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19 April


24 April







Emerging Leaders Program 2016

In 2016 the Cairns Young Chamber increased their level of investment in our leadership of the future by selecting 22 young local people to participate in the 2016 ‘Emerging Leaders’ Professional Development Program.  

The highly sought after Leadership Program boasts a regional capacity focus and is aimed at taking young professionals out of their comfort zone and showing them what it really means to be a remarkable leader. 

Basic Program Framework Included:

  • Industry Sector Site Famils – to showcase which key industry sectors drive our economic growth 
  • Keynote Leadership Presentations from some of the region’s biggest and the best organisations
  • Opportunity to complete a Critical Reflection Journal to qualify for advanced standing equivalent to two subjects in the James Cook University MBA Program
  • Leadership Competency Training in areas such as Media, Conflict Management & Resolution, Taxation and Business Planning and many more
  • Speed Mentoring Session & Formal Mentoring Partnerships
  • Involvement in the Cairns Chamber of Commerce Regional Industry Leaders Program with attendance at chosen collaborative forms/workshops with industry sector groups
  • Each program participant will play a key role in a community based project that will benefit the city in which they live and work
  • A series of Networking & Mentoring events

For more information follow the CYC Facebook page.

Benjamin Keast

Benjamin Keast was born in Canberra, ACT and moved to Cairns in time to complete his senior schooling. After commencing a Bachelors of Education with JCU, Ben was successful in obtaining a Business Administration Traineeship with ARC Disability Services Inc. The rest as they say is history.

Continuing his journey with ARC over the last 14 years, Ben has moved into a variety of roles covering Administration, Direct Support, Coordination, Health & Safety, Return to Work & Rehabilitation, Human Resources and currently in the role of Chief Operations Officer. ARC supports over 400 Service Users within the Cairns and Far North Community, and employs around 170 staff. 

Being a finalist in Cairns, for the 2013 Australian Institute of Management – Not for Profit Manager of the Year has been a career highlight, along with the opportunity to represent ARC and attend the Australian Institute of Human Resources World Conference in Melbourne.

Ben is looking forward to undertaking the Cairns Chamber of Commerce Emerging Leaders Program for 2016 to continue to evolve his leadership skills, and build further networks within the Cairns Community. 

Christie Denham

Christie Denham has been a part of the event industry for the past 10 years building experience in her home town of Cannes - French Riviera, which boasts many prestigious yearly events such as the Cannes International Film Festival, the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix and the Monte-Carlo Masters, to name a few. Whether it was small conferences, group incentives or large conventions she has had many opportunities to master her organisational and language skills throughout the years. 

Christie travelled to Australia for a few months in December of 2013, and has since settled in Cairns, and not returned to Europe. 

In August 2015, the opportunity arose for Christie to use her knowledge and talents in a local and human size venue, The Woolshed. Freshly refurbished and with a new clientele in mind Christie has taken upon the role of function coordinator, dabbling in the venues marketing and sponsorship programs as well as managing The Woolshed Cafe & Restaurant a few days a week.

From a “behind the scenes" organisational role to a very hands on front of house role, Christie has had to learn many new skills. She has joined the Emerging Leaders Program as a great way to help her assume this interactive role via networking and general involvement within the different industries and professionals of Cairns.

Daniel Lyngcoln

Daniel Lyngcoln could rattle off the highlights of his CV and talk you through his list of experience and achievements.

He can tell you he’s a local who graduated from James Cook University with a bachelor of Business with Majors in Marketing and Management.

Dan could also point out that he now owns and operates the highly successful marketing agency Brandtree Creative with his brother Nick, who together manage a constantly expanding team and roster of clients built up over the past decade.

He could talk about all that. But Dan does things a little differently. 

While experience and achievements are important to promote in anyone’s biography, it’s also true that lists and dot points don’t always capture the story of a person’s passion, the ‘why’ of what it is they do.

You can’t read a list of Dan’s achievements and really know how much he believes in educating and empowering others about the importance of branding.

Until you spend some time with Dan, you won’t realise how important it is for him to be constantly learning about disruptive marketing and technologies while building a creative team that inspires clients to achieve their business goals.

