Meet our 2022 Assisters in Victoria. A host of Marketing, Management, Strategy, Advertising, Creative and Production powerhouses. Each of our mentors has forged their own unique path to career success, and each understand the power and value a strong mentor can provide – both professionally and personally.
Without further ado, we’re excited to share this year’s lineup with you. No matter what your career interest, there’s a talented and experienced Assister here for you.
Elise is an owner and Executive Producer at Truce Films, working across commercial and film production. Elise produced the Palme d’Or winning short film All These Creatures, and multi-award winning short The Handyman, which had its World Premiere at Cairo (CIFF) in 2020.
She is currently in production on Australia’s first animated series for the blockchain, Hail Draconis, pre-production on Screen Australia funded web-series Monologue, and development on a slate of feature film and television projects. Over her 10 year career she has produced over 50 commercials in Australia and the US and has no plans to slow down anytime soon.
Naomi Mulholland is an independent producer, with a long track record of line producing Australian drama. She is currently line producing the Disney Plus period drama “The Artful Dodger” in Sydney and recently produced the Screen Australia funded web series Sonia & Cherry and co produced feature film, Run Rabbit Run.
Other credits include the Apple TV series Shantaram, the Netflix drama Clickbait, Ten’s Playing for Keeps, Nine’s Bad Mothers, acclaimed prison drama, Wentworth, Seven Network’s Winners & Losers, ABC’s The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Lowdown and Twentysomething, BAFTA nominated UK-Australian co-production, Mrs Biggs, and Ten's AFI award-winning police drama, Rush.
Naomi also produced the ABC3 young adult sketch comedy series, You’re Skitting Me, and worked on the following feature films: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Red Hill, The Wedding Party, Rush Hour 3 and Ghost Rider, as well as locally made HBO production, The Pacific.
Paige is passionate about creativity and building strong brands. Paige is currently Managing Director at Deloitte Digital - Creative, Brand and Advertising. At Deloitte Paige is working with a range of blue chip clients, helping solve big problems with creativity and innovation. Prior to this, Paige was the General Manager of Special Group Melbourne where she led the charge in establishing Special's Melbourne footprint, building and growing the team and establishing a diverse client portfolio with the likes of ANZ and Bonds.
During her career, Paige has gained a range of experience working with clients across a range of industries including NAB, Visit Victoria, AHM, Mattel, Defence Force Recruiting at global creative agencies including Clemenger BBDO and Y&R.
Jess believes in the power of creativity to drive business growth and is passionate about building iconic brands. Her experience comes from spending the last 21 years working at some of Australia’s largest agencies including GPY&R, Clemenger BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, CHE Proximity and DDB; but more recently has made the move to client-side where she heads up the Brand Delivery team at NAB.
Starting off as a receptionist for a small indie ad agency, she caught the bug early and worked her way up the ranks whilst studying part-time. Over her career, she has worked across various categories including Financial Services, Retail, Utilities, Auto, Education, and Govt, and was also a lecturer for the Advertising Council of Australia teaching Account Management.
She loves the combination of strategic thinking and creativity that marketing offers, and enjoys building happy thriving teams.
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Maria Voronina is a commercially savvy business strategist with a strong background in marketing and brand communications.
Her experience to date is broad and stretches across strategy, innovation, brand & experience management, and consumer insights with a strong background in business, economics & research. Her passion lies in crafting effective purpose-led strategies and telling the stories that inspire others to think differently.
Maria is currently heading the corporate strategy development, long-term strategic planning process, and corporate affairs & communications functions at Chobani Australia.
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Nancy Bugeja is a multidisciplinary strategic designer, brand strategist and marketing professional. Director and co-owner of HM with a passion for design culture.
Nancy believes that bold creative ideas can be universal and have the power to transcend cultures, audiences and technologies. She is globally regarded and awarded for her communication design, brand strategy, intuition, creative idealisation, facilitation and leadership. Nancy is much sought after by bold businesses, industry professionals and students of design.
Nancy has established a unique reputation for her masterful elevation and amplification of numerous diverse brands. She has been involved with many bespoke campaigns, activations and memorable brand identity work.
For over 25 years she has put her clients at the heart of every decision and action with a relentless attention to detail and focus on human-centred creativity to craft beautiful designs that connect and resonate. Nancy is also the founding Editor-in-Chief of Fluoro, a platform dedicated to enlightening a global community of creatives through stories and human experiences.
