Meet our 2021 Alumni Award winners

We celebrate our impressive alumni achieving success in their chosen field

The annual UOW Alumni awards recognise exceptional alumni who are making a mark in the world as leaders, innovators and game changers.

Young Alumni Award 2021

Susan Zhang

Country Development Manager Amazon Australia
Bachelor of Computer Science (Enterprise Networking, Information Science, Software Engineering), 2010
Master of Information and Communication Technology, 2011

Susan Zhang has rapidly scaled the heights of the global technology sector, established herself as a serial entrepreneur and innovator, and forged strong China-Australia links to advance business and cross-cultural relations – all in the space of just ten years.

Zhang founded the first of multiple startup companies, Dragon Translating and Interpreting Services, in 2011 soon after completing her UOW degrees. She joined Google’s Sydney office in 2014 to manage the cornerstone ‘G Suite’ product in the Asia-Pacific region and quickly advanced to the role of Business Development Manager for Google Arts & Culture, overseeing the launch of key national projects to digitise and preserve Australia’s cultural heritage for a global audience. Promoted to Google UK as a lead creative technologist, she made an international name for herself delivering innovative data-driven solutions and global award-winning campaigns utilising advanced AI technologies.

On a fast trajectory to the highest echelons of Google, Zhang surprised everyone when she resigned in 2018 to join a startup then unknown outside China. At ByteDance – best known as the parent company of video-sharing platform TikTok – she led the company’s international expansion and monetisation, guiding its meteoric rise to become the world’s most valuable startup and beat Google and Facebook at their own game. She built global strategic partnerships with government agencies, creative communities, museums and digital platforms, and championed corporate social responsibility and impact through partnerships with non-government organisations spanning child protection, women’s empowerment and disease relief.

She returned to London in April 2019 as General Partner for MorningLight VC, a UK-based venture capital firm investing in education, smart logistics and healthcare startups across three continents, and then to Sydney in 2020, where she is now Country Development Manager for global retail giant, Amazon.

Zhang’s boundless energy is matched by her determination to step outside her comfort zone to create a brighter future. She is a passionate driver for China-Australia linkage, helped establish Wollongong IT firm Internetrix’s first overseas office in China, assisted UOW’s 2015 rebrand in the Chinese market, and was a Technology Evangelist for the Australia China Millennial Project.

She is a published author, a dynamic inspirational speaker in international forums including TEDx, Vivid Sydney and the London Business School Asia Business Forum, and a valued mentor for young entrepreneurs around the world. Zhang was also selected as a delegate to the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Summit in both 2014 and 2018, and in 2019 the Australia China Alumni Association named her the Young Australia China Alumni of the Year.

Zhang is a remarkable young alumna whose sharp business acumen, entrepreneurial leadership and growth mindset serve as a powerful guide for current and future alumni. We look forward with great interest to watching her career and contributions continue to flourish.

Alumni Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship 2021

Ray Tubman

Managing Director FinoComp
Bachelor of Mathematics, 1988

A prodigiously talented innovator, Ray Tubman’s leadingedge technology solutions have revolutionised the wealth management industry and established him as a trailblazer in the field of wealthtech.

Tubman cut his teeth in the wealth management industry soon after graduating with a Bachelor of Mathematics from UOW in 1988, leading the London-based technology team managing British Airways’ pensions software. Within a year, he had returned to Australia to embark on his entrepreneurial journey. Cofounding InfoComp, he became chief architect and designer of Composer, a ground-breaking integrated administration platform for wealth management companies.

Under Tubman’s vision and leadership, Composer became widely regarded as Australia’s leading funds administration solution and the platform of choice for large blue-chip firms including Blackrock, Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, JPMorgan and more. He led the company’s successful international expansion into the United Kingdom, remaining Head of Product Strategy, Wealth Management, after GBST acquired InfoComp in 2007.

In 2015, he left GBST and founded Illawarra-based software company FinoComp and enacted the next stage of his bold vision to disrupt the wealth management sector. FinoComp’s game-changing microservices technology replaces traditional monolithic solutions with scalable, nimble microservices, delivering unparalleled integration, functionality and flexibility for top-tier clients worldwide. The product has generated significant gains in a tightly held market, with strong year-on-year growth and a multi-million-dollar business pipeline spanning at least the next 10 years.

