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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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Jack Snelling

Bright future for ex-Labor minister

Former South Australian Treasurer Jack Snelling has been appointed CEO of Christian aid and development agency Bright Futures.

The veteran Labor minister, who quit the party last year to revive the Family First brand at the 2022 State Election, has spent the last four years in a number of non-executive and consulting roles with organisations including Baptist Care SA, Blackfriars Priory School and the North Eastern Community Hospital.

He retired from politics in 2018 after more than 20 years as Labor’s member for the safe seat of Playford. The right faction heavyweight spent nearly seven years in cabinet, first as Treasurer (2011-2013) and then as Minister for Health (2013-2017) – overseeing the Weatherill Government's controversial Transforming Health reforms.

His new part-time role with Bright Futures – a registered charity that works with overseas aid agencies on development, public health and education programs – will see him prepped for trips to India, Kenya, Pakistan and Uganda to meet the organisation’s local aid partners.

“The new role aligns so well to my values of social justice and my desire to live out my faith in a role that has great purpose,” Snelling said in a statement.

Snelling is due to start as CEO on May 16, replacing Bright Futures Co-Founder Paul Madden AM. Bright Futures says Snelling is stepping down from all his political roles to take on the new job.

Gianna Murphy
Andrew White

New Renew CEO

Renew Adelaide’s Head of Property and Operations Gianna Murphy has been tapped to step up as CEO later this month.

Murphy is the owner of small speciality sourdough bakery Motherdough and has been with Renew Adelaide since 2016. She is also a former Project Manager and Property Coordinator with SYC Limited and Data Quality Analyst with CoreLogic.

Her promotion comes after Renew Adelaide’s current Chief Executive Andrew White was appointed Executive Manager of Rundle Mall within the Adelaide Economic Development Agency (AEDA) last month. He is set to depart Renew Adelaide, and the Maras Group, on May 19.

White said in a statement that Murphy’s “understanding and knowledge of the work we do at Renew Adelaide is unmatched”.

“She understands the challenges for start-ups and entrepreneurs and has a deep understanding of what it takes to develop strong main streets,” he said.

“I’m confident that she will usher in a new and sustained period of growth and opportunity.”

Murphy steps up to the top job with, according to Renew Adelaide, more than 380 business concepts awaiting space in the CBD through the organisation's program.

Lucinda Byers

Public lawyer makes Legal Services Commission move

Lucinda Byers, Special Counsel to the South Australian Crown Solicitor, is moving to the Legal Services Commission after being appointed its Chief Legal Officer.

The new role gives Byers responsibility for the Commission’s criminal and family law practice and oversight of the LSC’s legal practitioner panels – comprised of more than 650 lawyers from 220 South Australian firms.

Across more than 20 years in law, Byers has held numerous senior positions in the public sector where she has provided “high-level legal advice” to ministers and department chief executives.

She has had three stints in the Crown Solicitors Office, first as a Solicitor (1997-1999), second as a Senior Solicitor (2005-2015) and most recently as a Special Counsel (2019-2022). In-between, she has been a Special Counsel to the Chief Executive of the Attorney General’s Department and Solicitor Assisting the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

“Lucinda is an outstanding public lawyer who has specialised in providing high-level advice to government over many years and has also represented South Australia in the High Court,” LSC CEO Gabrielle Canny said.

“Lucinda joins the Commission with a strong understanding of our services and priorities, having served on our board since 2019.”

Byers’ appointment comes after a recent change at the top of the Commission, with national legal heavyweight Peter Slattery appointed Chair in February, replacing Jason Karas.

Corporate Position: Feast and Famine

When I tell people that I recruit executives and board members for a living, they constantly make comments like “You must be really struggling to find good people due to the labour shortages”. My response is always the same: “Actually, it depends”.

