The UOW Alumni Awards recognise and celebrate our exceptional graduates worldwide in four Award categories; Professional Excellence, Research and Innovation, Social Impact, and Young Alumni. This year's award winners share a passion and skill for inspiring others.
Professional Excellence Award
Sunil Chandra is an exceptional UOW graduate, whose career includes positions with some of the world’s largest and most influential organisations, from Coopers & Lybrand to McKinsey and Barclays and, finally, Google.
At Google, he heads the global Staffing and Operations function and has a key role in sustaining a strong organisational culture for 55,000 employees worldwide. His team affects millions of people outside the company each year, and every ‘Googler’ (Google employee) multiple times each year.
Operating at the highest levels of global business, he remains steadfastly a man of integrity and humanity, making him an inspiration for generations of students to come.
His advice for emerging graduates comes down to two things: “First, be open to opportunities — you never know what will come up, but if you stay intellectually curious, you’ll do well. And second, whatever you do, do it well — no matter how big or small the project, an attitude of excellence will get you noticed.
PROFESSOR ALEX FRINO
Research & Innovation Award
Professor Alex Frino has — like his University — sought excellence through initiative, enterprise and achievements that take society forward.
His resolve to promote Australia globally as a centre of excellence in research and education, particularly in the field of security market microstructure, has been a driving force. He is regarded as one of the most prolific finance academics, both in Australia and internationally. He is currently Professor and Dean of the Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University.
A formidable academic leader, he has opened new areas of knowledge through his research and an exceptional capacity for bridging the gap between academia and industry.
As CEO of the Capital Markets Co-operative Research Centre for five years, he managed a range of university and industry partners and a budget in excess of $20 million. In this role, Frino also showed a loyalty and affection for his hometown university.
When UOW became one of the five university partners in the Centre, he remarked: “As a Wollongong graduate, it has meant a lot to bring my old university into the fold… I got a lot out of my time at UOW, and it’s good to be able to put something back.”
DR DIANN RODGERS-HEALEY
Social Impact Award
Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey is a pacesetter, advocate and mentor. She has lived the goals of the organisation she founded to transform, empower and recognise.
She experienced that transforming power herself as she moved from her own career beginnings as a high school teacher to tertiary sector positions including a lecturer in both Management and Education and as an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute for Business Wellbeing at UOW, through to her current role as an Adjunct Professor of The Cairns Institute at James Cook University, and at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney.
Her academic career complemented her commitment to empowering individuals to take a just and effective role in their communities. After several management roles in Sydney and London, Rodgers-Healey founded the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women (ACLW) in 2000.
“It’s a privilege to be in a position of leadership and I feel it’s my responsibility now to give back to others,” she says. “I love mentoring and working as a business coach as there are no scripts.
Young Alumni Award
Kimberley Abbott is an engineer, an entrepreneur and passionate about social change. She is also a fine example of the qualities of the UOW graduate in action: a fearless and determined problem solver, making an important contribution to society.
In 2010, as one of only five women in her engineering class, Abbott co-founded the ‘Yes WE (Women Engineers) Can!’ program which she chaired until graduation. The program continues its work, reaching out to encourage girls to consider careers in engineering.
She was still an undergraduate student when she developed and designed all aspects of the social business, Roka, which engages women to fashion beautiful pieces of jewellery from the waste product of the granite quarries near Bangalore, after travelling to India for a month as a volunteer with the 40K Foundation.
Since passing over the reins for Roka, she has founded two new social enterprises: SheBuild and GenBuild.
Ultimately Abbott is a testament to her own sage words of advice, “Sometimes you gotta create what you want to be part of…”.
- SUNIL CHANDRA
Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Engineering), UOW (1994)
- PROFESSOR ALEX FRINO
Bachelor of Commerce, UOW (1988)
Master of Commerce (Accountancy) (Hons), UOW (1991)
- DR DIANN RODGERS-HEALEY
Doctor of Philosophy, UOW (2009)
Graduate Certificate in Business Coaching, UOW (2011)
- KIMBERLEY ABBOTT
Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) and Bachelor of Science (Mechanical Engineering and Exercise Science), UOW (2012)