The Towering 10

Meet the high-achieving UTS alumni who’ve become success stories in Australia and abroad. Their inspiring work has enriched numerous fields, including health, law, engineering and more.

Marina Brizar

Marina Brizar

Bachelor of Laws Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, 2013

Head of Corporate – Solicitor and Registered Migration Agent, Playfair Visa and Migration Services

 When talented migration lawyer Marina Brizar works to improve outcomes for asylum seekers and refugees, she draws on her own personal experience.

Brizar fled with her family to Australia as a refugee from former Yugoslavia at the age of five. As a corporate migration lawyer, she has helped major corporations and small businesses expatriate talent from across the globe; as a humanitarian lawyer she has advocated for some of the planet’s most vulnerable citizens, advising on human trafficking and refugee cases and leading task forces to several of Australia’s immigration detention centres.

Last year, the 26-year-old was named both the Law Council of Australia’s Young Migration Lawyer of the Year and the Women Lawyer’s Association Woman Lawyer of the Year – Up and Coming. She also co-organised Courage, a photographic exhibition as part of Refugee Week 2015. “The ultimate aim was to start a conversation about humanitarian migration and Australia’s standing as a global citizen,” she says.

Nas Campanella

Nas Campanella

Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Journalism), 2010

Journalist, ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Nas Campanella goes through a level of complexity that most other journalists don’t as a newsreader for ABC’s Triple J Radio.

Campanella lost her sight at just six months old, when a rare condition caused her retinas to detach. She also suffers from a genetic disease resulting in lack of sensitivity in her fingertips and hands, leaving her unable to read braille.

Mastering the art of listening and reading at the same time, she has no less than four audio streams feeding into her headphones whilst live on air – one of them an electronic speech program that reads her typed news bulletins back to her, which she repeats a split second later.

A prolific public speaker and mentor, Campanella inspires others to overcome barriers. “I’d like to think that through my experiences people could learn, and won’t have to have such a difficult time navigating the education system and the workforce.”

Anntonette Dailey

Anntonette Dailey

Bachelor of Engineering Diploma in Engineering Practice, 2008

Director, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

 Anntonette Dailey credits her engineering education and industry linkages with giving her the capability and confidence to take on senior roles in the Commonwealth Government, at a very young age.

“An engineering qualification definitely stands out on your resume,” she says. “Even non-traditional engineering pathways – like the Australian Public Service – see engineers as having unique tools, especially around complex problem solving, attention to detail and ability to apply these skills into any area.”

Appointed to her first director level role at just 24 years old, over the last 10 years Dailey has led complex and internationally significant logistical and infrastructure projects – amongst them the temporary relocation of the government to the Torres Strait Islands as part of a pledge to Indigenous communities.

She also mentors others through her website, Maverick & Stella. “I would like to see other young professionals get a competitive advantage, so I share my knowledge and experience freely.”

Associate Professor Richard Ferrero

Associate Professor Richard Ferrero

Bachelor of Applied Science Biomedical Science, 1985

Research Group Head, Gastrointestinal Infection and Inflammation, Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Stomach cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths – something Associate Professor Richard Ferrero seeks to change through his world-leading medical research.

As head of the Gastrointestinal Infection and Inflammation research group of the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Ferrero leads critical investigation into understanding the chronic inflammation caused by the stomach bacterium, Helicobacter pylori.

“This is important because chronic inflammation is essential for the development of stomach cancer,” he explains. “More broadly, inflammation is now recognised to play a key role in many diseases, including arteriosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and many types of cancer.”

Several of Ferrero’s studies have led to important clinical outcomes in the areas of antibiotic resistance, vaccine development and host immunity. “My hope is... to develop predictive tests that can identify those H. pylori-infected individuals who are most at risk of developing stomach cancer.”

Christine Gibbs Stewart

Christine Gibbs Stewart

Master of Business Administration, 2002

Chief Executive Officer, Austmine Limited

 Christine Gibbs Stewart plays a crucial role in steering Australia’s mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector – one of the nation’s leading export earners – through a challenging period.

As chief executive officer of Austmine Limited, the sector’s peak industry body in Australia, Gibbs Stewart is firmly focused on delivering value to the organisation’s members, creating opportunities and driving strategic innovation to add value today, and create new industries tomorrow. She has forged powerful collaborations, and significantly raised the profile of the sector to the point that it is now recognised as a Federal Government Industry Growth Centre.

In a highly diverse industry where there are no formal career pathways, she is also an inspiring role model.

“I hope to breakdown stereotypes – the perception that you need to be male to work in this industry and the perception that you need to be a miner, a geologist or an engineer to make a difference.”

