The Visit Sunshine Coast (VSC) board features representatives from industry, business and the local community – and is made up of seven directors, a chairperson and company secretary. The board’s role is to provide expert guidance to the organisation and tourism industry.
David Ryan (Chair AO)
David sits on the Sunshine Coast Major Events Board, is a Director on the Ted Noffs Foundation and is a non-Executive Director of GTN Ltd, First American Title Insurance Company of Australia Pty Ltd, First Mortgage Services Pty Ltd and Sunshine Coast Airport. As well as Chairing the VSC Board he is also a member of the Audit and Risk Committee.
David has previously been the Chair of Transurban Group and Hamilton Island Limited as well as held Non-Executive Director positions on the Board of Virgin Australia and Lendlease Corporation Limited. Throughout his career he has held senior executive management and CEO positions in investment banking, as well as being the Chairman or a Non-Executive Director of a number of other public companies.
Mark Skinner (Deputy Chair)
Mark holds a Master of Business Administration and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD). He also provides consulting services to the tourism industry through his business TripTick Tourism Consulting.
Mark previously owned and operated Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat which was recognised in the Australian Tourism Awards and is a Queensland Tourism Awards Hall of Fame winner. He has been a director of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council and has held director roles in Skal International Sunshine Coast and Hinterland Tourism Sunshine Coast
John Hall (Company Secretary)
John is Director of Caloundra Community Bank. John is also an experienced company director, having held board positions, including those of Chairman and Deputy Chairman, with a number of public and private enterprises. John Hall is the Company Secretary of Visit Sunshine Coast and is the Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.
John has extensive senior executive experience in the public and private sectors, including almost 25 years at chief executive level.
Jennifer Swaine (Director)
Jennifer is passionate and proud to call the Sunshine Coast home having relocated here from Sydney in 2010. As the Chair of the Sunshine Coast Business Awards and committee member of the Sunshine Coast Chambers Alliance, Jennifer engages with the businesses that make up the fabric of this great region to facilitate connection and collaboration. Jennifer has her own marketing and communications business and works with a variety of businesses assisting them with their branding and increasing their profile.
Jennifer has a regular business column in InNoosa and Hello Sunshine magazines and is a regular public speaker and emcee.
Rodger Powell (Director)
Recognised as a highly entrepreneurial, energetic and pragmatic leader, Rodger’s career includes CEO and C-suite roles on three continents, in hotel management; development and construction; destination marketing; industry advocacy; gaming; and online technologies.
His 30 years experience as an owner, operator and executive level manager across multiple hospitality and tourism businesses, and the corporate governance depth acquired from 25 years of board directorships, provide exceptional value for his clients.
Currently Managing Director of Tourism and Hospitality Services AustralAsia (THSA) a firm that specialises in Hotel and other accommodation asset management, feasibility studies, due diligence, design and construction support and operational advisory, Rodger and his team have completed more than 400 Tourism sector consulting projects.
Zoe Sparks (Director)
Zoë Sparks has been firmly entrenched in travel and events throughout her career and has resided primarily on the Sunshine Coast since 1988. Since 2000, Zoë has run travel agencies here, alongside her Conference/Event Management company and was contracted as the Jetset Travelworld’s Group Conference Manager (now helloworld) for 19 years, building extensive networks and contacts in the industry she loves.
Zoë’s business, Spectacular Events Pty Ltd t/a Spectacular World Travel was inducted into the Sunshine Coast Business Awards’ Hall of Fame in 2005. Zoë herself has been recognised as a 2017 IML Owner / Entrepreneur Leader Regional Finalist, a two time Telstra Business Women’s Qld Finalist and a former Sunshine Coast Outstanding Business Woman of the Year. Zoë has also held a number of Board and committee positions and is a GAICD. In addition to VSC she is currently a director of Generation Innovation, the Sunshine Coast Grammar School Council and SCGS Foundation Board.
Ashley Howden (Director)
A former magazine journalist and editor, Ashley helped build and sell one of the UK’s largest independent media companies to the BBC, Origin Publishing; and one of the UK’s first digital services agencies which was acquired by London Stock Exchange listed Chime plc, one of the largest marketing communications groups in Europe.
Ashley has completed terms in non-executive director roles with UK healthcare provider, Bristol Community Health (later acquired by Sirona); and one of the most prestigious British Olympic sports associations – Pentathlon GB. He was also previously a non-executive director at H&L Australia, one of the country’s largest providers for point-of-sale software for bars, clubs & restaurants.
Ashley currently sits on the boards of DevOps1, an IT professional services firm; and Hello Human, a design thinking & innovation consultancy. He is also an advisor at Yefira Group – a Singapore-based corporate advisory boutique.
Winston Hall (Director)
Winston Hall is one of Australia’s leading hospitality experts. Over the past ten years, Winston has worked his way through the ranks of Mantra Group (now AccorHotels) to his current role as Regional General Manager for Northern Queensland, which sees Winston overseeing all Peppers, Mantra and BreakFree properties from Caloundra to Port Douglas, managing 2,300+ rooms across 24 properties.
With more than 25 years of industry experience and the past 18 in the operation of mixed-use strata title properties, Winston comprehensively understands the elements and strategies required to achieve stakeholder alignment and deliver long-term growth in regional locations.
Winston has been actively involved in a number of acquisitions, with the most notable being the 1,169 room Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra in Honolulu Hawaii, where he led the transition team to smoothly and successfully integrate the Group’s single largest asset.
Winston has an Associate Diploma of Hospitality, is a licensed Real Estate agent in Queensland and holds the position of Treasurer on the Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra Board.
Verena Olesch (Director)
Verena‘s experience in tourism and hospitality spans more than 30 years, having worked in sales and marketing for multinational hotel chains (including Intercontinental Hotels and Accor), large-scale venues and events (with time as President of Sydney’s Unique Venues Association), and also Lufthansa German Airlines as Regional Manager Australia and New Zealand. For several years, she had her own tourism business in Cairns (day- and multi-day tours and dive school), with focus on inbound and domestic markets.
Before moving to the Sunshine Coast in her current role as General Manager for Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World, she was working as General Manager Tourism in Carpentaria Shire, where she launched a new $8.5m tourism attraction with the help of State and Local Government Funding. Verena has a Diploma in Advanced Leadership and is also a qualified Yoga Teacher.