Advance welcomes prominent global Australians as new Ambassadors

Advance is thrilled to announce the appointment of exceptional individuals to expand the network of Advance Ambassadors, each bringing a wealth of expertise and leadership.

Advance’s Board Chair, Andrew Low, welcomed the newly appointed ambassadors. “These exceptional Australians operating around the world have deep networks and a profound generosity to support other global Australians,” Low said. “It has been a pleasure to meet the new Ambassadors and I am grateful for their ongoing support of the Advance mission.”

“For twenty years, Advance has been sustained through the generosity, networks, and goodwill of expatriate Australians who have established themselves overseas,” Low added. “I am pleased to elevate the Ambassador role and extend our network of Ambassadors, to bolster Advance’s ongoing efforts to build an engaged community.”

The new Ambassadors join an esteemed panel who have supported the work of Advance over many years, including:

Advance CEO, Johanna Pitman, acknowledged the enormous contribution of Advance Ambassadors. “Through our regular conversations, the Ambassadors offer insights about their specific location, and provide a local point of contact for Advance with partner organisations, diplomatic posts, and the global Australian community,” Pitman said. “Whether this is during times of crisis like the pandemic or natural disasters, or at times of global attention such as elections or major sporting events, the informed perspective of Ambassadors is invaluable to ensure Advance can reflect and meet the needs of our large and diverse community.”

Ambassadors have been appointed around the world in locations with large or growing Australian communities, and also in Australia, to support Australians returning from overseas. Additional appointments are planned in 2024.

Meet the new Advance Ambassadors (appointed July-November 2023):

Dr. Wade Azmy (Singapore)

Dr. Wade Azmy, CEO of ICG Singapore, is a seasoned general management professional renowned for crafting successful enterprises globally. His expertise spans marketing, sales, and business development, thriving in competitive markets across Australia, Japan, China, the USA, and the Middle East. Beyond his executive role, Dr. Azmy is a revered management consultant and executive coach, specialising in Strategic Leadership. Leveraging his multicultural background, he navigates Eastern and Western cultures adeptly, providing invaluable insights for strategic decision-making.

Charles Caldas (Portugal)

Charles Caldas is a leader in the global independent music industry who earned his reputation fighting to ensure artists share in the profits from the digital music revolution. He is a partner in Exceleration Music, a new-generation global music company, and a member of the Supervisory Board of Edel A.G., one of Europe’s leading independent media groups, based in Hamburg, Germany. He received numerous accolades, including “Outstanding Contribution Award” by pan-European music body IMPALA, for his impact as the CEO of Merlin in London from 2007 to 2019, representing 20,000 independent record labels and distributors from 66 countries.

Zjantelle Cammisa Markel (USA)

Zjantelle Cammisa Markel is the founder and principal attorney of Cammisa Markel, a distinguished immigration law firm based in New York City. Founded in 2003, Cammisa Markel has established a reputation for assisting both organisations and private individuals from all corners of the world in navigating the complexities of U.S. immigration law. Zjantelle’s extensive legal career has spanned major international cities, including Sydney, London, Rome, and New York. Her vast experience provides her with a unique understanding of European, Australian, and American culture, laws, and business practices. Her specialisation in processing E-3 visas has made her particularly popular among Australian clientele.

Chris Coburn (Singapore)

Chris Coburn is the General Manager of v2food, where he is dedicated to the mission of creating delicious and sustainable plant-based meat. Based in Singapore, he collaborates with the v2food team and partners to introduce plant-based meat to tables worldwide. Chris is also President of AustCham Singapore which fosters business connections between Australia and Singapore. He previously held various roles at Treasury Wine Estates, including Regional Manager, where he contributed to the company’s vision of becoming the world’s most admired premium wine company.

