COVID-19: You can find information and stay up-to-date on the latest support for business on our coronavirus page or by calling 13 28 46.×

John is the Entrepreneurs’ Programme Sector Director for Food and Agribusiness. With over 30 years' experience in the manufacturing industry, predominantly FMCG, John has experience in the following areas at General Manager level in food, beverages, heavy industrial, packaging and pharmaceuticals.

John's specific areas of expertise include strategic planning, industrial marketing, supply chain development, technology adoption, organisational change, productivity improvement and business turnaround.

John holds a Master’s Degree in Science (MSc – Food Science); Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA); Diploma in Packaging Technology; and is a graduate of the of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

John is the current director of the Food & Agribusiness Sector of the Entrepreneurs' Programme and has been with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science since 2009. He has been actively involved in various iterations of the current programme from Enterprise Connect as NSW State Director bringing a wealth of knowledge to the current Innovation Programme.

Australian Capital Territory

Richard Everson

Ai Group
Smiling Richard Everson

Richard's passion for business is founded on 30 years of private sector operational experience.

Richard has worked in executive roles, working with multi-national food and management providers Sodexho and Compass Group. Sites under his management included RAAF Base Fairbairn and the AFP College.

Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, Richard left the corporate world and, together with his wife, built and operated an award-winning guesthouse for 12 years before its sale in early 2015.

Richard is an experienced business coach, consultant and project manager and has held key roles with regional development agencies and associations. Richard is passionate about championing the contribution that SMEs make to their communities. He is keen to support regional producers, build local supply chains and promote sustainability, both at a business and community level.

Richard regards business as both an art and a science. He supports business owners with their personal development and leadership skills and assists them to clarify their ‘big picture’ vision and goals. He supports this 'people-first' approach with a strong systems focus and an extensive repertoire of tools, case studies and solutions.

New South Wales

Monique Donaldson

NSW Business Chamber
Smiling Monique Donaldson

Monique has over 25 years of experience in entrepreneurship, strategy, innovation, exporting and consulting. She has built five businesses, two offshore, and sat on the Board of a global communications business headquartered in London.

Monique has established and managed businesses in Australia, South Africa and Germany, and exported business services into markets in Europe, Asia and the US.

As an Austrade adviser, Monique has helped many businesses develop export capability and win new business in overseas markets; and is a regular presenter on international trade. Monique has also provided consulting services across all aspects of business operations, marketing and compliance.

Monique has drawn on this experience to tailor SME consulting solutions for Partners including federal and state Government organisations, banks, insurance organisations, local councils and industry associations.

Monique has worked with many food businesses over the years; helping them to differentiate, comply and enter new markets. Now as an Adviser for the Entrepreneurs’ Programme working exclusively with food and agri businesses, Monique evaluates her client’s performance and potential, and mentors them for a year to help them innovate, diversify, scale-up and acquire digital capability. Monique draws on a large network within and outside of the Programme to help her clients access grants and connect with research, technology and subject matter experts to build their capability.

Monique studied economics at the University of Sydney and commenced her career in the international markets division of the Reserve Bank. She is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jill Follington

NSW Business Chamber
Smiling Jill Follington

Jill Follington is a Business Adviser for the Mid North Coast and New England Regions. She has worked extensively within the Agribusiness, Manufacturing & Engineering and Construction sectors for over 15 years, in private enterprise facilitating government contracts, building industry clusters or consulting to regional areas on how to build viability through collaboration.

Jill has specialised in:

  • Supply chain development & facilitation
  • Stakeholder engagement & communication
  • Ecosystem (cluster) development, and
  • Change management.

Jill is well known for disrupting traditional methods and creating innovative and effective means of breaking down barriers and building strength in business and industries across regional areas.

Jill’s formal education in Human Behaviour, Business Management and Journalism has given her a sound foundation to support her passion to see regional australia leverage their strengths and regain their economic success, by assisting the businesses to find ways to increase their productivity and competitiveness, to innovate and find their point of difference. Jill understands the potential of emerging technologies and how to develop the commercial partnership to leverage this.

Jill’s success has been recognised not only at a regional level, but also at the national level with Jill being a finalist in the Women in Industry Awards for Social Leader and Advocate for Industry.

