These biographies describe the individuals at the time of initial documentary production (2014).
Director, Humanitarian Advisory Group
For more than 12 years, Beth has worked in the humanitarian sector, almost six of those years being based in the field. Beth has expertise in humanitarian reform, civil-military coordination, and emergency response.Before returning to Australia, Beth worked with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) in Afghanistan for several years where she developed civil-military guidance, policy on interaction with Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) and was involved in rolling out humanitarian reform including the cluster approach. From 2008, Beth was Oxfam Australia’s policy and advocacy coordinator for 5 years before becoming a co-founder and Director of Humanitarian Advisory Group, a new enterprise promoting excellence in humanitarian practice.
CEO, RedR Australia
Former lawyer and senior diplomat Kirsten Sayers has extensive experience in a range of commercially-oriented government, corporate, and advisory roles.
Kirsten is currently CEO of RedR Australia, a humanitarian organisation supplying skilled personnel to United Nations relief agencies in times of crisis. She was most recently Australia’s Senior Trade & Investment Commissioner to Singapore, and Investment Commissioner to ASEAN. During this period she was also Vice President of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.
Kirsten has previously held senior diplomatic and commercial appointments in Paris, Bangkok and Taipei. She was Australia’s Chief Negotiator and Delegation Leader to the APEC Women Leaders’ Network meeting and GFPN APEC 2009, and managed Australia’s delegation to the APEC CEO Summit the same year.
She specialised in Asian laws, humanitarian and international law, and speaks English, Mandarin, French, Vietnamese, Norwegian and Swedish to various degrees.
Kirsten is an Asia Literacy Ambassador and a Companion of Engineers Australia.
Deployee, RedR Australia & Electrical Engineer
Dinesh Jayasuriya is an electrical engineer with a passion for sustainability and humanitarian relief. His ‘day job’ involves working as the Principal Sustainability Engineer at Sustainometrics where he assists large organisations to manage their environmental, social, financial and compliance risks.
The rest of the time Dinesh works as a humanitarian engineer on assignment with RedR Australia or the UN. He deployed to Pakistan during the 2010 flood crisis, to the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) with UNICEF and most recently to the Philippines responding to Typhoon Haiyan. He was selected as a finalist in the Victorian Young Engineer of the Year award for this work in UNICEF. As an accredited RedR trainer, Dinesh also trains and volunteers in RedR courses.
Dinesh is dedicated to lifelong learning and is currently working towards his fourth university qualification. He is a strong voice on humanitarian engineering and found his field experiences to be profoundly life-changing.
Founder, Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB)
Daniel Almagor is MD of Small Giants, a company he started with his wife, Berry Liberman, to effect social and environmental change through business, and Australia’s first B Corporation. Through Small Giants, he is involved in a number of ventures including Dumbo Feather, Tom Organic, The School of Life, STREAT, The Hub, The Commons and the Impact Investment Group.
He was the inaugural Social Entrepreneur in Residence at RMIT, the founder and former CEO of Engineers Without Borders Australia, and still serves as the Chairperson for Jewish Aid Australia.
He has degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Business Administration, a certificate IV in outdoor education and he did a half day beekeeping course a few years ago. He loves to read, talk about philosophy, garden, travel and jump on the trampoline with his kids.
WASH Program Manager, Live & Learn & Returned Field Volunteer, Engineers Without Borders Australia / Live & Learn
Rob Hughes has a background as a water and environmental engineer in Sydney, before moving to Cambodia for several years. He initially worked with Engineers Without Borders to work on ceramic water filters, and then joined Live & Learn to develop innovative sanitation solutions for challenging environments including floating villages and flood-affected areas.
Now Melbourne-based as Live & Learn’s WASH Program Manager, he will be continuing this work while also leading sanitation marketing and innovation projects in the Pacific.
Rob is passionate about finding more appropriate and holistic solutions that can greatly improve on current practices and make sanitation for all achievable.
CEO & Founder, Dreamfit Foundation
Darren has been named a WA Young Australian of the Year, WA Citizen of the Year, Australian Engineer of the Year, and has also received an impressive range of other accolades including a Churchill Fellowship, a 40 under 40 award and the National Disability Award.
Lead Engineer, Software and Firmware Development, Cochlear
David Thambiratnam works at Cochlear Ltd in Sydney, Australia, where he is Head of Software and Firmware development. He has worked there for 7 years, and previously has worked in a variety of industries including consumer electronics, telecommunications, and computer automation.
David believes strongly in the engineer’s ability to exact positive social change through the use of technology to solve real-world problems.
National President 2013, Engineers Australia
Dr. Marlene Kanga is a Board member of Innovation Australia and Chair of the AusIndustry R&D Incentives Committee, the largest government support program for industry R&D in Australia. She is also a Board member of Sydney Water, the largest water utility in Australia.
She was National President of Engineers Australia in 2013, the peak body for engineering professionals in Australia.
Marlene is a Chartered chemical engineer and co-founder and director of iOmniscient Pty. Ltd. which has patented software technology for intelligent video analytics. This Australian technology has won multiple awards internationally and is recognised as a technology leader in this space.
Dr Kanga represents Engineers Australia at the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) and is a member of its Executive Council. She is a Board member of the International Network for Women Engineers and Scientists (INWES).
Dr. Kanga believes that engineering is essentially humanitarian. She has an abiding interest in engineering practice to mitigate natural disaster risks and is chair of a WFEO Committee that is developing resources to support the learning of engineers in developing countries in mitigating the risks of natural disasters.
Dr Kanga is a Fellow of the Institutions of Engineers Australia and New Zealand as well as the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She was rated as among Australia’s Top 100 Engineers and the Top 100 Women of Influence during 2013.
Former Australian Army Colonel & Engineer, ADF & Founder, Collaborative Outcomes
Neil is the owner of a Canberra based consultancy Collaborative Outcomes which provides for innovative leadership in humanitarian engineering. Through Collaborative Outcomes Neil has provided consultancy services focused on energy security, humanitarian engineering, civil-military interaction, disaster management in the Asia Pacific, and strategic leadership in crises.
He has provided policy advice and informative workshops on humanitarian engineering, and passionately aims to change the way the engineering profession approaches humanitarian work. It is through his consultancy work that Neil has addressed the pressing questions created by the ‘wicked problem’ of energy, humanitarian, sustainability needs in a world challenged by climate change. Prior to creating the company Neil served in the Australian Defence Force as an engineer officer with operational service in Iraq and Timor Leste. During his military service he also led Army projects in several remote indigenous communities as part of the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program and played a key role in Defence’s response to Victoria’s 2009 ‘Black Saturday’ disaster. As a senior officer he was a leading proponent for increased civil-military interaction and principles based approach for defence involvement in humanitarian action. Neil is a civil engineer and is Deputy President of Canberra Division of Engineers Australia.