The Collective

adjective: of or shared by every member of a group of people.

Our talented technologists are the heart and soul of KJR, and our leadership team sit right there with them, because we all subscribe to the same purpose: to make digital advancement a positive experience for organisations – the journey and the outcomes.

Meet Ashley

Ashley Howden

- CEO

One of the many things KJR’s CEO and true renaissance man Ashley is known for, is helping run international pentathlon organisations. The pentathlon is a multi-disciplined sport requiring singular focus and drive, which also happens to make a great metaphor for his career to date. After starting out as a sports psychologist, then journalist, Ash moved to the UK at 25 to build businesses and hasn’t stopped since. 

From early work in magazines and PR, he went on to make a name for himself in first-generation ecommerce before being headhunted for digital marketing and founding a fast-growing social media company. These days you can find him steering KJR from strength to strength, working with people who amaze him by solving tech problems others can’t seem to fathom. 

When he’s not at KJR, he’s sitting on boards for the tourism, healthcare and sports industries sharing his abilities as an agent for positive change. Despite the peripatetic nature of his career trajectory, a common thread runs through: a firm belief CEOs shouldn’t be hiding in offices – they should be either inspiring people with honest, practical guidance or out there bringing in new business.

Meet Mark

Dr. Mark Pedersen

- CTO

Mark is an IT professional with a passion for digital culture. During the week, he leads his team at KJR through straight-talking solutions to software problems. In his spare time, he can be found crafting soundscapes and audio/visual installations that embrace technology’s propensity for playfulness and expression.

He first honed his aptitude for software innovation and assurance as a postgrad research assistant at the University of Queensland, where he went on to complete a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, focusing on language technology. It was there he befriended KJR founder Kelvin Ross and they bonded over a shared enthusiasm for fine-tuning software and risk mitigation strategies. He’s been with KJR ever since, taking a few years off to teach IT in the Middle East before returning in 2006 to open the Melbourne branch.

As CTO, Mark’s technical knowledge and lateral thinking abilities are counted on to lead critical software projects safely out of the red and into the light. And, as a world-class software risk analyst and advisor, he thrives on the satisfaction of bettering lives with technology that actually works.

Meet Rebekah

Rebekah Di Blasi

- Head of Talent and Culture

Unofficially appointed as KJR’s Chief Happiness Officer, Rebekah (or Bex) sits at the head of the incredible culture emanating through KJR. Always looking for opportunities to put a creative spin on traditional HR methods, her fun but pragmatic approach has found the perfect home at KJR. Bex is the driving force behind the adoption of a Talent Community, recognising that growing KJR’s Collective is more than just hiring for a role. It’s about building real and meaningful relationships and sharing our unique culture and value proposition with potential employees. With over 10 years’ experience in the HR&T space and after a year off with her beautiful baby boy Tom, Bex is back at KJR in January 2019 with a string of initiatives up her sleeve.

What’s a Collective?
Meet Adam

Adam Bird

- General Manager NSW

Adam embarked on a career at the turn of the century that would see him firmly planted with the descriptor of ‘digital native’. Having gathered a deluge of digital experience from big-hitters such as IBM, Westpac and Edelman, with a stint as a Senate candidate for political party, Flux, Adam sits comfortably, yet eagerly in the chair as NSW General Manager for KJR.

The man loves his sports. Ask Adam about the Sydney Kings – if you’re lucky he might invite you to join him in the KJR box, strategically positioned as close to the hoop as one can get. Side projects are also close to Adam’s heart, and surprise, surprise, they’re sports related. From the early stages of a ground-breaking app for young sportspeople to investing in fuel for the active, his passion for big ideas is prevalent in everything he touches. And his mantra – ‘under promise and over achieve.’

The KJR Collective is our difference.

It’s our way of operating.

Our way of working.
Meet Andrew

Andrew Hammond

- General Manager ACT

A self-proclaimed ‘technology addict’, Andrew (or Drew) has been at the helm of KJR’s ACT operations since 2009. From two people to over 30 consultants today, the Canberra office has soared under his guidance serving multiple Federal government clients and branching into the broader set of KJR services over the past few years. Not one to miss out, Andrew takes a hands-on approach with projects, keeping his carefully-honed skills polished and at the ready.

