Advisory Board

Western Australian Leaders has engaged a highly qualified and respected Advisory Board to assist in strategic direction provide strategic insight, support and connectivity to the broader network. This Advisory Board includes:
Greg Riebe

Executive Director, Entrepreneurs in Residence

Greg’s extensive experience in corporates, SMEs and start- ups, has helped him hone a unique set of skills that recognises where enabling technologies combined with highly- scalable business models can result in fundable high performance operating businesses. 

With over 20 years experience in most facets of the emerging technology sector, Greg ran what was the first technology incubator in Perth, managed a fund investing in technology start-ups, has been a co-founder of a number technology businesses and more recently as an adviser to founders on how to become investment ready, how to get scale, create and capture value and how to position their ventures to harvest returns for shareholders, investors or stakeholders; Greg’s exposure to filtering, assessing and structuring numerous individual innovative ventures for investment &/or acquisition or divestment, has helped him better appreciate the perspectives in the sourcing of funds from capital providers, fund investors, co-investors and business owners.

In 2020, Greg was recognised as the Australian Angel Investor of the Year and was awarded the 2020 WA Pearcey Entrepreneur Award.

Dr Richard Charlesworth, AO

Richard is a doctor of medicine, a former captain of the Australian Hockey Team, the State Hockey Team and the State Cricket Team. He was also in Federal parliament for 10 years then he retired to take up the position of National Coach of the Australian Women's Hockey Team from 1993 until Sydney 2000.

Ric has worked as a high performance consultant to the Fremantle Dockers, and as a mentor coach to 5 Australian Institute of Sport coaches.

Retired from full time coaching the Kookaburras in 2014 after winning the World Cup, Ric now works as a High Performance Consultant.

Charlie Gunningham

Director Innovation
WA Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation

Charlie has spent 20+ years in Perth’s business, tech, media and startup sectors, from founder through to exit, as CEO, mentor, advisor / investor, and in federal and (now) state government. 

Arriving in Perth in 1997, he graduated top of UWA Business School with an MBA, co-founded property listings site which was sold to REIWA in 2010. He then ran, went on to be CEO of Business News, and work on the federal government's Accelerating Commercialisation fund. In 2021, he was awarded WA Pearcey Entrepreneur of the Year at the 30th Incite Awards, and in early 2022 joined the state government as Director Innovation at the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (JTSI).

Heiko Plange, CFRE, FFIA

Director Fundraising & Commercial Development 
Perth Zoo

Heiko is a globally Certified Fund Raising Executive and has extensive experience in managing fundraising and corporate partnership programs. With a comprehensive background in developing and implementing strategic marketing and major gifts fundraising, Heiko has worked with organisations spanning health, medical research, arts, education, and community services.

Previously, he has worked for the Brightwater Care Group, St John of God Health Care, Western Australian Museum Foundation, the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and was Head of Fundraising at the Perth Children's Hospital Foundation. He is a Fellow of the Fundraising Institute of Australia and a Community Ambassador. Currently Heiko is the Director Fundraising and Commercial Development of Perth Zoo. 

He is a recipient of several awards, including the inaugural Centre for Social Impact Scholarship awarded by the Qantas Foundation. In addition to a number of other professional development qualifications, Heiko graduated from the University of Western Australia, earning a Bachelor of Commerce in Management and Marketing.

Paul Claessen

Executive Director, Thriver Finance
Co-Founder – Prospekt Strategic Growth Consultants

Paul is an Executive Director and co-founder of Thriver Finance and the Thriver Primero managed investment fund. 

He is also a co-founder of specialist growth consultancy Prospekt working exclusively with owners and senior executives of fast-growing business.  Prospekt helps refine and define organisational vision, strategy, identity and execution plans to unlock the true potential of a business.

Paul was the CEO and a major shareholder in Logic a fast-growing WA based technology company.  Most recently he led the turnaround of ASX listed Cycliq Group Limited. Cycliq designs, manufactures and sells a cycling safety technology solution in 50 countries globally.

Paul has genuine passion for working with and assisting high potential entrepreneurial businesses.

Alan Nelson 

Entrepreneur, Investor, Advisor

Alan is described by some as a Serial Entrepreneur.  He has created, managed, lead over 40 businesses in his career in industries ranging from railways, truffles, labour hire, recycling, construction, tourism, office furniture, training and a restaurant train to name, but a few.   Some he has made money, some he has lost, but he has had fun and enjoyment along the way.

