Andrew Staite

Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director

Andrew is Managing Director and CEO of The Pinnacle Foundation. He is also Non-Executive Chair of search and outplacement firm, SHK.

After completing Law and Arts degrees at The University of Melbourne, and being admitted to practice, Andrew joined Melbourne Theatre Company, and subsequently, the Victoria State Opera and Australian Opera companies (now Opera Australia), where he worked in a range of sales and marketing roles.

In 1997 Andrew joined recruitment and human resources consulting firm, Morgan & Banks. Andrew was promoted through a series of leadership roles with the publicly-listed business (through various ownership and name changes) to ultimately lead the company across Australia and New Zealand.

In 2007 Andrew founded Staite Henningsen Klein (now SHK). He was the firm’s managing director for almost nine years. SHK is now a recognised leader in search and outplacement services.

Andrew was a non-executive director of Victoria’s Midsumma Festival from 2013 until 2016. He joined the Board of The Pinnacle Foundation in 2016, chairing the People, Remuneration & Nominations Committee until 2019 when he was appointed as the Foundation’s CEO and Managing Director.

Andrew lives with his husband, Mark, in Melbourne.

Sam Jacob

Chair Scholarship Selection Committee

Sam Jacob brings more than 25 years’ experience in higher education in the UK and Australia, including senior roles at Laureate International Universities, Deakin University, Monash University, the University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide. Sam’s current role is the Director of Student Operations & Administration at Charles Darwin University, leading staff across 12 campus and study locations to ensure the outstanding customer experiences.

She is a specialist in student and academic administration and student and staff services, with strengths in conceptualising the future needs of organisations, driving change, implementing innovative and responsive strategies, improving quality and managing information and technology. At Laureate, she focused on improving the employment outcomes for students, and launched a major Success Coaching initiative for all students, in partnership with Gallup. At CDU Sam has joined a young, innovative University focused on making a difference to the remarkable top end of Australia and its south east Asian and Pacific neighbours.

Sam holds postgraduate qualifications in management, mediation and arbitration and is (slowly) working towards a Doctor of Business Administration. She was chair of the national symposium on Safer Campus Communities, inaugural convener of the ANZ Student Service Centre Conference, and has presented papers at major national and international conferences.

She has served on a number of community Boards, including as Deputy Chair of Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival and Chair of Adelaide’s Feast Festival, as well as currently volunteering with The Pinnacle Foundation.

Sam is a Fellow of the Association for Tertiary Education Management (ATEMF), and currently mentors other sector professionals in the LH Martin Institute’s Emerging Leaders and Managers program.

Dr. Jim Sait

Mentor Manager

Dr Jim Sait worked in the higher education sector for 35 years. He has taught at universities in the UK, Canada and Australia before crossing to the ‘dark side’ in university administration at the University of Sydney where he ran the International Office. In 2005 he moved into executive search where he used his HR skills and experience assisting Australian and New Zealand universities and health care providers to recruit the best professionals from all over the world.

Jim is passionate about the transformative power of education to improve both individual lives and the life and culture of the nation. He has been an active member of the LGBTIQ+ community since the early 70’s, and in the early 80’s set up an AIDS patient assistance program in regional NSW. A member of the Pinnacle Foundation family since 2011, he sees his current role as Mentor Manager as a logical extension of a lifetime of networking.

Jim has a PhD from UCL, and an MA and a BA (Hons) from UBC. He also has a DipEd from UNE.

Nicholas Steepe

Scholar Manager

Nic grew up in regional Australia and currently lives in Junee, New South Wales. After coming to terms with his sexuality at a young age, Nic faced the difficulty of family, peer and societal rejection which took a significant toll on his mental health. Whilst studying a Bachelor of Social Work at Charles Sturt University in Dubbo, Nic secured a job with headspace Dubbo, and contributed significantly to the conversation around youth mental health, marriage equality, and inclusion for LGBTIQ+ individuals within the Central West. Nic was also the first in his immediate family to graduate from university.

After completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Project Management, Nic began working as a Project Manager, Equality & Diversity for Charles Sturt University at the start of 2018. Nic also completed a Master of Social Work (Advanced Practice, Research/Dissertation strand) with Distinction at the end of 2019.