Laura Liu

Laura Liu

Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Public Communication), 2015

International Student Leadership Ambassador, City of Sydney

 Making a difference through volunteering, says 25-year-old Laura Liu, is about subtle but consistent contributions.

As a volunteer with the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, Liu helped deliver some of the state’s key programs: Australia Day, Remembrance Day, the G20 leaders visit to Sydney, and the Martin Place siege memorial. Now a volunteer international student leadership ambassador for the City of Sydney, she gives international students a voice in policy and programs aimed at making Sydney a better place for them to live, study and work.

When her extraordinary contribution was honoured with a Betty Makin Youth Award last year, Liu donated her prize money to help recently arrived international students adjust to life in Sydney. 

“To me, applying my capabilities in a range of volunteering roles – whether organising high profile national events, helping communities to translate materials or taking time to talk to newly arrived students – is equally important, because they all influence other people in different ways.”

Alex Moore

Alex Moore

Bachelor of Human Movement Studies, 2001; Master of Arts (Sports Studies), 2004

High Performance Director, Cleveland Cavaliers National Basketball Association team (USA)

 In a career spent helping elite athletes to perform at their peak, Alex Moore has positioned himself as one of the world’s leading strength and conditioning coaches.

Moore got his start working in strength and conditioning for the Australian ski team, the NSW Waratahs and the Brisbane Lions. Heading to the United States in 2008, he managed the physical training of the nation’s celebrated national ski team, before landing a dream role with the prestigious National Basketball Association as high performance director for one of the sport’s highest rated teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

As point-man for the team’s medical, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and psychology programs, Moore’s role is crucial to the overall success of the team, and to extending the career longevity of individual players through workload monitoring systems and contemporary injury rehabilitation strategies.

“When our roster is getting paid over $US100 million annually, that’s a big responsibility,” he says.

Charles Tang

Charles Tang

Bachelor of Arts (Architecture), 2000; Bachelor of Architecture, 2002

Senior Associate Director, Haskoll

For Charles Tang, the key to exceptional architecture lies in its ability to influence human lives.

“A great piece of architecture not only refers to buildings, but also spaces – internal/external spaces, private/public spaces – and how people interact and utilise these spaces,” Tang told Architectural Knowledge.

Tang is currently senior associate director in the Beijing offices of Haskoll, a dynamic design-led architectural practice delivering large-scale projects across 39 countries. He has built up an impressive portfolio over the last 15 years, with a particular focus on mixed use developments that seamlessly blend commercial and retail functions with residential and public spaces.

He has a particular respect for history, and for the cultural attributes of each site. All this translates to powerful, cohesive structures that take into account the local environment and the unique social needs of the community, as well as the commercial interests.

“We need to create a sense of place, where it will lift up people’s spirits.”

Robby Tjia

Robby Tjia

Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Textiles, 2008

Womenswear Designer, Kenzo 

At just 31 years old, Robby Tjia has already achieved what many fashion designers dream of their whole lives.

As womenswear designer for internationally acclaimed fashion house Kenzo, Tjia knows the extraordinary feeling of designing one of Paris Fashion Week’s most anticipated runway collections. “I try not to think too much about it, or I end up second-guessing myself,” he says.

After graduating from UTS, Tjia gained a coveted spot in the Institut Français de la Mode’s master’s program. Collaborations with Louis Vuitton and Gucci won him the attention of Balenciaga, and a spot on their design team. It was only a matter of time until Kenzo came knocking.

Tjia adores the creativity of fashion design, but remains grounded. “At the end of the day, we need to sell these garments, so it’s always interesting to find a balance between being creative and, at the same time, thinking about the wearability of the pieces.”

Dr Robin Way

Dr Robin Way

Master of Management in Community Management, 1995; Doctor of Philosophy in Management, 2005

Chief Executive Officer, Community Connections Australia

Dr Robin Way has spent much of her working life fostering independence and confidence for people with disabilities, and delivering support and peace of mind for their families and carers.

As chief executive officer of Community Connections Australia, for the last 28 years she has overseen the development and delivery of in-home support services for people with all types of disability. Four years ago, she led the establishment of Jeenee Mobile: a telco that puts people before profits.

Offering mobile services to a growing base of 10,000 consumers, Jeenee Mobile’s profits are directed towards delivering crucial, life-changing support and independence for people who are living with disabilities – everything from a 24-hour help centre and services tailored to individual needs, to GPS tracking so people can be instantly identified and assisted when things go wrong.

“These are seemingly small steps for people, but they have such magnitude for empowerment,” she says.

Story: Jenifer Waters
Photography: Kevin Cheung