Bill Hazard

Ai Group
Smiling Bill Hazard

Bill is an experienced business leader with expertise in marketing, corporate identity, strategy, innovation and technology. Having started in food science and technology, Bill’s career quickly evolved into marketing with particular emphasis on brand identity, communication and innovation.

Bill's unique skill base of marketing with a technical background has resulted in a number of successful brand and new product innovations that have become enduring market leaders. After 10 years with Quality Bakers and five years with Goodman Fielder as General Manager Marketing, Bill spent eight years in advertising where he worked on a broad range of projects with Sanitarium, The Heart Foundation and numerous corporate identity projects across a wide range of industries.

Bill brings an open mind, clear vision and a simple down to earth manner to any business situation that will provide the alignment, focus and innovation required for improved performance.

Bill has an extensive background in:

  • business strategy and planning
  • business management
  • operating systems and business planning
  • manufacturing and operations
  • food science and technology including new product development
  • marketing strategy
  • planning and implementation
  • brand communications.

Maria Collyer

NSW Business Council
Smiling Maria Collyer

Maria Collyer is a Business Adviser in the Northern Rivers Region, servicing SMEs with comprehensive Business Evaluations under the government funded Entrepreneurs Programme.

She is a multi-awarded food entrepreneur and branding expert as the founder and majority owner of Sweden’s largest juice bar chain, Naked Juicebar. She has experience from many stages of business- and operational development, with key skills in streamlining systems and processes to support continuous growth.

Maria has also featured as jury member for leading Scandinavian business plan competitions and as guest speaker at European Food Service Summit. Her own business journey has fueled a passion for entrepreneurship and business, a passion she is thrilled to share with fellow entrepreneurs in the Northern Rivers Region.

Skilled in Business Development, Marketing, Branding, Franchising, Negotiation, Retail, and Strategic Planning. A strong entrepreneurship professional with a Bachelor of Communication & Advertising from Bond University and Lund University, Executive Education from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in IoT, and leadership training through Training for Life, Sweden.

Patrick Muraguri

NSW Business Chamber
Smiling Patrick Muraguri

Patrick is an experienced Business Adviser and management consultant for firms operating in the manufacturing value chain. Over the past nine years he has engaged with over 200 SMEs in Australia.

His skills include conducting research interviews with business owners to identify key issues in and around their business, performance diagnostics including benchmarking based on quantitative and qualitative data, modelling improvement strategies and facilitating their implementation with other specialist service providers and information sources.

Patrick is a specialist coach in strategic planning. He helps firms understand and maximise the value they can get from strategic planning and implementation practices.

Through his leadership and guidance, the majority of his clients are implementing projects such as medium term strategic planning, formalising business systems, initiating internal succession, adopting structured innovation processes and engaging formal market research.

Patrick's formal qualifications include a Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Strategic Planning, Post Graduate Certificate in Business Research Methods and a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Food Science and Technology.

Sally Palmer

NSW Business Chamber
Smiling Sally Palmer

Sally is a Business Adviser who has experience working with a range of sectors, including the Advanced Manufacturing and Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals sector.

Sally has extensive experience and a particular focus on regional food, beverage and agribusiness firms. She has diverse experience in start-ups and established businesses, and has developed expertise in identifying and implementing strategic initiatives around business model efficiency, change management, and effective operational guidance to deliver a strong and sustainable performance.

With a strong background in measurement and reporting, Sally has a robust approach to strategy, policy and action. Previously as the Operations Manager for a primary health care provider, operating in five states, Sally coordinated major growth, new initiatives and commercialising disruptive technology and procedures. This business brought new products and services to market by large-scale complex marketing campaigns and corporate sponsors included Sanitarium and Kellogg’s and research partners included the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.

Sally's qualifications include Bachelor of Science (Hons) and a broad range of non-accredited learning around leadership, communication and strategy execution.

Vance Wheeler

Ai Group
Albury, NSW and Wodonga, VIC
Smiling Vance Wheeler

Vance has worked across manufacturing, transport, food, agribusiness and tourism for almost 30 years, combining a professional engineering background with trade qualifications, operations management and commercial skills.

After commencing his career in the automotive industry, he quickly moved to engineering and project management before progressing into the metal fabrication sector with an operations focus. Further career changes gave exposure to the industry sectors of pulp and paper, urban transport, food processing, agriculture and tourism in roles including business development, general management, shareholder and Director.