Fiona de Jong (Italy)

Fiona de Jong is the Director of the Australian Institute of Sport European Training Centre in Italy, where she supports the preparation of Australian athletes for the European Summer and Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games. Previously, Fiona was Austrade’s Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Australia’s ‘Nation Brand’. Prior to Austrade, as CEO and Director of Sport at the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), she delivered 10 Australian Olympic campaigns. She is board member of the Australia Italy Business Association (AIBA) and the global Association of Sports Performance Centres, as well as a board member of Surfing Australia, the Australian Government Sport Diplomacy Advisory Council, and Member of the National Sports Tribunal.

Philip Forrest AM (Singapore)

Philip Forrest AM is an Australian businessman residing in ASEAN since 1982. With Singapore as his home since 1991, Philip was honoured with the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2022 for his significant contributions to Australia-Singapore business relations. Recognized with the President’s Medal in 2011, he holds influential roles in prestigious organisations like the Singapore Institute of Directors and advisory boards at James Cook University Singapore Campus. As a seasoned non-executive director, Forrest’s leadership, particularly in renowned chambers of commerce, exemplifies his pivotal role in advancing business relationships between Australia and Singapore, contributing significantly to the regional business landscape.

George Foster AM (USA)

Professor George Foster is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Management at Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) and is also the Lacob Family Faculty Fellow for 2023-2024. His academic focus is in the field of entrepreneurship and sports business management , but also holds additional administrative titles, including Director of the Sports Management Initiative and the Endeavor Leadership Program, as well as Director of the Executive Program for Growing Companies. Foster’s extensive research and teaching portfolio cover entrepreneurship, early-stage companies, sports business management, financial analysis, and valuation, particularly in commercial disputes.

Craig Hassall AM (USA)

Craig Hassall, a leader in performing arts management, serves as President and CEO at Playhouse Square, a premier North American performing arts centre. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, it stands as the second largest in the U.S. with 11 performance spaces. Hassall’s visionary career includes transformative leadership at the Royal Albert Hall, enhancing its cultural prominence. Formerly at Opera Australia and English National Ballet, he also served as COO at Raymond Gubbay Limited. Hassall’s influence extends globally, contributing artistically to major projects like the Olympic Games in Sydney and London, solidifying his reputation as a leader in delivering diverse arts productions.

Peter Hazlehurst (USA)

Peter Hazlehurst is a seasoned fintech entrepreneur and investor with a remarkable 30-year career in Silicon Valley. Having held key leadership roles at Google, Nokia, Uber Money, Postmates, and Yodlee, he is known for his innovation, team-building prowess, and reshaping business strategies. Co-founder and CEO of Synctera, a tech company transforming community banking with its “Banking as a Service” platform, Peter has led the company to serve over 3 million customers and expand into Canada. Peter Hazlehurst’s visionary leadership continues to shape the tech and financial industries. Peter was recognised as a GameChanger in the 2023 Global Australian Awards.

Emma Humann (Singapore)

Emma Humann is the dynamic Executive Director of AustCham Singapore, driving the organisation’s strategic vision, financial viability, and positive workplace culture. With a distinguished career spanning corporate and government sectors, Emma excels in providing strategic counsel, emphasising her commitment to positive impact. Roles such as Associate Director of Sustainability at MullenLowe salt and Social Sustainability Manager at Mirvac highlight her expertise in stakeholder engagement and strategy development.

Ashley Irving (Cambodia)

Ashley Irving is a pivotal figure at ACE Cambodia, demonstrating exceptional leadership and commitment to language education. Beyond ACE, he holds influential positions in Cambodia’s international business community, leveraging experience from a corporate banking background. With two decades in English Language Teaching (ELT), Ashley addresses the evolving landscape of English proficiency in Cambodia, notably within ASEAN integration. He envisions a future where heightened language skills are crucial and passionately supports ACE’s Business English Program (BEP), a proactive initiative tailored for ASEAN challenges, providing specialised language skills within a business context.

