Investment specialists, USA

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Nick Nichles - General Manager, The Americas (acting)

Tel: +1 415 644 3625

Nick joined Austrade in 2012 as General Manager – Marketing, Online and Business Practice. Prior to joining Austrade, he was the CEO of NSW Lotteries Corporation and led the state-owned corporation through privatisation and its eventual sale to Tatts Group. Nick has also held C-level commercial and marketing roles at McDonalds Australia and Foxtel.

Nick is a committee member of The Buttery Foundation, which raises funds for the renowned The Buttery, a not-for-profit rehabilitation clinic.

Nick holds a Bachelor of Business from QUT, a Graduate Diploma of Marketing from UTS, is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and lectured at UTS’ Graduate School of Business in its MBA program.

Chris Knepler - Investment Commissioner, Chicago

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.

Benson Saulo – Consul General and Senior Trade & Investment Commissioner, Houston

Tel: +1 832 962 8432

benson.saulo@austrade.gov.au

Benson Saulo is a descendant of the Wemba Wemba and Gunditjmara Indigenous nations of Western Victoria, and New Ireland Province in Papua New Guinea. Mr Saulo is the first Indigenous person to be appointed an Australian Consul-General.

Mr Saulo has a background in banking, investments and social impact. As Consul-General and Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Mr Saulo is the Americas industry lead for Health, and leads the health team across the US, Mexico and Canada.

Prior to his appointment, Mr Saulo was the Head of Partnerships - Investments at Australian Unity a Wealth and Capital Markets business. Mr Saulo’s focus was exploring private investing into Indigenous businesses to scale their impact through employment, financial empowerment and governance.

In 2011, Benson was appointed the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations in which he undertook a national engagement tour to gain a deeper understanding of issues impacting Australian youth. Benson then represented Australian youth at the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly as an accredited member of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Steve Rank - Trade and Investment Commissioner, New York

Tel: +1 646 344 8123

Steve Rank is currently Austrade’s Trade and Investment Commissioner based in New York in the United States of America.

Since joining Austrade in 2009, Steve has held a number of roles as a Trade and Investment Commissioner in Germany, Russia and Central Europe and as Trade Commissioner and Consul General in Istanbul, Turkey. Additionally, in Australia he has been Austrade’s State Director for Western Australia and managed trade advisory teams. Prior to joining Austrade, Steve held senior management roles in the economic development agencies for the New South Wales and Tasmanian state governments and has extensive experience in the corporate and commercial banking sector.

He has post graduate qualifications from the University of New South Wales and the University of Technology Sydney, and is a graduate of the University of Sydney.

Odette Hampton - Deputy Consul General and Trade and Investment Commissioner, San Francisco

Tel: +1 415 644 3627

Odette Hampton is the Australian Trade and Investment Commission’s (Austrade) Trade and Investment Commissioner, San Francisco. Odette supports Austrade's work in the West Coast of the United States and co-leads the teams responsible for investment attraction and trade support in digital technologies across the Americas.

Prior to Austrade, Odette was the Head of Financial Services (ANZ) for the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) in Sydney, focused on attracting British investment into Australia and New Zealand across financial and professional services. Odette developed DIT’s fintech campaign in Australia and led the creation and implementation of the Australia-UK Fintech Bridge. Odette has led numerous trade and investment missions, advised hundreds of companies on their global expansion and has expertise in fintech. Following the Brexit referendum Odette advised British companies on their Australian opportunities, supported Ministerial visits, contributed to trade policy and the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement working group discussions. Odette practiced as a lawyer at Gilbert + Tobin Perth, in the corporate advisory team, preparing advice and conducting due diligence, primarily for tech and mining companies undertaking capital raising’s and IPO’s.

Odette holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame Australia and studied abroad at The Catholic University of America in Washington DC. Odette has a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the College of Law and was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

Joanne Smail - Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Washington DC

From March 2018 Joanne Smail will serve as Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) in Washington DC. This follows 3 months as Chief Strategy Officer accountable for embedding Austrade’s 2018-2022 strategy throughout the organisation to enable client-centricity and digital transformation.

Joanne joined the Australian Government following a career in the private sector as a strategy and business advisor with Scentre Group (owners and operators of Westfield in Australia and New Zealand) and EY. Joanne has worked with companies in the UK, Asia Pacific and Australia, partnering with them to achieve performance improvement outcomes.

Joanne has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, a Masters of Business Administration specialising in international business. She has served as a Non-Executive Director for Marist 180 and The Yoga Foundation, not-for-profit organisations both focussed on empowering and enabling vulnerable sectors of our community to create positive change. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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