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Our People

Our People

Open Colleges is built on team engagement, passion and diversity and our people are focused on a commitment to improving the standard of education opportunities available to adult learners in Australia.

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/ Our People

Our Leadership Team

The culture of Open Colleges is founded on over a century of commitment to high standards, accessibility, affordability and real engagement between students, trainers, support staff and management, as well as dedicated faculty direction.

Our people are here because they have all been students at some time, and are now top professionals in their field, committed to providing you with the best student and stakeholder experience possible.

Nic Cola

Managing Director

Nic Cola is Managing Director of Open Colleges and has extensive experience in digital media and e-commerce businesses.

Prior to joining, Nic held a number of senior management positions at Fairfax Media, including CEO of Fairfax Media’s Marketplaces division in which he had responsibility for a number of iconic digital assets, including Drive, Domain, RSVP and Stayz. Prior to this, Nic was COO of the Fairfax Digital, which included the online sites of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and in that capacity played a significant role in leading revenue and profit growth.

He has also consulted on digital strategy for a number of clients in Australia, South East Asia and Europe.

Nic has served on a number of boards including the Stayz Group, the Australian Multimedia Industry Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Australia where he was a founding board member and Chairman. 

Alexis Watt

Chief Executive Officer - Open Colleges School of Health

Alexis is the CEO of Open Colleges School of Health, specialising in nursing and health industry courses from campuses in Adelaide and Perth. Using innovative blended and flipped learning methodologies, the School’s courses provide excellent opportunities for people to change their lives and the lives of others.

With almost 20 years’ experience in the VET sector including training, assessment, management, leadership and governance roles, Alexis brings a wealth of experience to Open Colleges.

Alexis has managed multiple national and local programs under government funding at State and Commonwealth levels, and international student pathways from South East Asia, India, Nepal and Kenya. Large scale projects in workforce development for the aged care, community care and health industries have also been led by Alexis.

As a Board member of the national peak body for private education and training he has unique insights into national policy for the VET sector, including funding, regulation, quality assurance and reform.

Matt Hill

Chief Marketing Officer

As CMO, Matt is accountable for all marketing programs, including lead generation, biddable media investment strategy, product strategy, digital and web strategy, CRM, automation and data activation, social media monitoring and servicing and brand management and development.

He has 12 years’ experience working across the private education sector with Cengage Education, Think: Education Group, and now with Open Colleges – seeing firsthand the shift from traditional correspondence learning, to the digital learning we are accustomed to today.

Matt uses this experience, as well as the knowledge gained from his time with leading global brands like American Express and Microsoft, to lead a team that has a thorough understanding of customers’ rational and emotional barriers, and provides value at every interaction by thinking like the customer – not like a marketing department.

Matthew Willis

Chief Education & Experience Officer

Matthew has over 15 years’ experience in the private education sector across Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Matthew’s experience spans across Vocational Education & Training, Higher Education and English as a Second Language (ESL) sectors and has specialised in distance and online education particularly in quality service delivery, change management, business systems, business process engineering and teaching.

Prior to joining Open Colleges, Matthew has held numerous management roles across THINK: Education Group, JMC Academy, Thomson Education, AEON and NOVA, Early in his career, Matthew worked in Japan as part of  a team pioneering synchronous online education in ESL utilizing video based conferencing.

Philip Kilic

Chief Business Development Officer

As one of the founding executives of Open Colleges, Philip’s experience in the global education industry spans across 25 years. Philip has been instrumental in the growth of iconic Australian education brands in APAC and MEA regions (SAE Institutes Global, THINK Education Group, Open Colleges Group). With Open Colleges, Philip was responsible for the creation and operationalisation of a sophisticated student recruitment model that was instrumental to the Colleges’ organisational growth.

Philip is a qualified Tonmeister. He is an active contributor to the audio and education industry and has presented on numerous topics on the invitation of governments and industry in Asia. His other accomplishments include establishing institutions in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore; a government education joint venture in Myanmar; a private university acquisition in Chongqing, China; and founding the licensing and franchising arm of SAE Institutes Global. Philip has also advised on technology start-ups, business turnaround and transformation projects to Private Equity firms.

Philip is currently leading the International Growth initiatives for Open Colleges.

Simon Hitchick

Chief Learning Officer

Simon’s role is accountable for the quality of the learning experience at Open Colleges. Previously, Simon provided specialist consultation services to Registered Training Organisations drawing on his extensive VET sector experience.

With over ten years’ experience in the VET sector, Simon started his career as a Workplace trainer/assessor and progressed to senior management positions in several private RTOs, including St John Ambulance Australia.

