Gladys Elphick Awards ΜΆ the Shirley Peisley− which is awarded to an Aboriginal woman leading positive change for Aboriginal people in the workplace.

“I’m not really big on awards, but I am really honoured to have won the Shirley Peisley Award, knowing what it stands for,” says Deanne.

“It’s really nice to be recognised for all of my work in the community, but I certainly didn’t expect to win it! I was sure another nominee had, so it was such a wonderful surprise.”

Deanne is a Tanganekald/Barkindji Aboriginal woman who has worked in various capacities over the years, primarily in education, but also as General Manager at the Old Adelaide Gaol − with many ghost stories to tell − and now enjoys the diversity of her role as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Development Consultant for UniSA, where she is integral in developing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy.

UniSA is committed to increasing Aboriginal employment, by utilising talented staff such as Deanne, who are in touch with the complexities and needs of Aboriginal people.

“In my role, the reality is that there are significantly low numbers of Aboriginal people in employment, even within UniSA I am one of 1.3%.”

“I have a real challenge on my hands to reach the new national target of 3% as per Federal legislation, but I am on a mission to do so”.

Her current position incorporates cultural safety and awareness, strategies to increase employment, but also broadens to Aboriginal media and arts projects such as the Blue Wren video series, produced in conjunction with the University. As Consultant, she was also engaged in relation to the Acknowledgement of Country which will take pride and place inPridham Hall, anticipated to open early 2018.

“One of the concepts created to increase Aboriginal employment was an Aboriginal exemption, permitting applications for previously ‘internal only’ positions, encouraging access to a wider variety of jobs.

“Another being the ‘Mark your Identity’ campaign, increasing Aboriginal visibility on paper, assisting with targeting necessary initiatives and improving future programs and policies.

“However more work needs to be done to achieve success in employment application and interview processes. We want to implement a program which will allow the University to utilise the bank of people who have applied for different roles over the years, and create an annual day or series of ‘CV, interview and cover letter’ workshops, which will provide guidance on UniSA’s preferred application style.

“Whilst the Strategy has been successful thus far in creating significant change within UniSA, there is still room for improvement.”

Deanne has been working alongside Professor Peter Buckskin, Dean of Aboriginal Engagement and Strategic Projects on the proposed Yaitya Warpulai Tappa, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Plan for 2017-2019.

While Deanne is modest about her professional achievements and would rather focus on the overall positive change she has helped create within UniSA, she has in fact brought about noticeable advances in relation to cultural education and awareness.

“Getting so many people through cultural safety training, I have seen attitudes shift, people are thinking before they say and do things.

“Seeing the university mature in that sense has been amazing. I feel really proud.

“When I came to the university, even Reconciliation Week was not recognised and we pulled together something for every single campus - it was amazing.”

Cultural awareness is a vital component of UniSA’s Reconciliation Action Plan, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy as abovementioned, and the overall ambition to be ‘university of choice’ for Aboriginal people.

Cultural safety training at UniSA is predominantly introduced via workshops that not only raise awareness, but begin the process of developing a working understanding of Aboriginal Australia. This enables participants to engage in genuine cross-cultural communication and to identify strategies for working together across cultures.

“I believe that as awareness and understanding of Aboriginal culture increases at UniSA, especially with regular cultural safety training in place, focus has been shifting to Aboriginal employment within the university.”

After recently attending a forum in Sydney for university employment officers Deanne feels both hopeful and hesitant about the proposed new target.

“Aboriginal people are 1.67% of the population in South Australia, so this target is challenging to say the least.

“With limited numbers to begin with, and academic education out of reach for many Aboriginal people when we are still struggling to get our young people through high school −in parity with non-Aboriginal Australians, we really need to have strong strategies in place to entice Aboriginal people to study, to then retain students and to make them feel supported throughout. This will create word of mouth that University is a feasible option, an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.”

UniSA and its antecedent institutions, have over four decades of increasing inclusion of Aboriginal students, by creating an environment where they can learn and grow, and one which respects and learns from Aboriginal wisdoms, highlighting their commitment to being the ‘university of choice’ for Aboriginal people.

UniSA is conscious of the factors, identified by Universities Australia, that contribute to Aboriginal students’ premature withdrawal, namely: financial pressures, insufficient academic support, as well as cultural or social alienation caused by the demands of study.

“This is important to UniSA that prides itself on overall Aboriginal engagement, which in turn benefits both Aboriginal people and their opportunities, their respective communities, as well as society in general, as we become more united Australia.

“As discussed in Dean Peter Buckskin’s article, this ripple effect of higher education within Aboriginal communities will in time impact health and general wellbeing, and ultimately increase mortality rates. This is a significant reach stemming from engagement with higher education – provided retention rates continue to improve” says Deanne.

“I’m optimistic about success in increasing Aboriginal employment and moving forward in general with Aboriginal engagement.”

Unlike Deanne’s experiences with ghosts at the Adelaide Gaol, Aboriginal visibility in employment is ever increasing, as is society’s understanding of the complexities of Aboriginal history and culture, thanks innovative thinkers such as Deanne.

*Throughout this article, the term “Aboriginal’ refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, collectively.


Becky-Jay Harrington

Disaster Management and Urban Resilience Consultant

Bachelor of Business (Management)

July 2019

Nepal was probably not the most obvious destination when Becky-Jay Harrington graduated from UniSA, but after six years living and working on the “roof of the world”, the people and place have very much carved her a second home.

She could never have known it at the time, but it was accepting a position with the NT Treasury Department following her graduation from UniSA that set Becky-Jay on a path to the Himalayas.

While in Darwin, her interest in humanitarian work was initially piqued when she became involved in projects that supported Indigenous Australian communities.

“What really struck me was that growing up in Adelaide in the 80s and 90s, I never really had the opportunity to learn about Indigenous cultures and communities,” says Becky-Jay.

“The United National Human Development Index listed often lists Australia as one of the top three countries in terms of our quality of life. Aboriginal populations in Australia were ranked around 100th – a stark difference.

"This experience really showed me that not all things are equal and there is a lot more targeted support needed to help people reach their potential.”

Shortly after her posting ended in the NT, Becky-Jay moved to Victoria. She was working in the Department of Human Services’ State Emergency Management Centre after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires swept through Victoria, devastating the countryside, destroying over 2000 properties and claiming 173 lives.

“This was really my entry into the disaster and emergency development sector, working on the bushfire planning and recovery and later working on the Royal Commission’s recommendations,” she says.

After two years in the service, and seeking to extend her knowledge of the growing disaster management sector, she successfully applied for an Australian Government aid volunteer role in Nepal.

“I spent a year supporting the Nepal Ministry of Home Affairs develop their National Emergency Operations Center,” she says.

“I also found that I had enough time to volunteer with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which led to paid employment with the IFRC for three-and-a-half years working on community-based disaster risk management programs across Nepal.

“Nepal might be an economically poor country, but it’s a culturally and spiritually rich one – it is such an interesting place and over the last 10 years I have spent six living here.”

After proving her worth at the IFRC, Becky-Jay was transferred to Hanoi, Vietnam, as the Disaster Risk Reduction Programme Director for Vietnam for the Australian Red Cross. She was then posted to Fiji where she managed Recovery Operations for Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands after Cyclone Pam tore through the region in 2015.

“This work can be extremely challenging, emotionally and physically, and it is important to look after yourself,” says Becky-Jay.

“You can’t take everything on because it can become overwhelming. If you’re trying to help an individual or a community and you take their grief and trauma on as your own then it is hard to keep working effectively for them.”

Studying yoga has given Becky-Jay the balance she says is required to cope with the intense stress and pressure of disaster and emergency work. When her contract in the Pacific region ended she returned to Nepal to continue her yoga training.

“Shortly after returning, the offer of a two-year contract with the British Red Cross, managing their largest international project – the Urban Resilience Programme, building disaster management skills with some of Nepal’s most disadvantaged communities - was too tempting an opportunity to pass up.

Becky-Jay led a team of 100 Red Cross workers and volunteers to deliver the program that is supporting vulnerable people - including older people, people living with disabilities, people who were homeless, and single-parent families – to develop resilience to the multiple natural and man-made threats they face.

“These communities tend to suffer more in the wake of a disaster as their needs are often overlooked. For example, many people who live in improvised dwellings along the riverbanks of Kathmandu are at risk each year from floods and the government doesn’t allocate resources to protect them or help them rebuild,” says Becky-Jay.

“As part of this programme we built up these groups by training 840 individual community champions so they could learn to mobilise their own networks and advocate to the local mayors for funding and resources for things like clean running water, riverbank reinforcement and support for rebuilding after a disaster.

“We also worked with seven municipality governments on how they can better engage with their communities and prepare for disasters, as well as training people from the vulnerable groups themselves in emergency preparedness skills like first-aid.”

When the contract ended Becky-Jay returned to further her yoga training and teaching in Nepal. She is also currently following her passion for providing a space for individuals of underrepresented genders working in the humanitarian and international development field to raise their voice with the Stories of Women in Aid blog that profiles the different experiences of underrepresented workers in the field, particularly cis women, trans-men and women, non-binary people and others.

She also continues to consult for local and international groups working in disaster management, including the Danish Red Cross.

“My business degree from UniSA has been very beneficial as it gave me the tools I need to manage and communicate with large and diverse teams, which has really been invaluable and a definite advantage in my field,” she says.

“A lot of graduates go into this work expecting a paid position immediately as they have a Masters in the field, and end up disappointed. In order to deepen my knowledge in the field I undertook a Masters in Community Development (Disaster Management), but I’ve found it is volunteering that has always been the best first step towards employment in the sector.

“We as humans so often disassociate ourselves from the experiences of others – the ‘it’s not happening here so it’s not our problem’ argument. Creating more empathy for people that we don’t know and being open to other people’s stories is really at the heart of humanitarian work – and about making better living situations for all of us.

“I can’t recommend this work enough. The opportunity to see life from another angle has been an incredible experience and privilege.”

For more information about the work of the Red Cross in Nepal click here and for more about Becky-Jay and her endeavours click here.