Prue has spent her 25+ year career in creative leadership positions across the advertising, design, and digital industries. Her current role sees her heading up the Melbourne studio of global design firm Fjord, part of Accenture Interactive, the world’s largest digital agency.
Prue is a national director on the board of AGDA (the Australian Graphic Design Association), is a sometime co-host of Australia’s most popular design podcast, AusDesign Radio, and as a champion of creative women everywhere, conceived a conversational platform for women (and men) of the global industry, launching last International Women’s Day at nniwd.nevernotcreative.org.
A sought-after juror for local and global creative award programs, she’s also a passionate public speaker about the impact of new technologies in the design space and how they’ll shape the way we interact with governments, systems, services, products, and each other in the future.
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Michila is the National Sales and Partnerships Director at Broadsheet Media, Australia’s leading cultural guide. She has spent 20 years building her career across global media corporations and smaller independent publishers and across the Australian and UK markets.
Michila’s advertising experience spans magazines, newspapers, street press, radio, digital and now leads the national sales team in the content partnership space at Broadsheet.
A career highlight for Michila has been the experience she’s gained from working for incredible and inspiring female leaders, that has directly impacted how she leads today.
“My greatest reward as a leader is having a front-row seat at watching the growth and development of your team. I will never get tired of seeing ambition and hard work payoff”
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Belinda is an experienced leader, and established founder-led talent business iPopulate, which has been behind some of the market’s biggest talent moves across the last decade.
With over 15 years of experience, Belinda has the ear of the market and is a visible and vocal presence in our industry. Belinda has a demonstrated history of building meaningful strategic relationships across a range of agencies and is a passionate leader of people, ideas, and commercial imperatives.
Always going beyond the brief, she is a trusted partner to agency leaders, who value her expertise, industry advice and insight. It's said that often Belinda identifies what a business needs before they even know what they need – this proactive approach comes from many years of immersion in the industry, a tacit understanding of the issues that leaders face, and building trusted, honest relationships with every client.
Katie Firth is currently the Managing Partner at DDB Group Melbourne and prior to that was the National Managing Director for whiteGREY and a WPP AUNZ Melbourne Market Lead. Katie has also worked at TBWA, CHE Proximity, Cummins&Partners, and Publicis Mojo, on creative work recognised at award shows including Cannes Lions, Effies, WARD, and D&AD.
She brings more than 20 years of experience across clients & brands including ANZ, Medibank, Jeep, Nissan, Mars Petcare, AGL, and multiple state tourism bodies.
With over 17 years in creative agencies and more recently making the move client-side, Britt is an experienced advertising and marketing professional, leading brand strategy and development of iconic, global brands. Britt is passionate about achieving results through insight-driven strategies that are engaging and effective whilst simultaneously leading happy, enthusiastic teams to achieve outstanding results.
Britt's motto is teamwork makes the dream work. Relationship development both internally and externally is at the heart of everything I do. In my work life and my personal life, this approach to life has led to many successful and lasting collaborations and relationships.
Sharni Ames is the Head of Solutions at Hatched Media, where media is treated as a craft and the people are put first. Sharni has over 20 years media experience in her back pocket and has worked on some of the biggest brands in the Australian market. Ford, Kmart, and nab to name a few. Sharni is also an accredited Lightyear Leadership Coach, who specialises in developing “Values & Vision” for her clients. Sharni Ames Coaching will be launching mid-year so stay tuned.
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Virginia Scully is passionate about people & culture. Having worked in the media and creative industry for over 25years she is adamant to catapult the industry into the 21st century & beyond, Scully’s focus has always been about helping others realise their potential.
She recognizes the need to support each other emotionally and professionally, and has always fostered a people first approach. Assisterhood connects her to her purpose in empowering women through self-awareness coaching, future leadership skills, care factor and support. Virginia’s two primary aged children are her greatest teachers in life.
Ella is a Senior Client Partner at Snapchat leading the Government, Retail and Finance verticals. After 4 years at Facebook working across Government and Finance clients, Ella made the move to focus specifically on the most valuable and lucrative digital audiences - Gen Z and Millenials and helping brands reach them via Snapchat.
