Corporate Ladder: your weekly guide to executive appointments

South Australia’s premier executive appointments column tracking the movements of those driving the state’s public and private sectors. Plus the latest executive recruitment opportunities.

Feb 06, 2023, updated Feb 06, 2023
Michele Allan (left), Grace Portolesi (centre), Adrian Tisato (bottom centre), Pat Gerace (top right) and Marcus Gehrig (bottom right) have all been appointed to new positions. Meanwhile, Jo Townsend (top centre) has resigned as CEO of Funds SA.

Michele Allan (left), Grace Portolesi (centre), Adrian Tisato (bottom centre), Pat Gerace (top right) and Marcus Gehrig (bottom right) have all been appointed to new positions. Meanwhile, Jo Townsend (top centre) has resigned as CEO of Funds SA.

Nicola Sasanelli

Andy Thomas space

Andy Thomas Space Foundation executive director Grace Portolesi has resigned. Photo: supplied

Space Foundation farewells star

The Andy Thomas Space Foundation has farewelled Chief Executive Officer Nicola Sasanelli.

Sasanelli, who has been CEO since the foundation’s establishment in 2016, is retiring from the South Australian Government.

His extensive career saw him join the South Australian Government in 2009 where he worked with the Department of Premier and Cabinet and later, the Department of State Development.

In 2016, he joined Defence SA as Director of the Space Industry and R&D Collaborations project, and was made Director of the South Australian Space Industry Centre at its creation.

Sasanelli’s last day was Tuesday, January 31.

The space foundation has appointed Grace Portolesi as their new Executive Director, who commenced her role on Wednesday, February 1.

Portolesi represented the South Australian House of Assembly seat of Hartley from 2006 to 2014 for the Labor Party.

Pat Gerace

Developers’ lobby boss lands new gig

Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) SA division Chief Executive Pat Gerace has been appointed CEO of civil engineering company Greenhill.

Gerace, who is set to start his new role in April, has led the UDIA SA division since 2015.

Prior to that, he was Executive Director of the Local Government Association of SA and a Ministerial Adviser to Infrastructure Ministers Pat Conlon and Tom Koutsantonis.

UDIA SA division President Daniel Palumbo said a search was underway for Gerace’s replacement.

“While this signifies a big change for the UDIA, Pat has established a springboard of strategic relationships, credibility and goodwill for the UDIA to leverage well into the future for the benefit of our members,” Palumbo wrote to members last week.

Greenhill, founded in 2004, provides civil engineering, landscape architecture and project management services to government, urban development and commercial clients.

The company said Gerace’s “knowledge and experience will be a significant boost to Greenhill’s capabilities, particularly as he shares our values and philosophies”. 

Marcus Gehrig

Paul Stevenson

RSPCA CEO is the cat’s whiskers

RSPCA South Australia has announced the appointment of new Chief Executive Officer, Marcus Gehrig.

Gehrig has extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector, previously being employed by Guide Dogs SA, Minda Incorporated and respite agency, Cara Incorporated.

He was a standout candidate for his new position, having held the role of RSPCASA board director for the past seven years.

Gehrig takes over the position from retiring CEO, Paul Stevenson.

The changing of the guard takes place ahead of the organisation’s relocation to a new Animal Care Campus, with construction expected to begin within the Glenthorne National Park at O’Halloran Hill in the coming weeks.

Ian Horne

Ian Horne

Pubs lobby boss calls time

The Australian Hotels Association SA branch is on the hunt for a new CEO after long-time boss Ian Horne announced his departure.

Horne has been involved with the influential pubs’ lobby for 32 years, first joining in 1983 as Group Scheme Manager before being appointed Executive Director in 1986.

He left in 1998 to spend seven years as CEO of the Motor Trade Association, before re-joining the AHASA as CEO in 2005.

Since then, he has served on a number of high-profile boards, including the South Australian Tourism Commission, Business Events Adelaide (formerly the Adelaide Convention Bureau), and Hospitality Group Training SA.

Horne is set to leave the AHA in July. The membership organisation has already begun advertising for a new CEO.

Simon Crowther

New leadership at Spacetalk

Adelaide smartwatch company Spacetalk has appointed Simon Crowther as its new CEO.

Crowther is a former Managing Director of ASX-listed aerial mapping firm Nearmap. More recently, he was Managing Director and Head of International at venture capital firm Yamaha Motor Ventures, and CEO of airspace management firm AirMap.

Spacetalk, which dumped its CEO and Founder Mark Fortunatow in October, said Crowther would be relocating from Vancouver to Australia to take on the job.

Spacetalk Chair Georg Chmiel said Crowther’s appointment followed an “extensive global search”.

“Simon’s track record at Nearmap is outstanding and we are excited to see what he will achieve as Spacetalk’s new CEO,” he told the ASX

Crowther commenced his new role today. He replaces interim CEO Saurabh Jain, a Sydney-based software executive who has been in the top job since Fortunatow’s sacking in October.

