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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.

The Hon. Dr. Dean Brown AO - Chair

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.

Chris O'Brien

Chris is the Manager, Human Resources at TriCare Limited, with overall responsibility for workplace relations at what is one of Queensland’s largest privately owned Residential Aged Care providers with approximately 1,600 staff.

TriCare is one of Queensland’s largest privately owned Residential Aged Care providers with approximately 1,600 staff and Chris has the overall responsibility for workplace relations. Prior to human resources, Chris worked as a lawyer concentrating in employment law. Before that, his early career as a physiotherapist shaped an active interest in health regulation and aged care. He understands the importance of training product development and enhancement of skills in the industries supported by Skills IQ.

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 is currently a Community Member of the Psychology Board of Australia 2009-2018 and a Director and Chair of the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council, sitting on its Board from 2005 to 2016. He 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 Skills IQ.
  • 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.

Polly Bennett

Polly Bennett is a senior policy advisor with the NSW Government.  Most recently she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Lot Feeders Association, having previously been the CEO of the NSW Food Authority.

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

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

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 will be an enormous asset to the Board of SkillsIQ.