Vance is able to assist businesses with understanding their current strengths and limitations and identify areas of potential improvement by drawing on a range of industry experience.

Vance understands the perspective of the business owner and seeks to find practical solutions to complex problems.


Mark Goldsmith

Deloitte Private
Smiling Mark Goldsmith

Mark has over 25 years' experience in food and agricultural manufacturing and supply chain businesses delivering on the concept of 'the paddock to the plate'. This has involved dealing with key stakeholders including primary producers, manufacturers, transport and warehouse providers, retailers and wholesalers throughout nationally and internationally.

Mark's business exposure ranges from SMEs to large multinationals, with roles ranging from starting on factory floors to senior management. After providing consulting services to various businesses with advice on manufacturing, supply chain and financial improvement and new market penetration opportunities he moved into an Adviser's role in 2013.

Mark is a qualified Company Director completing the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Company Directors Course. His skills cover the entire gamut of business functions, including financial control, analysis and administration; cash flow management; supply chain modelling and implementation; operational, procurement and inventory management; sales and marketing; R&D; project management; and human resource utilisation.

Jayne Gray

Ai Group
Smiling Jayne Gray

With more than 30 years' experience in business and project management, Jayne works with regional businesses to deliver business evaluation and analysis and assists firms to identify areas for further development, improvement and sustainable growth.

She is an experienced business management consultant with an extensive background in working with SMEs in areas such as strategic planning, market communications, competitor analysis, continuous improvement strategies and in skills advice for innovation and growth.

Jayne has owned her own businesses and held executive positions in both the private and government sectors. She is a qualified trainer and holds post graduate qualifications in business management.

Stewart Hubber

NSW Business Chamber
Brisbane and Sunshine Coast QLD
Smiling Stewart Hubber

Stewart has a proven track record in delivering long-term value for various organisations, breaking new markets in emerging technologies and establishing lucrative customer relationships. A dynamic, charismatic and engaging leader with a depth of experience in all management functions, Stewart has specific strengths in establishing, managing and coaching sales and operational teams, bid development, driving complex negotiations and closings, combined with KPI/CRM implementations. An integrated and entrepreneurial leader who works with and through his people.

Also Joint Chair to the Queensland Government’s Mentoring for Growth program, Stewart has a depth of knowledge that can assist both the organisation’s leader, and the management team to strive towards the goals of business improvement, growth and success.

Some of his most enjoyable achievements include:

  • Changed 45 years of established aviation protocols within Defence Aviation that lead to a change in NASA's own Space Shuttle maintenance systems and standards.
  • Gaining acceptance of new technology for waste conversion and planned $60M project.
  • Having two Mentee's awarded Government Grants in 2017 for innovation and excellence in their fields.

Rod Murray

NSW Business Chamber
Smiling Rod Murray

Rod is a Business Adviser focusing on businesses in regional Central Queensland and the Wide Bay Burnett area. Rod has worked with businesses across a number of industries, including food and agribusiness, mining, tourism, manufacturing, and retail.

Prior to this, Rod worked with small businesses in a range of industries throughout Northern Territory and remote Queensland as a Small Business Support Officer.

Rod has extensive experience in business management, IT, marketing, accounting and risk assessment. His main strength is his ability to work with business owners in their own environment and to enable them to identify growth and digital transformation opportunities, and to put strategies in place to allow these opportunities to develop.

He has spent the past 15 years identifying issues impacting regions and businesses across all industry sectors, and on developing ways to deal with them.

Rod has a Master of Professional Accounting, a Master of Business Administration, and is a member and graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has also completed an MIT Short Course on the Internet of Things and how this will impact the business environment.

South Australia

Brenda Callahan

Business SA
Mt Gambier, SA and West Victoria, VIC
Smiling  Brenda Callahan

Brenda brings over 20 years of extensive business development, senior management and strategic executive sales experience across a number of sectors including manufacturing, food and agribusiness, recruitment and engineering.

Brenda has vast experience in the facilitation and management of supply chains into major projects across South Australia and regional Victoria and this has enabled her to work closely with a number of SMEs to support them to increase capabilities, employment and realise growth opportunities.

