Business leader is 2020 Outstanding Alumnus - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Business leader is 2020 Outstanding Alumnus

16 Oct 2020

A business leader whose collaboration skills brought about success for a large group of companies in Papua New Guinea while also tackling the widespread community issue of domestic violence has been named USC’s Outstanding Alumnus for 2020.

Colin Vale of Caloundra, who graduated with a Master of Business Administration from the University in 2010 while leading the Anitua Group on Lihir Island in PNG, was among four winners announced today.

USC’s Regional Achievement Award went to 2010 Business graduate Raphael McGowan of Mooloolaba whose social enterprise, called ‘bakslap’, produces a sunscreen application device.

And the Rising Star award was shared by 2016 PhD graduate Dr Krystina Lamb, who is now researching renewable and hydrogen energy technology, and 2010 Business (Tourism) graduate Ali Couwenberg, who is a senior property marketing professional in Melbourne.

Colin, who completed his MBA at USC while working in PNG on a fly-in fly-out basis and raising three sons with his wife, Lynette, on the Sunshine Coast said he was thrilled to be named this year’s Outstanding Alumnus.

“I’m super impressed that I’ve received this award,” he said. “I think it’s fantastic and very much appreciate it.

“When I was in the classrooms here (at USC), I often thought I can take this straight back to the workplace and then implement those things.”

Under Colin’s leadership as Executive Director of the Anitua Group, the organisation transformed into the most successful and largest landowner group of companies in PNG, growing to more than 4,500 staff and 20 companies ranging from mining, security, property, construction, camp management, retail, investments, logistics, farms and drilling.

Colin also demonstrated his commitment to the people of PNG through training, personal development and initiatives that resulted in a reduction of domestic violence.

“One of the things I was most proud of was the elimination of violence against women campaign that we undertook, starting on Lihir in Papua New Guinea,” he said.

In his initial role on Lihir as a hospitality manager, Colin noticed many of his female staff were subjected to domestic violence. So he led a massive program across the Anitua Group to educate all employees that domestic violence was unacceptable.

“This included meetings with employees and partners as well as having all males employed by the Group and partners of females pledge to end domestic violence,” he said.

“Anitua joined forces with White Ribbon and the Business Coalition for Women and we were instrumental in initiating the fight against domestic violence – first within the Group and then the greater Lihir and other parts of PNG.”

After almost three decades of working overseas, Colin recently returned to the Sunshine Coast and started a health and fitness centre, Impact Strength and Fitness, at Warana. He describes the centre as “edgy, fun, modern and motivating” and plans to franchise it.

Regional Achievement Award winner Raphael McGowan had worked in Sydney after graduating in 2010 and became involved in initiatives, such as cycling and walking across the USA and Australia, to raise awareness and funds for research for melanoma skin cancer.

In 2017, he returned to the Sunshine Coast to create his sunscreen application device 'bakslap'. Working from USC’s Innovation Centre, his first product was designed, manufactured and launched with the involvement of more than 30 USC students, and he gained a Sunshine Coast Business Award.

Dr Krystina Lamb is now based at the National Hydrogen Materials Reference Facility at Griffith University in Brisbane, which has had a significant impact on promoting hydrogen technology in Australia.

In 2018, she and her team at CSIRO demonstrated a world-first technology of producing ultrahigh purity hydrogen from ammonia, with the technology helping to unlock the potential of renewable hydrogen energy.

Ali Couwenberg (nee Marshall), works for international property and infrastructure group Lendlease. She is currently leading the marketing and placemaking for Melbourne Quarter, a $2.9 billion development and sustainable urban regeneration project in Melbourne’s CBD.

Applications to study at USC in 2021 are now open.

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