Board Members

Steven Smith

Managing Director – Advitech Group

Chairperson – HMA – 2017

Steven has over 30 years’ experience in engineering and project management, including technical and business roles.  He spent ten years with  Tubemakers of Australia and three years with A Goninan & Co prior to joining Advitech in 1990.  As Managing Director, Steven has overall responsibility for the consulting services provided by Advitech in engineering design, project management, risk management, functional safety, sustainability and environmental management.  Steven’s specific areas of expertise include problem analysis, feasibility investigations, engineering assessments, risk management, project development and project management.  He has had significant involvement in Advitech’s growth into the Australian Defence sector.  Steven has been actively involved in the support of engineering based manaufacturing in the Hunter Region through his involvement with HunterNet – as a Director (1998 – 2006) and as Chairman (2001 – 2003).

Steven has also been involved with the University of Newcastle as a member of:

  • Course Advisory Committee for the School of Mechanical Engineering ( 2002 – current)
  • University of Newcastle Industry Scholarship Scheme (UNISS) Advisory Committee (2002 – 2010)

Steven’s corporate responsibilities currently include:

  • Director of Advitech Pty Ltd – since 1994 and Managing Director since 2011
  • Director of Novecom Pty Ltd – since 2005
  • Board Chairman of Simulation Modelling Services Pty Ltd – since 2014

Kari Armitage

MD – Quarry Mining

Kari’s career began at engineering firm Parson Brinckerhoff where she designed and supervised the construction of a range of infrastructure projects.  Kari broke new ground for women through her leadership of high profile developments including the Hunter Economic Zone and PB’s first ‘design and construct’ of an underground mine in NSW, Mandalong Mine.

In 2006 Kari was asked by her father to take over the running of his innovative and well respected, but relatively small, drilling equipment company – Quarry Mining. Under Kari’s leadership as the sole director of Quarry Mining, the company has become a leading Australian manufacturer, employing more than thirty five tradesmen, technical representatives, operations and support staff across workshops and offices in Newcastle and Mackay.


Leigh Bryant

Marketing Manager – Scorpion Inter’l Freight Services Pty Ltd | Director – Scorpion Services Pty Ltd

Leigh is an active Hunter business advocate and has supported regional exporters and importers through her previous long term contribution on the Hunter Export Centre as chair and board member and as deputy chair and board member of the Hunter Economic Development Corporation. She is a current director of HunterNet, director of AIWGQ, director of Scorpion Enterprises Pty Ltd, member of Department of Agriculture and Industry Council, Australian Chamber of Commerce Trade Member and member of UoN Vice-Chancellor’s Leaders Forum. Scorpion International Freight Services Pty Ltd was founded in 1984, to support the import and export needs of the Hunter’s manufacturing and business community and merged with the national Powerhouse Group of companies in 2010. Leigh’s role at Scorpion International is sales/marketing and business development.


Bob Cowan

Managing Director – Cowan Manufacturing

Ex Chairperson – HMA – 2005 – 2016

Cowan Manufacturing was founded in 1973 with one employee.  Today the company is a thriving business with a strong global reach.  Bob has served on a number of boards and committees including: NSW Small Business Development Corporation, ABL Defence Industry Committee, Chairman of HunterNet Cooperative, Advancing Lake Macquarie Group, Australian Defence Committee Export Forum  for Minister of Defence and the Australian Defence Products for Export , Hunter Business Chamber and the NSW Manufacturing Council.  Bob is well respected for his commitment to business and local community and is a Centennial Medal recipient and is also a long standing Justice of the Peace.


John Coyle

Company Director

John Coyle was formerly the Chief Executive Officer of HunterNet Co-Operative Limited, a Hunter based network of Engineering and Manufacturing companies, retiring from that role in February 2013, when he was appointed the Co-operative’s first Life Member.

John remains a Director of the network’s subsidiary, the Hunternet Group Training company.  He was also awarded the Hunter Business Man Award of the Year, 2012 by the Hunter Business Club.

Prior to his role at HunterNet for 11 years, he was a Board Member and CEO of the Treloar Group and Vice Chair of the Hunter Export Centre.

