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 Tucker has over 30 years of experience in the VET sector, mostly recently as the General Manager of TAFE Queensland (SkillsTech), the largest provider of trade and technical training in the state of Queensland. During this time, John was also the lead for apprenticeship training delivery strategies for TAFE in Queensland.
Prior to this role, John has held numerous senior executive roles in the sector and is a passionate advocate for vocational training. John has dedicated his career to developing strategy and policies to ensure best practice in skills training at a senior level. Apart from a Bachelor of Adult and Vocational Education, and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, John holds qualifications in Executive Management and Development from UNSW Graduate Business School. John is also a non-Executive Director on the board of WorldSkills Australia.
Chief Academic Officer
Joann Pyne has over 20 years of experience in both local and federal government across a variety of senior executive roles. Joann has been instrumental in developing a range of programs that have received awards for their innovative approach, unique and successful partnerships, and their responsiveness to business, industry and community. Joann is passionate about ensuring TAFE Queensland is seen as the premier training provider and an advocate of Indigenous vocational education in Queensland that students, employers, industry and employees are proud to be associated with.
Chief Information Officer
Alan Chapman has over 15 years’ experience in the higher education and VET sectors and over 30 years in information and communications technology (ICT). He 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. Alan is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Chief Human Resources Officer
Vanessa Kissane has 16 years’ experience working in a number of key senior management roles across TAFE Queensland, with a focus on strategic human resources and employee relations. With an innovative approach to all facets of workforce development, Vanessa brings a strong operational understanding to drive organisational performance. Vanessa holds a Masters of Business and Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Development.
Chief Financial Officer
Simon Pritchard has 15 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 a member of CPA (Australia), holds a Masters of Business Administration and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
General Manager, Operations
Nik Babovic has over 20 years of experience in executive leadership positions across the vocational education and training and higher education sectors. Nik drives operational priorities that positively impact the sustainability and success of TAFE Queensland, underpinned by significant experience in developing and leading organisational strategy, stakeholder engagement and operational management. As the former Institute Director of Central Queensland Institute of TAFE (CQTAFE), Nik led the merger of CQUniversity of CQTAFE to become the first dual sector university in Queensland and became the inaugural Deputy Vice Chancellor VET of CQUniversity. Nik holds a Bachelor of Education and Graduate Diploma in Strategic Leadership.
General Manager, International Education
Russell Mckay is a highly experienced workforce development economist with over 20 years of working experience in multiple global locations. 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. Russell has extensive international experience and a passion for growing inbound international student experience, as well as developing and managing offshore program delivery. He 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.
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.
Karen is passionate about vocational training and 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.
Karen has a Masters in Health Services Management, Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety, Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing). Karen is a board member for Be Slavery Free and Study Gold Coast.
General Manager, North region
Susan's connection with TAFE commenced in late 1997 where she was the Finance Manager of Moreton Institute of TAFE. After some time in the Higher Education sector in both Canada and Australia, Susan rejoined the TAFE family in March 2016. It was at this time that Susan commenced as Executive Director, Corporate Services for TAFE Queensland North Region. In 2019, Susan also took on the role of Procurement Lead for all of TAFE Queensland, which covered all strategic procurement and purchasing activities across the entire breadth of TAFE Queensland's operations.
As acting General Manager, Susan's focus is on building a high-performance team culture and improving the morale and culture of the workplace to enable TAFE Queensland North Region to be positioned for growth and success for now and into the future.
Susan has a Bachelor of Commerce from James Cook University and a Master of Business Administration (Leadership Major) from the University of South Australia. Susan also is a Fellow Certified Practicing Accountant, a Fellow member of the Institute of Leaders and Managers and a Commissioner for Declarations.
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. Committed to nurturing the future leaders of the vocational training sector, Steve also currently serves as the President of the AUSTAFE Queensland Chapter. Steve has also completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Company Directors Course.
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’s focus is on providing solutions for students and commercial clients, ensuring TAFE Queensland delivers relevant and current training that allows graduates achieve positive employment outcomes. He 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.
Executive Director, Business Development
Robert Petherbridge has nearly 20 years’ experience working in the 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 tomorrow’s world of work. Robert is a Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia and recognised for contributions to public policy and reform in education and VET.
Executive Director, Legal Services and General Counsel
Gareth Hewson is an experienced law professional and has held roles advising large organisations in Australia and overseas, including in-house counsel roles at ASX-listed and multi-national companies. He specialises in government contracting, international projects, dispute resolution and multi-party ventures.
General Manager, South West region
Jenni Butler has over 27 years’ experience in the VET sector as an educator, senior manager and executive director. Jenni has a passion for the sector and understands the importance of what training and skills brings to individuals, businesses and communities. Jenni is the chair of the TAFE at Schools Steering committee, tasked with reinforcing TAFE Queensland as the provider of choice for schools in Queensland. She holds of Bachelor of Vocational Education and Training and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Jenni is also a board member of the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce.