ADVANCE
CONNECTING
AUSTRALIANS
GLOBALLY

The Advance team is passionate about supporting global Australians, with collectively over five decades of experience working and studying overseas. Based in Australia and working remotely, Advance has team members in the ACT, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Most team members work part-time, collaborating across Advance projects to deliver the best outcomes for our members, partners and sponsors.


JOHANNA PITMAN

Chief Executive Officer

Johanna joined Advance in October 2019, and became CEO in March 2021. She is a recognised authority on talent and the changing workforce, and spent the formative years of her career overseas. With 20 years experience working across economic development, international trade and public policy, she has held senior roles in Federal and State government organisations in Australia, the UK and the US. In non-government roles, Johanna pioneered BlueChilli’s CityConnect accelerator for startups solving urban challenges, and was the Deputy CEO for the Committee for Sydney where she led advocacy for Sydney as a global talent hub. She holds a Masters in Regional Studies (East Asia) from Harvard University, and speaks Japanese and Korean. She is a long time Advance.org member, having attended its launch in 2002 in New York, by then Consul General, Ken Allen AO.


KATHY CAMPBELL

Event Manager

Kathy has organised events and delivered projects in varying sectors for over 25 years. Her experience across communications, project management and private consulting have taken her from the healthcare industry, both public and private sectors, to corporate clients and schools. Her in-depth experience with project management led to event management in Australia and the UK, with Kathy organising networking functions, theatrical productions, art and literary festivals, and other community and fundraising events. Kathy holds a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) from Macquarie University, Clinical Pastoral Education (Basic & Advanced) at Royal North Shore Hospital, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration and Management at MGSM. Kathy has a keen interest in sustainability, particularly sustainable products and processes, seeking to significantly reduce impact wherever possible


SARAH COLLINS

Website UX/UI Designer / Program Coordinator

Sarah joined Advance in early 2020, and has two years of experience at both Advance and global start-up, Internet 2.0, in digital and website development, marketing and digital transformation. After successfully managing the 2021 Advance Awards selection process, Sarah now oversees all aspects of Advance’s digital platforms, and is the coordinator for Advance’s educational programs. Through her experience volunteering in various roles at her church, as a school chaplain at local primary schools, teaching ballet, and co-founding My Mate Dave Coffee, Sarah has excellent skills in communication, community engagement and entrepreneurship. Sarah holds Diplomas in Chaplaincy and Pastoral care, Leadership and Dance Performance and Choreography. Sarah received the High Achiever Meritorious Award for the International Baccalaureate in Design Technology, German and Dance.


MANDY GARNETT

Engagement Lead

Mandy is a senior project manager whose background includes working with large professional services firms, global financial institutions, and media companies in Sydney and London. With deep experience in the field of Learning & Development, Mandy designs and leads Advance’s educational programs, and manages engagement with key stakeholders and partners. Mandy has co-ordinated global partner conferences in Sydney, Singapore, London and Berlin and also organised numerous charitable events at the British PM’s office at 10 Downing Street. In addition she has managed a mentoring program for street children in East London and was the West London Branch Contact for the Motor Neurone Disease Association for 15 years. Mandy relocated to regional Victoria in 2020 after 18 years spent in London.


MICHELLE GIBBS

Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary

Michelle joined Advance in late 2019, and has led the streamlining of our global financial and accounting systems, resulting in significant cost savings, and increased financial accountability and transparency. Michelle has built deep finance and accounting experience over the last 25 years from working in KPMG’s CFO advisory practice, Commonwealth Bank Australia, Merrill Lynch London and Deutsche Bank London.  In these roles Michelle has worked with or within finance functions across various sectors, with a specialisation in deal structuring, leasing and technical accounting under IFRS.  Michelle provides CFO and accounting services to various clients, primarily not-for-profit entities, and is a partner at Nuwaru, a new and unique virtual accounting and tax firm. 


ROBERT HUGHES

Manager, Research and Insights

Robert joined Advance in early 2020, supporting all aspects of Advance programming and content through his meticulous research skills and analytical nous. Robert curates Advance’s weekly job and event listings, leveraging his experience working with Spark Festival, and his deep knowledge of industry trends and the startup ecosystem. Robert compiles event briefings, authors commentary on diaspora-related topics, and undertakes detailed research on global Australians, industry issues and policies related to Advance. Robert holds a Bachelor of Design and Architecture from the University of Sydney and received the Blake Matthews Prize for Creative Writing in 2016.


MICHAEL KEDZIERSKI

Chief Technology Officer

Michael has experience across the entire pipeline of delivering a tech project, from initial scoping and analysis, to design and implementation, to support and maintenance. Michael led the technical aspects of digitising and integrating Advance platforms, including a complete overhaul of the back-end system and the Advance website in 2020. A sought-after CTO for emerging businesses and not-for-profits, Michael previously implemented a robust web-based survey and data analysis platform for Startup Muster, creating the most comprehensive data on Australia’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. With over 15 years experience working in tech he has helped deliver projects across industries including freight/logistics, mining, trading, travel booking, insurance and cattle farming. While Michael studied at TAFE, he considers himself mostly self-taught. Above all, Michael simply enjoys the process of figuring out solutions to problems.


MADDIE SWIFT

Marketing Manager

Maddie joined Advance in early 2020 as the Social Media Manager. She manages all of Advance’s social media content and accounts, as well as writing the monthly Advance newsletter, #BornGlobal, a critical part of Advance’s community outreach. Maddie has over 5 years of experience creating, implementing, and optimising social media. She has worked for the fast-paced world of Channel Nine and now for the global audience of Advance.org. Maddie has excellent communication skills for digital outreach, branding and for strengthening online relationships. She also provides critical support to the annual Advance Awards to maximise engagement, unique content and exposure. Maddie holds a Bachelor from UTS in International and Global Studies.


JESSICA SZAKACS

Designer / Marketing Associate

Jessica joined Advance in 2022 as a Marketing Associate after completing the 2021 NextGen program. She is an invaluable member of the Advance team with her sophisticated design skills and strong understanding of marketing concepts and channels. Her extensive experience in various volunteer roles over the last four years has allowed her to apply this passion in a community setting. Jessica has been a Youth Ambassador for the Blacktown City Council, served on the NSW Youth Advisory Council in 2018, and was a Student Ambassador for Western Sydney University from 2019-2021. She completed a Bachelor of Business from Western Sydney University in 2021, maintaining a distinction average across her major in Marketing and Advertising.


IVANI TORALES

Project Lead / Head of Community

Ivani joined Advance in 2019 as Head of Community and was responsible for the upgrading and functionality of Advance’s most valuable asset, the Advance community database. Ivani now leads Advance’s two largest internal projects – the selection process for the Advance Awards, and the Annual Survey of Global Australians. She also provides ongoing support and guidance to other team members, applying her rigorous process and project management skills. She previously managed the Spark Festival program, and projects in Paraguay alongside UN agencies FAO and WHO, supporting policy and standards development for global industry, trade and public health. Ivani speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and Paraguayan Guaraní, and holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the National University of Asunción, and a Master of Science from UNSW, which she completed as a DFAT Australia Awards scholar.