Future Leader

Meet our future leaders

AIRAH recently announced the finalists for its annual industry awards, and one category that always attracts great interest is the Future Leader.

Sponsored by A.G. Coombs, the Future Leader award recognises emerging leaders in any facet of the HVAC&R industry, and may include engineers, designers and drafters, project managers and supervisors, tradespeople, commissioning and maintenance technicians, technical sales people and other industry participants. 

Past winners include Massimo Fiorentini, Affil.AIRAH (pictured), Peta Blight, M.AIRAH, and Carlos Flores, M.AIRAH.

There are five nominees this year:

The winner will be announced at the AIRAH Awards gala dinner in Sydney on November 14.

Abraham Corona, M.AIRAH

Corona has emerged as a champion for improving national standards for operating theatre HVAC practices. 

Within Australia there are about 168,000 annual cases where a surgical procedure has led to post-discharge surgical site infections. On top of this, about 1,600 people die annually in Australia from infection where existing antibiotic treatments are no longer effective.

Corona hopes that by working together, the industry can reduce surgical site infections and raise awareness about antibiotic resistance issues.

He established AIRAH’s Special Technical Group on Infection Control and Operating Theatre Practices. This combines a multidisciplinary group of members across Australia including HVAC&R professionals as well as healthcare organisations, universities and state health departments.

Melanie Finch, Affil.AIRAH

“Since joining the building services industry in 2016, Melanie has shown consistent success and commitment in developing as a leader and advocate both within her role and within the building services industry as a whole,” says Richard Pickering, director at NDY, where Finch works.

“Melanie has moved swiftly into delivery of multidisciplinary projects, leading teams of core disciplines and speciality services to provide positive outcomes for projects such as building repositionings, ground plane developments, advisory services and fitouts. 

“Melanie is also highly active in the wider industry. In her role as Chair of the CIBSE NSW Young Engineers Network, she is leading the volunteer committee to deliver on a vision of providing young professionals with opportunities for continued learning and building relationships with peers. She is also involved with Women in Engineering mentorship at UNSW.”

James Spears, M.AIRAH

“James has sought to embody the engineering triumvirate of technical proficiency, ‘soft’ engineering skills and commercial acumen,” says Colliers International FM John Mudie, Affil.AIRAH. “Even with only seven years’ industry experience, he has already proven to lead in all three areas.”

Spears recently became one of the founding members of DeltaQ, an energy management consultancy. He helped establish a Canberra office and secured work with the ACT Carbon Neutral Government Team.  

Spears also worked on the 2019 update to the National Construction Code, specifically the provisions for pumps, fans, pipe and ductwork.

“All these things considered, James is already a respected member in the industry,” says Mudie. “He is showing potential to be a key voice in the future direction of the building services space.”

Chris Stamatis, Affil.AIRAH

Despite his youth, Stamatis has already worked in several leadership roles across different facets of the HVAC&R industry. By the age of 22 he was the service manager for a local controls company. He then moved onto starting the energy management division for a national controls company before founding CopperTree Analytics Australia in 2015. In 2018, CopperTree Analytics was a finalist in the Telstra Business Award.

“Chris has shown outstanding commitment to the HVAC industry and continually pushes to improve it,” says UNSW researcher Jessica Russ-Smith. “He has worked across multiple disciplines including mech design, building controls and service, and now analytics, which has helped him understand the inner workings of HVAC systems.

“Chris is extremely passionate about what he does and has always shown exceptional leadership qualities.”

Stamatis is a member of AIRAH’s Big Data and DA19 review Special Technical Groups. He has also presented and spoken at ARBS and at AIRAH events including the Future of HVAC and the Big Data and Analytics Forum.

Jack Wardale, M.AIRAH

“Jack is a passionate and diligent professional, who significantly contributes to the promotion of the HVAC&R industry,” says Martin Howland, director of Blueken Project Management.

“He is an advocate for sustainability, passive building design, the education and progression of young engineers, and the importance of producing designs to high a standard of technical correctness and buildability. The industry needs future leaders who are mindful of the wider environmental impacts of the built environment to drive positive change through the sector, and I believe Jack has the ambition and tools to be able to do this.”

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