Her experience across the agribusiness, manufacturing and engineering sectors brings a significant network of key contacts and advisory services, and introductions into relevant supply chains networks.

Brenda is a Business Adviser who provides tailored advice and assistance to support SMEs to improve their competitiveness and productivity. Brenda works collaboratively with SMEs who are based in south east South Australia and in western Victoria and operate in the advanced manufacturing and food and agribusiness growth sectors.

Brian Leckie

Port Pirie SA
Smiling Brian Leckie

Brian is a qualified accountant, business consultant, project manager, trainer and assessor. He has an Advanced Diploma in agriculture as well as in competitive manufacturing. He has been in executive management of some of the largest regional fruit-based companies in the country and has a unique knowledge and understanding of business in Australia.

Brian has used his accounting knowledge and manufacturing experience across many industries, ensuring improvements in efficiencies, costs, financial control and overall company performance.

He has extensive experience in export marketing, being Chairman of the Australian Food Exporters Group and a member of the South Australian Premiers’ Food Council. His demonstrated strengths in lateral thinking have resulted in a number of innovative, world-first fruit-based health products being produced by companies with whom he has been involved. Brian’s additional strengths include strategic and business planning, operational and continual improvement, team building and quality management.

Over the last 10 years Brian has worked with many SMEs and has been involved in an impressive number of company ‘turnarounds’.

Robert Lloyd

Business SA
Smiling Robert Lloyd

Robert has over 30 year's executive management experience in national and international major companies in the beverage, retail fast-food, energy, and manufacturing sectors.

He has a strong understanding of the role of marketing and sales in growing food businesses nationally and entering new markets.

Robert has worked with the South Australian Department of Industry and Trade consulting at a senior level to South Australian companies on improving their business development practices, marketing, innovation, commercialisation and strategy. He has been a CEO and Director of high technology start-up companies in the IT and pure food industries and understands the challenges of building small innovative businesses.

Robert has also lectured in marketing, retailing, project and operations management, lean leadership, information strategies and sales at the University of SA’s International Graduate School of Business. He has also spent time managing the University of South Australia’s industry based leadership development and business improvement programs, including the Lean Thinking and Six Sigma courses nationally.

Robert's qualifications include a Master of Business Administration, Bachelor of Science, Company Directors Diploma, Certificate in Lean Thinking and Graduate Diploma in Finance (RG146).

Trent Mader

Ai Group
Smiling Trent Mader

Trent has over 20 years of experience working with businesses in the food and agribusiness sector. He has helped companies access new markets, develop new products and processes to grow their business. Having a passion for regional communities and enterprise, Trent understands the unique challenges often faced in trying to generate profitable outcomes.

Trent has collaborated with people across the food and agribusiness sector including meat processing, horticulture, food products, wine and beverage. Trent has also worked with those companies to develop solutions to their infrastructure needs including water, energy, transport and waste management.

Having worked in both the public and private sectors Trent has an extensive network and understanding to bring to any opportunity.


Damon Wells

Ai Group
Smiling Damon Wells

Damon has over 30 years' experience in commerce across a diverse range of industries, including agriculture (growing and export), supermarkets, rail transport, construction, forestry and manufacturing (timber industry).

Damon has strong business modelling, strategic planning, acquisition, restructure, synergy, integration and cash flow management expertise. His career includes major business system upgrades, change management and business reviews. These are some of the skills which he looks forward to sharing with new clients.

He holds a Bachelor of Business (Accounting), is a Fellow of CPA Australia, a member of the Institute of Company Directors and is a Justice of the Peace. He is a prior Director of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is a Tasmanian Divisional Councilor for CPA Australia.


Vineet Ahuja

Smiling  Vineet Ahuja

Vineet has a passion for strategy through to floor level operational supply chain continuous improvement. He has experience of over 39 years in senior management working in food, medical devices, healthcare products, oil, plastics and chemicals, and worked with SMEs to global icons, including international technology projects in Malaysia, India and Mexico.

With technical and leadership skills in organisational transformations, Vineet is accomplished in reducing waste, developing people to achieve "HIGHER", turning around morale and businesses, improving safety, influencing cultural change and setting future strategies.

With direct experience in operations, production, procurement, planning, logistics, quality, engineering, technical services and project management, he is a "thinker-doer mentor" with high people skills and customer service orientation.