The suggestion that labour shortages are universal is a myth. At Hender Consulting we are seeing both feast and famine depending on the salary level, discipline and sector. Chronic labour shortages at lower salary levels in organisations are indeed worsening by the month and this will certainly trigger wages growth. The scary headline CPI figure released this month will only worsen this dynamic as EBAs are renegotiated in the months and years ahead. There are also chronic shortages of many technical skills sets such as clinical health professionals, engineering and ICT specialists and the workforce challenges facing the aged care and disability sectors are extremely well documented. These are some of the famines.

Ironically, at higher salary levels, the fields for many of the senior executive roles we recruit are awesome due to the influx of outstanding executives targeting the best city in the world in which to live. We are now regularly ‘speed dating’ as many as a dozen top tier candidates for CEO and C Suite positions where our clients literally have too much choice and want to respect the depth and breadth of the field by meeting longer lists.

Virtually every shortlist in recent times has someone who has earned much more previously. In this pocket of the market overqualified continues to be the new qualified.

The fields for the board member roles are also generally outstanding with a strong supply of highly accomplished professionals exploring governance opportunities. This is even true for the voluntary board roles in our recent experience. These are some of the feasts.

The combination of both feasts and famines has created some unprecedented remuneration dynamics. If anything, the pressure on salaries for roles paying above $200K is actually downwards and the wage rises lower down the organisational charts are gathering pace. This makes it critical for business leaders to understand which part of the market they are playing in. It also makes attempts and commitments to achieve parity between different disciplines at the same level of management both unwise and unachievable.

Power is therefore oscillating between employer and employee.

James Martin

Homecoming at JLL

Senior industrial property figure Martin James is returning to his former employers JLL after being appointed Head of Industrial and Logistical in Adelaide.

James has spent the last 12 months with Centennial Property Group in Melbourne where he currently works as Asset Manager Industrial – overseeing the national investment firm’s South Australian and Victorian industrial portfolio.

Prior to that, he spent seven years with Adelaide and Parafield Airport as Project Leasing Manager and later Head of Property Development where he had “direct involvement” with airport master planning.

James returns to JLL after working at the professional services firm from 2008 to 2013 as Director of Industrial Services.

JLL Managing Director Ben Parkinson said he was looking forward to welcoming him back.

“Martin is a highly regarded and experienced property professional who brings an accomplished and valuable skill set to our business,” he said.

“His extensive industry experience and reputation will allow us to continue to provide the very best for our clients in the industrial space.”

Tom Pennington

SA edtech start-up lures PwC director

PwC Australia director and former Commonwealth Bank executive Tom Pennington has joined growing Adelaide immersive technology company Lumination as Head of Government and Enterprise.

Pennington described the role as the “perfect career step” after two years as Technology Consulting Director at PwC in Adelaide and nearly nine years as an IT and engineering executive with Commonwealth Bank in Sydney.

“I’m so excited to be joining such a visionary local company. I can’t wait to embrace this new challenge,” he said in a statement.

Pennington’s time with PwC saw him working within the firm’s Government and Public Sector practice designing “large scale technology solutions and transformations” for clients in government, health, defence, finance and manufacturing.

He joined PwC in May 2020 after three years as Senior Partner with IT consulting firm and a year with Alpha Finance as Chief Technology Officer. His earlier senior roles with Commonwealth Bank include Head of Engineering Delivery and Executive Manager of IT Engineering.

Lumination is an education tech company with a focus on virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Since its founding in 2016, the company’s client base has predominately been in education, but it is now dealing with an influx of new clients in defence government and enterprise – the three sectors Pennington has been given responsibility for in his new role.

Phil Catley

SA Telstra stalwart joins TPG

Long-time senior Telstra employee Phil Catley has joined TPG Telecom, Australia’s second-largest listed telecommunications company, as State Manager for South Australia.

The role also gives Catley leadership responsibilities for TPG’s Business Sales Team in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland.

