Outstanding Alumni Awards - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Outstanding Alumni Awards

Each year the Outstanding Alumni Awards program acknowledges and celebrates USC graduates who have achieved significantly in their field of expertise since graduating, recognising them for the impact they have had at a local, national and sometimes international level.

Congratulations to the 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award recipients and to all of our 2020 shortlisted nominees for their notable achievements to date.

A special thank you goes to the people who took the time and effort to nominate them – fellow alumni, staff, colleagues, family members and friends - without their support, this initiative wouldn’t be possible.

Enjoy this short celebration video of the 2020 award winners.

For any enquiries contact Anita Edmonds, Manager, Alumni Relations via Email alumni@usc.edu.au or Tel: +61 7 5459 4564.

And the 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award recipients are…

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year
Colin Vale
MBA 2010

Under Colin Vale's leadership as Executive Director of the Anitua Group on Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG), the organisation was transformed into the most successful and largest landowner Group of Companies in PNG. It grew to more than 4,500 staff and 20 companies operating all over PNG in a diverse range of businesses including mining services, camp catering and management, retail, construction, agriculture and security.

Colin’s ability to be inclusive of the cultural customs and collective approach to decision making with landowner groups, whilst implementing international best practice commercial strategy, business planning, financial management and corporate governance, was commended by the World Bank.

“I learnt early that I needed to understand the culture I’d been thrust into. I met elders to understand their issues and tried to find middle ground that assisted all parties,” Colin said.

He also demonstrated his commitment to the people of PNG by introducing programs that resulted in domestic violence on Lihir being greatly reduced. The initiatives were so successful at Anitua that it became a national issue. Anitua was also a great supporter of the elimination of malaria program on Lihir Island and was instrumental in its early success.

“I’m proud of what I managed to achieve in PNG and I picked up many strategies within my MBA that helped along the way.”

After many years overseas, Colin has returned home and has started a successful health and fitness centre on the Sunshine Coast with plans to franchise in the future.

Colin Vale
Alumnus of the Year, Regional Achievement
Raphael McGowan
BBus 2010

Since graduating from USC in 2010, Raphael McGowan moved to Sydney and found his calling creating initiatives such as cycling and walking across the USA and Australia to raise awareness and funds to support research for melanoma skin cancer. In 2017, Raphael returned to the Sunshine Coast to create his current business 'bakslap', a sunscreen application device. The first product was designed, manufactured and launched with the involvement of many USC students and is currently available in 88 retailers nationally, including 44 on the Sunshine Coast. In 2019, bakslap won a Sunshine Coast Business Award for manufacturing, recognised for innovation and economic, social and environmental impact.

Raphael has also worked on campaigns with Facebook Australia and was invited as a panel member at Parliament House on Small Business Growth using Facebook. He has created new national skin cancer awareness events such as ‘Australia’s Biggest Bakslap’ event at Mooloolaba Beach and voluntarily lead national initiatives with the Melanoma Institute Australia such as ‘Melanoma March’ raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for melanoma research.

Giving back and sharing his knowledge is at the core of his business, having mentored 11 other business owners on the Sunshine Coast and creating continuous, meaningful work integrated learning opportunities for more than 30 USC students over the last four years.

“It is extremely special and humbling to receive this award," Raphael said.

"It was a life-changing experience coming to USC. I’m thankful I’ve been able to make an impact in this region and that so many have been a part of it."

Alumnus of the Year, Rising Star
Dr Krystina Lamb
PhD 2016, BSc(Hons) 2012, BSc 2011

Dr Krystina Lamb is a leader in renewable and hydrogen energy technology research, currently working at the world class National Hydrogen Materials Reference Facility at Griffith University. After graduating from USC in 2016 with a PhD, as well as her undergraduate and honours degree, she has had a significant impact on promoting hydrogen technology in Australia, receiving over $2.3 million in research grants to date.

 In 2018, she and her team at CSIRO demonstrated a world-first technology of producing ultrahigh purity hydrogen from ammonia to a crowd of over 200, including members of parliament, government and industry representatives and the media.

“This ammonia demonstration generated increased attention and investment by government and industry in hydrogen energy," Krystina said. "The technology is helping to unlock the potential of renewable hydrogen energy for a sustainable future.”

Krystina has been actively involved in mentoring young scientists and STEM professionals, speaking at industry events such as Women in Engineering, organising conferences, a member of various committees and volunteering in the community.

“I know USC has produced so many different and talented people from so many different areas, so it’s really exciting for my work to be recognised by my University among those people and professions,” she said.

Krystina Lamb
Ali Couwenberg

Alumnus of the Year, Rising Star
Ali Couwenberg
BBus(Tour) 2010

Ali Couwenberg (née Marshall) is a senior marketing professional with over ten years’ experience within the property industry. As a lead marketer for international property and infrastructure group Lendlease, Ali’s career highlights include launching a $350 million new build retail asset and she is currently leading the marketing and placemaking on Melbourne Quarter (MQ), a $2.9 billion project identified as the city’s most ambitious, greenest, urban regeneration development yet.

“Ali’s leadership has made a hugely positive contribution to the leasing, sales and place creation success of the project and in embedding MQ as a new city precinct that will transform the way people work and live in Melbourne,” said Lendlease Development Director Brian Herlihy.

Ali has passion for educating and empowering females to explore employment opportunities in the industry, hosting a marketing workshop and guest speaking at the Property Council of Australia ‘Girls in Property’ program to 100+ female high school students. She is also an active mentor to Lendlease team members in multiple states and has delivered a bespoke art installation at MQ to promote International Women's Day.

“It’s a privilege to be announced as a winner, and it’s a true testament to what you can achieve with a university degree,” said Ali.