And his bio won’t give you the full picture of how he has personally been involved in the development of hundreds of brands in the region, including work for Advance Cairns, the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, the Cairns Business Women’s Club and new media platform Cairns Now.

Most of all, a standard CV won’t tell you about Dan’s focus on working with highly skilled, like-minded people who continually improve the customer experience and create strong connections with industry leaders and partners.

Which is exactly why Dan is so thrilled to be part of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce Emerging Leaders Program for 2016.

Emma Post

As a born and bred local, Emma Post is currently completing her third and final year of her Bachelor of Business degree at James Cook University. To compliment her studies, Emma is also attaining hands on experience in a number of roles: Member Services Intern at the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, Senior Event Manager for the Business Students Club at JCU, and part time in administration at RE/MAX Cairns. Entering into her business degree has allowed Emma to discover her passion for the local business sector, and, in particular, marketing and event management. Emma is passionate about interacting with the local business community and understands the importance of developing strong networks.

Emma is delighted to be a part of the 2016 Emerging Leaders Program, and believes that this is an invaluable opportunity  to gain the skills and knowledge to kick-start her career. She aims to use this knowledge and experience to encourage the young business generation of Cairns to strive for the best and create a positive contribution back into the local community. 

Eva Synková

Eva is originally from Prague, Czech Republic where she graduated from the University of Finance and Administration with a Master of Economics. She was working for GE Money Bank in Prague as an Operational Manager but after her graduation she decided to move to Australia. Since her arrival almost five years ago she became a fellow Australian and is currently working for ImmigrationHelp as a Project Manager.

Growing up in a capital city and being used to stressful life she instantly fall in love with the relaxed life style in Cairns and having all the natural beauties on her doorstep. 

Eva sees an opportunity in the Emerging Leaders Program for personal growth, creating a network of local contacts and to become more involved in local community. 

Heidi Turner

Heidi Turner a dedicated and passionate Recruitment and Management Services consultant for MEGT Cairns. 

From her background in job services, case management (From Cairns to the Torres Strait)and sales management she has developed a strong community focus.

Heidi’s goal as an active member of the community is to;

Assist employers gain suitable quality staff, promote longevity and support members of community to up skill into sustainable employment.

Heidi’s overall vision is to increase our communities’ well-being though employment, education and social services.

Jake Levin

Jake Levin graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in history and politics. Jake has a passion for news and current affairs, leading to his pursuit of a career in the media. After moving to Cairns in April 2015, Jake has established himself as an integral part of the 4CA team as a producer on the acclaimed John MacKenzie show. In Jake’s short time in Cairns he has had a crash course in local political, social and economic issues that face Cairns and Far North Queensland. Jake’s aim is to produce programs that ask the hard questions and focus on the important issues facing our society. Since being at 4CA Jake has given a voice to locals, provided a platform for our unsung heroes and assisted in the creation of quality and relevant programming for the Far North.

Jesse O'Hara

Jesse grew up in Hobart, Tasmania and moved abroad after completing high school. Jesse lived and worked at a school in Thailand for a year before moving to Canada for an extended working holiday. Jesse re-located to Cairns in 2008 to commence a Bachelor of Education, which was highlighted by a semester at San Diego State University in the USA. After finishing his degree, Jesse worked in South Korea as an English teacher and returned to Cairns in 2014 to undertake a Master of Business Administration at JCU.           

Jesse currently works for the Immigration Gurus as a business development adviser and education agent. Outside of work and study, Jesse enjoys keeping active and dabbles in a bit of sport.

Jesse is excited to become more involved with the Cairns business community and contribute to the region’s future success. 

Lisa Jensz

Lisa Jensz is an Associate at MacDonnells Law.  Lisa is a North Queensland local who was born and raised in Tully.  Lisa completed her legal studies at the Cairns campus of James Cook University.  After completing her degree Lisa accepted a position as a graduate at MacDonnells Law in 2010 and has worked there since that time.  Lisa is a member of the firm's state-wide Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, and works across all facets of insurance, injury compensation claims, workplace health and safety and general litigation. Lisa actively participates in the local community by volunteering her time and expertise with various not-for-profit community groups. 