Nic is committed and passionate about promoting inclusion and support for regional LGBTIQ+ individuals. He was named the Young Professional of the Year in the Out for Australia LGBTIQ Role Model Awards 2018, as well as the Out Role Model at the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) 2019.

Nic has been the Scholar Manager since 2016, after receiving a scholarship from The Pinnacle Foundation in 2015.

Caitlyn Georgeson

Alumni Manager

Caitlyn joined The Pinnacle Foundation in January 2020 as the national Alumni Manager. As a former Pinnacle Scholar, Caitlyn feels strongly about giving back to the Foundation and growing the national alumni network.

Caitlyn is a government advisory lawyer at Maddocks and a volunteer lawyer at the Fitzroy Legal Service. Caitlyn has previously worked as an associate to the Hon. Justice Incerti at the Supreme Court of Victoria and as a research officer at the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission. Caitlyn holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of Arts (Politics & International Studies) from the University of Adelaide.

Caitlyn is a committed human rights advocate. She was a Field Organiser for the Australian Marriage Equality Campaign and was named Student and Rising Star of the Year at the 2017 Australian LGBTI Awards.

Caitlyn is now based in Melbourne with her partner.

Gavin Cao

Chief Financial Officer

Gavin has extensive experience in leading commercial and enterprise planning, budgeting, reporting and analysis. This includes the provision of strategic advice and support in the context of complex organisations undergoing significant change.

Currently Gavin is the CMO Finance Director for L’Oréal Australia, with prior roles including executive partnering with CFOs and Board of Management to deliver key insights, leading strategic decision-making at both enterprise and operational levels.

He holds an MBA from Melbourne Business School and a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) from The University of Adelaide. He is a Certified Practicing Accountant.

Gavin joined The Pinnacle Foundation in April 2020 and is passionate about supporting disadvantaged LGBTIQ+ youth; understanding the unique challenges faced by minority groups within Australia.

Gavin lives in Melbourne with his husband, Mark.

Julian De Bortoli

Chief Marketing Officer

After completing an MBA at an young age, Julian was inspired to bring a highly strategic approach to retail marketing and gained a lot of experience from marketing professionals and mentors within the industry.

He has over 20 years of experience in senior marketing roles across global brands such as McDonald’s and Europcar and has won several marketing, strategy and communication awards within Australia and overseas.

Julian headed up marketing for Specsavers when they launched into the Australian and New Zealand market. Specsavers became market leader in four years. Julian was then invited to head up marketing in Europe, looking after Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Netherlands. Julian also led the eCommerce team during his final year in Europe.

Julian met his partner, Tod, overseas. They moved to Australia and reside together in Melbourne.

‘I am firm believer that our best work takes place outside our comfort zone, both personally and professionally.”

Darren Donnelly

Chief Information Officer

Darren has been creating innovative technologies and managing software development teams in the digital space for the last two decades; working for highly successful start-ups and dotcoms such as the REA Group and SEEK.

His most recent role has been as Head of Product Delivery for Containerchain, a provider of SAAS solutions for the global logistics industry, where he has been responsible for the strategic development of the Containerchain product suite and scaling the team for global expansion.

Darren has also been an active member of the LGBTIQ+ community since the early 90’s, sitting on the Boards of the Victorian AIDS Council and Midsumma.

Susan Brooks

Co-Founder and Foundation Advisor

Susan has extensive experience in managing regulatory risks and consumer issues from within executive government, statutory administrative bodies and the financial services sector. She holds a Bachelor of Economics and a Master of Law.

“In my current role I am able to apply the wealth of experience I gained through corporate life. It also allows me to give back to our community. Back in the Seventies, I was a beneficiary of the Labor Government’s new approach to university entrance, so I understand the benefits of education and how it can change your life.

I was one of Pinnacle’s founding members and have been involved in most areas of the Foundation including developing the processes and policies which still guide the Foundation today. Before retiring from more active involvement with the Foundation, I was the Chair of Selection Committee and Mentor Development. I now provide risk assessments for the Foundation, undertake research and provide the Board advice as requested”

Jill Skromanis

Chief People Officer

Jill is an organisational development specialist, coach and mentor with twenty years of industry experience in the financial services sector in Australian, European, Asian and global contexts. She has worked with ANZ, Zurich European General Insurances (based in London) and most recently, at IAG.

