National Careers Institute Advisory Board

The NCI Advisory Board guides and supports the NCI’s strategic direction through the provision of independent, expert advice to the NCI in delivering its purpose and objectives.

The NCI Advisory Board members were invited to participate based on their expertise and capability to provide independent, expert advice in the following areas

  • career navigation and support
  • education, skills and training
  • employment and industry
  • market insights, research and innovation
  • target cohort communications, advocacy and analysis
  • data and digital delivery.

The functions and responsibilities of the NCI Advisory Board are described in the NCI Charter and the Advisory Board Terms of Reference.

NCI Advisory Board Members

Marie Persson, Chair

Marie is a member of the NSW Skills Board and chairs its Industry Reference Group. She has broad experience in government policy, education and training reform, organisational development and leadership and management. Marie has advised Australian State and Federal governments on national and international issues as well as the governments of China, India, Canada, South America and Germany.

Marie has held senior executive positions in the Australian public sector at state and national levels. From 2005 to 2010 Marie was the head of NSW TAFE and Community Education, the largest education and training provider in Australia, with around 400,000 enrolments and over 8,000 staff. From 2008 to 2014 Marie was a member of the Australian Government's Board of Skills Australia and the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, which provided advice to the Australian Government on current, emerging and future skills and workforce development needs.

Sarah Agboola

Sarah is the founder and CEO of mtime, a business dedicated to providing a support network for busy parents by matching them with family assistants. As a for purpose business, mtime not only helps busy parents manage their home lives, but also helps women new or returning to the workforce gain meaningful casual employment through their assistant roles. In addition to mtime, Sarah is a member of Australia Post's Stakeholder Council.

Previously, Sarah was the 2017 Australian Sherpa for the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance, a non-executive director of the Foundation for Young Australians, led two youth engagement initiatives which reached more than 2000 young people on a daily basis, and was an honoree of SmartCompany's Smart 30 under 30.

David Carney

David is the Executive Director of the Career Industry Council of Australia (CICA). He has over 20 years’ experience working in the career development industry and is recognised nationally and internationally for the knowledge and expertise he brings to the field.

David is a passionate advocate and contributor to improving quality and access to career development services in Australia including development of professional standards, quality frameworks, online services, practitioner registration, workforce career development and a range of national career development initiatives. He continues to be a member and active contributor to a broad range of government and corporate consultative and advisory bodies in the area of career development, employment and workforce development.

Fiona McDonald

Fiona is the Director of Tradeswomen Australia. Fiona began her career as a light vehicle apprentice. During her apprenticeship she noticed a lack of support, promotion and opportunities for women in trade industries. This inspired Fiona to start a networking group for women in trades.

Building relationships and establishing partnerships with business and industry, Fiona developed and implemented strategies to increase the participation of women in trades. With rounded experience, Fiona understands the opportunities of gender equity in male-dominated industries. Fiona values workplace diversity and works with businesses to help them achieve benefits such as higher employee engagement, improved performance, greater innovation, retention of talent, and improved employee wellbeing. She also works with businesses to remove unlawful behaviours such as harassment and discrimination.

Zoe McKenzie

Zoe is a principal of Trade and Investment Advisory, a firm which advises Australian and international entities on their market expansion into Australia or into one of Australia’s current or future Free Trade Agreement partners.

Prior to this role, Zoe was Chief of Staff to the Hon Andrew Robb AO, former Trade and Investment Minister, where she worked on the China, Japan, South Korea and Singaporean trade deals, as well as the Trans Pacific Partnership and lead-in work on future FTAs with Europe and Indonesia. She has also held policy development roles in education, the arts and the law.

Before working in Government, Zoe practiced as a commercial lawyer in one of Australia’s largest law firms and was a strategic adviser to the CEO of a major professional services firm. Zoe is a board member of the Australia Council for the Arts, the University of Melbourne Humanities Foundation and NBN.

Saxon Phipps

Saxon is the founder and Managing Director of Year13, Australia’s largest EduTech platform for high school leavers. Saxon is a passionate leader with determination, work ethic, and an unwaveringly committed to empowering the audience of Year13. Saxon is a creative thinker and has a natural ability to assess audience desires through the use of data and insights. Saxon and the team at Year13 have been able to apply this process to develop several youth engagement strategies for the likes of the Department of Employment, The Department of Education and Training, The New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and South Australian Governments.

Saxon speaks at events about youth issues such The Australian Financial Review Higher Education Summit, Australian Davos Connection - Future of Education Summits and is a regular speaker on The Today Show, 2GB and other forms of media.

Adam Boyton, ex-officio member

Adam is the inaugural National Skills Commissioner. Adam has played a crucial role in establishing the Commission and is now leading work to consolidate and strengthen labour market and skills forecasting analysis, and developing options for more nationally consistent approaches to prices for Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications.

With almost 25 years as an economist across government and the private sector, Adam was the Chief Economist at the Business Council of Australia and a managing director and the Australian Chief Economist at Deutsche Bank prior to this current appointment. He was a member of the NSW Skills Board from 2013 to 2019 and was closely involved in the development of pricing, funding and costing models as well as the continuous review and assessment of VET in NSW.

Tiffany Blight, ex-officio member

Tiffany is the Executive Director of the National Careers Institute and a First Assistant Secretary within the Department of Education Skills and Employment. Prior to this role, she has held various senior leadership positions across the APS including leading the corporate strategy and governance functions for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment; delivering the Australian Border Force’s new, national Career Management program to build capability and address integrity risks at the border. She has also held several appointments with the Department of Defence, including driving an extensive cultural, policy and business process reform in the Defence Honours and Awards program.

Tiffany is an Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) Certified HR Practitioner, and a member of the AHRI ACT State Council. She holds an honours degree in Education (QUT) and a Masters in Business (UNSW).