Simon has also facilitated professional development programs for industry bodies including the Australian Council for Private Education and Training and VELG Training, as the General Manager of Australia’s National Audit and Registration Agency.

During his four years with TVET Australia, Simon played a key role in the development of NARA’s regulatory approach and represented the organisation on a range of policy issues, national projects and reviews.

Christine Kotsapas

Head of People and Culture

Christine is an established HR professional with over 10 years’ experience spanning across Gaming, Entertainment and Engineering Industries, with expertise in culture change, employee engagement and change management.

As the Head of People and Culture, Christine is responsible for partnering with the executive team to drive the people strategy that delivers an engaging and rewarding employee experience as well as business outcomes.

Shekher Kishore

Head of Compliance and Resolution​

Shekher is responsible for the implementation of all quality standards across the organisation. He manages engagement with various stakeholders in the VET industry and relationships with the regulatory authorities.

Shekher has over two decades of collective experience of working in the hospitality industry and the VET sector. Qualified in the areas of hospitality and management, he progressed from the role of trainer and assessor to being the head of RTOs. 

With a deep understanding of the VET sector, the broader obligatory requirements and all aspects of operations management of an RTO, Shekher works with all divisions to ensure all quality standards are adhered to at all times.

Christina Shenouda

Head of Portfolio Finance, Business & Technology

Christina initially started her career in law and transitioned to education and training 10 years ago. Christina has worked within a broad range of sectors within the education industry, including vocational education and training, multiple top-ranking universities and corporate learning and development functions in financial services, as an Educator, Leader, Project Manager and in learning design.

She is a passionate educator at heart, and an advocate for lifelong learning.

Christina holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing), Bachelor of Law, Masters of Law and Masters of Adult Education.

Jeanette Sticker

Head of Portfolio, Education

Jeanette started her career in the VET sector after an extensive career in primary school teaching. She holds a Diploma in Community Services Coordination, Certificate IV in Frontline Management and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Jeanette was a face-to-face and online Trainer and Assessor before progressing to become a National Training Manager, responsible for qualifications and Trainers in Education training packages.

As Head of Portfolio she works closely with industry representatives from the Education sector to develop programs to suit training needs.

Karin Rule

Head of Portfolio, Health, Community and Beauty

Karin is responsible for leading and managing teams of Training Operation Managers, Trainers and Assessors and Online Community Support Officers who have a variety of qualifications as well as industry and vocational currency and experience.

Karin has extensive qualifications, including a Masters of Business Administration, Bachelor of Social Science, Enrolled Nursing, Graduate Diploma of Vocation Education and Training and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Karin maintains her industry currency by spending several months a year working in developing countries and holds the voluntary position of Chairperson for the Action for Children and the Aged (ACATA) Australia. This non-profit charitable organisation is committed to improving the health and wellness of individuals and communities in developing countries.

With a passion for education and learning Karin’s focus is on improving the student experience and ensuring job-ready graduates.

Kim Ticehurst

Head of Portfolio, Veterinary Sciences and Animals Care, Trades and Information Technology

Upon graduating from Sydney University, Kim worked in mixed practice for a short time before returning to Sydney University to complete a postgraduate Diploma in Veterinary Anaesthesia.

After working at the university for a number of years, Kim left to start a family and began working with TAFE, discovering a lifelong interest in competency-based education.

In 2001, Kim returned to Sydney University and worked in the anaesthesia department, becoming the Head of Anaesthesia in 2006 and Clinic Director in 2012.

Kim Joined Open Colleges in 2013 as a Learning and Assessment Manager and became Head of Portfolio in 2015.

Bill Lovegrove

Chair

Emeritus Professor Lovegrove was the Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) from 2003 until retiring as USQ’s longest serving Vice-Chancellor in December 2011.

Prior to his appointment at USQ, Emeritus Professor Lovegrove was Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research, Internationalisation and Commercialisation) at Griffith University. He also held senior positions at the University of Wollongong after commencing his academic career at the University of Tasmania. Throughout his career Emeritus Professor Lovegrove developed an international research profile in the area of visual information processing and dyslexia.

Emeritus Professor Lovegrove’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts, First Class Honors and PhD in Psychology through the University of Queensland. He also completed an Advanced Executive Program at the Kellogg School of Business of North Western University in the United States.

He has extensive committee and Board experience having represented Universities Australia on the Universities Grants Committee of the University of the South Pacific, the Board of the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA), the Board of Australian University Sport and chaired the Board of Graduate Careers Australia. He has also been a member of the board of a number of CRCs and is currently the Chair of the Study Queensland Industry Council and the Board of the Smart Water Research Centre.

