Our People

Leadership team

Philipp Ivanov headshot

Philipp Ivanov, Chief Executive Officer

Philipp commenced as CEO in January 2015 and is leading Asia Society Australia through a period of growth and transformation. Philipp is a China specialist with extensive experience in policy, education and research and commitment to building an Asia-connected Australia. 

Previously, he was a policy officer and manager of the Australia-China Council at the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In this role, Philipp led the strategic renewal of the Council and had broader responsibilities for the Australia-China bilateral relationship. Philipp was one of the principal authors of the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper - China Country Strategy.  Previously, Philipp was Acting Director and Deputy Director of the Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific at the University of Sydney, advised the University of Sydney on China strategy and managed La Trobe University's partnerships in the Gulf States, Vietnam and Thailand.

Philipp spent over 6 years in China working in education and development. He is the recipient of the ‘Rose Award’ by Shenyang Municipal Government for his contribution to Shenyang City. In 2009 he was also awarded the Australian Government’s Endeavour Executive Fellowship to research China's policies on leadership development at the China National Academy of Education Administration in Beijing. He is a board member of the Australia-Vietnam Young Leadership DialogueAsia ReconHaymarket HQ and Sydney City Council's Chinese New Year Advisory Panel. In 2015, he was invited as the only Australian to the 2015 Congress of Vienna - a preeminent global track-two dialogue on major-powers conflict, migration, equality and innovation.  He is a founder of Disruptive Asia - a thought-leadership project examining the impact of Asia's rise on Australia. Philipp has a Bachelor (Honours) degree in Chinese language and history from the Far Eastern National University in Russia. He also studied in Jilin and Liaoning Normal universities in China. He holds a Master of Educational Leadership and Management from RMIT University in Australia. He grew up in Vladivostok on Russia's Pacific coast and is a fluent Chinese and Russian speaker.

Connect with Philipp on Linkedin.

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Thomas Soem

Thomas Soem, Executive Director

Thomas Soem commenced the role of Executive Director (Sydney) at Asia Society Australia in April 2019. He is an international partnerships and business development specialist with over a decade of experience building successful collaborations between Australia and Asia.

Thomas has a background in strategic planning, business development, project design and management, and implementation of cross-sector initiatives and programs with national and global partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

Prior to the Asia Society, he was the Head of International Research and Development at the University of Sydney. In this role, he drove international research and capacity-building projects between the University and its partners in Asia, built relationships with external funders, and gave strategic advice on international growth and collaboration opportunities. He identified, designed, bid for and often managed more than 100 projects for the University across the Asia-Pacific region funded by national and international agencies, including the Australian Government, the United Nations System, the European Commission, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. He led University’s submissions to several government consultations and parliamentary senate inquiries including the Asian Century White Paper, and had representative roles with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and the Australia-Indonesia Centre.

Thomas is a graduate from the University of Oslo, Norway and the University of Sydney where he studied political science, international diplomacy, regional integration and languages.

Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Elena Williams

Elena Williams, Associate Director, Development

Elena Williams commenced the role of Associate Director, Development (Melbourne) at Asia Society Australia in May 2018 following a decade working in Indonesia in leadership roles across higher education, gender and development sectors.

Between 2013 and 2017 Elena served as the Resident Director for The Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS), a non-profit organisation facilitating study programs for secondary and tertiary students in Indonesia. Based between Yogyakarta and Jakarta, Elena led a team of up to 40 Indonesian staff, managed 17 semester-long and short-course study options for over 250 students annually, and oversaw the significant expansion of ACICIS’ in-country operations through the roll-out of the Federal Government’s ‘New Colombo Plan’ scholarship initiative. During this time, Elena tripled ACICIS’ academic and internship offerings, establishing ACICIS today as the leading provider of student mobility programs in Indonesia for Australian students.

Prior to this, Elena worked with UN Women’s Jakarta office to implement a whole-of-country Monitoring & Evaluation strategy, and held roles with Oxfam Australia and Reconciliation Australia. Since returning to Australia, Elena has worked as a consultant in roles with AFS Intercultural Programs Australia, The University of Melbourne, and the Victorian Government Department of Education and Training, contributing to the design of its inaugural ‘Victorian Young Leaders to Indonesia’ program in 2018 - 2019.

Elena holds a Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (Gender Studies) from The Australian National University, an Honours degree in Indonesian & Malay Studies from The University of Sydney, and a BA Communications and International Studies (Indonesian) from The University of Technology Sydney.

Fluent in Indonesian, Elena volunteers as a ‘Go Global’ Literacy Ambassador with the Asia Education Foundation, as a mentor with the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association, and is a past participant of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP, 2007 -2008). Elena serves as a board director with The Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth (CAUSINDY), and in 2018 was appointed as a board member of the DFAT’s Australia-Indonesia Institute.

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Melissa Kemper, Associate Director, Operations

Melissa Kemper commenced the role of Associate Director, Operations (Sydney) at Asia Society Australia in June 2016. Melissa has over 20 years’ experience in the financial and operational management of service-based organisations, across a range of industries including financial services, technology consulting firms and registered training organisations.

