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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.

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Nic Barbato

Adelaide 36ers score new CEO

The Adelaide 36ers have appointed soccer executive Nic Barbato as the club's new CEO.

Originally from Adelaide, Barbato will take the helm of the city’s only NBL team at the end of July when he leaves his role as Chief Commercial Officer & Strategy with A-League club Perth Glory.

With a background in funds management and private equity, Barbato first moved into sports management in 2010 as Director of Football at St Michael’s College before taking on the role as Business Development Executive at Adelaide United.

He has since held various managerial and board roles with Sydney FC, Tailem Bend Motor Sport Park and second tier soccer club Adelaide City.

Adelaide 36ers Chairman Grant Kelley said Barbato – who is one of only two Australians to have completed the prestigious University of Liverpool Football Industries MBA – will be able to adapt his soccer background to suit the needs of the 36ers.

“Nic was the standout candidate from an outstanding field. He has a proven track record of delivering strong financial and commercial results in elite sport,” Kelley said.

“The A-League mirrors the NBL in many ways, most especially its international orientation and growth trajectory among youth. We believe his skills are very adaptable to creating a market-leading basketball organisation here in Adelaide”.

Barbato replaces interim 36ers CEO Adam May who has been moved to the newly created role of Chief Operating Officer.

May took over as temporary CEO in April following the resignation of Ben Kavenagh, who had led the organisation since May 2018.

Bill Muirhead
Professor David Lloyd

University taps returning diplomat for council position

UniSA has appointed South Australia’s outgoing Agent General in London Bill Muirhead AM to the university’s governing council and has extended the term of Vice Chancellor David Lloyd until 2027.

Touted as one of the most well-connected Australians in London, Muirhead’s 14-year term in the prestigious diplomatic post ended last Wednesday. Former Premier Mike Rann appointed the Adelaide-born advertising executive to be Agent General in 2007 and his term was extended with bipartisan support in 2015.

Muirhead is the former Chief Executive and President of UK-based multinational Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide and has worked on campaigns with high-profile clients including the UK Conservative Party, Qantas, British Airways and Tourism Australia.

The long-time expat is expected to spend more time in Australia following his appointment with UniSA, which he said is “seen from overseas as a world class ‘young university’”.

“Over time, I have been impressed by the pioneering spirit and ability to make new things happen,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to contribute to the future progress of the State.’’

Former Liberal Tourism Minister David Ridgway has been appointed as Muirhead’s replacement and will become South Australia’s 26th Agent General in London.

Muirhead’s new role in Australia comes as UniSA extends the term of Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd for another six years.

Dublin-born Lloyd has led the university since 2013 and has been tasked with directing the institution’s “Entreprise25” strategic plan.

He is also the Chair of the Committee for Adelaide policy thinktank and Deputy Chair of higher education peak body Universities Australia.

UniSA has also reappointed Chancellor Pauline Carr and Deputy Chancellor John Hill until 2026 and 2023 respectively.

Carr was appointed Chancellor in August 2018 after serving eight years on the university’s governing council, while Hill served as South Australian Minister for Health from 2005 to 2013 before retiring from politics and joining UniSA in December 2018.

Corporate Position: the latest executive employment opportunities

JusticeNetSA is an independent, not-for-profit legal service for South Australians who cannot afford a lawyer or get the legal help they need elsewhere. Its legal “safety net” is powered by a network of hundreds of the best lawyers from South Australia and interstate who volunteer their time pro bono. JusticeNet exists because of the generosity of the lawyers and law firms who support its work and is funded by membership contributions, government and philanthropic grants, private donations, fundraising events and activities and in-kind support from the University of Adelaide Law School.

The Executive Officer is accountable to the Management Committee, reporting to the President, and is responsible for the day-to-day management of JusticeNet as well as the continued development and promotion of the organisation. Applications are welcome from experienced legal practitioners with the management skills and commercial acumen required to lead and grow the organisation. Strategic thinking, contemporary leadership, strong financial acumen and highly developed stakeholder relationship building skills are also required as are the warmth, empathy, integrity and credibility necessary to lead a community organisation of this nature. A strong commitment to equality and access to justice for all members of our community is essential.