Chad HermsenChad Hermsen

Portfolio General Manager – Retail (Global Real Estate) for QIC

Post-Graduate Certificate Business Administration
Master of Business Administration (MBA)

December 2018

When Chad Hermsen applied for his first job at Woolworths (whilst still at school), he had no idea where it would take him. Nor perhaps, that he was already developing a love for the fast pace of the retail business environment. An early withdrawal from a marketing degree might seem like a false career start, but in reality it gave Chad the time to collect experiences and choose a path in which he would ultimately thrive. A path that would take him to his current role as Portfolio General Manager – Retail (Global Real Estate) for QIC.

“My career interests definitely started to develop at Woolworths, which prompted me to look for roles in sales,” says Chad.

Over the next seven years he built success in roles as a Business Development Manager (BDM) with Coca-Cola Amatil, Sales Executive at Austereo (Triple M), and BDM roles with Australian Central Credit Union and BankWest.

“In retrospect changing sectors was very important. I enjoyed learning the subtleties and differences between them. The challenge of discovering a new sector was as important to me as the results I could deliver.”

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work in many different fields from Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), retail, media, banking and finance, and now retail property. I’ve always searched for new opportunities, and this is how I ended up in the shopping centre space.”

In 2007, with an idea and a one-way ticket to Dubai, Chad went hunting for an opportunity to develop his career even further. While this might seem incredibly risky, one of the most inspirational people in his life had given him some perspective. Chad’s Opa (Grandfather) lived in The Netherlands throughout the WWII Nazi occupation. Growing up listening to Opa’s stories of survival, moving to Australia with no English language and setting up a new life for his family, Chad began to understand the true meaning of resilience. And he has carried it throughout his career.

“Play the long game,” Chad advises, “keep working on a career path until you either find it doesn’t work, or another opportunity takes you in a different direction. It’s okay to change paths. If something fails, you can survive it. You realise it’s not quite as insurmountable as you first thought.”

Chad’s first offer in Dubai wasn’t the best fit so he approached a recruiter. “I asked them to find the most interesting role they could in sales and business development,” he says.

A great interview for a job that didn’t quite fit ended up being Chad’s lucky break when the employer created a new role for him. The role was Group Sales and Business Development Manager for Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) – Leisure & Entertainment. It was this career journey that highlighted the need for further study.

Chad explains, “When you’re moving between countries and sectors, having a qualification is important to support you as a candidate. And interestingly for expats, pay grades in the UAE depend on your education status.”

After graduating from UniSA in 2011, Chad moved to Melbourne. As Project Leasing Executive at Vicinity Centres, Chad was appointed to the two largest developments in the country at the time: the major $600M Chadstone development (2016), and the $1.2B Melbourne Emporium (2014). He then moved to Head of Leasing for the Pacific Group of Companies.

Here he managed leasing across the Group’s multiple retail and commercial assets, including the $400M Pacific Werribee development, and the recent Pacific Epping and Hoppers Crossing centres.

“In 2018, the Pacific Group of Companies sold a 50% share of their two key assets to QIC, along with management rights. As a part of the sale I accepted a new role to continue managing the Pacific Assets under QIC.

“It’s a fantastic role,” says Chad, “the best part of my job is seeing new retail concepts come to life. Retail is fast-paced. You have to anticipate what the next generation will need and want, while understanding your market and demographics. No day is boring!”

In this role Chad manages the overall leasing and strategy of a portfolio of shopping centre assets across the QIC group. He works with Leasing Executives from each centre to develop strategic relationships with key retail partners across the industry.

“Ultimately,” says Chad, “the team I lead focuses on new ways to improve the performance of the assets. We do this through new retail offers and optimum tenancy mix execution, to improve the traffic and sales performance throughout the centres.

“My MBA gave me so much in terms of business learning, new friendships and colleagues. These things matter when you are building a successful career,” says Chad.

“The world is changing rapidly and careers of today will be different tomorrow. Technology is evolving at a pace almost beyond imagination. Which makes it all the more important to choose qualifications that are versatile, portable and well-respected. The 5-star rated UniSA MBA, with its holistic approach to business and prominent position in the market, has offered all of that to me.”

Chad’s advice to students and recent graduates is straightforward.

“Sometimes it’s hard to see the next step in your career, but you need to grind it out. It can take years to see change. Experience is an advantage, remain consistent and continue to learn. Highs and lows are a part of it all, just stick to the process. And always be open and comfortable with change.”

Outside work, taking part in the UniSA Business Career Mentor Program for three years gave Chad great pride in seeing others succeed. He continues to guide aspiring business leaders informally.

“You need variety in life to provide perspective. Whether it’s your own family or connecting with your community. It helps you listen to and understand others. Another great skill I learnt from my Opa.

“I’m fortunate to have a wonderful family,” says Chad. “My wife and I are the proud parents of three amazing girls. They are who we live for and in guiding them we need to listen, understand, assess and change priorities, sometimes at lightspeed! Handy skills in any situation.”


Ken IpKen Ip

Group Head of Marketing,B.S.C. Group Limited

Masters of Business Administration (MBA), International

August 2019

Ken Ip has many talents. He’s an accomplished musician – playing guitar, bass drums, and even beatboxing a little – a skilled Muay Thai boxer, a Wing Chun expert and instructor, a published author and columnist. But this wunderkind’s marketing career is what has truly defied the odds.

With three degrees under his belt, all before the age of 30, including the University of South Australia’s 5-star MBA, Ken has ascended the Hong Kong business ranks at a remarkable pace.

The self-described storyteller became the Group Head of Marketing at the B.S.C. Group Limited, the construction and interior fittings supplier and lifestyle brand, in February of this year after holding high-powered positions in other design and architecture-focused firms as a young 30 something.

When asked about this meteoric rise, Ken remains humble and attributes it to luck, but it’s clear he has a shrewd business mind and knack for the marketing industry, knowing when to strike.

“I’m not advocating that someone goes around blindly taking on risky endeavours. But there is the common saying that goes: fortune often favours the brave. It has kind of been my mantra all these years.

“It is the knowledge of calculated risk that is essential to move up in the corporate ladder.

“Challenges and pressure come as you climb the corporate ladder. It’s just part of life. To me, when the tough gets going, I just go get tough.

“A lot of it would have to do with luck as well I would say,” he adds.

This tenacity and ambition was clear from a young age when Ken experience some less than favourable treatment throughout his time travelling the globe as a school-aged child.

“As an Asian kid growing up overseas I got picked on quite often. So my parents decided I should learn something as self-defence,” he says.

“Even still to this day, I would go play Muay Thai on a weekly basis, and often spar with pro and amateur fighters. I believe all these have keep me grounded and taught me to be respectful, to myself and others.”

Ken quickly found his niche in the understanding of human behaviour and social dynamics, and though he initially studied psychology, this foundation was instrumental in his development as a marketing and business doyen.

“I always felt I had a knack of reading and empathising with people, and hoped I could save the world,” he says.

“But as I got older, I realised that you needed to attain a certain kind of power and influence in order to start making a difference. Hence, I ventured into the world of business, marketing and communications.”

The B.S.C. Group’s goal is to ‘enrich human spaces’ and as a result has been instrumental in the construction in some of Hong Kong’s most impressive commercial, hospitality and residential properties, including the Landmark Mall, The Murray, The Rosewood Hotel Hong Kong, The Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong and The Four Seasons in Macau, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

They have also recently moved into the styling space with the distinctive concept lifestyle store, COLOURLIVING, in the heart of Hong Kong spread across three levels and 2,000-square-metres “to bring you the latest handpicked collectible or must-have treasure, transforming spaces into distinctive homes”.

As part of Ken’s role as the Group Head of Marketing, he oversees the advertising, brand building, and creative strategy of these different departments which also encompass the RocaConcepts and B&B Italia furniture brands as well.

“I often tell people that I do two things, and two things only. I’m a storyteller. I tell stories, to connect brands with audience, and audience with brands,” he says.

“I sometimes think of it as being a celebrity agent. I help ensure my ‘clients’ are seen or being exposed in the right place, at the right time. Getting auditions for leading roles and opportunities to shine at the Oscars... so to speak.”

When thinking back to his time studying the MBA with UniSA and he recalls very fond memories and how the experience played a big part in shaping how he now interacts and comprehends the world.

“The MBA at UniSA was probably the best thing that happened to me,” he says.

“It made me into the person I am today. Surprisingly, it taught me more street smart in the business world than one would expect. It also helped me figure out what I want to do in my career, and for the rest of my life.

“I still to this day really value and appreciate the experience, support and friendships.”

Ken’s professional life and teachings in an industry that has shown him how to be more open-minded, less critical and more appreciative, recently culminated when he was lucky enough to be an honourable guest at the Digital Marketing Leaders Summit in Hong Kong.

“I recently had the chance to share the stage with my former boss at a Digital Marketing Summit,” he says.

“He was someone I really looked up to and learnt a lot from, and we are now peers within the industry.”

In such a short space of time, Ken Ip has truly come a long way, with not only his eye for design, but knack for marketing and the Hong Kong business industry.

Alex L. KabweAlex L. Kabwe

Principal Irrigation Engineer, Ministry of Agriculture, Zambia

Master of Environmental Science (Water Management)

December 2018

According to the Global Water Partnership, Zambia has faced a number of challenges in regards to managing their water resources and this has resulted in inadequate supplies to meet the population’s needs and pollution risks.

This access to water is a basic human right which is often threatened when the resource is not properly managed. The issue, very pertinent in Alex L. Kabwe’s home country of Zambia, is why he has pursued a career in water management and the chance to make a real change.

Intent on pursuing this cause, Alex graduated from the University of South Australia this December with a Master of Environmental Science (Water Management) thanks to an Australian Award Scholarship.

Australia Awards Scholarships from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provide opportunities for people from developing parts of the world to drive change and contribute to development in their own countries. Alex explains it was through opportunity he was able to study in Adelaide.