Catley has spent the last year with IT support company Wireless Communications as Chief Customer Officer, but the majority of his career – more than 20 years over two separate stints – has been with Telstra in sales and accounts. His most recent position with the telco giant was General Manager of Enterprise and Government in South Australia.

Alongside his job, Catley is currently serving a two-year term as Co-convenor of the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network Consumer Representative Board. He also sits on the South Australian Industry Skills Council and is a former SA State Council Chair of the Australian Information Industry Association.

His role with TPG Telecom – the company born from the merger of Vodafone Hutchison Australia and TPG – began on April 27.

Chris Wood

Former diplomat takes on Adelaide role

Edge International Consulting Managing Director Chris Wood is moving back into the public sector after being appointed CEO of Regional Development Australia – Adelaide Metro.

The role gives him responsibility for providing advice to all three levels of government in conjunction with the local RDA board on “critical issues” affecting the metro region and potential investment and project initiatives. There are eight RDA boards across South Australia representing various regions.

Wood is a former Trade Commissioner with the Australian Trade Commission, where he worked for 13 years in various senior roles including Diplomat and Trade and Investment Commissioner to Japan.

He founded his own trade and investment consultancy in 2012 which has been primarily focused on facilitating Asian investment into Australia and helping overseas businesses analyse the Australian market.

Russell Schrale

Cancer Council GM takes up supply chain role

CCI Group Purchasing has appointed senior Cancer Council SA manager Russell Schrale as Chief Executive.

Schrale’s next career step comes after five years with the Cancer Council as General Manager of Marketing, Fundraising and Relationships. He has held similar roles with Zoos SA and Oxfam Trading.

With a Masters in Business Administration and a background in commerce and marketing, Schrale’s first major role came with American automotive parts manufacturer Tenneco as National Marketing Manager in Australia and New Zealand.

He also oversaw a period of growth at Adelaide renewables retailer ZEN Home Energy Systems as Residential Operations Manager from 2010 to 2011.

CCI Chair Paul Reynolds touted Schrale’s breadth of experience in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors, and said the new CEO's appointment followed an "extensive and competitive search process".

“The appointment is the next step in the strategic plan for CCI Group Purchasing and the Board is looking forward to working with Russell in order to deliver even greater support to the not for profit sector across the country,” he said.

Laura Kroetsch

History Trust taps arts heavyweight for events role

Former Adelaide Writers' Week Director Laura Kroetsch has joined the History Trust of South Australia as Events Manager.

Kroetsch, who curated the annual Writers’ Week program from 2011 to 2018, has spent the last four years as both Program Director of the Tasmanian ideas festival Dark & Dangerous Thoughts and Curator of the OzAsia Festival’s forum series In Other Words.

She also sits on the board of disability arts peak body Access2Arts.

Her new position gives her responsibility for the delivery of the History Trust’s key events, most notably the History Festival and the Bay to Birdwood car show, which Kroetsch said “deserve even wider reach with even more community participation”.

“Creating engaging content and exploring new ways for people to connect with history will be my main focus,” she said in a statement.

“My task is to both respect the legacy each event enjoys and to pave a way forward, one that will see even more South Australians and our visitors value our unique history.”

Nicola Martin
Helen Senesi

Chamber of commerce movements

Business SA has appointed senior ACH Group manager Nicola Martin as Director of Corporate Membership.

Martin has held numerous business and corporate partnership roles in both the public and private sector – most recently with aged care provider ACH Group, but predominately at Brand SA where she was General Manager of Corporate Partnerships for nearly eight years.

Business SA said growth in their corporate membership numbers necessitated Martin’s appointment, with the chamber of commerce now employing two corporate membership directors and expecting to hire a third soon.

Martin is due to start in her new role on May 16.

Meanwhile, Business SA also last week promoted Helena Senesi to Senior Events Coordinator.

Senesi, like Martin, also enjoyed a stint at Brand SA before taking on a short-term communications and marketing role at the University of South Australia. She joined Business SA as Events Coordinator in November 2020.

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