Tubman’s technical and market development expertise and relentless challenging of the status quo has ushered in a bright new era in the conservative wealth management industry. Ever prescient, he finds opportunities and niches unseen by others and anticipates client needs before they are even aware of them. Industry and the media seek him out for his expertise and insights, and he has been recognised internationally through programs including the Goodacre UK Systems in the City Financial Awards. FinoComp has made both Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 companies in Australia and the global WEALTHTECH 100 and won numerous Illawarra Business Awards.

Driven to support the next generation, Tubman employs predominantly UOW graduates, serves on the UOW Bachelor of Data Science and Analytics Industry Panel and participates in a host of University initiatives, from summer internship programs to career expos and trade shows. He also supports a diversity of community causes, assisting charities including the Red Cross, Stay Kind, Orange Sky, Need a Feed, Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention and the Red Cross Farmers Appeal and donating hundreds of meals to frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic.

Ray Tubman is a genuine asset to the wealth management industry, the Illawarra entrepreneurial community, UOW and our region more broadly, and a powerful embodiment of our institution’s values. 

Alumni Award for Professional Excellence 2021

Monica Barone

CEO City of Sydney
Master of Creative Arts, 1991

Monica Barone is a visionary and transformative leader, dedicating her considerable expertise and passion to advancing communities, arts and culture, and climate action.

Barone honed her natural artistic talent and innate understanding of the human drive for a connected, purposeful life during her UOW graduate studies in creative arts, theatre and performance. She spent 14 years as a practising artist, arts consultant, cultural activist and theatre worker. Together with fellow alumnus Boris Kelly, she co-founded Canberra-based performing arts company People Next Door and developed an extensive, successful international program of contemporary performing arts and cultural consulting projects.

Her transition to local government in 1996 as Cultural Planner for Warringah Council marked the beginnings of an extraordinary career at the forefront of public policy and service. Rapidly establishing herself as an exceptional community-centred leader in environmental, social, cultural, economic and infrastructure planning, Barone was appointed Community Living Director for South Sydney City Council in 2002 and then, following amalgamation in 2006, CEO of City of Sydney Council.

Under her visionary and strategic guidance, City of Sydney has navigated considerable change to become one of Australia’s most innovative local government bodies. Monica has overseen world-leading, vital work to reshape Council’s operations and the future of Sydney and beyond, including the trailblazing Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy which describes how the city will achieve climate action and social justice as it grows and changes. She led the establishment of seminal design and public art advisory panels to energise urban renewal, community engagement and the celebration of Sydney’s rich creative life.

The City of Sydney was the first government in Australia to achieve carbon neutral accreditation under the federal scheme. These are but a few of the many hallmarks of her stewardship, which today represents around 2000 staff, an annual budget of $880 million and $1.6 billion in assets.

Barone’s comprehensive strategy to advance women in leadership and promote full participation and pay equity has transformed City of Sydney into a high-performing employer of choice with a thriving culture of equity and engagement at all levels. The City of Sydney boasts a gender pay gap of 7 per cent in favour of women. Beyond the organisation, she champions many women in leadership initiatives including Chief Executive Women, the C40 Women4Climate Mentorship program and the Springboard Australia Accelerator Program for women-led startups.

Sought out for her thought leadership, Barone shares her expertise widely as a board and committee member, expert speaker and mentor. She has garnered numerous awards in recognition of her impact, was named among the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence in 2014 and received the coveted Champion of Change Award at the NSW 2020 Minister’s Awards for Women in Local Government. She chairs the Resilient Sydney steering committee and sits on the international Global Resilient Cities board.

Monica Barone is an outstanding leader and an inspiring driver for positive change for the environment, communities, culture and equity. Her commitment to using her career to shape a stronger, more fulfilling and connected world is an inspiration to all.

Alumni Award for Research and Scholarship 2021

Senior Professor Anthony Okely

Professorial Fellow & Director of Research, Early Start Institute, University of Wollongong
Bachelor of Education (Physical & Health Education, Honours), 1993
Doctor of Education, 1999

On a mission to tackle childhood obesity, world-leading expert on physical activity and children, Senior Professor Anthony Okely has profoundly influenced the lives and futures of children, families and communities around the world.

