Moreton Bay Business Excellence & Innovation Awards

Meet the Judges

Each member of the Moreton Bay Region Business Excellence & Innovation Awards judging panel plays a key role in maintaining and growing the credibility of the awards program and assessing nomination entries in their respective categories.

The objective of the Moreton Bay Region Business Excellence & Innovation Awards judging process is to evaluate each entry fairly and independently, assessing each entry on its merit and information provided.

Each category judge has been exclusively selected based on their demonstrated experience, track-record and industry knowledge, and this industry capability serves to help assess and evaluate nominations based on industry best-practice regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Finalists and winners are selected from the overall top five highest scores. Should there be any discrepancy or impasse in the final overall scores, MBRIT may request category judges to participate in a moderation discussion.

Download printable PDF of 2021 Judging Panel.

2021 Judges in alphabetical order by surname

John Aitken
Managing Director, Inspiring Cities

John Aitken is Managing Director of Inspiring Cities, specialising in economic development of globally competitive cities, inspiring precincts, destinations, tourism, and major events. Since 1980 John created many of Queensland’s major event traditions including Riverfestival and Riverfire before overseeing the Sydney Royal Easter Show. During his tenure as CEO of Brisbane’s economic development organisation Brisbane Marketing (2008 - 2017), some of his team’s achievements included establishing Brisbane Australia’s new world city positioning globally and delivering $4 billion worth of economic outcomes. John is well acquainted with the Moreton Bay Region, being a Board Member of Millovate and Consultant to North Harbour Holdings.

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Michael Bailey
Founding Director, Open Architecture Studio

Michael has 20 years of experience working on a range award-winning public, residential and commercial buildings across Australia and overseas. As the founder and director of Open Architecture Studio, Michael has focused on establishing a dynamic design studio made up of energetic and passionate designers that together have a rich and varied expertise in community-centric projects. Michael is a guest lecturer at the University of Queensland and a volunteer Director for the not-for-profit industry group, the Moreton Maritime Alliance.

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Les Barkla
Founder & Co-ordinator, Pristine Peninsula Community Group

Les is Founder and Co-ordinator of the Pristine Peninsula CommUNITY Group, and has had an association with the Redcliffe Peninsula and the Moreton Bay Region for the last 25 years. Les has 3 passions: family, helping others achieve their goals, and cleaning up our world for future generations to enjoy. He has sustainable living and passive design experience, environmental science project experience over 25 years, and business management qualifications. Having recently returned to the Peninsula, Les now uses that experience working with the Redcliffe Peninsula CommUNITY, Clubs and Groups, Business, Partner Organisations, and Government encouraging environmentally sustainable practices to make Redcliffe Peninsula a cleaner place for future generations.

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Sarah Barnes
Business & Leadership Trainer, Australian Trade Training College

Sarah is a two-time founder having previously owned ISCA Marketing, a digital marketing agency and Boxtagon, a health and fitness chain. Sarah jumped from founder to investor-side, working in both private equity and venture capital. She teaches business, leadership, and management at the Australian Trade Training College.

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Dr Peter Baxter
Accounting Undergraduate Program Coordinator, University of the Sunshine Coast

Peter is the Coordinator of USC’s Undergraduate Accounting Programs and is based at the University’s Moreton Bay campus at Petrie. He holds a PhD in Accounting and has over 25 years’ experience teaching at three regional Queensland universities. During that time, he has engaged with many local businesses in various ways, including several years as a judge in the Caloundra Business Awards, that are now part of the Sunshine Coast Business Awards.

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Professor Karen Becker
Head, USC Moreton Bay, University of the Sunshine Coast

In 2020, Karen was appointed as the inaugural Head of Campus for USC Moreton Bay. Karen has held a wide range of management and leadership positions in industry and in universities beginning in the financial services sector working in corporate human resource management roles, focused heavily on learning and development, before moving into a management consulting firm. Since moving into tertiary education, she has worked in three universities, researching and teaching management and development of people in the workplace.

