Alumni Awards

Alumni Awards

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year
Faculty of Law Outstanding Alumni Award

Darryl McDonough

Bachelor of Business (Accountancy) 1977
Bachelor of Laws (Hons) 1983

Darryl McDonough is one of Queensland’s most experienced company directors and respected legal practitioners.

He has practised in corporate law, with an emphasis on national and international mergers and acquisitions, takeovers and capital raisings, corporate governance and competition law. He has been judged by his peers to be among the nation’s top legal minds in corporate law and governance in the annual Best Lawyers Australia list.

He is a consultant with legal firm Clayton Utz, which he joined as partner in 1993, and served as board chairman from 2006 to 2008 and chief executive from 2010 to 2014.

Dr McDonough said accepting the awards had given him the opportunity to reflect on his career and his circuitous route to the law.

At school he thought his vocation lay in the church and the order of Christian Brothers, but instead after Year 12 he went to work for the Commonwealth Bank and enrolled in QUT’s Bachelor of Business (Accountancy).

He was not, he confesses, the most diligent of students early on, dropping in and out.

Joining the then Corporate Affairs Office in Brisbane ignited his interest in law and after completing his Bachelor of Business he was part of the first cohort of QUT law students.

It all “clicked” he said, and he went on to obtain a Doctor of Legal Science from Bond University.

Having dual discipline degrees has stood him in good stead, and it is something he believes would serve young people today considering a law career.

“I think there is a greater need for more strings to your bow, to combine a law degree with commerce or economics or something in the sciences,” he said.

While Dr McDonough has gained immense career satisfaction from high-profile commercial cases such as the takeover by Japan Post of Toll Holdings, and market-leading transactions including the floats of Uni TAB (now Tattersall’s) and Billabong, it is his pro bono work over the past three decades that has been most rewarding.

“Being able to use the knowledge that you have gained to assist people who, for one reason or another, have got themselves in a situation I have found has given me my greatest satisfaction,” he said.

Christine CorbettQUT Business School
Outstanding Alumni Award

Christine Corbett

Bachelor of Business (Communication) 1989
Bachelor of Laws 1999

Christine Corbett has risen through the ranks of Australia Post to chief customer officer, and along the way helped transform the product and service offerings of the 207-year-old iconic brand to ensure its financial sustainability. She has provided exceptional management across multiple areas of the business. Her commitment to advocating for social inclusion has been a driving force in her career and is something that has strongly influenced her leadership journey.

Leeanne EnochFaculty of Education
Outstanding Alumni Award

Leeanne Enoch MP

Diploma of Education Secondary (Drama) 1990

Leeanne Enoch has a long list of firsts: first Aboriginal woman to win a seat in Queensland State Parliament, first Aboriginal woman to be appointed a state minister and first member of her family to graduate from university. Before entering politics, Ms Enoch was a high school teacher, where she developed her passion for community and social justice. Today she is the State Member for Algester and Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, and Minister for Small Business.

Joel PobarInnovation and Entrepreneurship Award

Joel Pobar

Bachelor of Information Technology 2002

Joel Pobar speaks a language many people will never understand but it is one that has helped land him jobs at Microsoft and Facebook. He speaks code. Mr Pobar has enjoyed an international career, first working with Microsoft in Seattle before being headhunted by Facebook in 2011 to develop a brand new programming language and runtime system. As engineering director at Facebook, Mr Pobar has helped transform the company and facilitate its global dominance.

Kate GiffordYoung Alumnus of the Year

Kate Gifford

Bachelor of Applied Science (Optometry) 2004
Graduate Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics 2006

Optometrist Kate Gifford is a pioneer in her profession. Not only is she the youngest, and only the second woman, to become national president of the profession’s peak body, Optometry Australia, she is an internationally recognised leader in clinical management of myopia (short-sightedness) in children and young adults. Mrs Gifford operates independent practice Gerry & Johnson Optometrists in Brisbane, and is currently completing her PhD at QUT on the optics of contact lenses and eye coordination in children and young adults with myopia. With her optometrist husband, Dr Paul Gifford, she has established for practitioners treating young myopic patients, sharing a clinical framework tool she developed, and to help communicate the myopia message to the public.

Wayne DenningQUT Special Excellence Award

Wayne Denning

Master of Business Administration 2006

Wayne Denning is the founder of Carbon Creative, a creative agency designed to give a positive voice to Indigenous Australians. Mr Denning established Carbon Creative over four years in QUT’s Creative Enterprise Australia incubator. Today the company has grown into a staff of 30, producing documentaries, Indigenous-themed commercial work, and children’s shows for the National Indigenous Television Channel, ABC, SBS, corporations and governments. Carbon Creative was the first Australian company to work with Sesame Street, and the segment has had 780 million views, in 140 countries.

Peter GresteCreative Industries Faculty
Outstanding Alumni Award

Peter Greste

Bachelor of Business (Communication) 1987

Award-winning journalist Peter Greste had spent more than two decades as a foreign correspondent before he was tried, convicted and sentenced by Egyptian authorities in a court case that was widely condemned as a travesty of justice. Mr Greste is now a devoted campaigner for freedom of speech and an advocate for journalists imprisoned around the world. Starting his career in regional television, Mr Greste followed his dream of becoming a foreign correspondent working for BBC World, CNN, ABC, The Australian newspaper and Al Jazeera TV.

Michael DempseyScience and Engineering Faculty
Outstanding Alumni Award

Michael Dempsey

Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) 1987

Ezidebit co-founder Michael Dempsey started his career as a quarry engineer but soon realised he had an interest and aptitude for developing computer systems. With a career spanning real estate, childcare and engineering, Mr Dempsey has used his computer skills to become one of Queensland’s leading entrepreneurs. He co-founded Ezidebit as an innovative way to reduce the financial cost of fees in arrears in his childcare business. In 2014 he sold Ezidebit for $305 million.

Tina CocoFaculty of Health
Outstanding Alumni Award

Tina Coco AO

Diploma of Applied Sciences (Nursing Management) 1991
Graduate Certificate (Health Management) 2008

For 26 years Tina Coco AO has devoted her life to advocating organ and tissue donation and transplant services in Queensland. Her interest in this life-saving bequest began while she was working at the Princess Alexandra Hospital as a theatre nurse involved in kidney and liver transplant surgeries. Ms Coco’s oversight of the state-wide organ and tissue donation agency, DonateLife Queensland, has helped the service grow into an extensive network of specialist health professionals who are trained to care for donor families.

Michael BrettYoung Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award

Michael Brett

Bachelor of Engineering (Aerospace Avionics) 2005
Executive Master of Business (Complex Project Management) 2013

At just 33 years of age, Michael Brett has made quantum leaps as an innovator and entrepreneur in the field of avionics and computing. He is an expert in complex systems with extensive experience in developing and accelerating adoption of early stage technologies and delivering projects in aerospace, defence, high-performance sports and data analytics. As co-founder and CEO of QxBranch, Mr Brett has created a leading US-Australian company with world-class expertise in systems engineering, advanced data analytics, machine learning, quantum computing and risk analysis across sectors.