Join Us in Wagga Wagga

Upcoming dates for our Wagga Wagga walks

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May 18, 2017
June 22, 2017

Our Mentors

Wagga Wagga is an emerging regional leader for entrepreneurship and innovation. Nestled conveniently between Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, the city of good sports is full of inspirational leaders showing what success in the regions looks like.

Simone Eyles
Founder of Wagga in a Box, Working Spaces HQ & Co-Founder of 365 Cups

Simone Eyles is an entrepreneur who uses new technology to solve old problems.

Holding a graphic design degree, Simone began her first start-up in 2011 after a conversation with friend (now business partner) Marz about how fantastic it would be order coffee from your mobile phone.

Simone is passionate about boosting regional Australia through disruptive technology and supporting other start-ups. Awarded the inaugural Beyond Bank Entrepreneur Grant for her co-working space ‘Working Spaces HQ’, Simone has created an environment that fosters entrepreneurship and economic development in the Wagga Wagga region by providing a co-working space and professional development programs and work opportunities to ensure members get the leg-up they need.

Working Spaces HQ grew so much in its first 6 months, it had to relocate to premises 3 times the size, a custom space was fit out and #WSHQ continues to enjoy rapid growth and is now exploring franchising the concept.

When she’s not growing her business, Simone gives back to the community through mentoring, speaking engagements and most recently becoming a Director on the Country Hope board.

Dianna Somerville
Founder of AgriHack, Regional Pitch Fest & Co-Founder of Incubate@35Degrees

I am passionate about regional Australia and wholeheartedly believe regional communities can drive innovation and create opportunities outside metropolitan areas.

That’s why I established Regional Grants, Tenders and Corporate Services (RGTC) in 2014 to help regional businesses, schools, clubs and not-for-profit organisations write competitive and successful grant applications and tenders.

I love the Riverina and I know that a stronger and better equipped region creates even more opportunities for our communities. I am excited by the opportunity for growth I see in regional NSW and thrilled to be a small part of it.

With a background in leadership, human resources, contracting and project management, I know how to get a project off the ground. I am also a Level One Certified Coach and readily apply these principles to understanding your project at every level to promote your competitive advantage.

Michael McCormack
Minister for Small Business

Born and raised on family farms at Marrar and Brucedale in the Riverina, Michael McCormack was educated in Wagga Wagga and went on to a 21-year career at Wagga Wagga’s The Daily Advertiser.

Aged 27, Mr McCormack became the newspaper’s Editor, the youngest person to be appointed to such a role at a daily newspaper in the Australasia at the time.

Following an 11 year career at the helm of the Advertiser, Mr McCormack then co-founded a media and publishing small business in Wagga Wagga. The successful business went on to encourage expansion and growth of a Wagga Wagga printing firm, including additional staff and a new printing press, to keep up with the business’ work.

Mr McCormack was pre-selected as The Nationals’ candidate for Riverina at the 2010 Federal Election and won a tough three-cornered contest. He continued his role as a community champion as the local MP and was re-elected at the 2013 election.

Appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance following the 2013 Federal Election, Mr McCormack held responsibility for the Commonwealth’s discretionary payments, non-Defence property portfolio, risk management strategy and the Commonwealth’s public liability.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull then appointed Mr McCormack Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, in the administration of regional development programmes. A reshuffle in February 2016 saw Mr McCormack become the Assistant Minister for Defence – a portfolio with key ties to his Riverina electorate, which is the only inland city with all three arms of the Australian Defence Force, including Home of the Solider at Kapooka.

Following the 2016 Federal Election, Mr McCormack was promoted to the position of Minister for Small Business within the Turnbull/Joyce Ministry. He is 17th Minister for Small Business and the first member of The Nationals to hold the position.

Mr McCormack will work with the Small Business sector on regulatory reform, as well as championing the success stories of Australia’s 2.7 million small businesses and the 4.7 million Australians which they employ.

Gioia Portolan Gianniotis
Principal Architect at GPG Architecture & Design

Gioia is a registered Architect and established GPG Architecture & Design in February 2006. GPG undertakes a diverse range of residential, public and commercial projects and assists clients in various aspects of design and architecture.  GPG’s main point of difference is to incorporate innovative and energy efficient solutions into projects while also being cost effective.

In the 10 years since the establishment of GPG, Gioia has developed an efficient and well-known multi- disciplinary practice with projects located throughout the Riverina, Orange, South Mountains and Albury/ Wodonga regions. Employing a team of three staff while also leading teams of numerous contractors of various specialties, her business continues to develop with many successful and multi-million dollar projects in construction and on the drawing board.