“The Australian Award Scholarship which enabled me to pursue Master of Environmental Science (Water Management) was timely, and it could not have come at a better time than this one, when the skills and knowledge in water management were urgently required in the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia,” says Alex.

“The qualification from the University of South Australia was the reason for my promotion to the new position of Principal Irrigation Engineer in the Ministry of Agriculture, based at the national headquarters in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.”

Despite being in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa – with a humid, subtropical climate – Zambia is described as a relatively arid landlocked country, and with the agricultural sector supporting livelihoods of 85% of the population, effectively regulating and conserving water resources is vital.

Access to safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene reduces stunting, improves education quality and learning outcomes, and is essential for the community’s health and wellbeing.

With access to basic sanitation barely improving since 2000 (when it stood at 26%), and basic water coverage in Zambia in 2015 standing at just 61% (86% in urban areas and 44% in rural areas), time is critical in this developing area in the world.

Alex is passionate about providing safe sustainable water options to the Zambian population, especially considering the poorest and most vulnerable communities are usually the hardest hit.

A key way to combat this poor water resources management, and aid in the development of the country, is by investing in the agricultural sector. This is something Alex is particularly passionate about and has now dedicated his career to.

“Zambia’s rainfall pattern is from late November to late April. During the rainfall season, farmers cultivate crops that should be enough to sustain household food security and a surplus crop yield sold to supplement household income,” says Alex.

“But the potential to improve subsistence and rainfall dependency farming is significantly huge in Zambia as the country has productive soil for suitable for cropping and abundant sources of water –holding about 40% in the southern Africa sub-region.”

“The Government of Zambia is currently rolling out poverty reduction but sustainable projects through diversification programmes, and the Ministry of Agriculture is implementing programs through irrigation development.”

Alex is playing a key role in these irrigation schemes now being planned in Zambia and developed in the Southern Province, Central Province, and in the Copperbelt of the country.

Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda, is further stressing the importance of this step as farming is one of the main sectors that has contributed to the country’s development, commenting, “farmers need to be empowered to work efficiently with them and boost agriculture exports”.

With his new role as Principal Irrigation Engineer in Hydraulic Structures at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Technical Services Branch – and fresh out of his UniSA degree with all the skills and understanding this provides – Alex is incredibly positive about Zambia and his own future.

“With this knowledge and qualifications I have acquired, the sky is no longer the limit.”

Royce KurmelovsRoyce Kurmelovs

Author, Hachette Australia Books and Freelance Journalist, BBC World Service; Adelaide Review; VICE Australia

Bachelor of Laws and Journalism

January 2018

In the few years since graduating, Royce Kurmelovs has added titles to his resume that include journalist, author and media advisor to Nick Xenophon. With the release of his latest book Rogue Nation exploring the return of Pauline Hanson and populism in Australia, Kurmelovs is also starting to be recognised as a keen social commentator.

While it has been a difficult route at times, on meeting Kurmelovs you can understand why he has been so successful. Ask him and he claims his success is one part audaciousness and two parts arrogance, however it is clear a sharp mind and passion for his craft are the unmistakeable catalysts.

“Someone on Twitter described journalism as ‘running over a series of burning bridges’ – you end up here but you’re never quite sure how you did it,” Royce jokes while lamenting the difficulties posed by being thrown into the world of freelance journalism straight out of university. You can sense a war within as he tries to define the joys and struggle of working in an industry disrupted by technology.

“I graduated into a flat job market,” he said. “The year before me there was one cadetship at the ABC that a friend of mine got, but there were something like 1000 applicants.” But then he adds, “I’m paid to hang out with people, learn stuff and then write about it. It doesn’t always pay very well but it is the best job in the world.” It is clear that he has found his calling.

Straight out of school Kurmelovs managed to get his foot in the door selling features to The Guardian, followed quickly by Al Jazeera and the BBC. He has since gone on to write for organisations as diverse as VICE, Adelaide Review and CNN.

A lucky break in the form of a KYD Copyright mentorship program with Gideon Haigh opened another door.

“This work with Gideon was integral because from that I produced a 14,000 word story about what would happen when the car industry closes.”

Titled Petrol, Sweat and Whiskey: What Killing the Car Industry Means for Adelaide’s Working Class North explored the closure of Holden’s manufacturing plants.

Shortly after writing the piece Kurmelovs attended the Salisbury Writers Festival where he attracted the attention of Sophie Hamley, non-fiction publisher at Hachette Australia Books.

“I didn’t want to go in and pitch but how often are you in a room with someone from the book industry? So if what I had written on the car industry might be turned into a book and she handed me her card which was really surprising. Then I had to go write the thing!”

The Death of Holden: The end of an Australian dream explores the end of car manufacturing in Australia.

“While it was centred on Holden it was really about deindustrialisation and what happens when you shut down this huge industrial process across two states, what happens to the workers and the people who depend on it. It’s brutal to be honest.”

A month after the book was published, Nick Xenophon helped launch it and offered Kurmelovs a job as a media advisor.

“Working for Nick was an education. It taught me what the other side of politics looks like, how it works and how everyone in politics is flawed but are really just trying to do their best.”

Within five months Kurmelovs was commissioned again by Hatchett Australia, this time to explore the return of Pauline Hanson and populism. He decided to gamble on himself once again.

Rogue Nation was released in November 2017. While the book places Pauline Hanson and One Nation at its centre, Kurmelovs explores a larger narrative about the events in Australian politics that set up her return to power.

“Pauline Hanson hasn’t changed. She’s exactly who she was in 1996 but the environment around her has changed.

“She’s back in parliament sure, but what does that mean? If you take the camera back a bit, zoom out and look at what’s happening across Australia, across parliament, you see a situation where minor parties and independents in every state and federal parliament hold power.

“You start to explore populism – what it means because basically all these independents are populists.

“It’s also tying in with what is going on in the world. There is a big divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘haves nots’, which is growing. Everyone focuses on Trump as if he were the only possible outcome from a global populist revolt. But Trump is just the American version.

“Of course it’s also happening in Australia. We tend to think that somehow we’re immune to what’s happening in the rest of the world. We’re not."

On what inspired his passion for writing, Kurmelovs cites the sudden death of a family friend when he was 18 and the time he spent in America on a scholarship to work at Lonely Planet and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

“A friend of mine summed it up perfectly. Americans have this amazing ability to package their story into a narrative. That’s their culture. You’ll talk with a construction worker and he’ll tell you these stories like he’s a poet.

“It’s not the same here. It’s the ‘my home is my castle’ thing – we stay home and we’re suspicious of outsiders. So part of my project in journalism is trying to coax out those Australian stories, the way they tell them in America. To structure Australian lives into a narrative so they can see that they belong to something bigger.

“The people I write about are always surprised to see their lives laid bare in a story because Australians tend to be unaware of the narrative going on around them and their part in it and how it makes them respond and react to things. Often they’re really surprised, sometimes they’re defensive.

“My next big project is another book, this one will be on Perth after the mining boom. I’ve already got a couple of ideas for two more after that.”

Visit Royce Kurmelov’s profile on Hachette Australia.

Malcolm Lai

Managing Director, Head of Construction & Development - Asia, Baring Private Equity Asia Ltd

Masters of Construction Project Management, University of South Australia
(in association with Hong Kong Baptist University)

April 2019

When Australia hit a recession shortly after Malcolm Lai graduated as an Architect in Perth, Western Australia, he decided to try his luck in Hong Kong. Now, almost 30 years later, he hasn’t looked back.

“At the time I anticipated that Asia would have great opportunities for my career development,” says Malcolm.

Mr Lai’s predictions proved correct and shortly after moving to Hong Kong he found work as an Architect. However, after a number of years at various firms in Hong Kong and Singapore, including Sherman Kung Architects, ONG&ONG and Leigh & Orange Architects, he found his enthusiasm waning.

“Whilst at Leigh & Orange I was the Project Architect for the School Improvement Programme for the Hong Kong government – a mass roll out of improvements and expansion works for a series of schools in Hong Kong,” he says.

“It was depressing work at some schools, given the size of the school grounds. One school had to chop down the only tree on the school courtyard to make way for an extension of a block of multi-storey classrooms.”

It was at this time that Malcolm chanced on an advertisement calling for a Project Manager with an architectural background for American International Group (AIG) Global Real Estate. They were planning a major refurbishment of their historic building on the famous Bund waterfront area in Shanghai. This was the building in which AIG was born back in 1919.

He jumped at the opportunity to extend his career in this new direction. Four interviews later Mr Lai won the job and was immediately posted to Shanghai in 1997.

“For six months I was stationed in Shanghai to oversee the refurbishment of AIG’s original, heritage listed, 90,000 square foot office building,” he says.

“There were some cash flow problems with the main contractor and AIG was intending to terminate the contract and re-tender, which would have meant substantial impact on time and cost. I managed to persuade the management team to stick with the main contractor and reorganised the payment schedule which relieved the contractor’s cash flow to enable the project to be completed on time.”

It was this hands-on approach that allowed the 17 Bund refurbishment to be finished on time. The experience also led Malcolm to a reinvigorated passion for the industry.

“At the peak of my time at AIG, I managed a team of 16 project managers at AIG Global Real Estate, overseeing the company’s assets and third party fund investments in Asia Pacific,” he says.

This work included 107 projects with a contract value of around USD$7billion and over 29 million square feet of built area during my 14 years working at AIG.

“During this time, I also chose to go back to University to undertake a Masters in Project Management,” he says.

“I chose UniSA as it had a comprehensive programme relevant to the real estate development industry that is highly competitive and was ideal for my career development.”

During his time at AIG, Mr Lai also developed a deep interest in green and sustainable building practices. He often speaks at conferences on the topic and many of the projects he has led have achieved gold sustainability ratings, including the AIG Tower in Hong Kong, the Sail@Marina Boulevard in Singapore, and the 5.7 million square foot Seoul IFC mixed-use development.

Planning for sustainable practices has also offered opportunities to ensure projects have been finished to the highest standard, even when issues arise or costs first appear exorbitant.