Jill has experience in providing thought leadership and establishing and evolving enterprise models and frameworks across people and organisational development agendas. Her specialisms include diversity and inclusion, talent management and succession, and capability development to support organisations live their purpose and achieve strategic objectives. She Co-Chaired IAG’s Pride (LGBTIQ+) Employee Resource Group.

Jill is currently developing her entrepreneurial skills as a small business owner at SpottedRobin, with a focus on creating homewares and gifts that showcase Australian wildlife. Through this work, Jill champions diverse and inclusive cultures through her operating practices which involve partnering with local social enterprises. She sees her role with The Pinnacle Foundation as a fabulous opportunity to apply her passion and experiences in support of LGBTIQ+ youth and young professionals in pursuing education and achieving their true potential.

Jill lives in Melbourne with her partner Kerry and two daughters.

Timothy Stutt

Company Secretary

Tim is a senior associate in Herbert Smith Freehills’ head office advisory team (HOAT), where he advises publicly listed companies on corporations law, governance, executive remuneration and shareholder engagement/activism matters.

Tim holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce degrees from Monash University in Melbourne. Tim has previously worked as a financial analyst at an investment manager based in the San Francisco Bay Area and, in 2010, was one of two Australians to receive a Young Leaders’ Program scholarship from the Japanese Ministry of Education.

Tim is based in Sydney and lives on the lower north shore with his husband, Scott, and their poorly behaved frenchie.

Ben Henry

Governance & Risk Coordinator

Ben became a Pinnacle Scholar in 2019 while he was studying his Juris Doctor at The University of Melbourne. Experiencing first-hand the life changing impact of his scholarship, Ben wanted to contribute to the Foundation’s incredible work. After graduating that year, Ben joined The Pinnacle Foundation as the Governance and Risk Coordinator.

Ben holds a Bachelor of Arts (Criminology & Psychology) and a Juris Doctor from the University of Melbourne. He has volunteered with the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and has publicly advocated for amendments to the ‘gay blood ban’. After graduating, Ben joined MinterEllison as one of their first Legal Operations Graduates working with the Capital Markets and Corporate teams, and is the Community Engagement Co-Lead for the firm’s national LGBTI+ network, PRiME.

Ben is extremely passionate about queer advocacy, visibility, and empowerment through education.

Tim Lai

Digital Marketing Manager

Tim has over 20 years of experience working in the retail technology and professional services space. Tim was appointed The Pinnacle Foundation’s Digital Marketing Manager in July 2019, after having worked with intelligence provider, Mi9, where he served as Asia Pacific Director. Tim’s previous tenures also provided retail, marketing, technology and strategic leadership to Crumpler, Aesop and Healthwise, and worked with retail focused technology vendors to provide solutions to The Adidem Group/Body Shop, IGA, Royal Children’s Hospital, Chemist Warehouse, The Just Group, Harris Scarfe and Darrell Lea.

Tim has lived and practical experience deploying large corporate solutions across multiple regions (Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, UK, France, Switzerland and USA).

Tim lives in Melbourne with his fiancé, Mark, and their menagerie of feathered, scaled and furred children.

Paula Corvalan

Program Manager

Paula Corvalan has over ten years’ experience working in communications, marketing and social services. Paula has worked in print and digital media, advertising strategy, events and copywriting with organisations such as News Limited and Fairfax. Most recently Paula worked as a Community Relations Specialist in accommodation and housing services, education and training across NSW, Queensland and the ACT. Paula holds a Master of Clinical Counselling as well as tertiary qualifications in Communications and Marketing.

“In my current role I want to combine my passion for education, communications and relationship building with a focus on wellbeing, mental health and personal development. I want to work with a team who share the common goal of creating a platform for education as a tool for personal and social change.” Paula holds a firm belief that education is the springboard to individual and community success.

Paula was born in Chile and came to Australia as a child, she is fluent in both Spanish and English. Her background has meant that Paula is a strong advocate for cultural awareness, diversity and inclusivity in all areas of life. Paula has a strong commitment to engaging in a person-centred and values-led approach in the workplace.