Andrew’s other passion is sport. Whether it’s ‘netball dad’ duties or riding his bicycle around Australia in the TourXOz for a fantastic cause, he’s the embodiment of a man on a mission. And when work and sport collide, Andrew creates an iOS app to improve the experience for supporters of multiple netball teams.

The KJR Collective is a flat structure.

It values everyone's contribution.

And encourages individual growth.
Meet Meg

Meg Woolley

- Marketing Manager

A marketer to the core, Meg joined KJR at the end of 2017 to bring the brand into its next phase. At this point her career had come full-circle, starting out in Hobart at a software company back in 2010. With her strategic eye always open, Meg has travelled to agency land and back, finding the perfect balance with her highlighters in KJR’s Melbourne office.

In other news, Meg is an avid supporter of the National Breast Cancer Foundation and forms one quarter of fundraising group, Team Zero, hosting events, harassing friends to donate and completing the London Marathon in 2018.

Meet David

Dr. David Poutakidis

- General Manager VIC

Another resident Doctor, David hit the 10-year mark with KJR in 2018. Leading the Victorian team through the laneways of Melbourne, his expertise comes from his computer science studies (completing his Ph.D. in 2008 at RMIT) and his inability to leave a problem unsolved – there’s no ‘too hard basket’ on David’s desk.

With software testing as a starting point, David managed countless test automation strategies and frameworks for high profile clients in the banking, health, utilities and education sectors. Today his remit extends to leading clients and his team towards optimum digital transformation strategy and delivery. It’s his larrikin approach to life, combined with a steely determination to solve the technology problems of the world that has continued to see David succeed within the walls of KJR (and our clients).

The KJR Collective is an open book.

It encourages alternative ideas.

It expects honesty.
Meet Graham

Graham Cummins

- General Manager QLD

A true Queenslander with a love of all activities outdoors, when indoors, Graham is a tech-lover through and through. While KJR’s newest General Manager, joining the Collective in 2019, Graham’s career is approaching 20 years of experience in facilitating positive outcomes and experiences for technology buyers. Spanning three countries, he’s worked with high-profile industry heavyweights in Australia, the US and Canada, focusing on the power of customer advocacy in digital transformation success.

Graham is wildly passionate about helping to grow the digital economy for the next generation of Queenslanders. And that next generation includes his three daughters, whom he volunteers with at youth focused technology events including Steamlabs and the TechGirls are Super Heroes series.

Meet Lyndon

Lyndon Cawood

- CFO

Lyndon is a seasoned finance professional who has been dedicated to KJR for ten years and counting. His integral strength is his way of managing monetary growth and people with equal insight. It’s an approach that’s guided by the philosophy that if you ‘give them the right information, they’ll always make the right decision in the end’. And for this information to be deemed ‘right’, it needs to be gathered using airtight processes (which is where his degree in computing comes in handy). 

Lyndon’s track record facilitating stable growth has seen him sought-after in the food, music, retail, and nightclub industries. But he’s stuck with KJR because he hates seeing people waste time replicating inefficiency. And his team share his belief in the integrity that comes with frank advice and exacting standards. Aside from the satisfaction gleaned from believing in what you do, working with KJR gives him a chance to indulge in conversations about the latest gadgetry and tech news on a daily basis. It also means he’s free to replicate his exacting standards in footy tipping.

Meet Sheemal

Sheemal Visun

- Talent Partner

When your Talent Partner is full of talent herself, magic happens. Sheemal’s talent sourcing background has seen her inspire and recruit largely senior management roles across IT, retail, healthcare and defence. At KJR she is the go-to for all levels and skills, managing the Talent Community and connecting with Australia’s best and most promising people in technology.

Speaking with Sheemal? You’ll immediately feel a sense of interest and care in what you’re trying to achieve in your career – nothing gives her a buzz more than helping talented people head in the right direction. And when she’s not recruiting the best in the biz for KJR, she’s throwing birthday parties for her husky, Phantom and frequenting Melbourne’s hottest venues for her Instagram. Some might call her an Influencer!

