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Prestigious annual AIM30 list announced

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

17 young men and 13 young women are on this year’s list of outstanding managers under 30 years of age


A Northern Territory lawyer, a Sydney woman who runs a not-for-profit dedicated to ending slavery, an emerging Aboriginal leader, and a Melbourne woman who heads strategy at one of the country’s largest superannuation funds.

These are just some of the people on the third annual AIM30 list announced today.

The AIM30 is made up of 30 outstanding managers under 30 years of age who have excelled in their chosen careers and already left their unique mark on the management profession.

The 17 young men and 13 young women on this year’s list are from right around the country spanning a range of occupations and backgrounds.

A full list of winners and their biographies are below.

Australian Institute of Management Young Manager Advisory Board chair, Rob Soros, congratulated all those on the list.

“It is extraordinary to see the breadth and depth of achievement and potential on this year’s list. This is a group of young managers and leaders who display character and maturity beyond their years.

“Congratulations to everyone on the list. You are now a member of a growing alumni of outstanding Australians.”


Sara Poguet - Canberra

At just 27, Sara Poguet manages her own successful restaurant business, challenging stereotypes in the male-dominated hospitality industry. In 2014 the native of Perth opened Chez Frederic in Canberra, becoming head chef of the friendly, high-quality restaurant. To drive success in the competitive Canberra market, Sara concentrates on managing all levels of the business to ensure she understands not only what her customers want, but what her staff need to succeed. A hallmark of Sara’s leadership style is resilience and taking challenges in her stride. She has employed staff from disadvantaged backgrounds, allowing people to develop their potential. She fosters a sense of belonging and family with her staff, which encourages them to contribute proactively. Sara makes Chez Frederic available to community groups such as Beyond Blue while giving food to Yellow Van Food Rescue.

Queensland AIM30

Carly O’Brien – Mountain Creek, Sunshine Coast

Having worked in the recruitment and oil and gas industries in London, Carly O’Brien returned to her native Queensland to undertake a business degree. While studying she rediscovered a passion for improving the educational, employment and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Starting first in a mentoring role at University of Sunshine Coast, she moved to her current position as Team Leader (Professional Services) in the Oodgeroo Unit at the Queensland University of Technology. In this role Carly has had to focus not only on the personal development and welfare side of the role, but also on team-building, staff management and financial accountability as the Unit became more results-driven and efficient in services-delivery. Carly says her management style pivots on building relationships with all stakeholders, from her young clients to the University itself.

Chintan Ghandi – Forest Lake, Brisbane

Chintan Ghandi immigrated to Australia in 2006, where he completed an MBA. Although he started his professional career in accounts, thanks to his accounting background, he also has an entrepreneurial outlook and was quickly offered positions in sales and marketing. In 2009 he was made a marketing executive at Jaybel Office Choice and was subsequently made the Sales & Marketing Manager before being appointed head of acquisitions for the office supplies company. From this position Chintan lead three acquisitions of smaller companies in the space of two years, and helped turn declining sales into double-digit growth. Although he has skills in operations, finance and human resource management, he describes his management style as democratic, where working towards a common goal is the key. He is involved in the NGO Food For Life and practices yoga.

Emma McIntosh – Toowong, Brisbane

Emma McIntosh has worked in the disability services sector since 2003, first as a volunteer and currently as National Project Manager for Endeavour Foundation, Queensland’s largest disability service provider. Having achieved a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) and Arts, Emma took a position with the YMCA and managed disability services for the next six years, including developing the YMCA’s first disability action plan. A firm believer in equality and the social model of disability, Emma develops projects that fill unmet societal needs. As a manager, Emma believes in matching staff to roles, providing opportunities for ongoing development and utilising positive psychology towards a solution-focused workplace. She has been a volunteer teacher in Africa and is currently managing a services restructure at Endeavour, prior to the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Joshua William Freeman - Roma

Joshua is executive director in Allied and Community Health at the South West Hospital and Health Service (Queensland Health), and manages 160 people across an area 1.2 times the size of Victoria. Joshua advocates a leadership-driven culture based on empowerment, collaboration and honesty. He drives this culture with ‘management intelligences’: Team Intelligence, where he tells his managers that he doesn’t have all the answers; Emotional Intelligence, where he reinforces a positive team atmosphere even as the team looks to him for leadership; and Strategic Intelligence, where he is constantly working with his managers to find better solutions for everything from more efficient travel logistics, to advanced clinical responses to chronic disease. Joshua invests in recruiting and skills-building in his teams, but he says his most effective approach is to encourage his managers to constantly challenge themselves to improve.