A passion for helping brands navigate the ever-evolving digital ecosystem and better understand audiences, Ella's enthusiasm to drive real business results and behaviour change in creative and meaningful ways ensures both brands and consumers benefit.
Dr Marion Piper
If you’re looking for practical creativity for big ideas, then Dr Marion Piper is your go-to gal. As a creativity coach and copywriter, she supports creative entrepreneurs to become their most creative selves so they can communicate their world-changing ideas with confidence and passion.
Marion believes that everyone is creative (yes, even you) and in a world where everyone sounds the same, choosing the right words is the best way to stay out. Having traveled the world, working in creative agencies, summer camps and universities, as well as completing a swag of degrees (including a PhD), Marion is here to inspire you to stop imitating everyone else and start using your own voice FOR REAL.
Mirella Arapian (she/her) is an Armenian-Australian designer. She’s the founder and executive creative director at MEK, a purpose-driven design studio building brands of the future with social and environmental impact. Specialising in branding, campaigns and design, MEK disrupts the norm and defies convention to help revolutionary brands tell their story to raise awareness, attention and action, and win hearts and minds. Mirella is also the founder and director of Womentor, a global mentorship program for women in design committed to improving gender equality in the design industry.
Mirella has worked across Australia and North America with leading brands and organisations including Sea Shepherd, PETA, WWF, Museums Victoria, Environmental Film Festival, RMIT University and World Animal Protection. She’s spoken at design festivals, industry events and education institutions around Australia; her work has won awards, been featured in international publications, and exhibited at Melbourne Design Week and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest, Romania.
Mirella is an animal rights activist and volunteers for various organisations across social justice, animal liberation and human rights. As a woman in design leadership and child of immigrants, she’s an advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion, and uses her business as a platform for activism and positive change.
Claire has worked in the advertising industry for over 18 years working on some of both England and Australia’s most iconic brands telling their stories and returning significant commercial impact.
Currently a General Manager at TBWA\Melbourne, Claire is fiercely passionate and dedicated to the sheer strength of imagination, original ideas and their power to solve big business problems including work in the areas of LGBTIQ+ and women’s financial equality.
I have spent the last 15 years developing and managing integrated communications campaigns for some of Australia’s most loved and respected brands including Target, Specsavers, A2 Milk, Sorbent, Dulux and Cabot’s.
Whilst in my last semester of my Management and Marketing Communications degree at Monash, I scored a job as an Account Coordinator at HBK. There was no question that I wanted to forge a career in Advertising from that point on. After a few years at a big multinational, I returned to HBK where today I am the agency’s General Manager; responsible for all operations that allow for the formulation and delivery of strategic comms across all traditional and digital channels.
I am a strategic thinker and generous, collaborative leader who enjoys cultivating relationships, exceeding expectations and delivering real results, along with exceptional service to my clients.
I am a passionate advocate for sharing knowledge and developing team members across Account Service, Digital and Creative - and having a good time along the way! It’s in the management and mentoring of our team at HBK that I am continually learning and developing my leadership skills.
IGeorgia is a Melbourne based, AACTA nominated producer with 13 years experience developing advertising campaigns, original TV & Film content. In 2014 she was the winner of SBS/ Screen NSW “Comedy Runway” and in 2016 developed and produced “Kid vs Kid”, a twenty episode kids comedy series for ABC3. Her series “Seconds”, an original dark comedy, was development funded by Screen Australia and picked up by Beyond International.
Following that her original children’s series ‘Insomniacs’ was development funded by Film Victoria. Since then, she’s developed 3 more comedy series which have all attached series partners and her short film GRACE was nominated for an AACTA award. She can be now found working as an Executive Producer and General Manager for the sketch comedy group ‘Aunty Donna’ and their production company ‘Haven’t You Done Well Productions’. Georgia also oversees their award winning Youtube channel Grouse House, making original content and local acquisitions which has over 54,000 subscribers.
Ilona has 20 years’ experience in the industry. She has been with Leo Burnett for over a decade, working at three of the most successful offices in the agency’s global network: Melbourne, Sydney and Toronto.
