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TAFE Queensland Executive

The executive team implements the strategic plan. Their operational plan includes key yearly activities for TAFE Queensland and provides performance measures. The executive reports, through the Board, to the Minister on a quarterly basis about TAFE Queensland’s performance.

Chief Executive Officer 

John has over 30 years’ experience in the Vocational Training Sector. As TAFE Queensland’s Chief Executive Officer, John leads the TAFE Qld senior executive team and reports directly to the TAFE Queensland Board. Prior to his current CEO role, John was the General Manager of TAFE Queensland SkillsTech, which is Australia’s largest trade and technical specialist training entity. 


John has held numerous senior executive roles in the sector over his career and is a passionate advocate for the value of vocational training. John began his career in the sector as a teacher and after progressing through management and senior leadership roles, quality education for our clients remains core to his strong sense of purpose aligned to the TAFE Queensland values. 


John has dedicated his career to developing strategy and informing policies to ensure best practice in skills training at a senior level. John has been instrumental in shaping training initiatives nationally as well as here in Queensland.  As an educator at heart, John brings a focus on our core purpose embedded in the critical relationship between teacher and learner. John is a highly respected industry leader in this sector and has achieved frequent national recognition in high performance leadership.  


In addition to a Bachelor of Adult and Vocational Education, John is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds qualifications in Executive Management and Development from UNSW’s Australian Graduate School of Management.  John is a Non-executive director and board member of WorldSkills Australia as well as a board member of TAFE Directors Australia and a the Queensland Overseas Foundation.


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Chief Academic Officer


Jenni Butler has over 28 years’ experience in the Vocational Education and Training sector as an educator, senior manager, executive director and more recently as the General Manager for TAFE Queensland South West region, prior to being appointed to the role of Chief Academic Officer.


Jenni plays a pivotal role in shaping the organisation’s educational landscape and is passionate about the VET sector, understanding the importance of what training and skills brings to individuals, businesses and communities. Living and growing up in regional and remote Queensland for most of her life, Jenni has a strong connection and consistently advocates and champions the importance of VET within these communities and across the state. Jenni also believes it is important to support and develop her people to become future leaders for the organisation.


Jenni is the chair of the TAFE Queensland Academic Board. She holds of Bachelor of Vocational Education and Training and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Jenni is a board member of the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce and a member of Ipswich Chamber of Commerce.


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Chief Information Officer


Alan Chapman is an experienced information and communications technology (ICT) leader with over 30 years’ experience. He has previously been the Chief Information Officer for the Queensland Government and run his own ICT consulting business. He also has over 15 years’ experience in the higher education and VET sectors including over 9 years as a University lecturer.


Alan has a strong focus on getting the best from ICT for TAFE Queensland, driving a rich technology-enabled experience for students and a seamless working environment for staff. In his time at TAFE Queensland, he has grown a high-performing ICT team, delivered a range of enterprise systems and technologies, and championed cyber security and privacy.


Alan holds a Bachelor of Applied Science, a Masters of Information Technology, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


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Chief Human Resources Officer

Vanessa Kissane has over 20 years’ experience working in a number of key senior management roles across TAFE Queensland, with a focus on strategic human resources, employee relations, payroll services, workforce analytics and health, safety and wellbeing.


Vanessa is a business minded, connected and trusted advisor with a strong understanding of the Vocational Education and Training sector.  Vanessa strategically leads workforce strategy and planning, organisational design and leadership capability to sustain a positive performance culture at TAFE Queensland. 


Vanessa is a strong and proud advocate of diversity and inclusion, ensuring all staff have a voice and a sense of belonging at work.  Health, safety and wellbeing through “Safety First”, is a core value for TAFE Queensland, and Vanessa leads the prevention, promotion and work practices through the TAFE Queensland Board and Executive.


Vanessa holds a Masters of Business, Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Development and a Bachelor of Business (Management and Human Resources).


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Chief Financial Officer


Simon Pritchard has 17 years of experience in senior finance roles across TAFE Queensland, following a number of years in the health and higher education sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom.


Simon brings a deep understanding of TAFE Queensland operations and how the CFO Portfolio as a whole can enable the organisation to achieve operational and strategic goals.


Simon is responsible for all financial planning, reporting and financial support services across TAFE Queensland, as well as strategic procurement and purchasing, infrastructure and asset planning and management, and the risk management and control framework across the organisation. 


Simon is also a member of TAFE Directors Australia Audit, Risk and Finance Committee.


