Investment specialists, USA


Nicola Watkinson - Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner USA/Canada

Nicola Watkinson

Tel: +1 646 344 8120

Prior to her arrival in the United States in August 2016, Nicola was responsible for developing Trade, Investment and Education links between Australia and South Asia with a team of over 50 staff in 16 offices across India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

After a career in the private sector in the UK and with the Victorian Government in Melbourne, Nicola joined Austrade in 2003. Nicola’s career in Austrade spans Consul General Frankfurt, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, West Europe, Global Head of Investment and Senior Investment Commissioner for Europe, Middle East and Africa. She has also worked in North Asian markets with a particular focus on Japan, China and Korea. Nicola has sat on the advisory board of groups such as CSIRO (Australia’s premier research organisation), Industry Capability Network, Australia China Business Council and Australian Business in Europe.

Gareth Simpson - Trade and Investment Commissioner, New York

Gareth Simpson

Tel: +1 646 344 8123

Gareth Simpson joined the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) in April 2016 as Trade and Investment Commissioner, New York.

Prior to joining Austrade, Gareth served as an Adviser to a Senior Minister in the Australian Federal Government, advising on policy, negotiations and legislation in investment, trade, tourism and international education. He has also worked for the Department of Finance and in the private sector, for one of Australia's largest banks.

Gareth holds Bachelors of Arts and Commerce from the University of Melbourne and a Masters in Public Policy (Economic) from the Crawford School at the Australian National University.

Chris Knepler - Investment Commissioner, Chicago

Chris Knepler

Tel: +1 312 374 9401

Chris manages Midwest operations for the Australian Trade and Investment Commission and works to deepen and broaden Australia-U.S. economic relationships in the region. Priority sectors include agribusiness and food processing, advanced manufacturing, medical devices and education.

Chris joined Austrade New York in 2003 and has since worked on a variety of strategic projects in the United States, Australia and Brazil. These include leading the Latin American technology team from Sao Paulo and the Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) export advisor team in Sydney.

Chris has a decade of marketing, strategy and international business development experience in the telecommunications industry, including with Motorola, Ameritech and Deutsche Telecom. He has also been on the management team of two New York City-based, venture-backed technology start-ups. Chris has lived and worked in Hungary, France, Indonesia, Australia and Brazil.

Chris holds a Master of Business Administration (Management of Technology) from the University of California at Berkeley.

Alastair Walton - Consul General a.i. and Senior Trade Commissioner, Houston

Alastair Walton

Tel: +1 832 962 8432

Alastair J.M. Walton is the Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner and Australian Consul-General, Houston.

Alastair is a career investment banker who was most recently Chairman of BKK Partners, an independent corporate advisory firm which provides financial, corporate and regulatory advice to companies, governments and institutions in the Asia Pacific region.

Alastair is a former Co-Chairman and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs Australia. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Alastair worked with Credit Suisse First Boston for 14 years in Tokyo, New York, Melbourne, Sydney, London, and lastly in Hong Kong as Head of Investment Banking for Non-Japan Asia.

From 2007 to 2015, Alastair served as President and Chairman of the Board of the European Australian Business Council, a peak business association of major companies working closely with Australian and European governments to promote two-way trade and investment and a free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union.

He is also a former Director of the Film Finance Corporation, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and Australian Business Community Network, served as a member of the Australian Financial Services Advisory Council (FSAC), reporting to the Federal Treasurer.

He is also a Trustee of the Houston Grand Opera and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Houston Ballet.

Alastair has a Master of Business Administration from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, where he was a Dean's Scholar, a Bachelor of Economics (with specialisation in Accounting) from the Australian National University and is a Chartered Accountant. Alastair was inducted into the ANU College of Business and Economics Alumni Hall of Fame in 2013. He was also a Commissioned Officer (Lieutenant) in the Royal Australian Army Reserve, graduating from the Officer Cadet Training Unit in Melbourne.

Patrick Hanlon - Trade and Investment Commissioner, Houston

Patrick Hanlon

Tel: +1 832 962 8431

Patrick is the Trade and Investment Commissioner and Consul responsible for Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Currently focussing on attracting overseas investment for the Australian resources and agriculture sectors and assisting Australian businesses enter global value chains, Patrick was previously the Trade Commissioner for Southern Africa, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Prior to joining Austrade Patrick was an adviser to the Australian Minister for Trade, where he worked with Australian businesses seeking to enter new markets.

He has also held positions with the Motor Trades Association of Australia where he represented and promoted the interests of the automotive retail, service and repair sector.

Patrick is a graduate of Bond University with a Bachelor of International Relations and has lived and worked in South Africa, China and Norway.

Chris Oldfield - Consul General and Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, San Francisco

Chris Oldfield

Tel: +1 415 644 3625

Christopher Oldfield is Consul-General & Senior Trade Commissioner at the Australian Consulate-General in San Francisco. In addition to the consular function, the office is responsible for supporting the growth of two way trade and investment between the US West Coast and Australia.

Prior to joining Austrade, Christopher was the Chief Executive Officer of State owned Tasmanian Irrigation Pty Ltd (TI) and was a Member of the Joint Commonwealth and Tasmanian Economic Council, the Tasmanian Food Industry Advisory Council, the Tasmanian Infrastructure Advisory Council and the Joint Commonwealth and Tasmanian Fruit and Vegetable Industry Taskforce.

Christopher previously held senior executive operational and public affairs roles with the Australian resources company, North Limited (formerly North Broken Hill Limited). From 2000 until 2010 Christopher successfully owned and managed the public affairs, political and media consultancy, Tasman Communications (Australia) Pty Ltd specialising in the resources, finance, agricultural and action sports sectors. It was during this time that Christopher acted as the Chief Executive Officer of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) for a two year period.

Christopher is a graduate in Arts from Swinburne University, and he has also successfully completed the International Executive Program at the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD) at Fontainebleau in France. Christopher is a member of the Australia Institute of Company Directors.

Christopher is married to Penny, has two adult daughters and enjoys snow skiing, yacht racing, cooking, Australian and American Western art and Kelpies!

Frances van Ruth - Trade and Investment Commissioner, San Francisco

Frances van Ruth

Tel: +1 415 644 3627

Frances van Ruth is the Consul and Trade & Investment Commissioner at the Australian Consulate-General in San Francisco. In addition to the consular function, the office is responsible for supporting the growth of two way trade and investment between the Western and Northwestern states of the USA and Australia.

Frances joined Austrade in 2013 and prior to her appointment in San Francisco worked as Manager of Agribusiness & Food Investment and Manager, State & Territory Investment Priorities. Before joining Austrade Frances was the Manager of International Strategy & Research for the State Government of Victoria’s Department of Business and Innovation. She has previously held international business research and teaching positions at The University of Melbourne and The University of South Australia.

Frances has a PhD in international management from The University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of International Business (Hons) from Flinders University. Frances is fluent in Spanish.

John Angley - Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Washington DC

John Angley

Tel: +1 202 454 9745

John Angley commenced his diplomatic Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner position in Washington DC in December 2015.

Prior to heading the Washington team, John was Austrade’s General Manager, International Education. He led Austrade in the international promotion of Australia’s education and training sectors.

John Angley’s career in government before joining Austrade in late 2009 includes: adviser to a deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance; Budget Group in the Department of Finance; the Parliamentary Research Service; and regional development and Northern Australia issues.

John has studied at Adelaide University (history), ANU (economics) and London School of Economics.

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