Mitchell Smith

Mitch grew up in Brisbane (don't hold that against him) and moved to Cairns in 2012 and has since fell in love with our beautiful city.

Mitch is an Accredited Sports Dietitian and owner of Health Management Dietitians. He works closely with the Cairns Taipans and the Northern Pride and has a particular interest in helping regular mums and dads fit good healthy eating practices into their busy lifestyles. Mitch's philosophy is to never recommend something that he hasn't tried himself. This is why he completed the Cairns Ironman 70.3 in 2014 and still plays Rugby Union for Barron Trinity Rugby Club and was fortunate to represent North Queensland in 2015.

Anyone that has seen Mitch speak, knows he is not your regular boring old dietitian and understands that there is no one size fits all approach. It's about fitting good healthy lifestyle practices into your current life, not the other way around. Whilst Mitch is passionate about health and nutrition, he also has an interest in politics and seeing Cairns thrive on good strong leadership.

Mitch is excited to be part of this years emerging leadership program and is looking forward to learning new skills that may one day see him in a position to implement them in the best interests of Cairns.

Monique Bell

Monique began developing her knowledge of the Tourism Industry at an early age. Completing a Tourism Traineeship with the CAPTA Group she worked on their local tour desk whilst still a student at St Andrews Catholic College. The knowledge gained enabled her to secure a role at the Cairns Convention Centre, where she was employed for 3 years in a number of different roles within their Sales and Marketing team.  Her achievements were recognised in 2012 when she was a finalist for the Queensland MEA/USI Young Professional Scholarship and the Far North Regional Finalist for Queensland Training Awards. In 2015 Monique moved to the Novotel Oasis where she is employed as their Sales & Marketing Coordinator.   Monique is a member of Chartered Institute of Marketing and is currently undertaking a diploma in Digital Marketing through the Australia College of Marketing.

Outside of work Monique enjoys playing and coaching netball, having participated in the Marlin Coast Netball Academy program and captaining the Marlins Queensland State Netball League team.

Monique is looking forward to working with her mentor and developing her leadership skills through the Emerging Leaders Program.  She also views this as a good opportunity to make valuable contacts from different industries within the local community. 

Morganne Baldwin

Morganne Baldwin, originally from the beaches of New South Wales relocated to Far North Queensland in 2009. Since relocating Morganne has travelled extensively throughout Australia, Asia, South and Central America. Each time immersing herself in the local culture and language, and fulfilling her desire to travel ‘off the beaten track’. 

In 2012 Morganne completed a Certificate III in Business Administration with Skill 360 Australia where she was nominated as Trainee of the Year, and a Dual Diploma of Management and Human Resources with TAFE Queensland North where she was awarded the Robin West Award for Excellence. All of which were achieved while holding a full time position with in the Civil Construction Industry. 

Outside of work to enhance Morganne’s creative side, Morganne enrolled with the Interior Design Institute and began a Diploma of Interior Design. Morganne worked as a Stylist on the MyStyle Homes, MyGreenMirage display home in Smithfield Village; her first involvement with the local and family owned building company. 

In August 2015 Morganne joined the MyStyle Homes team as MyHome Consultant and she couldn’t be happier to combine her passions of people, business and design within a career. 

With the positive attributions and strong support from MyStyle Homes Morganne is eager to immerse herself in the Emerging Leaders Program 2016, get out of her comfort zone, network with the regions current and future leaders and give back to the Cairns community. 

Ray Murphy

Ray’s journey from property manager to one of Cairns’ top real estate agents in a few short years is credit to his hard work and dedication. Having been recognised and awarded the Number 1 Salesperson Rookie and Auction Champion across the Far North consecutively for 2014 & 2015, his exceptional attention to detail, dynamic energy and impressive negotiation skill set is what sets him apart from his competitors. 

Starting in the industry as a property manager at only 18 years old, Ray has worked his way up from the bottom, which has given him a comprehensive understanding of every aspect in relation to a property sales transaction.