Simon is a member of CPA (Australia), holds a Masters of Business Administration, a Postgraduate Certificate in Public Sector Leadership, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


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General Manager, Operations


Nik Babovic boasts an extensive track record of over two decades in executive leadership roles in higher education and vocational education and training sectors. He is a driving force behind operational priorities that positively influence the sustainability and success of TAFE Queensland. His diverse portfolio encompasses higher education, defence, the Back to Work program, and the TAFE Queensland Scholarship Foundation, a philanthropic venture that empowers government bodies, industries, and individuals to make contributions that positively impact students' lives.


Nik's academic footing, including a Bachelor of Education and a Graduate Diploma in Strategic Leadership, provides the bedrock for his substantial expertise in formulating and steering organisational strategy, engaging stakeholders, and managing day-to-day operations.


Nik’s former position as Institute Director of the Central Queensland Institute of TAFE, afforded him the opportunity to orchestrate the merger of CQ TAFE with CQ University, culminating in the inception of Queensland's pioneer dual-sector university. This journey eventually propelled him into the role of inaugural Deputy Vice-Chancellor VET of CQ University.


As a vital bridge between TAFE Queensland and the Department of Youth Justice, Small Business, Employment, and Training, Nik ensures seamless collaboration across government, industry, and communities to ensure training that underpins economic growth and communal prosperity. Furthermore, Nik's background in Higher Education offers the requisite insight for formulating higher education programs at TAFE Queensland that provide VET pathways that pave the way for articulated entry into universities.

Nik holds a Bachelor of Education and Graduate Diploma in Strategic Leadership.


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General Manager, International Education


Russell Mckay is a highly experienced workforce development economist with over 20 years of working experience in multiple global locations. An academic leader with extensive experience in academic governance, rural economic development/poverty alleviation, workforce development and land reform. With a solid foundation in agricultural economics gained in South Africa, Russell’s career has progressed to encompass international aid and development work before ultimately transitioning into the vocational education and training sector. Responsible for TAFE Queensland’s entire international portfolio, including all inbound international students and all offshore delivery undertaken by TAFE Queensland.


Russell has extensive international experience and a passion for growing inbound international student experience, as well as developing and managing offshore program delivery. Russell is TAFE Queensland's managing contractor representative for the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) program. Russell's focus is on sustainable workforce employment through technical vocational education and training globally, including developing new global transnational education products and services. 


Russell has led evaluations of flagship federal and state-level reform initiatives for vulnerable populations and financial wellbeing services. Expertise extends to leading service offerings in skilling for workforce development, including monitoring and evaluation, value for money assessments, quality assurance, and project design for various international programs.


Experience in aid and development, and evaluation of Australia Awards programs across the higher education sector have also seen a focus on evaluating student outcomes as a result of interventions, pre-, during and post study.


Russell has a Bachelor of Science (Agricultural Economics).

General Manager, East Coast region

With over 30 years of experience spanning international, interstate and the Queensland Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, Mark possesses an in-depth knowledge of the challenges and opportunities that VET provides to business, communities and individuals in a rapidly changing socio-economic landscape.


As the TAFE Queensland Product Sponsor for the Community Services portfolio, Mark led the development and continuous improvement of TAFE Queensland’s suite of education and training resources to service the aged care, disability support, early childhood education and care and community services sectors to ensure graduates are job-ready and possess the skills and knowledge to meet the needs of industry.


Mark is proud to lead a staff of dedicated and skilled educators that is committed to serving students and the community. Mark is a passionate advocate for vocational education and training, noting the remarkable difference it makes to people’s lives.


Mark holds a Bachelor of Education (Adult Vocational Education) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

General Manager, Gold Coast region


Karen Dickinson has extensive executive level experience in public sector management roles across health, employment services and vocational education and training, and has been the General Manager at the Gold Coast region for six years.


Karen is passionate about sustainability and strongly believes that as a vocational education provider, we need to build holistic knowledge and skills that equips students to manage in a new sustainability focused world. TAFE Queensland has a key role to play in inspiring, celebrating and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through vocational education and is a signatory to the global SDG Accord. 


Karen has spoken at a number of events globally on TAFE Queensland’s commitment and achievements with implementing the SDGs. Karen is also responsible for the new Robina Campus which opened in 2022 and has won a number of awards including a silver award for its commitment to the SDG’s at the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) 2023 Awards of Excellence.


Karen has a Masters in Health Services Management, Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety and Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing). Karen is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Board member of Be Slavery Free, a non for profit that advocates to abolish modern slavery.


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General Manager, North region


Susan has been working at senior and executive level roles in government, higher education and vocational education and training for over 20 years. Susan’s connection with TAFE and vocational education and training in late 1997 as the Finance Manager of Moreton Institute of TAFE. After over a decade in the Higher Education sector in both Canada and Australia, Susan re-joined the TAFE family in March 2016 in the role of Executive Director, Corporate Services for TAFE Queensland North Region and has been the acting General Manager of North region for one year.