“For example, for the Nagasaki office project I managed to value engineer the project from the tender to the award of the contractor, saving AIG USD$2.98million and reducing the construction period to 11 months for a five storey 220,000 square foot construction,” he says.

“This was mainly achieved by replacing the all steel structure design to a composite concrete/steel structure design which was just as strong but cost less.”

Another challenging build was the Royce Residence – a luxury 512,000 square foot residential development in Thailand.

“Our site was around the corner from the ex-Prime Minister’s house, which was blocked and barricaded due to the political unrest at the time,” he says.

“We managed to complete the development on schedule and to budget in 2012, despite the riots and severe flooding that affected Bangkok during the construction by augmenting labour and resources to catch back the schedule.”

Mr Lai stayed with AIG until 2010 when Invesco Real Estate absorbed his business unit after the Global Financial Crisis affected AIG’s Asia investments.

“I stayed with Invesco until 2013 when I heard my old boss was putting the AIG band back together at Baring Private Equity Asia – and I’ve never looked back,” he says.

Baring recently closed a USD$1billion real estate opportunistic fund covering investments in the Asia Pacific region.

“I like to keep things low key until they are fully completed, but I can share that the company has some exciting projects coming up – including a cutting edge 36 storey office tower that has just broken ground in Manila, and a very cool high-end luxury residential project in Tokyo that will commence in mid-2019,” he says.

As for his own personal interests in his work, they come full circle to his time earlier in his career working with the school developments in Hong Kong.

“There is still much income and wealth disparity in the Asia Pacific region where our portfolio serves,” he says.

Through a corporate giving structure Mr Lai and his team focus on helping low socio-economic communities and NGOs – such as schools, orphanages and women shelters – to try to make some difference through charitable duties in the countries where the company holds investments.

“Each year we have an annual offsite day where we all dedicate a full day of charity work including repair and maintenance, painting, general construction works and also support through staff donations to the respective charities,” he says. “Sometimes we also get to help with practical things like preparing and distributing lunch to school children.”

“It is an important aspect of our work as we need to stay humble and well-grounded and give back to the communities that we have derived so much from in our industry.”

Haydn McComasHaydn McComas

CEO, ANU Connect Ventures

Master of Education
Bachelor of Social Science

November 2018

Frontline Operations Supervisor Haydn McComas has led an adventurous life in law enforcement, from the Australian Army to the new national Australian Border Force and has always strived to expand his learning and embrace new opportunities throughout his career. Now the part-time lecturer and passionate volunteer firefighter plans to continue his education by pursuing a PhD at UniSA.

Shortly after joining the Army in 1985, Haydn was appointed to the Military Police where he quickly discovered a passion for policing and law enforcement, a career path he never envisioned before entering the Army. At the age of 23, Haydn left the military and joined the South Australia Police (SAPOL) and spent 14 years working in rural policing, traffic policing, general patrols and, eventually, in the field of intelligence analysis.

“One of the wonderful aspects of policing was the unpredictable nature of the work and the need to be able to not only manage a crisis or emergency but also bring some kind of order to complex and difficult situations,” says Haydn.

“I was also deeply touched by the humanity and tragedy of life that unfolds around us daily. In amongst such difficult circumstances I often observed ordinary people rise up to do incredible things.”

In 2002 Haydn saw an opportunity to join what was then the Australian Customs Service as a Manager in the Intelligence Branch. He moved into Learning and Development in 2006 to run recruit training for Customs, which introduced an entirely new career direction in adult learning. Haydn contributed to the design and delivery of leadership learning experiences for frontline supervisory leaders, and between 2010 and 2013 spent almost a year on and off living and working in Papua New Guinea designing and delivering recruit training courses.

“After almost 12 years in learning and development I felt it was time to return to operations and a position became available within the newly established Australian Border Force. It’s a complex and dynamic workplace; my role involves managing several different teams responsible for managing sea cargo, ship and other vessel movements into and out of South Australian based international ports.”

Haydn’s extensive tertiary education began as a Police First Class Constable within SAPOL, when his Senior Sergeant asked him whether he had completed any of the formal studies required for a promotion to the position of Senior Constable.

“I told him I hadn’t, to which he gruffly said, ‘if you don’t have a ticket you can’t get on the bus – and it’d be a damn pity if that bus just happened to come along.’ So, I studied an Advanced Diploma in Justice Admin at TAFE, which led me to a Bachelor of Social Science at UniSA.”

After completing his Bachelor degree and moving on to work in Customs, Haydn undertook further tertiary studies through a Graduate Certificate in Legal and Justice Studies at QUT, a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management at Macquarie University and a Graduate Diploma of Education at UniSA in 2014.

“I realized that throughout my academic journey, rather than work following learning, it was a case of learning following work. Law enforcement put me into new and interesting roles and each time I committed myself to diving in and undertaking study to do the best work I could. Each piece of learning has literally built upon the last.”

After finishing his Graduate Diploma and earning an impressive GPA, Haydn was encouraged by his UniSA lecturers to consider a Master of Education. His thesis explored learning for ethical leadership in a law enforcement environment, and this research journey took him to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and to Thailand and Singapore where he delivered learning experiences for the United Nations International Police Organisation (INTERPOL).

Alongside his professional career, Haydn is passionate about volunteering and was a volunteer leader with the Scouts for almost 20 years. Allowing younger volunteers to take his place within Scouts, he then moved to the SA Country Fire Service (CFS) where he has volunteered for past 6 years.

“Volunteering has been a constant thread throughout my life. As a young person, Scouting challenged me, allowed me to see what I could be and provided me with outstanding role models for what has become an adventurous life. As a volunteer leader I had the chance to positively influence other young people in the same way.

“As a Senior Firefighter with the CFS I have been privileged to serve as a crew leader in some quite challenging incidents. The greatest gift of volunteering with the CFS has been to serve alongside some truly authentic people whose sole motivation is to protect and serve their communities.

“I strongly encourage anyone, young people in particular, to consider volunteering. Organisations like the Scouts and the CFS offer experiences, learning pathways and formal qualifications that can help build careers.”

Haydn was recently appointed as an Adjunct Lecturer in education at UniSA, where he hopes to help shape and deliver expanded professional development experiences for adult learners. He also looks forward to conducting more consultancy work in the future, where he can deliver engaging and transformational learning experiences around ethical leadership for frontline leaders.

“I have also just been accepted into a PhD at UniSA; my project aims to further understand organisational culture and leadership learning pathways, and how these impact interpretations of what it means to be ethical amongst frontline leaders across the military and law enforcement regulatory spectrum.

“It’s important to always keep learning because the environment is constantly evolving. If you keep your professional development fresh, you keep your career fresh, and in doing so you continually pave the way to new opportunities for yourself.

“Embrace new and challenging experiences, even if they seem scary at first. I never thought I’d have what it takes to complete a Master of Education, but thanks to the commitment of my supervisors and my own perseverance, I got there—and now I can see my research making a real difference globally.”


Marijana RajcicMarijana Rajcic

AFLW Premiership Player, Adelaide Football Club
Health & Physical Education Teacher

Bachelor of Education, (Primary and Middle), 2012

May 2019

Walking onto the grounds of the historic Adelaide Oval ushered in by an avalanche of screaming fans – a record-breaking 53,034 to be exact – was a dream come true for education graduate and Adelaide Crows defender, Marijana Rajcic, during March’s AFLW premiership game against Carlton.

More so, playing a key role in winning that game, in front of the fifth-largest crowd at Adelaide Oval in AFL history including both the men and women’s league, surrounded by her beloved team mates was certainly a special moment.

More so, playing a key role in winning that game, in front of the fifth-largest crowd at Adelaide Oval in AFL history including both the men and women’s league, surrounded by her beloved team mates was certainly a special moment.

“Playing in front of 53,000 people was a dream come true. To be out there on Adelaide Oval with that support – I get goosebumps every time I think about it.”

“I have always dreamed of being a professional athlete.”

Achieving such a pinnacle in professional sport didn’t just happen overnight, however, with the 30-year-old experiencing a fruitful career as a soccer player spending six seasons with Adelaide United in the W-League and as captain in 2015.

Rajcic then made the switch to Aussie Rules to join the local SANFL Norwood team and becoming a premiership player in the inaugural SANFL Women’s season where she was scouted for the national league.

Rajcic then made the switch to Aussie Rules to join the local SANFL Norwood team and becoming a premiership player in the inaugural SANFL Women’s season where she was scouted for the national league.

“My love of sport started off when I was a 9-year-old playing club basketball, with the dream of being an Opal one day,” she explains. “Then when I made the switch to soccer that dream just changed to becoming a Matilda.”

“Being a professional athlete and playing at the highest level possible, competing against the best, has always been my goal.”

While Rajcic was always sports mad and dreamed of playing on Australia’s most sacred and celebrated fields, she didn’t have a clear idea of which direction to take, but knew her love of sport transcended a traditionally unsustainable professional athletic career.

Searching for a path, she harked back to about how much she looked up to – not only professional athletes – but her physical education teachers and the impact they had on her at school and how they fostered her own love of sport throughout her life.

“I thought about my PE teachers and how much fun they had daily playing and teaching sport,” she says. “I loved how UniSA offered primary and middle teaching.”

“If I can have any sort of impact on these kids for the better and give them the tools required to be successful, I will be happy.”

“The next generation are going to shape what this world becomes.”

So started Rajcic’s journey to becoming a Health and Physical Education teacher, in which she is a powerful role model for her school students, and has expertly balanced with her professional playing career for almost eight years now.

“I have been doing relief teaching the last couple years, as it allows me that extra bit of freedom to choose to work or not,” she says.

“It’s been really good. It gives me flexibility to be able to juggle my professional athletic career, still having time to go to the gym after school, and prepare for training with the Crows.”

In addition to the personal fulfilment Rajcic’s career as a teacher has given her, she also credits her time at university for other lessons she still holds valuable in her life.

“You are constantly learning in all aspects of life. Studying education has definitely helped with many aspects of professional life too. Helpful skills like public speaking, media experience, and networking have all majorly benefitted.”