Vineet is a qualified Engineer, holds a Master of Business Administration, a Post Graduate Diploma in Quality Management, as well as holding a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Raj Gopal

Ai Group
Smiling Raj Gopal

Raj has worked in senior management roles for many years including as General Manager, Operations Manager and Plant Manager, managing budgets of up to $70 million in global organisations and SMEs.

Raj's business background covers pharmaceutical, specialty packaging and complex multi plant food manufacturing operations. Raj's key areas of strength are change management, including development of strategic manufacturing footprints and rationalisation, restructuring and turnaround of underperforming operations. This includes development and sourcing of new technologies to reduce the operating cost base, execution of significant CAPEX projects and Trans-Tasman transfer of technologies and manufacturing facilities.

As a Business Adviser, Raj has the skills, experience and knowledge to conduct Business Evaluations to assist Australian firms improve their operations and seize opportunities for growth in the global market.

Raj's qualifications and memberships include: Bachelor of Science (Hons), Master of Science, member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and member of the Australian Institute of Management, Institute for Management Development, Change Management, DuPont Safety Management, and Coaching for Performance.

John Lochery

Smiling John Lochery

John has been a Business Adviser for the Entrepreneurs' Programme since 2014, bringing with him 25 years commercial experience in sales and marketing in the food industry across all channels including retail, foodservice, QSR and export.

John is an experienced senior manager, and has a primary focus on strategic planning and implementation, continual improvement, innovation and profit, with an overall goal of maximising returns for shareholders and supporting brands in the market. A key focus for John is developing new opportunities for the businesses he works with.

John's qualifications include a Certificate in Food Service Industry and a Certificate in Strategy Execution Master Class.

Peter Veal

Geelong Manufacturing Council
Smiling Peter Veal

Peter has over 40 years' experience in diverse manufacturing business. For 14 years he had a business consultancy practice and has implemented improvements in a wide range of organisations.

Peter has held senior roles including CEO of a family owned company. He has spent years working on change management in businesses which included technology transfer and product development, positioning for new markets, IT and ERP development, ISO accreditation, customer service and cultural change.

Peter is an experienced professional engineer and has helped organisations with strategy development and implementation as well as practical and proven solutions in operations, supply chain and line management. His passion is helping other companies apply best practice (including lean thinking) tools and processes.

He has worked with many Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame Inductees as well as a range of food and agribusinesses, and has supported effective transformations across a number of diverse industries.

Peter is delighted to now work with companies as a Business Adviser, and offers their leaders thoughtful and discerning support.

Western Australia

Don Geare

Business Foundations
Smiling Don Geare

Don has a general management background, having held senior positions in both large corporates and SMEs in a variety of industries. This has provided relevant experience in manufacturing, food processing, exporting, running co-operatives, and operating and marketing service providers on a B2B and B2C basis.

Specific experiences include leadership and people management; strategic development and definition of objectives; performance management; creation of reports and identification of key drivers; budgeting; tendering; costing; implementation of systems and procedures (including ISO9001 and 4801); directorship and the efficient running of boards; and facilitating to family business.

Don has qualifications in Cost and Management Accounting, Business Management, and Writing, and has Diplomas in Accounting (Advanced), Quality Auditing, and OHS. Don is also a graduate of the IFAP Lead Auditor course, and the AICD Company Directors.

Gabor Hernadi

Business Foundations
Smiling Gabor Hernadi

Gabor has over 20 years of senior level experience in sales, marketing and operational management within medium and large international organisations.

In the past 10 years he has applied his strategic planning and hands on operational management skills to assisting SMEs in the food, agribusiness, and manufacturing sectors to build resilience and internal capabilities, enabling them to profit from growth opportunities and weather downturns.

Gabor's expertise is in planning and implementing innovative business strategies and associated work systems, processes and KPIs to drive revenue and operational transformation to reduce costs and unlock efficiencies.

Gabor works in developing internal operational and management capabilities to increase financial, sales, manufacturing and logistics performance and connecting SMEs with external business and technical expertise, learning opportunities, government services and funding, and industry specific resources.

He is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors' Director's Course, holds a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Business degrees. Gabor is a Certified Practicing Marketer (CPM), Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute, and Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.