Ray attributes his accolades to a ‘never-give-up’ attitude, obsessive focus and natural propensity to connect with people. Always calm under pressure, he is able to act quickly and decisively when the need arises. Trustworthy and realistic yet overly optimistic he favours a direct approach that ensures a favourable outcome for his clients every time, which is clearly validated through the multiple residential sales records achieved by Ray throughout his career to date.

Specialising in all facets of real estate including residential, commercial, mortgagee and development, Ray’s intellect, market knowledge and commitment combined with the support of his team (RE/MAX Real Estate Services Cairns), ensure his clients are provided with an incredibly professional real estate experience.

Rebecca Vella

For the past 5 years Rebecca has worked in the employment sector in a variety of roles and locations improving clients’ opportunity for employment.  From Cardwell to Torres Strait Rebecca has travelled to work with a diverse range of clients in providing support and mentoring to achieve employment outcomes.

Rebecca successfully utilises her work environment, processes, systems and procedures to analyse every situation to gain the best outcome for each client and the organisation.  Rebecca is a firm believer that no two clients are the same and attempts to never jump to assumptions about each client.  Her approach toward securing successful employment or training outcomes starts with listening.  

While working throughout remote communities in Cape York, listening to the needs of the client was essential in making any progress. Listening to their goals, ideas, hobbies and experiences was how Rebecca would match them to suitable employment in their community. 

Rebecca sees the bigger picture, analyses the situation and creates a methodical approach.

Currently Rebecca is working in Cairns for Worklink Employment Support group - Mental Health specialist - assisting clients on their recovery and journey to sustainable employment. 

Rhiannon Simcocks

Rhiannon is a relatively new addition to Cairns, she moved to Cairns from Victoria 12 months ago with her partner chasing bigger opportunities, warm winters and the charm of the coastal tropics.

Rhiannon works as a Business Consultant with Kleinhardt Business Consultants and Brokers. Her focus is largely business planning, market research and marketing and financial modelling. She is also in the final stages of becoming a registered sales person and is looking forward to being involved in the firm’s business sales. Rhiannon has previous experience in the legal sector as well as small business management and marketing. 

Like most, Rhiannon got her working start in hospitality and retail and understands and appreciates the importance of tourism and of community and regional economic development. Her small town home in country Victoria remains very close to her heart and has grounded her rounded approach to business and leadership in many ways.

In her spare time Rhiannon enjoys being a freelance photographer mostly working as a second shooter for weddings. She is currently working on building her portfolio and her connections in the professional wedding photography industry throughout the region. She and her partner are also taking on their second owner/build of their new house and she is looking forward to getting back on the tools!

Rhiannon hopes that the Emerging Leaders Program will challenge her and offer exciting opportunities in personal development as well as empowering her to make a significant contribution to the greater Cairns region.

Sarah Anning

Sarah Anning is currently a Migration Assistant and Office Manager at ImmigrationHelp. Originally from the United States, Sarah graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a Bachelor of Exercise Science and Biology. She still maintains her love of fitness, outdoor activities and supporting the local AFL clubs (Go Cutters!) Sarah has completely fallen in love with Cairns and has been enjoying Cairns and the surrounding area for the last 3 years.

She wishes to continue to grow personally and professionally and is confident the Emerging Leaders Program is a great opportunity to learn and work with others around the area. 

Simone Travers

Stephanie Thomas

Stephanie Thomas is originally from Brisbane and relocated to Cairns in 2009. Stephanie completed a Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) at University of Queensland and was employed in the youth sector for a number of years upon arriving in Far North Queensland.

Since joining TAFE Queensland North (TQN) in 2011, Stephanie has worked in Marketing and Business Development, with particular focus on addressing training needs within the Maritime & Tourism/Hospitality industries in the Cairns region. Stephanie is now employed as Business Manager of Great Barrier Reef International Marine College (TQN) and is passionate about building positive brand awareness and organisational capability to position this Cairns-based business as a premier maritime training provider on the national stage. 

Having had strong involvement with Cairns Chamber of Commerce events over recent years, Stephanie is excited to explore the opportunities that participation in the Emerging Leaders Program will present.