Kyle Page – West End, Townsville

When professional dancer Kyle Page was appointed Artistic Executive of Dancenorth in late 2014, he reached an important milestone in his 10-year international career and also became the youngest executive of an Australian dance company. While Kyle is well-known for his dance and choreography – having appeared as a guest on So You Think You Can Dance and developed major performance projects in Australia and Asia – he has also been focused on the needs of modern arts management. At Dancenorth he presides over a $1.3m budget and implements a management style that combines artistic excellence, financial transparency, accountability to the board and clear lines of communication between all layers of the Townsville-based organisation. His leadership is focused on leveraging dance talent in regional Australia and developing opportunities for Dancenorth in the Asian market.

Alicia Williams – South Gladstone

Established in October 2013, Locations Estate Agents provides property services in residential and commercial sales and leasing, in the Gladstone area of Queensland. Managing director Alicia Williams uses technology such as CRM and the internet to facilitate the best business processes and systems, however-face-to-face communication is equally important. Because of the customer-facing nature of the business, Alicia invests a lot of time developing her employees with training and mentoring, ensuring the corporate promise to clients is delivered in all interactions. She also measures employees against KPIs such as sales volumes and rental arrears. Alicia works as the head of sales, but also consults closely with the company accountants and engages a mentor to help her see the bigger picture. She’s involved in Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce and commits her business to community projects.

Chris Milligan – Holland Park, Brisbane

Chris Milligan had a vision for a business that diverged slightly from the orthodox ambitions of his university friends. So when an opportunity came from one of the Big 4 firms, the Brisbane-based entrepreneur instead struck out on his own and built his own business. That enterprise, Adepto Consulting (, now employs 80 people and has more than 1,000 people on its books. A service designed to connect ‘solo professionals’ with project-oriented work, Chris says he is focusing on building a new recruitment model which is as scalable and flexible as the needs of his clients. His management style entails leading by example, building mutual accountability into the job descriptions and trying to galvanise his teams by showing them how their contributions drive the bigger picture. Chris is also a rural firefighter and Army reservist.

Jordan Miller - Mackay

Jordan Miller is part of the Mackay & Whitsundays leadership team at property valuation firm, Herron Todd White, having first joined the company in 2005. He is involved in the planning and implementation of both business strategy and the short term objectives of enhancing business processes and improving efficiencies to ensure client satisfaction. He understands that good management requires mastery of the technical elements while also leading by example and ensuring collegiality and enthusiasm in his teams. In 2008 he formed Young Professionals Mackay, a social and networking group that brings together like-minded entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals from a range of career types and industries. The group has grown from a simple idea, to now having over 500 members. Jordan is also Chairperson for the Australian Property Institute’s Mackay & Whitsunday Discussion Group.

Todd Maunder  - Kangaroo Point, Brisbane

Founded in 2008 by Todd Maunder, Anttel Communications – a full service IT and telecoms service provider – has experienced extraordinary growth, becoming the telecommunications provider for prominent companies, including NRMA, Thrifty, Caltex and LJ Hooker. Following a basic management tenet of building trust in relationships, Todd has applied his philosophy to clients, employees and suppliers, bringing his staff turnover down and his client retention up. Anttel was named in BRW Magazine’s Top 100 Fast Starters awards in 2014, recognising Anttel’s dynamic culture and commitment to excellence. Todd attributes this dynamic reputation to his tactic of pushing trust and responsibility outwards to his highly-trained managers, allowing Anttel to react when necessary while also providing personalised client care. The ability to deal with issues when they first arise is the key to Todd’s management philosophy.

Ryan Dillon – Woolloowin, Brisbane

Growing up in regional Australia, Ryan Dillon developed a passion for sustainable environmental practices and renewable energy sources. So much so that having received his environmental science degree he named his company after Websters Creek, where he did much of his growing up. Prior to starting Websters Group, Ryan held executive and ministerially-appointed positions in the Queensland government, running over $250 million worth of sustainability and clean energy projects. His company now advises manufacturers on becoming sustainable and reducing their energy consumption; the finance model allows clients to have zero upfront payments, and repay upgrade loans through their energy savings. Ryan has completed a Masters (applied finance) and was formerly Australian runner-up in the Global Student Entrepreneur Award (GSEA). He is responsible for managing complicated projects and finances, but says managing people is the most important skill.