John currently holds the following positions:

  • Board Member, HunterNet Group Training Company
  • Former Board Member, Newcastle Innovation (formerly The University of Newcastle Research Associates)
  • Former Section Councillor, NSW Branch, Australian Industry Group and Chair, Newcastle AIG Section
  • Director, Varley Group
  • Board Member, Hunter Manufacturing Association
  • Director, Hunter Community Foundation
  • Deputy Chair, TAFE NSW – Hunter Institute Advisory Council
  • Advisory Board Member, Centre for Optimal Planning & Operations
  • Chair, Hunter Founders Forum
  • He has a B.Com (Ecs) from the University of NSW and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jacqui Daley

Founder and Managing Director – The Measured Marketer

Jacqui is a Chief Marketing Officer with over 15 years’ experience driving strategy, change, and return on investment for SMEs and the public sector. Jacqui is the founder and managing director of The Measured Marketer Pty Ltd (TMM), a strategic digital marketing consultancy based in Newcastle. Before 2016 when Jacqui established TMM, she held various senior marketing and leadership roles internally within medium-large organisations, including The University of Newcastle. Jacqui’s expertise lies in developing and delivering effective marketing strategies, digital transformation and large projects such as website builds, reputation building and target-driven campaigns. Jacqui has experience in leading teams across the marketing mix, and while her passion and expertise lies in digital marketing and customer acquisition, her experience reaches across brand management, media management, event coordination, internal communications, negotiation, developing bespoke reporting frameworks for sales and marketing functions, stakeholder management and public speaking.

Jacqui is a Certified Practicing Marketer with the Australian Marketing Institute and in 2017, is judging the Digital Marketing and Social Media category in their national marketing awards program.

Jacqui has held positions on several boards and committees as part of her Director’s role at The University of Newcastle including the 2NURFM Advisory Board, Central Coast Growth Strategy Group, Admissions Steering Committee, Professional Leaders Group, Celebrate 50 Working Group, Crisis communications & Critical Incident Response Group, and the VC’s Leadership Group.


Stephen Elliott

General Manager Manufacturing – Wire and Tube – OneSteel

Deputy Chairperson / Treasurer – HMA

Stephen is an experienced business leader with a background in chemical, metallurgical and process engineering industries and currently has manufacturing responsibility for the OneSteel Wire and Tube businesses based in Newcastle, Geelong and Brisbane.

He holds a degree in Chemical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration.  He has previously been a Director on both local and South African Company Boards and has a passion to see the expansion of manufacturing excellence in the Hunter, where he has lived for over 35 years.


Andrew Gresham

Senior Executive – BAE Systems Australia

Andrew is a senior executive with BAE Systems Australia, with domestic and international experience spanning business leadership roles, strategy, business development and commercial in sustainment, systems integration and manufacturing of Defence platforms in the Aerospace and Maritime sectors.

Across various roles he has successfully developed industrial partnering relationships to both win new business and effectively deliver support to the Australian Defence Force with an emphasis on innovation.

With an honors degree in Mechanical Engineering and postgraduate qualifications in marketing and management, he has previously worked in the mining industry in various roles ranging from engineering to marketing.

Andrew currently leads the F-35 Program for the Australian business, leading engagements with customers and industrial bases domestically and internationally to grow the Australian contribution in advanced manufacturing on the production program and establish sustainment capability for F-35 in Australia to support the regional fleet.


Robert Martin

Regional COO – Dywidag-Systems International

Rob commenced his career as an electronics-engineering technician in the automotive, bio medical and consumer electronics market.  After ten years on the tools, he entered the electronics manufacturing business, Steel River Manufacturing.  Initially working as the production manager, he then started the companies R&D department before taking up the role as General Manager.  A short time after Rob took on the role as General Manager of the sister company Austrol technology group.

Rob’s introduction to metal processing commenced when he accepted the role of General Manager of Sankey Australia.  The sale of the business resulted in Rob divesting the manufacturing operations throughout Australia, New Zealand, China, Thailand & Taiwan.

Rob commenced with DSI in September 2012 as the Chief Operating Officer – Asia Pacific to the DSI.  Since that time his team has signifantly restructed operations throughout Asia Pacific.


Brendan Smith

Managing Director – Courageous Consulting

Public Officer – HMA

Courageous Consulting Pty Ltd partner with businesses to inspire their leaders, energise their employees and create high performing and customer focussed work cultures.

As the Managing Director and Principal of Courageous Consulting, Dr Brendan Smith is an innovative and engaging Organisational Psychologist with over twenty years of experience working with leaders to transform the culture and performance of their organisation.


Graeme Vennell

Senior Executive

A strategic and engaging senior executive with extensive experience in the Hydraulics and Lubrication sectors, and a passion for the local mining and industrial segments in Newcastle and Hunter Valley regions of NSW. Experience extends nationally within the fluid power industry.


Carol McEwan

Administration Manager – HMA Inc. – 2007 – current

Carol is a highly skilled administration professional and was appointed as HMA’s Administration Manager  in 2007.  Her role as Executive Assistant  to CEO/Plant Manager and Production Manager at Tomago Aluminium spanned over 18 years.

She served on the Australian Institute of Office Professionals – Newcastle Branch, as President for 3 years.