Jim Taylor

Professor Taylor is currently a Professor within the Australian Digital Futures Institute at the University of Southern Queensland.

He is widely acknowledged as a leading researcher in online and open education having published a number of seminal research studies in e-learning, flexible delivery and open courseware.

In 2009, Professor Taylor received the Australian Higher Education Quality Award for his meritorious service to quality advancement in Australian higher education.

Professor Taylor received the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation in 2007 for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning for 25 years of sustained leadership in enhancing the quality of open and distance learning in higher education, both in Australia and internationally.

Samantha Page

Advocate for quality, social justice and equity in education and care of children. Extensive experience in the development and implementation of social policy and sector development projects.

Michael Linke

Experience in legal compliance of the accounting and finance profession, developing policy guidelines and educational courses that ensure accountants operate within regulatory boundaries set by ASIC and other government agencies.

Suzanne Judge

Suzanne has worked in many fields within local government from finance, records management, property management, procurement and executive assistance, to the role she has performed for the last decade in integrated and strategic planning. She develops strategic and operational plans and policies, manages projects and engages key stakeholders within the community.

Suzanne has been a Trainer and Assessor in the Business Services Training Package for the last seven years across a number of Registered Training Organisations including Open Colleges, St George TAFE and the NSW Department of Education and Training. She currently serves our Training and Advisory Board as a representative of the Open Colleges’ community of Trainers and Assessors.

Suzanne holds a Bachelor of Business from UTS, a Postgraduate Diploma in Local Government from Charles Sturt University and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Cathy Stone

Cathy's professional background is in Social Work, student support and research aimed at enhancing student equity in higher education. 

Accredited as a Mental Health Social Worker with the AASW, and a member of the Australian College of Social Work, Cathy has a long standing interest in and commitment to student equity, widening participation and improving the student experience for increasingly diverse university student cohorts. 

Following nearly 20 years in management and counselling within Student and Academic Services at the University of Newcastle, Cathy worked with Open Universities Australia as the Director of Student Success until the end of 2014.

Marcia Devlin

Professor Marcia Devlin’s research interests and expertise span higher education policy, equity, Indigenous higher education, standards, leadership, interdisciplinarity, teaching and learning, student engagement and learning, digital education and eLearning.

Current and recent national work includes contributing to federal policy development in the area of equity and leading national studies of effective teaching and support of students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds and of effective university leadership of learning and teaching.

She currently holds an Australian Research Council (ARC) grant on international student policy.

The author and co-author of more than 360 commissioned reports, studies, and articles in international peer-reviewed journals, Marcia also writes regularly on higher education matters for newspapers. Professor Devlin launched the SHEER Centre and presented the inaugural Sounding Board Scholars address in 2013. 

Gregory W. Cappelli

Director

Mr. Cappelli is a company Director at Open Colleges and the Executive Chairman of Vanta Education. Before joining Apollo Education Group, Inc., Mr. Cappelli spent 10 years as a research analyst for Credit Suisse, where he most recently served as managing director/senior research analyst and founded the Credit Suisse global services team.

Before joining Credit Suisse, Mr. Cappelli was a vice president and senior research analyst at ABN AMRO. He holds his B.A. in Economics from Indiana University and has completed his M.B.A. from the Brennan School of Business at Dominican University.

Folline Cullen

Director

Folline is a company Director at Open Colleges and is responsible for directing the fiscal functions of Vanta Education. She oversees the financial operations of Vanta Education, including the development of financial and operational strategy, treasury and tax management, and the ongoing development and monitoring of control systems designed to preserve company assets and report accurate financial results.

Mrs. Cullen joined Vanta Education from Educate Online, Inc., an online competency-based educational service provider, where she was the CFO. Prior to joining Educate Online, Mrs. Cullen was the CFO of Wall Street International.  She began her career in public accounting with Deloitte & Touche, New York, as a Certified Public Accountant.

Mrs. Cullen holds a Bachelor’s degree in business/accounting from the University of Southern California.

Nic Cola

Managing Director

Nic Cola is Managing Director of Open Colleges and has extensive experience in digital media and e-commerce businesses.

Prior to joining, Nic held a number of senior management positions at Fairfax Media, including CEO of Fairfax Media’s Marketplaces division in which he had responsibility for a number of iconic digital assets, including Drive, Domain, RSVP and Stayz. Prior to this, Nic was COO of the Fairfax Digital, which included the online sites of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and in that capacity played a significant role in leading revenue and profit growth.

He has also consulted on digital strategy for a number of clients in Australia, South East Asia and Europe.

Nic has served on a number of boards including the Stayz Group, the Australian Multimedia Industry Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Australia where he was a founding board member and Chairman. 

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