Executives & Principals
M.Ed, B.Sc, AFAIM, MACE, GAICID, Cert III Carpentry
Mark Hands is presently the Chief Executive Officer for the Australian Industry Trade College Ltd (AITC). Mark has a broad history across the construction industry, youth work and education. He was the principal of an independent P – 12 school in Queensland for 16 years before taking up the present role as CEO of AITC in 2006.
Grad Dip (IT), CPA, B.Bus (Accounting), GAICD
Helen Coyer is the Chief Operating Officer for the AITC. Helen is focussed on scaling the AITC to a system with impact which includes growing to 17 campuses. Prior to joining the AITC, Helen built an extensive career as board director and senior executive in the banking and finance, education, not-for-profit and public sectors. Helen’s experience as Chief Operating Officer for QSuper, Deputy Executive Director with Independent Schools Queensland, and Assistant Commissioner Superannuation with the Australian Taxation Office proves her strength in strategic operations, development and execution. Helen also has a broad career as a non-executive director, having held roles on the QTMB and RACQ Bank boards, is a member of the Risk and Audit Committee of RSL Queensland, and Advisory Board Member of technology start-up, SurePact.
BBus(HRM), Dip Neuroscience of Leadership, Cert IV Workplace & Business Coaching, FCPHR
Caroline is the Head of People and is passionate about creating rewarding and challenging working environments that deliver great business outcomes. With an interest in neuroscience and coaching, she works with leaders and employees across the AITC to collaboratively support the achievement of our objectives. As a Certified Human Resources (HR) practitioner, Caroline has an extensive HR background and also represents the HR community as a non-executive director on the Board of the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI), where she is also the Queensland State President. Caroline’s areas of focus within AITC include the attraction, retention, development and support of our people, in addition to setting our people strategy and ensuring legislative compliance.
M. Ed, Grad Dip Ed (Applied Learning), Grad Cert Careers Ed, B. Bus Man, TAE40110.
Eliza is the Head of Education Services & Growth and strongly believes in developing and providing programs that enable pathways and opportunity through education. Prior to joining the AITC, Eliza was Associate Director College Programs - TAFE (Federation College) at Federation University Australia, and was responsible for providing effective management, strategic direction and educational leadership to the TAFE portfolio. Eliza’s portfolio included the set up and delivery of one of first Federal Government senior secondary P-TECH (Pathways to Technology) pilots in Australia, alongside IBM Australia. Eliza also possesses 10 years experience in mainstream secondary education and spent a number of years in the recruitment and training field.
Raj De Souza
B.Com, Dip. Hospitality Mgmt, Cert. Marketing Automation, Cert. Google Analytics / AdWords, Six Sigma Specialist
Raj de Souza is the Head of Customer Experience and is an authority on data-driven Marketing Strategies. He has enabled small to medium sized businesses across Australia acquire, retain and grow their global customer base through global e-commerce strategies enabling them to then compete online and win. Raj formally led demand generation tactics for a global big data company, and has also been a guest speaker at marketing conferences and e-commerce workshops.
B.FET, ADip. EngCiv, ADip. Lead&Mgnt, ADip. WHS, Dip. QualAudit, Dip. ProjMgn
David Thompson is the Principal of the AITC Toowoomba Campus. David is an education professional with over 20 years experience in the Vocational Education and Training sector and has held Director roles in both the Australian Agricultural College Corporation and TAFE Queensland. David’s career pathway stemmed from the acquisition of Trades in both the General and Civil Construction Industries with extensive teaching, industry stakeholder engagement, workforce development, change management and safety compliance experience. David believes that people are the wealth of organisations and that education is a pathway to success for all and that lifelong learning, either casual or structured, is a key to self and career development.
Leon van Niekerk
B.Com (Finance) B.Ed (Sen. & Further Ed)
Leon van Niekerk is the Principal of the AITC Sunshine Coast Campus. Leon has worked in the education sector for thirteen years in roles including Management, Head of Commercial Subjects, and College Business Manager. This experience allowed him to deeply understand and appreciate the education industry. Leon has also owned commercial businesses, giving him multifaceted expertise. He passionately advocates for educating the next generation, equipping them to excel in what their passion or skills lead them to. Leon believes every young person has an important role in society, and that it’s the Education community’s responsibility to provide them with opportunities to grow into the professionals they aspire to be.
BHM, Grad Dip Ed, TAE40116
Richard Petherbridge is the Principal of the AITC Gold Coast Campus. Richard is a foundational staff member of the AITC, as he started at the College as a teacher in 2008. Prior to coming on board at the AITC, Richard worked in the hospitality industry, where he held management positions in a range of establishments from small, family-owned cafes, to five-star hotel chains, boutique hotels, and family taverns. Richard’s focus on staff training and development then led him to roles as an industry trainer and assessor. Richard strongly believes in training, developing, and shaping the next generation of industry leaders to meet the ever-growing demands of the modern workplace.
B. Ed, M. Spec Ed, M. Ed (Leadership & Mgt)
Toni Banfield is the Principal of the AITC Redlands Campus. Toni has been involved with the AITC at both the Redlands and Sunshine Coast campuses, where she has worked in Assistant Principal and Acting Principal roles before accepting the permanent Principal role at Redlands. Toni has had 25 years of experience in secondary schools, including leadership positions. She is an advocate of Vocational Education and Training (VET) and career pathways, and is passionate about building community, and student wellbeing. Toni has a keen interest in building capacity in others, both staff and young people, and the importance in strong educational leadership.
Dip. Ed (Secondary), B.Ed, Grad Dip Health Promotion, M. Health Science, Cert IV Training and Assessment, Cert III Business Admin.
Tracey Millar is the Principal of the AITC Ipswich Campus. Tracey is a career educator, having taught and managed in all three sectors of education: School, Tertiary and Vocational Education and Training. Tracey owned and managed her own hospitality business for a number of years. Running her own business allowed Tracey to develop skills in business and financial management. Tracey then returned to education, where she has held Executive and Leadership roles in Registered Training Organisations since 2014. An adept communicator, Tracey demonstrates the capability to successfully foster and maintain stakeholder relationships. She encourages collaborative team participation and is extremely goal-orientated.