Megan Kinder (Singapore)

Megan Kinder, President of ANZA, seamlessly blends professional expertise with a dedication to community service, driving ANZA’s impactful initiatives in Singapore. A successful realtor at Asian Homesearch Pte. Ltd, she excels in the Singapore property market with over two decades of experience spanning finance, marketing, and project management. Megan’s strategic planning, team leadership, and connection-building skills have consistently delivered growth and results in competitive environments. With a background in linguistics and communication, her commitment to education and language learning is evident from her roles as the Director of Studies at La Lingua Language School and Associate Lecturer at the University of Sydney.

Elliot Kotek (USA)

Elliot Kotek, Founder and CEO of The Nation of Artists, is a dynamic creative leader with a background in corporate law and a dual Science and Law degree from Monash University. Over a 20-year journey in film and media, he co-founded Beyond Cinema Magazine and Not Impossible, earning 50+ international awards, including an Emmy and 5 Cannes Lions. Elliot’s innovative projects range from the world’s first user-generated feature film to a social robot duck supporting children in chemotherapy. Elliot was recognised as a GameChanger in the 2023 Global Australian Awards.

Karen Loon (Singapore)

Karen Loon is a seasoned Non-Executive Director and Audit Committee Chair with over 30 years of international experience and a former Financial Services Partner at PwC Singapore. During her 17-year tenure, she led audit and financial due diligence for major global banks. Renowned for high-level decision-making, versatility, and a thoughtful approach, she excels in complex business situations. Drawing from her professional experience and academic background, she navigates ambiguity with astuteness. Karen is also a recognised author and speaker on diversity and inclusion, having served as PwC’s Asia-Pacific and Singapore Diversity Leader for five years.

Louise Neri (Australia)

Louise Neri is a curator, editor, writer, and consultant in the visual and performing arts, serving as director at Gagosian until 2023. During her long tenure, she directed exhibitions and editorial projects across the gallery’s global platform. A former editor for Parkett, Louise authored and edited numerous books and articles on contemporary art, showcasing her expertise. Additionally, she conceived and directed diverse exhibition and event programs, integrating performing arts, multimedia, community projects, radio broadcasts, lectures, and discussions.

Georgie Skipper (USA)

Georgie Skipper is a distinguished international relations and geostrategic expert who has shaped global foreign policy, trade, and investment across diverse regions. As an International Faculty Fellow at MIT Sloan, she focuses on catalysing sustainable economic growth in the Indo-Pacific, particularly South East Asia. Georgie, a sought-after speaker, co-founded an MIT lab exploring innovation and geopolitics. Her background includes advising the Foreign Minister of Australia and transformative contributions to the renewable energy sector at Sun Cable.

Scott Speedie (Singapore)

Scott Speedie is the MD & Country Head of Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Singapore. Formerly Executive VP and Head of Natural Resources, Infrastructure, and Utilities, he played a pivotal role in the bank’s success in these sectors. His prior role as CEO and country head in Singapore showcased effective leadership, fostering strong client and stakeholder relationships. In his current role as CEO Singapore & Regional Head, Asia/NZ, Scott guides Commonwealth Bank’s strategic growth in Singapore, overseeing operations and expansion initiatives in Asia and New Zealand.

Trish Wadley (UK)

Trish Wadley, a journalist turned highly accomplished theatre producer, transitioned from a successful media career in London to shape the theatrical landscape. Former Marketing Director for Thomson Financial and The Independent Newspaper, she is now an independent producer. Wadley’s creativity shines in productions at prestigious venues like the Bush Theatre and Tricycle Theatre, including the Olivier Award-nominated “The Wider Earth” at The Natural History Museum. Beyond theatre, she actively contributes to cultural organisations, serving as a trustee of The Britain Australia Society and co-founding The Australian & New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts (FANZA).

