Executives & Principals
M.Ed, B.Sc, AFAIM, MACE, GAICD, 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.
Bobbette van Zyl
B.Com (Hons), CA(SA) CA ANZ
Bobbette van Zyl is the Head of Central Services for the AITC. Bobbette is a Chartered Accountant with more than ten years' Senior Management experience and a proven ability to improve processes and support business transformation. Prior to joining the AITC, Bobbette spent 13 years in the insurance industry and has extensive experience in successfully leading a range of operational departments, affording her the ability to develop and implement effective business plans and strategies across an organisation whilst ensuring a high level of integrity and bringing process improvement to various business activities.
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 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.
Nicole de Vries
B.Bus (Marketing & Public Relations), B.CI (Media & Communications), M.Edplus
Nicole de Vries is the Head of Brand and Customer Experience for the AITC and believes education is ultimately defined by people and relationships. As an advancement professional, Nicole strikes a balance between creative content and results-driven campaigns, with an ability to reflect an organisation’s traditions, brand and strategic intent. Prior to joining the AITC, Nicole’s extensive experience in the sector, at Independent Schools Queensland and three independent P-12 schools, reflects a deep understanding of marketing campaign and content development, digital and social media, crisis communications, event planning and stakeholder engagement. Nicole has been recognised internationally for an award-winning campaign, as a conference speaker and an awards judge, and most recently co-authored a research article.
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.
Bachelor of Teaching, Grad Dip Arts (L’Ship) M.Ed (L’Ship) M.R.Ed.
Paul Ryan is the Acting Principal of the AITC Toowoomba Campus. Paul has been in education for twenty-five years, eighteen of those in educational leadership. Paul has been the Principal of three independent schools and has also held the positions of Head of Campus and Middle Leader at independent colleges. Paul took up the Acting Principal role at Toowoomba Campus as of March 30, 2020, having previously worked in the role of Assistant Principal at the AITC's Toowoomba Campus. Paul brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role of principal and is looking forward to the challenges of preparing young people for industry.