Ilona started her career client-side with Mattel and then Honda Australia. Prior to her current role as Head of Planning with Leo Burnett in Melbourne, she was a senior planner with BBDO/Clemenger and Head of Strategy at MindShare. Ilona leads works across a diverse portfolio of clients – Honda, HBF, Twinings, Lifeblood, Vitasoy, Spirit of Tasmania and many more, leveraging hard and soft intelligence to create connected business, brand, digital, media and social strategies. Ilona is an advocate for effectiveness awards and is proud of the agency’s record, consistently receiving recognition for a wide variety of work at the most esteemed effectiveness shows: Cannes, Australian Effies, Asia Pac Effies, AME, APMA, WARC Awards and 4A’s Jay Chiat Awards. She has been a regular judge at the AME’s, Australian Effies and the Asia Pac Effies.
A copywriter by trade, Stefanie has worked across most of Melbourne’s top advertising agencies, including Clemenger BBDO and DDB. Her entrepreneurial spirit has driven her to found businesses, like Melbourne’s first copywriting agency, Apostrophe.
Her love of travel has led her to work abroad – most notably, as Global Creative Lead on Nike Women, out of AKQA London. And her impatience for equality saw her co-found Rare – a side-hustle that grew into Google’s global diversity and inclusion platform. Her work has been recognized at every major international award show. She’s sat on a number of award juries, including D&AD and ADC. and she speaks regularly at global conferences, from Semi Permanent to Cannes.
Anita is passionate about building memorable and meaningful brand experiences that improve people's lives in any way possible. Nurturing creatives is at the core of empowering the community by giving a voice to every single person involved. Anita is currently the Creative Director of Visual Design at R/GA and works with a range of global brands, including Toyota. With a specialisation in UXUI, Anita works carefully to craft enhanced user experiences based on true empathetic insights and data. Prior to working at R/GA, Anita worked both on agency as well as client side.
Over her 20 years' experience, Anita has led the global creative teams for Mattel, Fisher-Price, and worked alongside key partners such as Disney, BBC, Hugo Boss, Nickelodeon & NBA as well as created branding for start-ups across Australia in the beauty and fashion space, with a particular interest in crafting tone of voice, as well as visual identity. Anita has also led regional teams across Asia-Pacific and is deeply interested in learning about localised executions for a variety of diverse audiences. Applying her 'sleeves rolled-up' mentality, Anita enjoys both being on the tools as well as overall creative direction and digital strategy.
Caitlin is a naturally curious, mindfully creative and commercially focused finance leader. She thrives on using data to solve problems and make impactful business decisions.
She is currently the CFO of CHEP Network, looking after the full suite of capability across the national offices. Her favourite day would include sitting with the team shaping a brief and corresponding narrative, solving a sticky problem and growing commercial acumen across the wider agency. She works with leaders in the business to deliver on their collective strategic outcomes.
Her experience encompasses consulting with PWC, the Finance sector with Suncorp, the Travel sector with both Virgin Australia and Flight Centre, SaaS with MYOB and then to the Advertising industry with Dentsu and now Clemenger Group with CHEP Network.
Zoe is an energetic and experienced professional with career achievements in management across operations, marketing, and sales environments. Having worked across corporate, private equity and small business environments, she uses her knowledge and understanding of business requirements to manage stakeholder expectations and deliver on key outcomes. She is currently GM at WebSavvy - a digital marketing agency aimed at demystifying digital.
Dewani is a thoughtful, tenacious and curious Strategic Design Director at Today. With over 10 years of experience in design, Dewani has worked in big global and small local agencies and has experience across education, finance, retail, automotive and government sectors. Dewani enjoys making peoples' lives easier and better in creative and impactful ways that empower and involve them.
Dewani’s work on the DELWP Planning Experience Strategy is expected to create a real impact in making planning fairer, more accessible, and more community-focused. Through collaborative efforts with the client and different stakeholders in the Victorian planning community, Dewani was able to bring clarity and reshape the outcome into an ambitious vision, a set of principles, and a roadmap of actionable initiatives.
As a craft director, Dewani is invested in people and supporting them to do the best possible work. Her day-to-day work is varied, from helping her team to unblock immediate problems, co-creating ambitions and identifying opportunities, shaping proposals, reviewing work, jamming with teams to come up with more creative solutions, to meeting new potential clients. She is an eternal learner and will always ask questions. Dewani is rigorous but flexible and equal parts pragmatic and optimistic.