Born in Canberra to Mark and Carolyn, I spent most of my early life moving every two or so years in Northern NSW Coastal towns due to my father’s role as a bank manager with NAB. I was a top student throughout school, achieving Dux/Valedictorian of my Year 10 class and after completing Year 12 was accepted into University of Sydney to complete a Bachelor of Economics/Social Science.
I decided to take a year off from school to work and was recognized for my strong leadership skills and work ethic, swiftly moving into management roles while still a teenager with a local supermarket chain in Canberra and later helped open the first of several restaurants in a McDonald’s restaurant franchise as the manager overseeing Human Resources and Training. A switch to the hotel industry was the next challenge where I was employed with Rydges Hotels for several years ultimately managing major events and conferences for up to 1000 delegates at both the Rydges Lakeside Hotel and Rydges Eaglehawk Resort.
A year long stint with Fairfax was next, beginning a decade of work with small business advertising and marketing campaigns. The division I worked in was sold to Pacific Access Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Telstra) and I continued working on marketing campaigns for small to medium enterprises in Canberra and transferred to the Gold Coast to do the same with exceptional results, earning CEO Club recognition for outstanding sales outcomes and customer service, an award extended to only the top 1% of the workforce.
In 2007, after relocating to the Gold Coast a few years earlier, I started a cattle business with my then family-in-law, breeding the delicious Japanese import Wagyu on a family property in Grafton. The product was exported to countries across the world. In 2008, I built a house in Bonogin Valley and after hearing of a council consultation on the redevelopment of Bonogin Road, I helped reform the Bonogin Valley Community Association and was elected President. We developed a working relationship with the the state Labor Member of Parliament and continued to work closely with the state LNP member when she was elected, both in government and opposition, as we achieved great outcomes in the community.
My role with Sensis Pty Ltd (formerly Pacific Access Pty Ltd) evolved and I became responsible for the marketing and communications campaigns for a dozen QLD Councils, several QLD state government departments including the Dept of Communities, Dept of Community Safety and Dept of Environment and Resource Management and also the Northern Territory Government and the agency responsible for the Federal Senators and Members of Parliament.
In 2010 I was invited by the then local Councillor to sit on the Mudgeeraba Division Advisory Committee and attended regular meetings. 2011 saw my appointment as a director on the board of the Australian Wagyu Association where I served for just under a year, ultimately resigning to focus my attention on my new role with Gold Coast City Council.
At the 2012 local government election I was elected to represent Division 9, covering approximately 40,000 residents living in the suburbs of Mudgeeraba, Highland Park, Worongary, Tallai, Bonogin, Gilston, Advancetown, Numinbah Valley & Natural Bridge, Springbrook and Austinville. I sat as Deputy Chair of the Governance, Administration and Finance committee until 2016 and was also a member of the Economic Development committee, the Community & Cultural Development committee, and was the Gold Coast’s representative on the SEQ Council of Mayors Environment and Sustainability Committee. Upon resolution of Council, I was made the City of Gold Coast “Kindness Ambassador” working with the global World Kindness Movement and World Kindness Australia to see our city develop a reputation where generosity and compassion is promoted and celebrated. In 2013 I was appointed by the State Minister for Agriculture, John McVeigh, to sit on the Darling-Downs Moreton Rabbit Board (DDMRB).
Throughout 2012 & 2013, an informal role as the Council’s primary advocate for the IT sector evolved, with close involvement in the GovHack and Startup Weekend events along with working closely with Griffith University on IT department initiatives, such as the Opmantek Industry Award. In 2014, I led a city-sponsored trade mission with Silicon Lakes CEO and Gold Coast entrepreneur Aaron Birkby to San Francisco with a dozen SEQ-based startups, also visiting Las Vegas to check out the famous Downtown Project, an urban renewal and digital transformation project. I championed a variety of cultural programming for the city and local area, partnering with Bleach* Festival for the inaugural Mudgeeraba “Picnic in your Patch” that featured the ARIA award-winning Clare Bowditch, brokered agreements with Woodford Folk Festival’s “Festival of Small Halls” which delivered the first international musicians to play in our Hinterland’s quaint historical halls, and co-produced “Summertime Sessions in the Village” with Gold Coast music champion Polly Armstrong of Pollination Music, which is a Friday night music program that delivered economic and social benefit to Mudgeeraba while profiling the best Gold Coast acoustic artists.
From 2016 I served on the Water and Waste Committee, the Governance and Administration committee and the Community Services committee, as well as the city’s Audit Committee. In 2017, the committee structure changed and I remained a member of the Audit Committee and Water and Waste Committee, but became a member of the newly formed Lifestyle and Community Committee and the Economy, Planning and Environment Committee. I’m currently completing my EMBA at Bond University, and I am convinced this learning makes me a better Councillor, refreshing and enabling my mind as we negotiate and manage the $1.5billion budget at the City of Gold Coast.
In July 2017, I married Jude Kalman, a Gold Coast filmmaker and producing director for creative agency Fotomedia, and we work together on a variety of community and charitable initiatives through her company FishFilms. The Gold Coast Hinterland is the perfect place to raise my three young sons, John (10), Edward (8) and Emerson (6). I love to visit the many local parks with them and feel like the country town attitude Mudgeeraba is famous for is relaxing and helps me retreat from my busy life. The boys and I, with Jude, visit the southern beaches from time to time, visit a local church on the odd free weekend, and I love getting out and about to see live music throughout the city. I love to watch and play basketball, I don’t mind a game of 500, and I’m partial to a glass of red with my steak, particularly if there’s a bit of music in the background.
I’m excited about the opportunity to lead our division for the coming decade, proudly representing the city as we build on the legacy of the 2018 Commonwealth Games and hopefully continuing the work of previous Councillors, whilst trying to connect the growing number of young families like my own to the wonderful community spirit generated by pioneering families who have lived in our area for many generations.