Stephanie Lorenzo – Cremorne, Sydney

In 2009, Stephanie Lorenzo ran a fundraiser to draw attention to human trafficking and slavery in Cambodia. The event raised $80,000 and she subsequently formed Project Futures, a not-for-profit that supports the survivors of human trafficking by getting young Australian professionals involved in events, peer-awareness and fundraising. In its five years of operation Project Futures has seen over 250 victims of trafficking and slavery directly supported from recovery to education and independence in Cambodia and Australia. Stephanie has a Bachelor of International Communication from Macquarie University and in 2013 and 2014 was named in Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence. Her management approach is to have Project Futures sustainably donate to a small number of groups rather than spreading small funding to many organisations. Her management goal is unlock confidence and potential in others.

Mark Beaumont – Crescent Head

Graduating from University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Engineering in 2008, Mark had already demonstrated his leadership credentials when he assumed the presidency of the University’s Engineering Fraternity, and gained part time employment with GlaxoSmithKline on a scholarship. He is now a project manager for the Monadelphous engineering group, and manages 300 direct reports and a $70 million budget on a pipeline compression facility project, part of the Australia Pacific LNG pipeline. Mark is passionate about developing graduates, guiding professionals and building teams who can deliver on projects; he once put together a team of 30 to execute a $100m project – five of whom were graduate engineers – and many in his core team have gone on to assume leadership roles themselves, something of which he is proud. Mark has also completed an AIM Certificate IV in Project Management.

Dean Ossip – Potts Point

Armed with a Bachelor of Construction Management, Dean Ossip set out to carve a career in construction. After five years with a private builder and then six years with Built Holdings, Dean worked his way through the ranks to the position of Project Manager and a member of the Next Generation Leadership Program. Dean’s focus is driven by the importance of the projects he runs: for example, the $105 million project at 20 Martin Place in Sydney’s finance district, which saw him run a team of 220 personnel. After two and-and-a-half years, 3000 cubic metres of concrete and 22 levels, Dean feels proud to know that he managed a team to complete the project. His management philosophy is to strive to be better than he was yesterday and to share that improvement with those around him.

Jenna Meyerson – Rose Bay

While studying commerce at University Jenna worked part-time at her family’s business, MCI. Realising the company wasn’t making enough of its customer communications, she built a marketing arm of the business. In 2011 she developed the MCI Institute which offers stay-at-home mothers and regional Australians the chance to gain further education via internet technologies. The Institute now offers accredited diplomas through online learning. Having grown the Institute into a viable business, Jenna passed the reins to a professional CEO and now manages three teams within MCI: the marketing team, sales team and corporate sales division. As well as being a professional manager and business leader, Jenna is a committed volunteer in community programs and is a martial arts practitioner, despite her MS diagnosis. She describes her leadership style as one of ‘passion, discipline and resilience’.

Lyndall Benton – Umina Beach

Lyndall Benton manages a team of 30 people and oversees more than 7,800 students at the Australian Institute of Professional Education (AIPE) where she’s responsible for the overall design, implementation and quality of student services. Prior to joining AIPE in 2014, Lyndall spent a decade in student support services at University of Newcastle, Central Queensland University, Charles Sturt University and Martin College. At CQ University she rose to Team Leader for all CQ University’s Campus Services Managers. She is an executive member of the International Education Association and has helped design strategies used by institutions relating to the safety and well-being of International Students. Lyndall has completed a Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma in Management from CQ University and is currently pursuing her Masters. Her management style is to demonstrate passion for her work, and have sensitivity to others.

Paul Baker - Prospect

Managing one of NRMA Insurance’s largest branches, in Liverpool NSW, Paul Baker is an inspirational leader to 15 direct reports, and a proven rebuilder of poorly-performing branches. Paul started with NRMA Insurance when he was 20 and during his last three years as a leader in the organisation he has demonstrated excelled at changing workplace culture, driving sales and implementing change. He built management credibility in helping a low performing branch improve, moving it from last out of seven in a region, to first-place in sales four quarters in a row. Paul believes leadership is about communicating, inspiring others, caring about helping people and delivering on key outcomes. He holds himself accountable and models effective behaviour. In 2014, Paul was a state finalist for Young Manager of the Year (NSW/ACT) in the AIM Excellence Awards.