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Dr Christoph Breidbach
Co-Lead - Service Innovation Alliance and Associate Director Industry Engagement, PRME, The University of Queensland

Christoph is a Senior Lecturer in Business Information Systems and Co-Lead of the UQ Service Innovation Alliance at The University of Queensland Business School. He has extensive experience collaborating with industry in Australasia, North America and Europe through teaching and research, covering the financial and professional services, retail, and ICT start-up sectors.

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Aaron Birkby
Cofounder, Unconventional Group

Aaron is a venture capital fund manager, corporate innovation strategist, and coach to early-stage high-growth ventures. As an entrepreneur, Aaron founded and exited several technology businesses, for which he was named the Australian Entrepreneur of The Year by the Pearcey Foundation in 2016. He is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and at James Cook University (JCU) and serves on the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur's Innovation Advisory Council. Previously he also led 17 international missions to Silicon Valley, Boulder, Seattle, London, Berlin and Israel.

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Jason Button
Business Strategist, JB Strategic

Jason has previously worked for Moreton Bay Regional Council and Regional Development Australia Moreton Bay. Jason has a number of clients and connections who are actively involved in industry 4.0 in the advanced manufacturing space where he applies strategic plans to incorporate these practices into everyday business operations.

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Julia Callaghan
Director of Regional Development, Regional Development Australia Moreton Bay

Julia has 20 years’ experience in environmental, business, and regional sustainability. Initially she worked with people in a variety of industrial activities in Townsville and then in agriculture nationally. She has helped businesses innovate to deal with environmental issues with financially and socially beneficial solutions. For the Victorian state government, as well as Queensland non-profits and industry groups Julia oversaw innovations in agriculture practices. Later as Queensland University of Technology’s Sustainability Lead, she facilitated demonstration projects in construction, manufacturing, food processing and health care addressing waste/materials reuse, water, and energy management challenges.

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Dr Jenna Campton
Lecturer Management, School of Business & Creative Industries, University of the Sunshine Coast

Jenna is a lecturer in Management for the School of Business & Creative Industries at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. She is actively involved in stress and wellbeing research for employees, volunteers, and entrepreneurs. Jenna has taught courses regarding management and leadership, business research and statistics for over seven years.

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Tracy Constable
Regional Manager - Greater Brisbane, AusIndustry - Dept of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

In her role as an AusIndustry Regional Manager, Tracy offers a personalised business liaison function to support businesses where we have a national competitive and comparative advantage or ability to boost capability. This ensures that businesses have the right business advice they need to grow and diversify, maximising the opportunities in these sectors.

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Georgina Davis
Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Farmers' Federation

Georgina has a proven ability in Environmental and Social Governance - with over 25 years’ experience in the energy, water, environmental, agricultural and resource recovery industries. Georgina has previously been a judge for various awards including, Keep Australia Beautiful (Queensland) 2020 and 2019, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) Leader of the Year 2019 and WMRR Landfill Awards (best practice and innovation categories) 2018.

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Kellie Dyer

Senior Commercialisation Strategist, Impact Innovation Group

Kellie has been involved in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Commercialisation for over 10 years assisting and supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups through to large government corporations in activities including embedding innovation systems and culture and advising on commercialisation paths to market. She provides training and education across Asia Pacific on Innovation and Commercialisation. Kellie is also a Grant Assessor for various grant programs including Ignite Ideas.

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Nicole Dyson
Chief Executive Officer, Future Anything

Nicole is a globally recognised expert and practitioner in project-based learning and youth entrepreneurship. She is the founder of Future Anything, an award-winning, curriculum-aligned entrepreneurship program for high school students, and the founder of YouthX, Australia's only start-up accelerator program for school-aged entrepreneurs. Nicole is an engaging and skilled facilitator, panellist, and speaker who is a passionate advocate for equity, the future of education, and empowering young people to bend the future; one youth-led idea at a time.