Susan has a strong focus and passion on building a high-performance team culture to enable TAFE Queensland to be positioned for growth and success for now and into the future and for delivering exceptional student outcomes with strong industry connections. Susan is committed to supporting and enhancing regional, remote and indigenous communities through quality vocational education and training and by TAFE Queensland being a vehicle to social and economic prosperity.


Susan holds a Master of Business Administration (Leadership major) from the University of South Australia, a Bachelor of Commerce from James Cook University, a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety from TAFE Queensland and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment from TAFE Queensland.  Susan is also a Fellow Certified Practicing Accountant, a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers and a Justice of the Peace (Qualified).  Susan has been a Director of the Board of Ronald McDonald House North Australia for over 14 years.


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General Manager, SkillsTech region 


Steve Gates has over 16 years of industry experience and qualifications in automotive manufacturing and vocational education. Steve began his journey with TAFE Queensland as an educator and worked in various management positions prior to joining the TAFE Queensland SkillsTech (TQST) senior executive team in 2018.


Steve’s educational background continues to fuel his passion for delivering exceptional student outcomes and skilling solutions for industry.  In recognition of his expertise, Stephen was recently appointed as a member of the Ministerial Apprenticeship Advisory Committee established by the Minister in 2023. Steve also represents TAFE Queensland on the DYJESBT Investment Operations Committee.


Steve is passionate about providing quality training outcomes and has been the lead for the TAFE Queensland Apprenticeship and Traineeship Steering Committee across the state.


Committed to nurturing the future leaders of the vocational training sector, Steve also currently serves as the President of the AUSTAFE Queensland Chapter and is also the Chair of WorldSkills Queensland.

Steve was integral in positioning TAFE Queensland as the first in the state to deliver the Certificate III in Electric Vehicle Technology apprenticeship and continues to maintain strong links with industry, peak bodies and government agencies and other training and education sectors and organisations.


Steve has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Company Directors Course.


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General Manager, Brisbane region

Brent Kinnane has more than 25 years of experience in strategic and operational management, business development and finance across a range of industries and sectors, with more than 20 years in the Vocational Education and Training sector.


Brent has a special interest and focus on enhancing the student experience and providing training and business solutions for students and commercial clients. Brent is the TAFE Queensland lead in the developing the strategy and response to TAFE Queensland’s contribution to the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games which has a strong focus on TAFE Queensland graduates achieving positive employment outcomes in support of the legacy created by the Games.


Brent holds a Bachelor of Business Management (Distinction) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Brent is a Director of the Board of Brothers Leagues Club, Ipswich and Life Education Queensland.


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Executive Director, Business Development


Robert has nearly 25 years’ leadership experience in Australia’s tertiary education and training sector across public and private organisations. He is passionate about skills and workforce development and working with businesses and government to ensure Australia’s workforce has the skills needed for today and tomorrow’s world of work.


Robert is a highly experienced and commercially astute senior executive with extensive experience in leading organisational change, achieving results and influencing government policy. Key areas of expertise include commercial business development, education and training, industry, community and government engagement, leading change in diverse teams and building connected teams, corporate strategy and risk, overseeing large scale projects and programs, financial management and overall operational management in complex environments.


Robert has held strategic and leadership positions across TAFE Queensland’s operational and corporate portfolios and is currently responsible for establishing and leading TAFE Queensland’s major commercial partnerships including the Queensland Future Skills Partnership which has been awarded:

  • Winner, Queensland Training Awards – Premiers Industry Collaboration Award 2022;
  • Silver, Australian Training Awards – Industry Collaboration Award 2022; Winner,
  • Resources Training Council’s 2021 Outstanding Training Initiative; and
  •  Finalist, Engagement Australia Awards, Industry Collaboration 2021.


Robert holds a Bachelor of Technology Education. 


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Executive Director, Legal Services and General Counsel


Gareth is an experienced legal professional and has held roles in Australia and overseas advising large, complex organisations, including as in-house counsel at ASX-listed and multi-national companies.  He brings a practical and commercial approach to advising boards and senior executives on strategic and operational challenges.


Gareth has worked in the education, aviation, logistics and industrial services industries and is a skilled practitioner in the fields of commercial contracts, negotiation, tenders and bid solutions, dispute resolution and intellectual property protection. He is a mentor of other aspiring legal leaders with the Association of Corporate Counsel mentorship program and is an active volunteer with a number of community organisations.


Gareth is a registered Legal Practitioner and member of the Queensland Law Society.  He also holds a Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of Business (Management) (Distinction), a Grad. Dip. of Applied Corporate Governance and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Acting General Manager, South West region

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