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Meet the SkillsIQ Board of Directors

The Board of SkillsIQ has five members, including an independent Chair. Board Members have a comprehensive range of professional skills including legal, financial, management and governance, as well as a strong understanding and vast experience in managing a range of organisations, particularly in the not-for-profit sector.

Polly Bennett - Chair

Polly has over twenty-five years of senior executive leadership experience, as well as a comprehensive understanding of government structures and frameworks at federal, state and local government levels. She brings valuable insights and perspective into program development, delivery, evaluation and marketing in the public and private sectors.

Polly’s previous roles include those of Chief Executive Officer of both the Australian Lot Feeders Association and NSW Food Authority, as well as senior positions within the NSW Government.

Her additional experience spans leadership roles at the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Caltex, Sydney Ports Corporation, ACT Urban Services and Savage Resources.

She has worked in close collaboration with industry, government, universities and education providers to assess industry needs in order to develop and deliver effective and accessible training packages for food safety and grain-fed beef production. Polly has represented both industry and government on National COAG committees and state and industry bodies.

Polly has a Bachelor of Economics degree, is an Executive Fellow of the Australian New Zealand School of Government and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Her corporate affairs expertise is an enormous asset to the Board of SkillsIQ.

Chris O'Brien

Chris is an HR advisor and consultant in the aged care industry. He is currently working for Mercy Community and was previously a human resource manager with overall responsibility for workplace relations at TriCare Limited, one at Queensland’s largest privately owned residential aged care providers with approximately 1,800 staff.

Prior to working in the field of human resources, Chris was a solicitor with a focus on employment law. His previous career as a physiotherapist shaped an active interest in health regulation and the aged care sector. He understands the importance of training product development and skills enhancement in the people-facing sectors supported by SkillsIQ.

Chris holds qualifications that reflect his background, including a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from the University of Queensland; a Bachelor of Laws with Honours from Bond University; and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern Queensland.

Chris was a Community Member of the Psychology Board of Australia from 2009 to 2018 and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Ian Blandthorn AM

In 2014 Ian was made a member of the Order of Australia “for significant service to workforce development and training in the retail, wholesale and personal services industries”.

Ian is a:

  • Board member of SkillsIQ.
  • National Assistant Secretary of Shop Distributive and Employees Association (S.D.A.).
  • Member of ACTU Executive.
  • Chair of National Wholesale, Retail and Personal Services Industry Training Council.
  • Board member and former Chair of Victorian Service Skills Industries Ltd. 
  • Former Chair and Board member of Service Skills Australia. 
  • Former Joint Chairperson of the National Wholesale Retail and Personal Services Industry Advisory Committee of Service Skills Australia.
  • Former Chair of National Industry Reference Groups responsible for the re-development the Retail, Wholesale, Community Pharmacy, Hairdressing, Beauty and Floristry Training Packages.
  • Former member of State Training Board of Victoria.
  • Former President and Member of Flagstaff College of TAFE Council.
  • Director and Board member of Retail Employees Superannuation Trust (REST).
  • Member of REST Member and Employer Services Committee, Marketing Committee and Tax Planning Committee.
  • Member of Essendon (AFL) football club.

Ian has a BA (Hons) and is married to Anne with three children and one grandchild.

John Sweetman AM

John Sweetman AM has over 40 years' experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, working with peak bodies and with industry both in Victoria and nationally.

John has held several senior appointments within the hospitality industries over his working years including hands-on operational appointments and working within industry associations to support hospitality employers. John has been involved in the training agenda for the tourism and hospitality industry for over 30 years.

Since 2005, as Managing Director of J Sweetman & Associates Pty Ltd, he has continued to work across the tourism and hospitality industries and with industry sector associations, maintaining strong relationships with the Australian Hotels Association and Service Skills Victoria, as well as more recently SkillsIQ.

John was recognised for his contribution to the tourism industry in the 1996 Australia Day Honours.

Paul Edginton

Paul is the Managing Partner of Structured Innovation, a consulting firm, and founder of TYSON Thinking.

He has held CEO roles for 25 years, specialising in business strategy, corporate governance, strategic communications and social entrepreneurship.

He is a Board Member of the SA Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, Vinomofo, Bedford Group, Chooze and SkillsIQ. He is a former Board member of SYC (Life Member), White Ribbon Australia and various government advisory Boards and Committees.

In 2019, Paul was the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Central Regional and has received numerous awards and recognition for his leadership.

Paul has a Bachelor of Communications and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. His strategic expertise and leadership are an enormous asset to the Board of SkillsIQ.

Ex Officio Chair - The Hon. Dr. Dean Brown AO

The Hon. Dr. Dean Brown AO is a former Premier of South Australia. He was in Parliament for 27 years and held numerous Ministerial Portfolios.

Dean’s education and background is in agricultural research and management. His qualifications include a Master of Rural Science from the University of New England, a Post-graduate Fellowship Diploma in Business Administration from the University of South Australia and a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) from the University of New England.

He is Chairman of Hillgrove Resources Ltd. and the not-for–profit Playford Memorial Trust (which offers numerous scholarships for higher education), and a Director of Scantech Ltd., Mission Australia Board, and Foodbanks SA. He chairs strategy committees for various private companies. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Dean takes a particular interest in innovation, energy efficiency, training and corporate governance.