 With specific expertise in formulating the strategic direction of an enterprise and assisting business owners to achieve their objectives.  He has negotiated many acquisitions and the sale of businesses.  He Chairs and is a Director of a number of enterprises and is actively helping a number of start-up organisations.

 He spends his spare time, climbing mountains and has recently completed an end-to-end of the Bibbulmun Track.  He has tried to retire three times and successfully failed.  Over the last few years, his focus has been giving back and helping others in business.

Steve Marmion 

Manager Advocacy and Economic Development,
City of Wanneroo

Steve has held positions in the education sector, business consulting and local government as well as owning and operating small business.After a career in education, Steve worked at Syme, Marmion & Co as a Project Consultant and General Manager and then as Principal Business Development Advisor with the City of Wanneroo. From 2015 to early 2019, Steve led the economic development unit at the City of Joondalup and returned to the City of Wanneroo more recently as Manager of Advocacy and Economic Development.With and a Master of Business Administration from Curtin University of Technology, Steve has consulted on many commercial and government projects involving economic impact analysis, demand analysis, business case development, policy development and economic strategy development.Some key consulting projects include:

  • Perth Arena Business Case;
  • City of Joondalup Commercial Strategy;
  • City of Joondalup Whitfords Retail Assessment;
  • WA Football Commission Football Facilities Strategic Plan;
  • UDIAWA – Economic Impact Study of the Land Development and Apartment Construction Industry;
  • Department of Planning – Industrial Land Needs Study for Perth and Peel; and
  • Alkimos/Eglinton Joint Venture – Alkimos/Eglinton Economic and Employment Strate

Cecily Rawlinson

Director, AustCyber

Cecily Rawlinson was appointed in July 2021 as Director of the WA AustCyber Innovation Hub.Cecily is a human-centred design practitioner and is passionate about using design thinking to unlock the creative potential of stakeholders and unlikely innovators.She led the CIVICUS team that facilitated the co-design and establishment of 7 regional innovation hubs around the world, launching the Innovation for Change network in 2015. Working with Innovation for Change allowed Cecily to hone her innovation skills and to witness first-hand the global demand for cyber security awareness and training. Prior to joining CIVICUS,

Cecily began her career at the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and also worked at DCAF - Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance.

Cecily holds a Masters in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Western Australia. 

Dr Paula Smith 

CEO - Global Institute of Training and Presenting

Paula has enjoyed a 30+ year entrepreneurial journey which have included being the Founder of Australia’s largest personal development school, Franchisor, Hotel Owner, President and Board Member of many school and business associations, Professional Speaker, Business Coach and is currently the CEO of the Global Institute of Training and Presenting, a training company specialising in workplace communication and leadership development.

Paula holds a Bachelor’s degree in Training and Development, a Master’s degree in Leadership and a PhD in Organisational Leadership.  She has been awarded the CSP designation by the National Speakers Association and a Fellow from the Australian Institute of Management.  Paula's decades of research in Presentation Intelligence ® and human behaviour have earnt her the reputation as a leading expert in the world of Powerful Presenting and Leadership Communication.  She continues to work with some of Australia’s largest organisations and government departments and has an active interest in supporting entrepreneurship. Paula brings her rich life and business experience to WA leaders. Paula is also a proud mum of 3, wife of 1 and friend to a few more. She has been seen attempting the occasional triathlon and enjoys hanging out on her Perth Hills property with a whole bunch of adorable Alpacas

Kristian Stratton 

WA State Head - Australian Industry Group
Director Commercial Services - Ai Group
Deputy Chief Operating Officer - Ai Group 

Board and Advisory Roles:  

  • Chair of the Industry Reference Group for the Manufacturing and Engineering Training Package
  • Chair of the Industry Reference Group for the Furnishing Training Package
  • Board Member of Penrhos College
  • WA Industry Defence Advisory Board Members

Past Roles:  

  • Association of Mines and Minerals (AMMA) Senior Role
  • WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry Senior Management Role
  • Small Business Owner – Travel Industry

Expression of Interest

Western Australian selects leading growth companies to become Members.


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