Melissa loves working with people to deliver high-end, quality services. She has demonstrated success in defining, documenting and implementing operational workflow to stimulate and support organisational growth. She has vast experience implementing effective financial management strategies to improve transaction processing, strengthen cash flow, reduce debtors, and ensure accurate and timely payroll and financial reporting. She has proven experience in building, managing and leading multi-discipline teams to achieve revenue targets.

Melissa has provided strategic and planning advice with respect to financial and operational objectives to improve business performance and direction as an equity partner and part of management teams.

Melissa graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Economics, majoring in Accountancy. She has also completed a Graduate Diploma of Financial Planning through the Securities Institute of Australia, and the E-Myth Mastery Course on successful small business management.

Connect with Melissa on LinkedIn.

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Jette Radley, Associate Director, Programs

Jette Radley commenced the role of Associate Director, Programs (Sydney) at Asia Society Australia in 2016. She was previously the Executive Officer at the Australia China Business Council (ACBC). At ACBC she worked directly with the National CEO and NSW Branch CEO to implement the goals and objectives of the Council.

Jette has a strong interest in social justice and the not-for-profit sector, and volunteered as a research assistant at Burma Campaign Australia where she assisted in the development of a human rights advocacy and awareness campaign to coincide with Burma's 2014 ASEAN chairmanship. Having grown up in regional Australia, Jette was able to combine her interests in regional issues, food security and Australia’s role in feeding Asia by completing an internship at the New South Wales Farmers Association. Here, Jette contributed to the development of an Industry Action Plan, to help future-proof NSW Agriculture.

Jette was a founding member of the Australia China Youth Association (ACYA), University of Technology Sydney Chapter and a past panelist at the annual Australia-China Emerging Leaders’ Summit. After being awarded an Australian Government Discover China Scholarship, Jette studied Chinese language and culture at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.

Jette graduated from the University of Technology, Sydney in 2013 with a double degree in Communications (Social Inquiry) and International Studies (Chinese language and Culture).  Her studies focused on policy and advocacy, media, and the politics of climate change and food security.

Connect with Jette on Linkedin and Twitter.

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Eloise Dolan

Eloise Dolan, Program Officer

Eloise Dolan commenced the role of Program Officer (Melbourne) at Asia Society Australia in May 2019. She previously worked as the Project Coordinator for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program, a bilateral initiative strengthening Australia-Indonesia relations through cultural and youth exchange.

Eloise was responsible for on-ground operations and events in Australia, and worked directly with a variety of corporate, government, and community stakeholders. Eloise is passionate about intercultural learning and youth engagement having served as both a board director and volunteer for AFS Intercultural Programs Australia - a volunteer-run, non-profit, international education organisation. Eloise regularly conducts workshops on cross-cultural communication and global competence for non-profit and corporate audiences.

Eloise graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2017 with a Master of International Relations, focussing on China and Southeast Asia. During this time, she also worked at the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet’s International Engagement branch and undertook an internship with Melbourne’s Consular Corps. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Western Australia, majoring in Asian Studies and French language, and has undertaken short-term study abroad experiences at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and CREIPAC in Nouméa, New Caledonia.

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Greg Earl, Editor, Briefing MONTHLY

Greg Earl is the editor of Briefing MONTHLY - a public update with news and original analysis on Asia and Australia-Asia relations, and the essay series Disruptive Asia. Greg was the deputy editor, opinion editor, national affairs editor and Asia Pacific editor of The Australian Financial Review.

He spent more than a decade as a reporter based in Tokyo, Jakarta, and New York. He is now an independent writer, editor and consultant; is researching a book about Australia and Asia; and writes a column on economic diplomacy for The Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter. He is a member of the Australia-ASEAN Council board (AAC); and a former member of the Australian National University Indonesia Project advisory board; the Australia Japan Foundation board; and the steering committee for the Australia-Indonesia Dialogue.

His connection with the region began as a high school Indonesian language student and then as an exchange student in the Philippines. This year he has been a member of an international observer group during the Indian election; attended the Australia-Vietnam Young Leadership Dialogue in Ho Chi Minh City; and served on the selection panel for an AAC Muslim Exchange Program in South East Asia.

Connect with Greg on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Julia Bergin headshot

Julia Bergin, Communications and Content Officer

Julia Bergin commenced the role of Communications and Content Officer (Sydney) at Asia Society Australia in May 2018. Together with Greg Earl, she started Asia Society Australia's podcast channel, Asia Briefing UNWIRED.

Julia graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Politics/International Relations and Criminology. Her studies focused on Australia's foreign policy and relationship with Asia through both in-country and secondary research projects. 

In addition to Asia Society Australia, Julia works as researcher for the award-winning podcast on China, The Little Red Podcast. She also has her own business Disjunctures, under which she practices as a professional artist and photographer. 

In 2017, Julia completed internships with both China Matters and the Australian Institute of International Affairs National Office in Canberra, and work experience with The Australian at the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Julia has published articles with The Guardian Long ReadsAustralian Outlook and The Australian.

Connect with Julia on LinkedinTwitter and Instagram.

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