Throughout her career Gioia has been involved in many professional bodies, forums and community activities including being a mentor within the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter Mentoring Program.

Gioia is also interested in gaining the engagement of children and young adults with decision-making for the future of the built environment.  Her practice, GPG Architecture and Design also regularly hosts work experience students from all over the region.

Gioia is prominent figure and leader in her field, being invited to speak on several occasions publicly by local Council and schools. She is passionate about increasing the representation of female leadership within the general business arena and in the construction industry.

Tania Sibrey
Owner at Food i Am

Food I Am was born in 2011 out of simple frustration that we were not able to access great food experiences created by accomplished chefs in the Riverina.

One day I just thought ‘why not?’ I had the support of industry and the time felt right, so I started my business to offer country people the same experiences available in metropolitan areas. I guess I was driven to highlight how great our regional produce really is!

Bringing many top chefs to the Riverina to share their knowledge and techniques, Tania has also established Food I Am as the perfect setting for corporate team building exercises and is helping people combine their passion for food and travel with gourmet food tours to countries like Italy and Vietnam. She also hosts Food Treks for small groups visiting some of the Riverina’s best producers, winemakers, food stores, restaurants and cafes.

Greg Conkey
Mayor of Wagga Wagga and Owner of Greg Conkey & Associates

Greg Conkey is an awarding winning journalist and talented photographer who has had more than 30 years experience working in rural and regional Australia. For 26 years he edited and managed The Riverina Leader newspaper in Wagga Wagga, a paper that was well known for its strong editorials, close links with the community, good photographs, and clean lay out styles. Under Mr Conkey’s leadership the newspaper won numerous NSW Country Press Awards including awards for Feature Writing, Headline Writing, Photography and Local Government Reporting.

In 2005 Mr Conkey started his own public relations and media consultancy (Greg Conkey and Associates) drawing on his extensive media background and project work for numerous humanitarian causes. In January 2012 Mr Conkey was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to the Wagga Wagga community.

Later that year he was elected as a City of Wagga Wagga Councillor and in September 2016 elected unopposed as Mayor.

Kym Hampton
Executive Manager at Commonwealth Bank

As Executive Manager, Regional and Agribusiness Banking with the CommBank, I lead a team of highly experienced and innovative Bankers throughout the Riverina region.

We are dedicated to servicing the needs of businesses and corporates that are located in regional and rural Australia by providing total finance solutions and adding value to our customers and partners.

Genevieve Fleming
Chairperson at Destination Riverina Murray

A senior marketing and communications professional with more than twenty five years of experience, including over fifteen years in manager and director roles delivering communications and marketing activity at an executive level.

Extensive experience managing communication activity to support the branding and marketing objectives of blue chip companies throughout Australia, Asia, Europe and the UK.

Post graduate qualifications in management and corporate governance.

Trained media spokesperson for Telstra Corporation with extensive experience representing that company in print, radio and on television.

Experience working for a top 150 ASX listed corporation as part of the senior executive team working directly with the Executive Chairman and Operating Officers

Extensive experience managing multiple corporate communications functions including branding, media relations, events, investor relations, direct mail, government lobbying, corporate communications, employee communication, advertising, trade show participation, case study development, collateral publication, design, industry research projects, social media activity, website, intranet and Annual Report production.

Arron Hutcheon
CEO of Hutcheon and Pearce

Hutcheon and Pearce is a local 3rd generation family owned business that sells and services John Deere farm machinery.

Hutcheon and Pearce has grown from humble beginnings and is now one of the largest machinery dealers in Australia with 12 locations throughout southern NSW and employing 250 employees.

Sandy Warden
Founder of Feather and Willow

Feather and Willow embodies Community Groups, Local Artisans and individual designers from around Australia – also stocking products from all over the world.

A previous role held with the Wagga council (WWCC) places community development at the forefront of Sandy’s mind. With regard to this (community development), she manages to seamlessly blend this passion with her business. For four years now, she has hosted ‘gatherings’ facilitated by Aunty Gail Manderson who is an Aboriginal elder of the community. Every month, women gather and learn the art of basket weaving.

Feather and Willow provides a tranquil space, promoting the participants to slow down and be mindful.

If you would like more information about Mentor Walks Australia please contact us: contact@mentorwalks.com.au