Adrian Tisato

Career move for top lawyer

Commercial lawyer Adrian Tisato has joined WRP Legal & Advisory as a Director.

Tisato joins the Flinders Street firm after 11 years with GT Legal.

Prior to that, he was with Griffins Lawyers for the best part of 20 years.

Tisato also sits on a number of prominent boards, including the Art Gallery of South Australia and embattled cinema organisation Mercury CX.

The Labor-connected lawyer has also worked on other significant public boards, including the South Australian Film Corporation, Adelaide Fringe, Motor Accident Commission and Independent Gambling Authority.

Nick Martin

Nick Martin

Nick Wagner

Beston finds new CFO

Beston Global Food Company Limited has appointed Nick Martin as Chief Financial Officer.

Martin is a Fellow Certified Practicing Accountant with over 22 years of experience across senior executive roles in the fast-moving consumer goods industry.

He has previously worked at American food company McCormick and Company and global dairy company Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited.

He started as CFO of Beston on Wednesday, February 1.

The appointment sees him replace Nick Wagner, who has worked at the company since 2016, holding multiple roles within the Finance and Control team before his appointment as Beston CFO.

Jo Townsend

Jo Townsend

Leadership change at Funds SA

Jo Townsend, CEO of state government investment corporation Funds SA, has resigned after eight years in the top job.

Townsend joined the public sector superannuation fund in 2015 after seven years with REST Industry Super, where she held senior roles including General Manager, Investments and Acting Chief Operating Officer.

Over the last year, she has overseen Funds SA’s attempts to divest itself from $10.6m in Russian assets.

Townsend said her decision was “taken from a personal perspective” and she was “very much looking forward to a break and time with family after almost 40 years in the workforce”.

Funds SA Chair Paul Laband said Townsend has led a “transformation of Funds SA during some challenging times”.

Townsend will stay on as CEO until the Funds SA board finds a replacement.

Corporate Position: the latest executive employment opportunities

Credit Union SA is looking to appoint a new Adelaide-based Chief Financial Officer. This is a pivotal role for an innovative, strategic-thinking finance and accounting professional to assume a leadership position within a respected, stable and successful financial services provider. Key responsibilities include: proactively contributing to the strategic direction of the organisation through the development and implementation of both short and long term financial plans; working autonomously to lead, manage, mentor and develop the finance, accounting and treasury teams ensuring effective use of technology and driving continuous improvement; maintaining and enhancing relationships with key internal and external stakeholders; conducting commercial analysis and financial modelling to build strong business cases and support key decisions and business planning objectives; and ensuring compliance and adherence with all relevant statutory, legal, code and ethical obligations and policies and procedures. Applications are encouraged from qualified finance professionals with demonstrated experience in leading this function in a comparable domain. Essential qualities sought to fulfil this position include well-developed commercial acumen and high level analytical and technical skills, together with superior communication, negotiation and stakeholder management abilities. Contemporary leadership behaviours, resilience to navigate a fast-paced environment and personal and professional maturity will be key to success in this role. An attractive remuneration and benefits package indicative of the importance of this role will be offered to a high-calibre candidate.

The Veterinary Surgeons Board of South Australia is an independent statutory authority which regulates the provision of veterinary treatment. They are looking to appoint someone to the critical leadership role Registrar. Key responsibilities include: managing the day-to-day functions, operations and activities of the Board in accordance with legislative and Board requirements; providing expert advice to the Board on governance, policy and procedures to ensure the effective operation of the organisation; overseeing the management of the organisation’s financial resources including budget, Board finance reports and the annual financial statements ad preparing the annual report; and working with a variety of stakeholders including the Minister, government organisations, and both local and national industry bodies. The position is suited to an accomplished generalist with relevant experience, ideally in a regulatory environment. The successful candidate will demonstrate drive, energy, resilience and genuine leadership and stakeholder management capabilities. They will need an understanding of legislation and egal procedures and possess high level written and communication skills, collaboration abilities, a strong understanding of corporate and state governance, knowledge of the commercial sector and political acumen.

The Australian Naval Infrastructure is the owner, developer and manager of ship and submarine building infrastructure in support of the Commonwealth’s continuous naval shipbuilding program. It is looking to appoint an experienced senior executive as Director of Major Projects to lead the management of a significant period of infrastructure development and growth across multiple teams and sites. The successful candidate will demonstrate a high degree of initiative and independence in the safe delivery of complex infrastructure projects ensuring the objectives of safety, schedule, cost and quality are achieved whilst ensuring compliance with legislation, codes of practice, guidelines and policies. Applications are sought from appropriately qualified and experienced professionals with extensive major project management experience. The successful candidate will display highly effective interpersonal skills, strong written and verbal communication abilities, a proactive attitude and a professional and collaborative approach to managing projects and people. Excellent organisational skills and a team player mentality will also be critical to success.

is an established approved provider of Home Care Packages, Commonwealth Home Support Programme and Veterans’ Home Care Services. It is currently looking for a General Manager to oversee all elements of HenderCare’s aged care services, whilst leading the organisational changes and requirements of the national aged care reforms. Key responsibilities include: identifying, recommending and implementing growth strategies; identifying and driving improvement initiatives and operational efficiencies; leading, motivating, developing and managing dedicated aged care staff nationally; contributing to overall business strategy as a key member of the executive leadership team; and maintaining and enhancing relationships with internal and external stakeholders. Applications are encouraged from qualified and experienced professionals with demonstrated experience in a comparable role, ideally across a geographically dispersed business. The successful candidate will possess strong leadership skills and the energy, focus, ambition and credibility to thrive within a fast-paced and dynamic environment. A clinical background is desirable, but not essential.