Up to April 2021, Senior Professor Okely was Director of Research at Early Start. He is currently a Senior Professor of public health in the Faculty of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities and a theme leader at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) at UOW, where he leads pioneering research on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep in children.

His scholarly contribution to his field is immense. He has attracted more than $19 million in competitive funding, led prestigious national and international research projects, and published more than 300 highly cited peer-reviewed journal articles. He is currently ranked the world’s seventh most published researcher on physical activity and children. Crucial to Senior Professor Okely’s impact is his determination to translate his research into national and international policy and practice. He led the development and recent update of the Australian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children 0-5 Years and the Australian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Young People for the Department of Health, providing clear guidelines to shape healthier decisions for Australians and their children every day. He co-developed an online course with FutureLearn for parents, carers, educators and childcare workers on preventing childhood obesity, accessed by almost 13,000 learners from more than 146 countries to date. He publishes beyond academic media in outlets such as Mamamia, read by five million Australian women, to broaden the reach of his vital message.

As an internationally respected leader in his field, Senior Professor Okely is transforming the global response to childhood obesity. He served as a co-Director of the Australasian Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Network and was a key member of the expert panel that developed the World Health Organization Guidelines on Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Sleep for Children Under Five Years of Age. He has also been involved in the development of similar guidelines for the United Kingdom, Canada and South Africa.

Senior Professor Okely is currently leading the international SUNRISE study across 41 countries in predominantly low and middle-income nations, to map 24-hour movement behaviours among preschool-aged children. Closely aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the study aims to boost policy priority to improve physical activity environments for the world’s children.

A generous and motivated mentor, he fosters and elevates the next generation of researchers. He is also deeply involved in the local community, conducting outreach work through the Stronger Cultures Koori Kids program and Healthy Cities Illawarra, serving as chair of The Illawarra Grammar School Board and has served on the Parish Council of Figtree Anglican Church.

Senior Professor Anthony Okely is an outstanding researcher and scholar whose indelible contribution to one of our society’s most pressing challenges is changing young lives and creating a better tomorrow.

Alumni Award for Social Impact 2021

Anuradha Gupta

Deputy CEO, GAVI the Vaccine Alliance Geneva, Switzerland
Master of Business Administration (Management), 1993

Anuradha Gupta is an outstanding leader in global health and social impact, whose dedication to improving the lives of people living in poverty engenders positive change at a local, national and international level.

Soon after graduating from UOW’s MBA program, Gupta returned to her home country of India, determined to apply her skills to help the more than 350 million people facing extreme poverty. Over the ensuing two decades, she led large-scale, high impact public service projects, beginning with grassroots work in a province to identify opportunities for entrepreneurship, microfinance and capacity-building, and lift communities, particularly women, out of poverty and towards self-reliance.

Empowered by these extraordinary results, Gupta took her efforts nationally, leading a diverse range of initiatives for improved nutritional, educational and health indices, benefiting current and future generations. Appointed Mission Director for India’s National Health Mission in 2012, she steered the world’s largest flagship public health program to improve access to affordable healthcare for one billion people living in poverty across the world’s second-most populous country.

Here she played a decisive role in turning the tide on public health in India, strengthening and integrating health systems and leading the globally acclaimed polio eradication program. The increased enrolment and retention of girls in schools, improved maternal health and education leading to reduced fertility rates, better child health and stabilisation of population growth, are among her many proud achievements.

Since 2015, Gupta has been Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a Geneva-based public-private global health partnership working to increase immunisation access in low-income nations. Under her dynamic leadership, Gavi is helping to vaccinate almost half the world’s children against deadly and debilitating infectious diseases, working with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank and a wide range of other partners across 73 nations. With Gupta’s leadership over the past five years, the innovative organisation has consistently exceeded its targets, placed renewed focus on equity and gender equality, and garnered global recognition, including the prestigious Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award in 2019. Today, Gavi is at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and vaccination in low and middle-income nations.

Gupta’s social impact is amplified through her role in numerous influential forums, steering committees and reference groups – both within and representing India, and on a global scale. Her contribution has been widely recognised, and she has received the highest civilian award for public service from the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Prime Minister’s Award in Laos.

Anuradha Gupta has demonstrated boundless integrity, creativity and leadership to transform the lives of billions of disadvantaged people through improved health, social and economic opportunity. She is an inspiring example of the power of one individual to change the world.