Northern Territory AIM30

Michael Burrows - Darwin

As a 27-year-old, Michael Burrows became a partner in the leading criminal law firm in the Northern Territory, Maley & Burrows. He quickly became the Principal Partner and Director of the firm after his partner, Peter Maley, was appointed to the judiciary. Now 29, Michael holds an integrated management and mentoring role for the firm’s younger lawyers and staff in a practice covering all criminal defence advocacy. He oversees five full time solicitors, a property conveyancer, office manager and five administrative staff. His management style is designed to bring out the best in the staff, with a careful balance between mentorship, friendship and discipline. He studied at Bond University, he has been Vice President of the Northern Territory Young Lawyers Association and a committee member of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the Northern Territory.

Allan Sommerville - Darwin

Allan is currently the Operations Centre Manager with Airnorth, in the Northern Territory, Allan Sommerville started his aviation career with Vincent Aviation. As a school-leaver he was trained in management by Vincent and rose to become Operations Coordinator, before taking-up a position at AV8 Aviation as the Operations Manager. In 2012 he moved back to Vincent Aviation with responsibility for 100 staff, 30 direct reports and nine aircraft, running scheduled routes and FIFO services around Northern Australia. Before taking his current role with Airnorth, Allan has always owned businesses in hospitality and marketing. He attained the rank of Warrant Officer in Australia Air Force Cadets and in 2013 Allan was the AIM Northern Territory Young Manager of the Year.

South Australia AIM30

Anisa Leaver - Adelaide

Originally working as a lawyer and social worker in the humanitarian sector, Anisa started working on a diploma of management as she realised she wanted to use management techniques to bring greater accountability to community projects. Now a Team Leader at Australian Red Cross, Anisa acknowledges that good intentions are not enough in delivering aid and that the community sector needs accountability to ensure coordinated services reach clients, regardless of external and internal factors. Anisa's attention as a manager has been focused on the asylum-seeker and aged care sectors, a challenge which requires attention to leading teams and mentoring. As a member of the YWCA, Anisa believes in supporting programs and advocacy that fosters positive leadership in the community. She considers leadership to entail management discipline while mentoring staff and volunteers in her team.

Daniel Marro - Adelaide

High-flying Daniel Marro was offered a chance of leading a team of 15 people when he was just 22. He was too young for that promotion, but when he seconded into Training, Learning and Development he found what he was best at: helping managers achieve their potential. Now the State Lead for Westpac Group Learning in South Australia, Daniel manages a team of 12 professional facilitators. He has built a reputation as a charismatic and thoughtful leader who brings best practice to his team. Daniel draws on his management training and professional networks to drive his performance, and also draws strategic thinking skills and new perspectives from his community service and positions on NFP boards. He believes good leaders find one thing that will help someone ignite their passion and desire to do great things.

Victorian AIM30

Ben Smith – South Melbourne

Following his sports management degree and then MBA postgraduate studies, Ben Smith first applied himself to entrepreneurial studies, winning a competition which saw him managing The RISE, a $16 million recreational and community hub. In that role he managed a staff of 47 employees and identified people management as his true passion. After taking a job with the Perth Wildcats basketball franchise, he helped transition the team to a new home arena, increasing ticket sales by 200 per cent. Moving to his current senior marketing position at Basketball Australia, he secured the Naming Rights Partner for the Women’s National Basketball League on a multi-million dollar deal and re-launched BA’s official junior game development program, Aussie Hoops. In 2014 he was a state finalist in AIM’s Young Manager of the Year category.

David Donelly - Fitzroy

At the age of 27, David Donelly has already affected big changes in the organisations he works in. Currently the National Community and Sustainability Manager for Target Australia, David and his teams deliver an Indigenous engagement strategy, environmental reporting and an improvement in the ethical sourcing reputation. David has made a management career out of harnessing unrecognised potential: the Indigenous engagement strategy he lead for Coles resulted in a $1.5 million employment grant by the Australian Government, allowing him to appoint five State Indigenous Managers to deliver on targets. In 2009, less than 65 employees across Coles identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander; when he left in 2013 the number was almost 2000. 
David’s management approach is simple: he likes to lead people, he relishes responsibility and enjoys inspiring others to better things.

Jane Tighe - Highett

At 29, Jane Tighe is the Human Resources Manager, Asia Pacific for Chromaflo Technologies Australia Pty Ltd – a global pigments company. Starting work as a 10-year old in a café, Jane studied psychology, management and marketing at university and received a First Class Honours. She took a job in the HR team at OZ Minerals and then, as a 26 year-old, took her current role at Chromaflo Technologies where she now looks after almost 200 people. She has developed in-house training programs, made the HR Department paperless, reduced overtime by 50 per cent, implemented a company bonus program and a new Employment Law Handbook for India, China and ASEAN. Jane manages others with more experience than her, however she believes determination, passion and willingness to learn are keys to success for young managers.