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Angela Wiggins

Paul Lagazzino

South Australians take the lead

Australian defence and security company BAE Systems has appointed two South Australians to the roles of Chief People Officer and Chief Counsel.

Angela Wiggins is taking on the role of Chief People Officer following last year’s departure of Danielle Mesa.

She has been with the company for almost fifteen years, working as Senior Legal Counsel and Chief Counsel prior to her new appointment.

Paul Lagozzino is taking over Wiggins’ previous role as the new Chief Counsel.

Laggozzino joined the company in 2015 and has most recently been the legal lead in the company’s national Maritime business.

The pair started their new roles on Monday, January 9.

Michele Allan

New chair lifts off

Space research centre, SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre has appointed current board member Michele Allan as the new Chair.

Allan is a founding member of the Lot Fourteen-based space research centre’s board and is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Allan is currently Chair of the Boards of Charles Sturt University, the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence CRC and Wine Australia.

She is also non-executive director of CSIRO, CRC Food Agility and Dairy Food Safety Victoria.

The appointment comes after the sudden passing of inaugural Chair Peter Woodgate last December.

Amy Byars

Solstice Media is over the moon

Solstice Media has appointed Amy Byars as its new Event and Sponsorship Manager.

Byars comes to Solstice Media from the South Australian Tourism Commission where she worked as Acquisition Executive.

Her previous employment experience includes Ayers House, Adelaide Oval and the South Australian Museum.

Byars began her role on Monday, January 30.

Scott Begbie

Space engineers welcome new EGM

REDARC Defence and Space has appointed Scott Begbie as their new Executive General Manager.

Begbie brings 22 years’ experience to the business from his time at engineering manufacturer, APC Technology.

Joining APC Technology in 2000 as Project Engineer, Begbie undertook the role of General Manager in 2009 before quickly being appointed to his most recent role of Managing Director.

He comes on board in time to assist in the delivery of a recently awarded $23 million contract to supply 12,600 LED lights for the first batch of three Hunter-class frigates.

Centennial appointment for Smith Motor Group

Smith Motor Group has appointed Linh Bui as Chief Operating Officer.

He was employed by the company in 2019 as Chief Financial Officer and his appointment to include COO sees his role expand to the formulation and execution of corporate strategy to continue the group’s growth.

Bui has two decades of industry experience, previously working as Commercial and Business Development Manager at automated packaging company HMPS and Manager of Perks Integrated Business Services.

The appointment coincides with the automotive company’s centennial year.

Natalie Morley

Damon Maslen

Team refresh at kwpx

Kwpx, a communications agency based in Adelaide and Darwin has announced four new employee appointments.

With over a decade of experience at the company, Natalie Morley will be moving into the role of Executive Director in Media.

Kwpx Board member, Sam Davies has been appointed as Executive Director in Brand and Digital to drive digital focus.

Amanda Metaxiotis, previously Head of Digital Marketing, will head the Customer Service Strategy department as Director of Customer Experience.

Damon Maslen has joined the company as their new Commercial Director, taking over finance and administration functions.

Maslen has over a decade of finance experience, previously being appointed as Financial Controller of automotive company, Australian Clutch Services and Head of Finance at the Adelaide Fringe.

Liz Hawkins

Taking centre stage at Patch Theatre

Liz Hawkins, Executive Director of Advancement at the University of Adelaide, has been appointed Chair of Patch Theatre.

Hawkins has over 30 years of experience in fundraising within the tertiary education, arts and culture, and not-for-profit sectors across Australia, North America and the United Kingdom.

Her appointment at the children’s theatre sees her taking over the position from retiring Chair, Janet Worth, who ran the board since 2014.

Ruth Hundertmark

Megan Harris

Working alongside peers

Non-profit skills training organisation PEER has recently taken on two new General Managers.

Ruth Hundertmark has been appointed General Manager of Employment Services, while Megan Harris has been appointed General Manager of Education Services.

Hundertmark’s previous experience includes being appointed as Director of Education Partnerships at TAFE SA and leading research partnerships at UniSA and University of Adelaide.

Harris has over a decade of experience in the Vocational Education and Training Sector, having worked in a number of operational and leadership roles in Australia and South-East Asia.

Hundertmark and Harris commenced their roles on Monday, January 30.

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