For now though, Rajcic is looking forward to heading overseas after a hard-earned successful footy season and then getting back to the AFLW Crows squad in pursuit of another premiership flag.

When asked about the highlight of being a part of the team, Rajcic is overwhelmed with praise for her fellow teammates.

“I probably can’t pick one thing, but I honestly love this team. We have something special amongst this playing group that is hard to even describe,” she explains.

“I think we just love training and spending time together, because we just have so much fun.”

“And we all just want to get better.”

Not only is Rajcic guiding her students to a promising future, but is looking forward to a bright one with the Crows, proving the talented AFLW team are athletes of their own mettle.

UniSA is a proud premier partner of the Adelaide Football Club AFL and AFLW teams. This partnership provides UniSA student placement opportunities, a platform for sport and health research collaborations and the opportunity for the University to engage with the community.

For more information about our partnership visit

Alice Rigney AO PSM DUniv

Pioneering Aboriginal educator

Tribute to first female Aboriginal school principal in Australia
Graduate and Honorary Doctor of the University

The late Alice (Alitya) Rigney AO PSM DUniv was Australia's first female Aboriginal school principal and one of University of South Australia’s most distinguished graduates. She devoted her life to education, teaching more than 5000 Aboriginal students, and mentored and inspired many more.

Born at Point Pearce on the Yorke Peninsula, Rigney was an Elder and matriarch of the Kaurna and Narungga Aboriginal Nations of South Australia.

Dr Rigney was among the first cohort of Aboriginal teachers to graduate from the UniSA’s De Lissa Institute. She one of the first Aboriginal employees of the South Australian Education Department and the first female Aboriginal school principal in Australia.

She established the first urban Aboriginal school in Australia, the Kaurna Plains Primary School. Now there are 20 such schools in Australia modelled on Kaurna Plains. Before her ground breaking initiative, there were no urban Aboriginal schools in Australia that taught Aboriginal children in their own language and culture.

Her outstanding leadership and contribution to Aboriginal education has been recognised through several national awards.

The University of South Australia awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in 1998. She received a Public Service Medal in the 1991 Australia Day honours and a United Nations Association of Australia, South Australian Division award in 2013.

Post-teaching, Dr Rigney took on significant roles in the South Australia's Guardianship Board and Aboriginal Education, Training and Advisory Committee. She was Ambassador for the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training's National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. Throughout her life she continued her strong connection with UniSA. She was a regular visitor and an inspiring speaker and guest at the School of Education’s Reconciliation Week morning teas.

Alice Rigney passed away in May 2017. In June 2018 she was awarded an Order of Australia (Posthumous) for her outstanding contributions to education.

(Photo courtesy L Rigney 2007: Permission granted by Family to use image in public)

Michael T. Smith

Regional CEO, Europe and USA, Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd

Bachelor of Business in Property and Real Estate

November 2018

When asked what sparked his interest in real estate and property development, Michael Smith highlights a conversation he had by chance while purchasing a van to start up a part-time courier business.

Fast-forward two decades, Michael has firmly established himself in the real estate and investment industry, with a firm hold on the Asian property market, where he has made a name for himself.

“It was quite serendipitous that I ended up enrolling in the UniSA real estate course as I did not have any friends or family in the industry,” says Michael, who now leads the European and USA interests of multi-billion dollar investment company Mapletree Investments.

“Truth be known, I left school to do a Bachelor of Arts, which I began to lose interest in halfway through. I started a courier business on the side and whilst purchasing a van, the seller told me about the real estate degree that he was completing at UniSA – this conversation resulted in me transferring to UniSA.

“From my first day I was drawn to the industry and the huge potential it offered on multiple fronts.”

He says he may be biased but believes UniSA’s property and real estate program are some of the best in Australia, having immensely informed his career, and planted the seed for his giving back philosophy.

“I particularly liked the breadth of subjects that we were taught such as Property Finance, which became an increasingly important part of my career. I also enjoyed the hands-on practicality that the course provided through field trips to country South Australia and Sydney in our final year.”

These experiences at UniSA, and a year in Shanghai working with a developer, set the tone for the beginning of a successful 21-year investment banking career which sent Michael all over the world.

“The course also provided me with a better understanding of the cliché ‘it is not what you know but who you know’ as I met people that have been incredibly influential in my career.

“This included Mark Steinert, the current CEO of Stockland who shepherded me firstly to Sydney, then Hong Kong and then back to Sydney again to join him at UBS in 1996 with Andrew Pridham, John Carter, Darren Rehn, Phil Redmond and Chris Monaghan – all of whom were UniSA alumni,” explains Michael.

Michael made waves firstly at UBS Investment Bank for 10 years, working his way up to Managing Director, then at Goldman Sachs for another 11 years as Head of South East Asian Investment Banking and Head of Asia Pacific Real Estate Investment Banking, eventually making partner, before departing early 2017 for Mapletree, based in Singapore.

Now as Regional CEO of Europe and the USA (EUSA) for Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd – valued to have S$46.3bn assets under management as at 31 March 2018 – Michael manages 17.5% of Mapletree’s holdings, in “a role that is quite unique, given the breadth and scope of the real estate markets” he now oversees.

“Since joining Mapletree, we have opened offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Amsterdam and Warsaw, and we will soon open in Atlanta and Dallas. Much of my work as a member of the senior management team is in the execution of our business model, based on five-year plans, across 12 economies,” he says.

Michael says he is also fortunate to have had the opportunity to act as lead advisor on significant real estate transactions in his career, including Swire Properties sale of their US$2.3bn Hong Kong-based shopping mall (subsequently purchased by Mapletree) and the challenges such acquisitions and responsibilities pose.

“Across my career, I cherish the human interactions that have enabled me to meet and work with some of the most influential people in the real estate industry across multiple jurisdictions.”

“I also enjoyed the creative side of the business too, particularly the convergence of the physical real estate markets with the financial markets. Above all, I enjoyed and embraced the challenges that come my way - this is something you can only truly understand if you are passionate about your craft,” he says.

After Michael left UBS to join Goldman Sachs, taking up the role of Head of South East Asia, he quickly made partner, where a portion of compensation is placed in a ‘GS Gives’ account.

This initiative helps provide more than US$1.3bn in grants to 6,000 non-profits across 80 countries, and Michael’s old colleague – and fellow UniSA property graduate – Andrew Pridham inspired him to use this funding to support property students at the University.

“When Andrew Pridham invited me to attend the hard-hat opening of Pridham Hall, his generosity inspired me to give back to UniSA, and after thinking about my own experiences, we devised the Asian Experience Travel Grant.”

Recalling how influential winning the Jones Lang Wootton scholarship was in his final year at UniSA, and how the subsequent travel had opened up the world to him, the Asian Experience Travel Grant was established with a generous donation to support high-performing students who have enrolled in the Bachelor of Business (Property) degree.

The grant allows students to undertake an intensive Asian study tour that incorporates six of the most important regional cities in Asia – Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo, which in many cases, may otherwise be beyond their financial means.

For the first time this year, the grant was awarded to Arya Loodin, a current Bachelor of Business double degree student in Finance and Property, which took him on a life-changing journey throughout Asia this past July.

“Facilitating access to opportunities similar to the experiences I was fortunate enough to achieve in the early 1990s will give students like Arya the chance to forge a deeper understanding of the Asian real estate market,” says Michael.

“My desire to give back and foster the next generation of UniSA graduates stems from my gratefulness for all the opportunities that I have experienced on the back of the time I spent at UniSA. Not just the education, but also for the contacts and connections that have helped sustain my career.”

Dr Ivana Stankov

Senior Research Scientist, Urban Health Collaborative, Drexel University

Maurice de Rohan International Scholarship recipient, 2015
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Social Epidemiology, 2016
Bachelor of Applied Science, Physiotherapy with Honours, 2009

April 2019

Amid the bitter cold, brutal storms and mountains of snowfall of the Philadelphian winter, Dr Ivana Stankov is busy working away on the Salud Urbana en América Latina (or SALURBAL) Project as a Senior Research Scientist in the Urban Health Collaborative at Drexel University.

The Project focuses on understanding the social and environmental factors of health and disease from deep analysis of Latin America’s cities for a healthier future throughout the whole world.

Ivana and her team are currently exploring how various aspects of city living (e.g. transportation, safety, food environments) affect health in Latin America – and importantly attempting to translate this research into policy action through collaboration and partnerships with city governments and NGOs in the region.

This necessary and expansive work has been the culmination of Ivana’s career as a social epidemiologist that was kicked into high gear when she received the Maurice de Rohan International Scholarship during her time at the University of South Australia as a PhD Candidate.

The Maurice de Rohan International Scholarship is the legacy of one of South Australia’s greatest ambassadors, the late Maurice de Rohan AO OBE. As the South Australian Agent General in London from 1998 to 2006, Maurice was committed to the development of a strong relationship between South Australia and the United Kingdom.

Following his death, the de Rohan family wished to establish this scholarship in recognition of Maurice’s passion for building relationships between nations. A number of generous donors supported the family’s vision to fund the scholarship for high performing PhD students at UniSA to gain an international perspective in their research.

As one of the first recipients of the Maurice de Rohan Scholarship, Ivana was given a priceless chance to travel to two prestigious institutions; the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., to expand her research capabilities in public health and social epidemiology, and gain crucial international perspectives.

“Receiving the scholarship gave me an invaluable opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and spend time with one of my PhD supervisors, Dr Ross Hammond, at the Brookings Institution” she says.

“During my visits, I received a lot of support that ultimately helped me advance my PhD which included the development of a model that simulated the travel patterns of commuters in the north-west region of Adelaide."

“I also had the opportunity to collaborate with Assistant Professor Pamela Matson at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine on a project focused on alcohol and marijuana use among adolescents.”

Ivana says while the wide range of skills she developed was important, the working relationships and friendships developed during her time overseas endure to this day.

These relationships are key since she now lives and works in Philadelphia, just a few hours away from where her scholarship took her, exploring how safety concerns influence commuter behaviour, travel patterns, and air pollution in Latin American cities and the types of policies that might prove most effective at improving the health of residents.<br.
Her PhD supervisor, Dr Ross Hammond, whom she met in Washington D.C. thanks to her Maurice de Rohan International Scholarship, is a consultant on the Project.