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Graham Fellows
Manager, QUT Entrepreneurship

Graham connects QUT Entrepreneurship with the QUT community through QUT Orbit, QUT Entrepreneurship Programs, QUT’s Maker Strategy, Entrepreneurship Education, Faculty Engagement and the QUT foundries. He also teaches Entrepreneurship within the QUT Graduate School of Business D/E/MBA Programs. QUT Entrepreneurship serves an audience of 53,000 students, 10k+ staff and 250k alumni with active industry engagement and connection to the broader QUT community.

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Brad Flynn
Managing Director, Business Mentored

Brad is a successful business mentor and a top 100 coach in ActionCOACH franchise global, amongst more than 1000 peers. Over this time Brad has been privileged to work with many amazing entrepreneurs in helping transform their businesses and industries through harnessing and channelling their entrepreneurial spirit.

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Juli Forrest
Growth Facilitator – METS, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources – delivered by Deloitte Consulting

Juli has been a Samford Valley Resident for 14 years, and her current role is as growth Facilitator for the Mining, Oil and Gas, Construction and Engineering industries for the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources – delivered by Deloitte Consulting. Having 16 years’ experience working with Tier 1 Engineering and Construction firms (WSP, Jacobs, CPB, John Holland, Swire Mining and Downer), Juli also has a Harvard Business Diploma in Client Relationship Management, engagement, customer service and relationship engineering.

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Professor Lorelle Frazer
Dean and Head, School of Business & Creative Industries, University of the Sunshine Coast

Lorelle is Dean and Head of the School of Business & Creative Industries at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. She has been actively involved in small business and franchising research and sectoral policy initiatives since the 1990s. Lorelle has been honoured by the Franchise Council of Australia for her significant contributions to the education of the Australian franchise community.

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Paul Garcia
Qld Chamber Relationship Manager, Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland (CCIQ)

In addition to Paul’s 'day job' at CCIQ where he travels around Queensland to help Chambers of Commerce not just survive, but thrive, Paul is also Chairman of the Board for the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology where he has been involved with the Abbey Medieval Festival for over 15 years. Paul has a passion for 'At Risk Youth' and is a long-time member of IML (Institute of Managers & Leaders) as well as a 5-year member of QSEC (Queensland Social Enterprise Council).

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Dr Sarah Gardiner
Deputy Director, Griffith Institute for Tourism, Griffith University

Sarah has a PhD in Marketing and over 25 years of experience in the tourism industry. She is an Associate Professor in tourism and the Deputy Director of the Griffith Institute for Tourism at Griffith University. Her research is published in leading tourism academic journals, and she has written several book chapters on travel consumer behaviour, travel trends, technology, experience design and innovation, with a particular interest in youth tourism.

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Nicholas Gould
Commercial Lawyer, GKS Law

Prior to entering the legal profession, Nicholas spent 9 years serving in the Australian Army. Following the completion of his military career, Nicholas worked as a commercial advisory consultant with KPMG, Downer Group & McCullough Robertson Lawyers including time abroad as a consultant to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Nicholas is a co-founder and Director of Protegas Australia, a specialist intelligence and security risk advisory company based in Brisbane. He is also on the board of the Gaythorne RSL.

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Mark Gustowski
Managing Director, Mandalay VC

Mark is an experienced investment executive and has worked with innovative, fast-growth businesses for over 20 years. A significant portion of that time Mark focussed on equity investments for start-ups in the food, ag and FMCG sectors. Mark is currently the Managing Director of Innovation Architects and Partner at Mandalay Venture Partners. Mark has been involved in a number of his own start-ups in the biotech, real-estate tech, Edu-tech and FMCG spaces, as well as an angel investor, and has designed and delivered investment and accelerator programs across Victoria, the ACT and Queensland.