Kristy Clyde - Craigieburn

Kristy Clyde’s career has gone through incredible change, starting as an owner of hairdressing salons, progressing to managing sales teams in the car parts industry and then being headhunted for her current position, Vic/SA/Tasmania state sales manager for Akzo Nobel Car Refinishes – a global supplier of coatings for smash repairers. Kristy joined Akzo Nobel in 2014 when Victoria had lost its biggest Azko Nobel distributor and the culture of her sales team was very low. In six months she has created a more proactive environment and has been managing a return to revenues that were lost in the previous year. She puts the success of the turnaround down to managing with positivity, constant performance reviews and keeping sales performance matched to corporate strategic goals. She completed the AIM’s Strategic Leadership program in 2015.

Michelle Di Fabio - Eaglemont

Graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Information Systems from University of Melbourne in 2006, Michelle Di Fabio studied at the Manchester Business School and graduated from the Chartered Accounting course while at PricewaterhouseCoopers. She joined superannuation fund HOSTPLUS in 2009 where she evolved to her current role of Head of Strategy, working directly with the executive team and the board on strategic planning. Notable achievements include the Gold Coast branch and the branded banking card with ME bank. In 2014, she was awarded the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees Leadership development award, and will attend Harvard Business School with the scholarship. Her management strength is in guiding operational performance in a strategic context. She has a history of volunteer service with charities such as Royal Children’s Hospital, Oxfam and Barnados.

Western Australia AIM30

Clay Thomas - Mt Lawley

At just 26, Clay Thomas is a Development Manager for the national property group, Peet Limited and is currently managing the Arena Roxborough Park development in Victoria.  He’s responsible for delivering quality master-planned communities, managing inter-disciplinary teams and complex technical, regulatory and financial matters. His current project requires management of critical stakeholder relationships including Melbourne Water, VicRoads and the local government authority. Clay started his career as a cadet town planner with City of Mandurah (WA) in 2007, which he performed while studying at university part-time. Having graduated, and won a Rotary Youth Leadership Award, he became a Strategic Town Planner before moving to Peet. Clay has a collegial management style, using transparent communications with stakeholders to drive complex projects. In 2013 he was awarded the Urban Development Institute Young Professional of the Year.

Joanne Horne - Piara Waters

Joanne Horne took a job with WestTrac the day after finishing her double degree at university, and now finds herself – nine years and four roles later – General Manager of Human Resources at WesTrac and a member of the executive group. From her first role as HR adviser, she learned that running good teams meant good results. She has grown accustomed to being the youngest person in a meeting, and the only woman, and has learned to enjoy having fresh perspectives in those groups. Joanne believes that effective executives attain a balance between management and leadership, and that a corporate culture is strongest when the ethics and values of the employees match those of the company. She tries to represent the ethics and values of the company in every decision and in all dealings.

Matthew Nichols - Lockridge

When Matthew Nichols was given the opportunity to manage Perth’s RUAH Centre for homeless people in 2013, it came with an extra challenge: the centre had been closed for two months. Matthew developed a core team of six and reopened the centre with improvements to strategic planning, operations, staffing and client services. Being a leader and also the youngest person in the team, created challenges but the revamp resulted in an expansion of the volunteer base by 20 people, and an increase in the services provided from doctors, lawyers, employment specialists, CentreLink and Department of Housing. Matthew’s management style emphasises passion for the work, and building multidisciplinary teams. Along with onsite services such as showers, computers, clothing and food, Matthew has driven a public education and advocacy program about homelessness, through high schools, TAFEs and university.

Tracy Jin Cui - Burswood

After six years living in Australia, Tracy Jin Cui has achieved a lot. Currently the training coordinator at NGIS she manages one of Australia’s most comprehensive geospatial training programs. In 2015 she also became the only Google Earth Outreach Global trainer in Australia. Tracy is the founding director of the Australia-China Young Professionals Initiative WA; she’s the Director of the Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival, the largest Chinese film festival outside China, and she leads a national team at the ACYPI Policy Unit, which explores young professionals’ perceptions on China-Australia relations. Tracy is driven by understanding how society and the world functions, and how people develop themselves to eventually become who they are. Both passions have contribute to a successful management style. She won the Young Professional Excellency Award from AIMWA in 2014.