“I like being able to engage and collaborate with diverse groups of people that work in public health and beyond, including researchers from different disciplines and backgrounds, as well as policymakers from government and not-for-profit organisations, all tackling the same issues from different angles,” she says.

Ivana did not come to public health research straight after university however. She spent at Calvary Wakefield Hospital where she began seeing certain groups of patients admitted and readmitted into hospital with increasing frequency.

This allowed Ivana to grasp how health care and medicine engages people at the individual-level, while often sidelining broader social and environmental factors that influence how people function within society – and the ultimate consequences for health and wellbeing – innately understanding how necessary looking at the bigger picture can be.

“I wanted to better understand these patterns by thinking beyond the clinical setting, to also consider social and environmental factors that shape people’s behaviour in their day-to-day lives and ultimately their risk of developing or worsening different types of diseases, particularly chronic diseases,” she says.

“The reason social epidemiology is so important is because it considers the wide range of factors that drive health. It deals with health issues such as smoking, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases and motor vehicle accidents by exploring how, factors such as climate change, housing and neighbourhood quality, segregation, diverse forms of discrimination access to healthy food, healthcare and green spaces, predispose and heighten people’s risk of developing and worsening various diseases.”

“I really enjoy working in an area where I’m contributing to efforts that seek to address important societal issues that affect us all.”

Lisa TomasettiLisa Tomasetti

Film Stills and Fine Art Photographer

Bachelor of Visual Arts(Photography & Cinematography)
Bachelor of Communication Studies (Literary Studies, Art)

November 2018

Lisa Tomasetti in conversation with Joanna Kitto

Australian photographer Lisa Tomasetti makes portraits rich with cinematic drama. Her most recent body of work takes prima ballerinas from the Australian Ballet off the stage and on to the street, capturing their movement and grace in Paris, Tokyo and New York. Viewing these works, it is no surprise that Lisa has also been drawn to the spectacle of the film set.

Tomasetti first stepped on set in 1996 as the photographer for Scott Hicks' David Helfgott biopic, Shine. Since then, she has worked on films including Dead Heart (1996), The Dish (2000), Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), and The Sapphires (2012).

Many of her portraits of actors, their characters and the crew are currently on display in Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits at the University of South Australia’s Samstag Museum of Art. Samstag Associate Curator Joanna Kitto sat down and spoke with Tomasetti about capturing the essence of a film on set. Joanna: As an artist with a photographic practice spanning three decades, what first drew you to film?

Lisa: I was raised in quite a theatrical family. From the age of five, I was attending Bunyips Children’s Theatre and going to drama school at Carclew in Adelaide. It felt like I was always in the theatre—most of my holidays were spent putting on pantomimes—so I felt very comfortable with actors and fiction and creating stories. Later, I went to the University of South Australia’s South Australian Art School [now called the School of Art, Architecture and Design] and graduating I wanted be involved with photography so I began photographing theatre. I worked on a TV series in Adelaide and then in 1996, worked on Shine and it all happened from there!

Fine art photographers have long-held roles within the film industry, from Rennie Ellis and Max Dupain to Robert McFarlane and Carolyn Johns. Despite this, the on-set stills photographer is perhaps the most underrated of all in the industry. Starstruck turns this idea on its head, drawing our attention to the photographer and giving the portraits the opportunity to be assessed as works of art, still integral to but now also independent from the film. What was it like to see your film stills in the gallery?

That’s true. Starstruck really brings film stills photographers out into the open. After seeing the exhibition, people are actually talking about what we do! Starstruck gives them an insight into our work; it is incredibly important to have a good image to sell a film, but not many people know about what the job actually entails. This exhibition also gives the audience a glimpse behind-the-scenes on set, and shows images from well-known films people never have seen before. They’re not always the obvious choices!

What are the key differences between your work as a film stills photographer and a fine art photographer?

My two roles are incredibly different. With my arts practice, I have control over the image. I am able to set up my own tableaux and dictate the direction of the outcome. With film stills, I am part of a much bigger team and don’t have the same sense of autonomy. You have to be as quiet and discrete on set as possible and work in the ‘shadows’—with sixty people in a small space it’s so easy to get in people’s way! You really do have to pick your battles, reading the atmosphere and the mood of the actors and finding a balance between asking for the shot you need and letting the moment pass as to not cause stress.

In Starstruck, we see behind the scenes on film sets through your camera. Across your career, has there been a particular actor or director you have admired, or stand-out performance you have witnessed?

I have always loved working with Cate Blanchett. I photographed her in Little Fish and Truth and her attention to detail and ability to transform into her characters is a privilege to watch and a joy to shoot. I recently worked with Bruce Beresford on Ladies in Black and that was like having a masterclass in brilliant directing!

There is a striking shot in the exhibition from the set of Shine, taken in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, can you tell me about this moment?

This still was taken early on in the Shine shoot, and was my first day on set taking stills for a feature film. [Director] Scott Hicks was lining up his view-finder on [lead actor] Geoffrey Rush, deciding which lens to use. The entire time the crew were there setting up equipment and cameras around Geoffrey and he just stayed in character, seemingly oblivious to any distraction. This photograph shows a truly trusting relationship between this director and actor.

Another film in Starstruck that has been hugely successful internationally is The Sapphires, following the story of four young Aboriginal girls who leave their rural mission community to sing for US troops during the Vietnam War. What was it like to work on that set?

Working with Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell and Chris O’Dowd made my job incredibly enjoyable. They immersed themselves so deeply in their characters, which allowed me to capture truly beautiful portraits. When you have the honour of trying to convey the mood of such sensitive scenes, I feel compelled to do justice to the actor’s performance. The story itself is a personal one as well. [Writer] Tony Briggs based The Sapphires on his mother’s experience, and everyone who worked on set developed a deep connection to her life. It was wonderful to be a part of.
[Image: Director Scott Hicks lines up a shot on actor Geoffrey Rush through his viewfinder by Lisa Tomasetti, Shine, 1996, Courtesy Momentum Films, National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.]

Lizzi WigmoreLizzi Wigmore

Marketing, Intrinsic
Founder, Cakelaide

Bachelor of Communications, Media and Culture

February 2018

Deciding to take the leap and embarking upon your true dream job can often be too daunting to initiate with all the ‘what ifs’ swimming around in our 2am sleepless minds. But to Lizzi Wigmore, leaving her stable corporate position and pursuing her true creative passion was a no-brainer.

Was it difficult to leave a long-term position at a stable company to pursue your true passion? What made you decide to finally ‘take-the-leap’?

Funnily enough it wasn’t a difficult decision, because I got to a point where I valued my happiness more than a stable corporate job. While I certainly pondered the decision, I knew in my heart that this new opportunity set my soul on fire, made me smile when thinking about it, and sparked a motivation that I hadn’t felt for quite a while. It just felt right. I’m a big believer in following your intuition, and my gut feeling was telling me to leap towards Intrinsic... so I leapt! If something feels that right, and that good, then just do it and see where it takes you.

What is it about this Intrinsic that you feel encapsulates “you”?

Intrinsic just feels like it’s me to a T. It’s all about inspirational quotes, beautifully designed products, and a rainbow of colour. Their aim is to spread joy, happiness and love in the world, and I just love everything about them! Their product, their inspiring words, their mission, the husband and wife founders... I love it all, and importantly, I believe in the brand.

One of my favourite quotes by Adèle Basheer - Intrinsic founder and inspiring wordsmith - is “The universe works in mysterious ways, trust that everything happens at the right time for the right reason.” This message has guided me through much of my life, and so I think that I was ready and it was the right time to ‘come home’ to Intrinsic after so many years, to take their marketing and communications to a new level. I had dabbled in a few different jobs, developed a variety of skillsets, built my experience, developed myself both professionally and personally, and reached a point of clarity of what I wanted from my future career.

You said, “If you love something, you’ll never work a day in your life.” What does this mean to you?

Loving what you do means waking up excited to go to work, smiling as you go about your day, getting enjoyment out of most tasks, feeling your face light up as you tell people about it, thinking up ideas outside of work time, and genuinely having fun and feeling happy at your workplace.

In your opinion, what are the essential ingredients required to truly love your job?

The key is to know yourself and focus on your likes, passions and desires. Focus on what draws you in and what you get enjoyment from. It can be little things like hobbies, weekend pursuits, or specific tasks in your current job. Whatever makes you smile and ignites a spark in you, focus on that! That is the feeling you want to nurture, that is the feeling you want to turn into a job and a career. Everyone has something that makes them spark, so find that something, and figure out how you can turn it into your career. If you can take what you already love and turn it into a job, then you will wake up every morning excited and motivated for the day ahead. It’s just about finding that spark that lights you up.

What advice do you have for others about pursuing their passion in their own careers, when employment can be unstable in our current environment?

Obviously we need to work to pay our bills - everyone does. But even if you’re in a job that isn’t truly aligned with you, try to find the little things in that role that make your soul shine. Find the parts of that role that you enjoy and that make you smile, however small they are. And focus on them. Then aim to increase those ‘happy parts’ in your next role. Whether it’s gaining experience in a certain area, going back to study, or starting your own business. Just figure out what are your happy parts, and plan to have more of them in your next role. Onwards and upwards!

What advice do you have for recent graduates who are looking for opportunities in their field of study?

I would highly recommend utilising your uni degree for networking and work experience opportunities. I undertook two internships while at UniSA and both resulted in paid work, boosted my resume, and gave me fantastic contacts. I even got a house sitting gig for the owner of the PR firm where I did one internship! And the Marketing Manager at the other internship became a close friend and mentor, and even offered me a job upon my return to Adelaide from overseas. Contacts are key in Adelaide - it’s all about the relationships.

Internships and work experience give you a taste of what the industry is like, and for me, this left me wanting more and knowing that I had studied the right field.

You have also started a beautiful cake decorating business. How you become involved in this?

