They’ve built careers to make a connected, greener, and more empowered world, and the four recipients of CQUniversity’s 2023 Alumni Awards are proof that passion can change lives.
CQUniversity has announced four inspiring recipients of its 2023 Alumni Awards, and paid tribute to their impacts across technology, regional development, sustainable farming, and youth leadership.
The annual awards recognise high-achieving graduates across four categories, and this year’s diverse recipients are sharing their stories on CQUniversity's podcast How to Change a Life across March 2023.
Overcoming a range of professional and personal challenges, the four alumni have founded businesses and not-for-profits, championed social and environmental causes, and created change, all driven by their determination for building a better world.
Announced on Monday 6 March 2023, the recipients are:
Outstanding Alumnus of the Year: Bevan Slattery, Bachelor of Business (2014), Honorary Master of Business Administration (2007)
Australian entrepreneur and CEO of SODA tech and environment launchpad, founding businesses to grow digital infrastructure capabilities and resilience and a foundation to protect natural ecosystems, and supporting new generations of deep science and tech entrepreneurs.
Alumnus of the Year for Industry Excellence: Patrice Brown, Bachelor of Science (Applied Chemistry) (1992)
Founder and CEO of CQG Consulting and co-founder of Tunaba Indigenous business, advocate for sustainable industry, environment and community in Central Queensland and statewide, and award-winning industry leader.
Alumnus of the Year for Social Impact: Param Singh, Master of Information Systems (2005)
Founder of award-winning education start-ups The Cantillon Institute and Canva-partnered Tech for Good in Australia, and co-founder of Indian social enterprise MoooFarm, providing tech solutions to grow profits and sustainability for millions of small-scale dairy farmers.
Alumnus of the Year for Early Career Achievement: Clarissa Sempel, Bachelor of Laws (2018)
Dedicated business and commercial lawyer and passionate advocate for young people as National President of global development non-profit Junior Chamber International, and previously as president of the CQU Law Society.
Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp paid tribute to the recipients, praising their commitment to CQUniversity’s values of leadership, inclusiveness, and can-do attitude.
“Across their inspiring careers these alumni have created innovative solutions to a huge raft of environmental, social and technological challenges in Australia, and globally,” Professor Klomp said.
“More than that, they’ve proven themselves true trailblazers, developing the skills and knowledge to empower the people around them, across their teams and communities.”
“These are qualities we’re proud to foster at CQUniversity, through our commitment to life-changing education, and I congratulate the Alumni Award recipients for all they’ve achieved.
“Along with the CQUniversity community, I look forward to following their exciting futures.”
As a tech industry leader, Bevan Slattery said he learned his business basics at CQUniversity – with a few detours.
“Growing up in the 80s in Rockhampton, the job that I thought, wow, that would be an amazing job, was being an accountant at the mines!” he said.
He began his Bachelor of Business, before sidestepping into a local government traineeship. The young entrepreneur also considered making a career of his club DJ hobby, before eventually finding his passion for technology.
“This is embarrassing, but the only subject of my degree I hadn’t done was tax law, and at that stage, I had completely lost motivation and went into IT,” he explained.
He continued to enrol in the subject for subsequent years, before finally completing it and graduating in 2014 – with a lot more business experience to his name.
“By that stage, I’d rolled out multiple businesses and had a fair bit of success!” he said.
“Now I’m dealing with investors, auditors, bankers, capital raises probably close to half a billion dollars, and the financial knowledge that I have was exactly what I learned at CQU.”
Patrice Brown also used her CQU degree to launch big things, completing her Bachelor of Science (Applied Chemistry) while working in Mackay’s sugar industry, then taking a Master of Civil Engineering into environmental management roles.
She founded CQG Consulting in 2003, after seeing growing demand for consultants across CQ industry – and realising most were being flown in from cities.
“It was really about wanting to do something where I could employ people I wanted to, and also help shape opportunities for people in regional areas, and stop the need for companies to fly consultants into Central Queensland and North Queensland and the like,” she explained.
Growing the award-winning operations to five offices across Queensland, and nearly 40 staff, Ms Brown has also been able to help create new jobs and training for Traditional Owners, as a founder of local Indigenous business Tunaba, a joint-venture between the Darumbal People and CQG.
Clarissa Sempel and Param Singh also took inspiration from their CQUniversity studies to grow impact-led careers.
After graduating with her Bachelor of Laws, Ms Sempel was one of ten national finalists in the legal category of the 30 Under 30 national award, and was recently named the National President of JCI.
And after graduating with his Master of Information Systems in 2005, Param Singh has established a series of education and social impact startups, most recently India’s award-winning MoooFarm dairy industry tech innovation, and the Tech for Good not-for-profit in Australia, supporting thousands of female students to grow their digital skills.
To learn more about the recipients and their impact, listen to How to Change a Life on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or at howtochangealife.podbean.com, and make sure you hit "follow" to get weekly episode alerts.