Meet Emma-Jane

Emma-Jane Stephenson

- Team Wrangler

EJ showed up to her interview for this role with a Star Wars bag – of course she got the job! But she’s more than a typical KJR Star Wars fanatic. She’s the voice at the end of the phone, the coordinator of Ashley’s manic calendar, the snack fairy in Melbourne and general organiser of #HumansofKJR when things go in the ‘too hard basket’, because nothing is ever too hard for EJ.

In her spare time, she harbours an exceptional talent for creating gaming inspired costumes for Cosplay events and of course immerses herself in everything that goes along with being a passionate gamer.*

*Case in point: EJ was at Pax on photo day!

The KJR Collective is family.

It’s spread far and wide.

But connected by its values.

Featured Collective Members

Meet Karolyn

Karolyn Gainfort

- Principal Consultant

How Karolyn got into this industry…

“Mum wanted me to be a ballet dancer.” When those plans didn’t work out, Karolyn found herself in London, without any particular vocation training, but with the desire to try! Merging her performing arts training and interest in technology and business, she took a role at a film producing company and the rest, they say, is history.

Taking advantage of every opportunity to step up, Karolyn often found herself just “figuring something out because no one else knew how to do it” and as a result has experienced some spectacular projects. Her most notable? Implementing the voice messaging system (yes, back in the day) for a well-known telco. This project not only gave her trips to New York and Israel to learn from the most advanced in the business, it exposed Karolyn to the art of testing and how important it is for any software implementation. Not to mention setting up her foray into project management.

Meet Nick

Nick Dryden

- Junior Consultant

How Nick got into this industry…

A story of passion, frustration and friendship. All the way from Perth, Nick joined KJR quite recently after working in hardware and technical roles over in the west. Not something you’d hear from many, but Nick felt the undeniable pull to Canberra! Specifically, so he could study all things artificial intelligence at Australian National University. Hitting his second or third honours year, “it’s all a blur, honestly”, Nick felt unsettled and started seeking something else.

Not wanting to go back to the helpdesk, but not wanting to stay at university (at that point in time), Nick received the heads up from a former colleague about roles going at KJR – and that former colleague became former-no-more. The opportunity he was looking for, Nick has embraced the chance to use his tech knowledge to dive deeper into product delivery. And he says, “it’s been a big surprise as to how much I’ve taken to it. And enjoy it!” Don’t fret though, he intends to return to uni (hopefully part-time) to complete his Bachelor of Advanced Computing (Hons), specialising in Intelligent Systems.

Meet Steph

Steph Singer

- Senior Consultant

What Steph thinks about the future of tech…

A word of caution, but also sense of opportunity from Steph; “We need to remind people to look at the ethics and consequences of what it is that they’re building. Not just what it can do but all the stuff we’re not expecting it to do!” Central to her concern is the future of AI and what can and will happen if bias and ethics are not addressed as a matter of extreme importance. Not one to stand back, Steph is contributing her expertise as a mentor in the newly created Young Women Leaders in AI program. She will join with other influential women in the industry to encourage and guide young women towards a successful career in AI.

Meet Mike

Mike Hallatt

- Principal Consultant

What Mike loves most about his job…

It’s all about variety for Mike. After working client-side for over 10 years, the world of consulting has opened Mike’s eyes to the sheer depth of digital – “there’s a lot more going on than what I thought!” But it’s been exciting, learning as he goes. Like, what does FDD even stand for? It’s Feature Driven Development! But don’t tell anyone that he never knew that…

With experience comes wisdom, and that’s the other element that Mike enjoys in his role. If you’re new to the industry or simply eager to learn from those who’ve come before, Mike always has time for you. He’ll go as far as specifically taking a couple of his new recruits under his wing to encourage and guide them through their early testing career – not to the pub!

Every couple of weeks we catch up with members of the Collective over on our News & Views blog. Get to know the who, why and how of being a part of KJR.