This passion and skill kind of came out of nowhere! I have always been a sweet tooth and loved desserts, but never once thought it would turn into a cake making business! It started just over a year ago when I made my sister’s 30th birthday cake. It wasn’t your average cake, as I had seen a bunch of cake inspo on Pinterest, and I wanted to try something a bit more special. I received so much beautiful feedback and people saying I had a real talent for it, so I decided to dabble my hand in cake making and see where it went.

I’ve always been creative, and so cake decorating is a fun way of tapping into my creativity to come up with unique cake creations. I love everything from researching different cake styles, designing how my cake will look, trying new techniques, and seeing the end result bring a smile to my customer’s face. My cake business Cakelaide is still in its early stages, but it’s become a passion that I’m exploring to see where it takes me!

What are your long-term goals?

I love the marketing, PR and communications industry, even more so now that I can focus on a brand that I truly love. While my career has focused in digital marketing so far, I’d be keen to explore my creative side at some point, maybe in graphic design or photography. Whatever the case and whatever I end up doing, I just want to enjoy my work and ensure it brings a smile to my face. So that is what I’ll pursue more than anything - that feeling of joy and happiness in loving what you’re doing. Because as the saying goes, “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life!

Dalene WrayDalene Wray

Managing Director at OBE Organic Australia and Non-Executive Director, Council for Australian Arab Relations, at DFAT

Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Radiations)

January 2019

An adventurous spirit combined with deep family roots in Australia’s outback have led Dalene Wray on a career path that has taken her around the world and back.

An adventurous spirit combined with deep family roots in Australia’s outback have led Dalene Wray on a career path that has taken her around the world and back.

Now her international trade experience is proving to be a gamechanger for OBE Organic, a marketing and export organisation founded and owned by outback Australian organic cattle farmers.

Dalene grew up in a multigenerational cattle family in Birdsville, South West Queensland, where her family settled in 1885. Following in her father’s footsteps she went to boarding school in Adelaide, before studying radiography at UniSA.

“On graduation I worked for a year and a half as a Radiographer in Toowoomba then Broken Hill before moving to the UK to work in various hospitals around Britain, and then Nice, France, to work as a European tour guide for three years,” she says.

“At 27 I had been living away from home for some time by then and my father tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘isn’t it time to come home’?”

This return to Australia was the catalyst for the beginning of Dalene’s transformative work with OBE Organics, which is chaired by her father.

“OBE was founded in the early 90s in a little outback town called Thargomindah by a collective of organic cattle farmers in the region,” she says.

“When I started there was just one other person working for OBE, we’ve now grown to 10 full-time employees in an office based in Brisbane.”

When OBE was founded, they were Australia’s first and only premium organic beef supplier, “raising cattle exactly the way nature intended”. Now, OBE Organic’s free-range production operation is spread over seven million hectares of grazing land, located primarily in the Channel Country in central Australia – about the area of Tasmania.

OBE’s natural ethos and unique approach to farming is both good for the cow and the consumer.

“Our cattle are grazing land that has never been farmed. The grasses the livestock eat are the same grasses that have been growing there for thousands of years.

“The animals choose their diet. With land equal to one square kilometre per cow we are talking about vast, vast paddocks. The animals get to use their intellect to decide what they need rather than have humans decide for them. They look after themselves and are only occasionally interacted with, so they have the benefit of a more natural cycle of life.”

The OBE Organic suppliers approach to valuing the land and respecting their animals is reflected in Dalene’s work. She has introduced a sustainability program that includes a Reconciliation Action Plan and support for the female economy.

“To my knowledge we were the fourth agribusiness in Australia to have a Reconciliation Action Plan; we’re really proud of that,” she says.

“We have a supply chain that is unique. It produces a product that is highly valued from New York to Hong Kong to Dubai to Riyadh, and many places between, and we wouldn’t have this product if the land hadn’t been cared for by Aboriginal Australians for centuries before Europeans arrived.

“Over the years there have also been a lot of Aboriginal Australians who have worked, and continue to work, on the properties we source livestock from. We need to acknowledge their contribution and talk about why it is so important. So we’re also sharing our experience widely to show what is possible and encourage other companies to adopt reconciliation plans.”

Shortly after taking the plunge to work for OBE full-time, Dalene moved to Beijing and then Hong Kong, also opening up new trade partnerships with the Middle East. Five years later she returned to Australia. She took up the role of Managing Director for OBE Organic in 2017.

Her work has been gaining attention ever since. She’s also challenging some long held mind-sets along the way, and joining the woment trailblazing a path in Australia’s agribusiness industry.

“This year I became the first female to win the Queensland Country Life Beef Achiever Award,” she says. “I’m also one of the first young people to win it and I’ve never worked in a stockcamp, so I’m not the typical winner of this award.”

This year she was also awarded the Advance  Global Australian Award for Food and Agriculture; as well as winning the Chief Executive Women AusTrade Women in Export Scholarship to attend Harvard’s Executive Business School in Boston.

In 2017 Dalene was also appointed to the board of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR).

“I think that there is a perception that the Middle East is just too far away to form business ties,” says Dalene, who was recently appointed Deputy Chair of the Council.

“Each year CAAR administer a grant program. We are incredibly proud of the outcomes which the grantees are achieving.

“A great example is Lifesaving Victoria, which provided expertise to Royal Lifesaving Bahrain. The project has been immensely successful and soon in 2019 Australian-trained local lifesavers will be patrolling waterways there.

Dalene also recently visited Mongolia at the request of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to assess the opportunities for Mongolian production of organic beef.

“We were a good fit as they wanted to learn from someone with similar issues in their early set up – a company that took things that looked like adversity like a very remote location, extreme weather, limited access to telecommunications and infrastructure, and turned it into a positive.”

When asked if she thinks OBE’s work has a flow on effect in the agriculture industry she says she hopes so – but this isn’t just a wish. Dalene uses her building profile to challenge the disparities and widely spread issues related to the agriculture and food trade.

“One of the things I would like to see improve is the reduction of technical trade barriers. There is so much opportunity to solve huge world issues by improving these systems – things like waste and food security – big critical issues that nations around the world are experiencing.

“Old policies that haven’t been updated to reflect scientific evidence and changing political landscapes lead to unbelievable waste in food and agriculture export. I think the world would be a better place if these issues were resolved.”

Dr Leo YeungDr Leo Yeung

Co-Founder, Cashmere Song Fashion Co Ltd
Founder, Maisson (Hong Kong) Commercial Property

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), International Business

May 2019

Dr Leo Yeung has followed his heart, chased his family’s dreams and cleverly cross-stitched his fashion, business and property industry experience to carve out a niche property company Maisson Commercial Property and fashion brand Cashmere Song all over the world.

Dr Yeung started his career in the fashion industry in the late 1980s, working in far flung cities across Asia, North America and Europe. In 1989 he settled in Hong Kong as Design Manager for Esprit Asia.

“As a student in Hong Kong in the early 80s there were few opportunities for students to get a university degree, but higher education had long been a dream for me” says Dr Yeung.

When Esprit Asia publicly-listed in 1991, Leo found an opportunity to further his education. He quit and enrolled in a Master’s degree at Hong Kong Polytechnic University to explore the research topic ‘Push and pull factor in China Economic’ after Deng Xiao Ping’s South China tour.

His interest in furthering his education didn’t end however, he says, “I saw an interview with a PhD candidate who had just graduated at the age of 80 – he regretted not finishing his PhD 20 or 30 years before so he had more time to contribute to society. His interview drove me to undertake my PhD at UniSA in International Business.”

In the mid-90s, while studying, Dr Yeung was then invited to start up the Australian brand Jeanswest in China. He served as Director and General Manager for Jeanswest China from 1994, guiding the development of 1000 stores before the company publicly listed in 1996.

In the new millennium a serendipitous opportunity arose, leading to a career shift from fashion to commercial property.

“A renowned real estate company had invited our fashion brand to open a flagship store in one of their new shopping malls. I found the mall location good but the wrong trade mix,” Dr Yeung says.

“I suggested brands for the real estate company and the shopping mall opened successfully. Then the CEO of the real estate company asked me to join them as the China Commercial Property Retail Head.”

After a number of years leading teams in commercial property for different companies Dr Yeung started his own company – Maisson Commercial Property – an asset management company for commercial property development.

Dr Yeung says that different businesses have their challenges. He sees fashion and design as a merging of art and science.

“Property on the other hand is a complicated business,” he says. “Once we design and build a shopping mall there are thousands of workers in the mall at different periods of time." Regulations on construction, fire safety, legal… Each day presents a new challenge – which I enjoy.

“Currently I am working on a theme park project based on designs that were originally made by a famous Chinese Kung Fu internet game, which I hope will help more kids feel happy in the environment.”

In his spare time he is also supporting his wife’s dream to lead her own high end fashion design business – Cashmere Song - which he co-manages.

Dr Yeung’s wife Song Hong had harboured a dream to run her own fashion label since graduating from the Inner Mongolia Design School in 1992. When she decided it was time to pursue her dream she enlisted her husband’s support.

“We travelled to her home town to talk with the shepherds in the grasslands of Mongolia,” he says. “The local people like a drink and they are hospitable and willing to share their experiences."

“We started to talk with people about their changes in living and the culture due to development in Mongolia. They enjoyed their life in grasslands where they have their own culture, generation to generation. City development has changed their living and their culture as well.

“One night, I walked with my wife under the moon, the grassland was so silent, and we came up with an idea to develop a fashion brand by using the cashmere that the shepherds crafted.

“I put the Cashmere and her surname Song together as her namesake. We knew the brand should have Mongolian culture, using local materials but with international designs. And that’s how the brand Cashmere Song started.”

Originally the couple planned to open a small shop but this plan quickly changed from retail to wholesale to further sales that in turn help many in the Mongolian shepherd business. It now sells through showrooms in China, Hong Kong, New York and London.

When asked if he has plans to extend sales in Australia he says, “It is a great idea to have a wholesale showroom in Australia due to the different season in the southern hemisphere.”