Jemma Knight

New marketing leader for Events SA

The South Australian Tourism Commission has promoted Jemma Knight to the position of General Manager Marketing and Communications at Events SA.

Since joining the agency in 2017, Knight has managed the promotion of several of the state’s biggest events including the Christmas Pageant, Tour Down Under and Tasting Australia.

Prior to joining the public sector, she held various marketing and promotions roles with Queensland firm APRS Media, national cinema chain Dendy Cinemas and Icon Film Distribution.

She has also worked in marketing roles for the Canberra Theatre Centre and more recently the State Theatre Company of South Australia.

Events SA Executive Director Hitaf Rasheed said Knight would be a “great leader” of the agency’s marketing and communications team.

“She has a real vision for the way the team will both deliver the marketing and communications function and also integrate across our business.”

Jo Thomas

Business school appoints first-ever female CEO

The Australian Institute of Business has promoted Jo Thomas to Chief Executive Officer, making her the first female CEO in the institution’s 36-year history.

Established in 1985 and based in the Adelaide CBD, the AIB is a private business school that only provides online postgraduate courses. It describes itself as the largest online MBA provider in Australia with more than 16,000 students across 90 countries.

Thomas joined the AIB in November 2018 as Chief Operating Officer where she handled marketing, sales, human resources and technology. Her business career spans more then 15 years where she held various executive roles with, iSelect and small business JinHang Lighting.

As newly-promoted AIB CEO, she replaces Paul Wappett who has led the online higher education provider since February 2018.

The institute says the new CEO will be charged with strengthening the AIB’s position “as a leader in interactive online business education for professionals”.

Thomas said she was privileged to lead the organisation which is “backed by our unique vision to make education more accessible”.

“I am looking forward to working closely with our Board, our student community and our amazing team to accelerate AIB into the future,” she said.

Symoane Mercurio
Jonathan Dodd

Movements in commercial law

Special Counsel Symoane Mercurio has been elevated to the role of Director at commercial law firm Cowell Clarke who have made six promotions to kick off the new financial year.

Mercurio, who is also a Director at Football South Australia, has practised law with Cowell Clarke for just under 14 years after starting with them as a Senior Associate in 2007.

A Special Counsel since 2015, she advises clients on contract disputes, insolvency and debt recovery, and is touted by Cowell Clarke as a “litigation and dispute resolution specialist”.

Mercurio’s promotion comes alongside her ongoing involvement with the Office of the SA Small Business Commissioner’s COVID-19 Mediation Panel.

Cowell Clarke, who have grown to a team of around 100 commercial lawyers after their establishment in 1989, also promoted five other Adelaide lawyers – Amanda Brady, Andrew Bullock, Cassie Burfoot, Emma Peters and Peter Healey – to the role of Special Counsel.

Managing Director Rob Comazzetto said the suite of promotions recognised the “high level of technical skills, business acumen and leadership” of the six lawyers.

“We are approaching a new financial year with an optimistic outlook and confidence,” he said.

“We have strong teams meeting current and future challenges and opportunities.”

Meanwhile, Adelaide law firm Piper Alderman have promoted long-time Senior Associate Jonathan Dodd to the role of Partner in Real Estate.

Dodd has been with the Franklin Street-based firm since 2006 and specialises in hospitality and tourism, liquor and gambling licensing, and leasing arrangements.

Piper Alderman also awarded promotions to Adelaide Special Counsel Eilish Gigney and Associate Isabelle Gatley in time for the 2021-22 financial year.

Managing Partner Tony Britten-Jones said the promotions are a “testament to our firm’s mantra of ‘attract, train and retain’, creating an environment where individuals can flourish but are supported”.

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