John Walker AM (Korea)

John Walker is a distinguished international business leader renowned for over four decades of expertise in advancing infrastructure projects across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Recently retired as Chairman of Macquarie Group of Companies, Korea, and Chairman of Macquarie Capital, Asia, John’s 22-year tenure saw Macquarie Korea become a prominent player in the infrastructure sector, notably in pioneering private infrastructure development in Korea. Today, Macquarie stands as a major foreign asset manager and a leader in renewable energy assets. Currently providing advisory services, John serves as a Non-Executive Director, focusing on the energy transition in Asia, notably as Chairman of KREDO, a leading investor in offshore wind in Korea.

Alastair Walton (UK)

Alastair JM Walton, former Consul-General of Australia to New York, is a distinguished diplomat with a significant career spanning government and the private sector. With a finance background, Walton held pivotal roles as Chairman of BKK Partners, Co-Chair and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs Australia, and Managing Director for Credit Suisse in Asia. Transitioning into diplomacy, he served as Consul-General in Houston before New York. An alumnus of Columbia University, Walton holds an MBA and a recent Masters in War Studies from King’s College London.

Appointed to the role of Ambassador in February 2023:

Cassandra Kelly AM (USA)

Cassandra Kelly AM is an international director, entrepreneur, author, and private coach to influential business and government leaders in multiple countries. She provides advice to clients across the globe, leveraging her expertise in innovation, sustainability and technology, alongside her background in finance and markets, risk analytics and M&A. She co-founded the multi-award winning global corporate advisory firm Pottinger in 2003 and now serves as the Chair of the Treasury Corporation of Victoria since 2015; Chair of sustainable livestock food producer, FutureFeed; and on the Brookings Advisory Council for the Center of Universal Education. Cassandra has supported multiple national and international causes and is a champion for diversity, including co-founding the Glass Elevator. 

Patrick Loftus-Hills (USA)

Patrick Loftus-Hills is a Metals and Mining investment banker at Moelis & Company, specialising in mergers, acquisitions, and capital markets advisory. As a Non-Executive Director, he brings extensive finance, legal, and technical expertise to the global metals and mining sector. With a background in Science and Law from Monash University, Patrick’s career spans roles at BHP, Macquarie Bank, and UBS, with international stints in New York and Hong Kong. Over 35 years, he has advised major global mining companies on cross-border M&A, capital raisings, and restructurings. Currently, as a Managing Member of Sweetwater Royalties LLC, Patrick also actively contributes to various not-for-profit causes, holding leadership roles at Monash University, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and the AUS USA Foundation.

Larry Marshall (Australia)

Dr. Larry Marshall, a distinguished scientist and technology innovator, has led a remarkable eight-year tenure as Chief Executive of CSIRO, shaping the organisation’s impactful contributions to Australia’s growth. A Sydney native with a physics PhD from Macquarie University, Larry pioneered semiconductor lasers and non-linear optics in the USA. His innovations include eyesafe lasers and the first solid-state ophthalmic laser, leading to a successful IPO in 1996. With over 100 publications, 20 patents, and a history of founding successful companies, Larry’s career spans international technology entrepreneurship.

David Thodey AO (Australia)

David Thodey AO is a prominent Australian business leader who currently chairs Tyro, Australia’s independent EFTPOS banking institution, and Xero, a cloud-based accounting software provider. He also serves as a Director of Ramsay Health Care and engages in various not-for-profit roles, advising on State and Federal Government initiatives. With a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and English from Victoria University of Wellington, David’s career spans senior executive positions at IBM and leadership roles at Telstra, where he became CEO in 2009. Awarded Officer of the Order of Australia in 2017, he has contributed significantly to business, technology, and ethical leadership, chairing notable reviews and commissions.


Advance is the professional network for overseas Australians. It was established in 2002, by the then Australian Consul-General to New York, Ken Allen AO, who is now the Advance Chairman Emeritus and Chair of the Judging Panel for the annual Global Australian Awards. Advance is partially funded by the Australian Federal Government and through the generous contributions of philanthropic donors and corporate sponsors who value Advance’s role in connecting global talent and elevating Australia’s global reputation.

Media Contact: Johanna Pitman | [email protected] | 0406 344 578