“The brand has limitations to sell cashmere in winter – but our buyers expect summer lines, so together we have developed new technologies by mixing silk and cashmere for Spring/Summer, and mixing cashmere with leather or fake fur for Fall/Winter.”

With the high quality of the Inner Mongolia cashmere and Song Hong’s design skills, the brand has won multiple awards and is now featured in more than 500 shops in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, the United States & China.

Dr Yeung’s business and family interests bring him great joy, which he hopes to share with others.

“Happiness is all we need, I hope my skills through our endeavours brings more happiness to the people who enjoy them,” he says.

Annette Young reportingAnnette Young

Journalist & Presenter, France 24 International News
Co-Founder & Host, The 51 Percent

Bachelor of Arts (Journalism)

November 2018

Both curious and passionate, Annette is a journalist who has simultaneously fitted in and stood out, thriving in the media industry. Originally from Adelaide and now based in Paris, Annette has reported all over the world from parts of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

In an extensive career, she has worked for the Melbourne Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and SBS Television Australia. While based in the Middle East, she became a Jerusalem correspondent for France 24.

Her experience includes covering a wide range of international news and affairs, including historic events such as the death of Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and the Gaza war in 2008. Since returning to Paris in 2010, she has also interviewed a range of figures for France 24 from world leaders to Hollywood actors.

Annette has also always been determined to make a difference to gender equality. She created and hosts “The 51 Percent” – a France 24 show that challenges the status quo and social norms through reflections on women who are reshaping our world.

In 2015, recognising her achievements, Annette was named by UN Women as one of the 20 inspirational global voices on women in the media, and just this November was awarded another accolade from the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA).

Annette Young, along with her France 24 colleague Virginie Herz, won the joint gold medal in The Ricardo Ortega Memorial Prize for broadcast media for their special earlier in the year on the rising number of U.N. female peacekeepers.

The 23rd annual UNCA Awards will take place in New York on December 3 with guest of honour, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, 2018 UNCA Global Citizen of the Year Award Amal Clooney, and 2018 UNCA Global Advocate of the Year Award Adrian Grenier.

Not letting her many accolades slow her down though, Annette recently spoke about her professional journey and her relationship with France and Australia as an expat, while in the US covering the political chaos, historic midterms and Kavanagh hearings.

Could you tell us more about your background? What made you choose journalism as a career option?

When I was 14, my school sent us home with a career guidance questionnaire. I remember asking my late father what he thought I should do and he replied with a smile: “Well, you’re good at English, you always pinch the newspaper off me in the morning and most importantly, are very nosy, so why not be become a journalist.” His best friend, John, was a journalist with the Guardian in the U.K. and I suspect Dad was always envious of John’s life.

But Dad was completely spot on with his suggestion and now, all these years on, I can’t even contemplate doing anything else which says a lot about the level of job satisfaction. I completed my journalism degree at the University of South Australia, ended up with a cadetship at the Melbourne Age, and did a stint in Canberra with them before joining the Sydney Morning Herald. After six years at the SMH, I made the switch to television and joined SBS Television where I worked first for World News before joining Dateline as a producer.

What do you remember from your time at UniSA, has it informed your career in any way?

My journalism degree served as an essential tool in helping to get my career started. Having said that, I was the first graduate cadet at the Melbourne Age to be hired with a journalism degree since at that time, there was a degree of cynicism about the quality of such courses. That of course, has long disappeared, as UniSA journalism graduates (along with other journalism graduates) have proved their mettle. My bosses also quickly realised the course had provided a strong practical element which meant I knew how to write and report.

I would strongly encourage anybody wanting to pursue a career in journalism to do either an undergraduate, or these days, even better still, a post-graduate journalism course.

I also have very fond memories of my time at Magill; through its work attachments, I made valuable contacts with people in the industry. More importantly, I made wonderful friendships that have lasted to this day. Our family also has a strong connection to UniSA with my late father lecturing in architecture when it was SAIT and my niece completing her degree in medical radiation science at the City East campus.

Why did you choose to leave Australia and work in Paris?

My mother was French and from Paris and so it’s not a completely random choice but in 2000, my then-French partner wanted to return to Paris and I followed him. During those three years in Paris, I started working for Agence France Presse. My first years in Paris were tough; my French language skills were far from great and for foreigners who live here, it can be far from easy. The culture was not then particularly foreigner-friendly; not to mention, the bureaucracy, and the long cold and gloomy winters. It was so difficult that I decided to head to the Middle East (yes, you read this right!).

A few years on, I ended up working as a Middle East correspondent for France 24 English but by 2010, I had was ready to swap hummus for foie gras again. Since then, I’ve been working as a news presenter for the network. In 2013, I created the program that I now host, “The 51 Percent,” which is about how women are reshaping our world.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a journalist and presenter?

On our first day at journalism school, a lecturer told us that for those who are natural journalists will find that “newspaper ink gets into your blood.” He was right; it does except of course, back then, newspapers had not been decimated by the digital revolution. Still, the sentiment of what he said was so true.

It’s more of a lifestyle choice than anything else. I sometimes joke that it’s like signing up for a religious order with the long hours, the shift work, the stress, the low pay (I’ve watched my friends in other professions zoom past me financially a long time ago). But this is still over-shadowed by the professional joy I still receive. I’ve interviewed people from all layers of society be they world leaders, Hollywood actors, West Bank settlers or Palestinian militants, through to poverty-stricken parents in a village in southern Laos determined to carve out a better life for their children or a Bangladeshi trade unionist who took on the global garment industry and vastly improved working conditions for her fellow female workers. Dad was right; I am very curious by nature and always wanted to know what made people tick. We journalists are given a rare, privileged access to people’s lives. For that alone, I am truly grateful.

There have been difficult times too. In the course of my career, I’ve covered war, an intifada, and violent protests. I was on-air hosting the France 24 news during the shootings at the kosher supermarket in Paris in January 2015 and then incidentally, on-air again in November 2015 as news started coming through of the terrorist attacks being carried out at a number of Paris restaurants, the Bataclan theatre and the Stade de France. We didn’t know it at the time but one of those killed at the Bataclan was a studio technician who had just ended his shift at France 24 and was walking out of the studio as I walked in to begin mine. As I get older, reporting or covering violence for me has become tougher. The professional distance that you use to keep a level head, starts to shrink. You begin to understand and appreciate just how fragile life is.

But no doubt, creating “The 51 Percent,” has been among the most personally and professional rewarding times of my life. I’ve met wonderful women and men along the way since we began the show. Giving a platform for my guests’ views on the need for equality in all aspects of life is something I feel very strongly about.

Where did you get the idea to create TV program The 51 Percent? What’s your vision for the program?

I created the program along with a French colleague in 2013. As senior journalists, we both passionately believed about the need for a different take on the news. A take reflecting that women do indeed make up 51 percent of the population but are still way behind, even in the most open of societies, in terms of being represented in all fields. Just thinking about the gender pay gap, or the extremely low number of senior female politicians and CEOs in Australia, for example.

I like to think it’s our job to make the unfamiliar, familiar; to challenge those cultural biases that we all have. Everybody stands to benefit from equality. The beauty of working for a global broadcaster is that we can look at all parts of the world and report on a wide variety of stories. France 24’s Arabic and Spanish networks also now have their own versions of our show.

The world is not only confronting a digital revolution but a gender revolution also. It will be just as transformative. Take a look at how much has changed in the last 50 years for women; not to mention, the last 12 months with the #MeToo movement. Still, we have a very long way to go before true equality is reached.

How do you find the experience of working in Paris? Does it match your expectations?

Thanks to my Parisian mother, I’m probably not your classic Australian expat (the irony in that less than a few kilometres from where I work, my great-grandparents, grandparents, great-uncles and aunts, and cousins are buried in a family crypt) but Paris has challenged me in many ways. Of course, to the bulk of the world, it’s a stunningly beautiful city to visit with its superb architecture, history and culture. But people forget it is also a real, living city too with all the inherent problems of a large metropolis.

Despite its rigid adherence to tradition, Paris, and France, has changed since I first came here in 2000. More and more young people have lived, travelled or studied abroad. They have experienced other cultures and in Paris, English is much more widely spoken than when I first arrived, which itself is an important sign. For instance, when I first came, there was barely a vegetarian restaurant to be found; organic food was to be scoffed at; the idea of a gap year for students was unheard of; and as for decent coffee, well, forget that!

This has all changed and there is now an English-speaking president who understands the need for France to move forward and embrace change, as opposed to outright rejecting it. Not to mention, a determined group of Australian baristas and cafe owners and their ever-growing number of French fans who love their “flat whites.”

I always say to any Australian contemplating a life abroad, “just do it.” There will be crappy periods as there will be very happy times. But the experience adds an incomparable richness to your life that cannot be measured on a CV. Your life-coping skills will be majorly enhanced; you understand that your own culture’s way of doing things is not the only way and maybe, not necessarily the best.

What do you miss most about Australia?

Where do I start?! The weather; our unique sense-of-humour; the glorious food; the coffee; our diverse society (although sadly, that is still not reflected in the media, political representation or other positions of leadership as much as it should) and the sheer beauty of its landscape. I miss how even when your eyes are firmly closed, the searing sunshine still penetrates through. Or the scent of eucalyptus that I always inhale as I step outside the airport terminal when I go home. “Home.” There you have it, the fact I still call it home says so much.

What’s your favourite way to spend a day in Paris?

I would head to the Marais, particularly the Northern Marais (or NoMa, as some jokingly call it). It was one area that was not razed during the 19th century by the master urban planner, Baron Haussmann and many of its medieval buildings still remain. Walk through its streets, have brunch at “Fragments” cafe, visit the Picasso Museum; walk along the rue de Bretagne and then wind your way south. Head to the Musee Carnavalet which gives you a wonderful taste of the city’s art and social history. Then walk towards rue Vielle du Temple and all of its shops. From there, head to the River Seine, and enjoy an “apero” at one of the many bars nearby. For dinner, I’m currently a big fan of “Ellsworth” restaurant which is in the first arrondissement and a wonderful example of fusion cooking at its best.

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