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Stacey Handcock
Community & Events Specialist, Great Southern Bank

Stacey has worked in retail banking for over 15 years and specifically in the Moreton Bay Region for the last 5 years. Stacey has worked in all frontline roles and have been working as the Community & Events Specialist since 2018 at the North Lakes Community Hub. Through this role Stacey been able to connect and meet with many local business owners and community groups that are unique to the Moreton Bay Region.

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Asrar Ismail
Governance and Compliance Manager - Information Security, Quality Management Australia

Asrar implements management systemic solutions in businesses, nationally. Her areas of expertise include reviewing the partnerships that the business must have to serve its customers. She, also, teaches Supply Chain Management at the University of the Sunshine Coast and is a mentor at Sunshine Coast Chamber Alliance Business Mentoring. In the past, Asrar has facilitated Telstra Innovation Awards and Start-up Sunshine Coast Weekend. Lately, she has also been a judge at Start-up Steam – a schools led entrepreneurial programme supporting budding entrepreneurs, of Year 8, to solve world problems using the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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Jeanette Jifkins
Principal, Onyx Legal

Jeanette is an entrepreneur and a highly experienced corporate lawyer with strong interests in digital services and privacy law. She’s a leader in her field and has taken an active role in shaping the future as a board member or chair of several national and international organisations. Former Judge of the Australian Institute of Management Excellence Awards (1997-1998), Jeanette is currently Principal of Onyx Legal, a boutique corporate and commercial law firm based in North Lakes and Chair of the Board of National NFP On the Line Australia Limited, which delivers 24/7 outsourced remote counselling services.

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Brett Kapernick
Deputy Chief Executive Officer & General Manager Strategy, Queensland Tourism Industry Council

Brett has over 20 years of senior leadership experience across a range of high profile corporate, government and community organisations, providing him with a diverse industry set of experience, including Airlines, Education and Tourism Hospitality. In the last 6 years Brett has been the Deputy CEO of the peak body for tourism and hospitality in the state of QLD, Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC). QTIC is an advocacy and policy organisation that represents the interests of its members and the broader industry to government.

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Peter Kellett
Head of Community and Innovation, Grace Lutheran College

As a valued program partner of the Innovate Moreton Bay steering committee, Peter is a committed and passionate advocate for Youth, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Moreton Bay Region. Peter has educated students in Queensland for 25 years and has been an educator at Grace Lutheran College for the past 20 years, including director of FIRST Lego league Australia representing team Australia.

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Deborah Morandin
Chief Executive Officer, Entrepreneurs Paradise Pty Ltd

Deborah has an excellent grasp on current trends, processes, procedures, marketing, and engagement specialising in media, public relations, and advertising.

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Prof Brent Moyle
Associate Professor, Griffith University

Brent is an Associate Professor of Tourism in the Department of Tourism Sport and Hotel Management at Griffith University. His research is increasingly influential in tourism and conceptually related fields, both nationally and internationally. His research outcomes have resulted in 85 journal articles, 11 book chapters as well as 50+ industry reports and conference presentations along with 6 doctoral completions with an emphasis on tourism, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

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Zane Nicholls
Senior Agribusiness Development Officer, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Zane has worked with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for 13 years, with a core focus on environmental sustainability of agriculture production systems. Zane is passionate about the region, with his work at the department being exclusively focussed in the Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast regions.

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Craig O'Kane
Chief Operating Officer, Everledger

Craig is the former Director of the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur. In 2019 Craig was honoured by HM The Queen for his work in developing the political, trade and investment relationship between the UK and Australian Governments. Skilled in collaborative business relationships both domestically and globally across industry Craig’s current role is now the COO for Everledger.

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Dr Sarah Pearson
Investor, Board Director & Advisor, Main Sequence Ventures

Sarah has worked in every part of the innovation ecosystem, from researcher commercialising R&D, to Global Head of Open Innovation at a large multinational, to a Founder, PVC at a University, Venture Capital investor, CEO of several companies involved in innovation & commercialisation of tech, Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Scientist, and innovation ecosystem builder globally. Sarah has mentored start-ups, large corporates, SMEs, and ecosystem builders. Until recently Sarah has led innovation in the QLD government and currently has multiple roles covering VC, commercialisation of R&D, social innovation, board, and innovation advisory roles.

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Shaun Reeves
Director, SRJ Walker Wayland

Shaun has judged various categories in awards for the last few years. A director of business advisors and accountants, SRJ Walker Wayland, he has over 30 years' experience in public accounting, running, and growing his own business as well as guiding and coaching hundreds of clients to run and grow theirs. Also, an experienced presenter, strategy facilitator, Shaun has had several directorship roles in NFP organisations. His company is also a proud program partner for Innovate Moreton Bay partner in which he actively sits on the advisory board.

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Hammad Siddiqi
Senior Lecturer (Finance & Economics), University of the Sunshine Coast

With over 20 years of academic experience, Hammad is a financial economist with teaching and research interests across finance and economics. He has published widely including in leading field journals with his research achieving both academic and industry recognition. Hammad has consulted for a variety of public sector and private sector organizations over the years.

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Dr Sonia Sonia
Founder & CEO, Kallangur Dental

Dr Sonia Sonia truly believes customer service is a balancing act between consistently delivering a high standard of service and surprising them with wooing element at every touchpoint. It’s a balance that inspires brilliance in customer service. She has learned from leaders in the world like Zappos in Vegas to Carnival cruise line management. However, her biggest hands-on experience started right here in Moreton Bay when Dr Sonia decided to open her first business in Kallangur. Her business has won in Customer Service Excellence in 2017 and 2018. Winning 2 years in a row taught Dr Sonia about consistency and standards. It was not luck by chance, it was a result of hard work, team effort, perseverance, community love, and a vision that lead Dr Sonia to become the leader in customer service in the community.

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Jacqueline Steel
Director Regional Engagement, Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport

Jacqueline is currently a Director in the Qld Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport working on the Advance Queensland initiative. For the past 5 years Jacqueline’s focus has been on engaging with the Queensland innovation community (entrepreneurs, researchers, corporates, investors, and government) to drive impact and value from ideas.

Jeremy Streten
Lawyer, SMS Law

Jeremy has been in business for almost a decade and has judged many awards for different organisations. Jeremy has a strong passion for helping entrepreneurs thrive. He also has a lot of experience in coaching businesses and teams along with knowing what separates good employees from the bad. SMS Law is also a proud program partner for Innovate Moreton Bay partner in which Jeremy actively sits on the advisory board.

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Elizabeth Sullivan
Chief Executive Officer, Australia China Business Council (ACBC) QLD

Elizabeth’s professional life has focused on international trade and investment. She has worked for Austrade and Trade and Investment Queensland both onshore and offshore (in China, India, Taiwan, and Vietnam). Elizabeth has extensive experience with Export Awards (including the Premier of Queensland's Export Awards) along with having a background in export promotion and facilitation, across Australia but more recently focusing on Queensland.

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Dr Aaron Tham
Program Coordinator - Tourism, Leisure and Events, University of the Sunshine Coast

Aaron is a program coordinator of the tourism, leisure and events major at the University of the Sunshine Coast. He is also an active researcher, with primary interests in the area of emerging technologies and event legacies. Aaron is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is the Immediate Past Vice President and Conference Chair of the Travel and Tourism Research Association Asia Pacific Chapter.Aaron is a program coordinator of the tourism, leisure and events major at the University of the Sunshine Coast. He is also an active researcher, with primary interests in the area of emerging technologies and event legacies. Aaron is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is the Immediate Past Vice President and Conference Chair of the Travel and Tourism Research Association Asia Pacific Chapter.

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Breakdown of judges per category here