Our Team


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Pierre Malou

Chief Executive Officer

Pierre is a passionate entrepreneur with impressive track records in commercialisation, business advisory services and leadership.

Pierre has honed his marketing and sales skills in Europe and South-East Asia before moving to Australia in 2001. Since, he has led start-ups and businesses from inception to market leadership. In the bio-technology industry, Pierre was Regeneus’ first hire and led the company as Head of Commercialisation until its IPO (ASX:RGS).

Holding positions such as Chief Operating Officer for Advangen (ASX:CDY), General Manager for Umicore Australia, Pierre specialises in ground-breaking and disruptive technologies.

More recently, Pierre created the first business incubator in Maitland, whilst leading Smart Sports Solutions, a new venture, a technology company specialising in sports data management.

Pierre has been living in the Hunter Region for over 10 years, and is proud to support job and value creation in Newcastle and beyond.

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Steve Wait

Chief Operations Officer
Business Advisor

Steve has worked with clients to prepare angel investor pitches, preparing businesses for capitalisation through growth strategies and how to be investor ready. He’s also worked closely on joint initiatives with angel investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneur groups.

Steve holds National Skill Set qualifications in Innovation Practice and Innovation Management, and led the development and implementation of one of the first accredited innovation training programs available in Australia known as, The Rippler Effect.

Founding Director of Safetee Pro Pty Ltd and later ePar Safety as part of the ePar Group, he headed the development and implementation of innovative technology solutions in compliance management systems and online business management systems. He has in these roles and his current, and as a specialist business adviser, led the development and delivery of programs and services to assist start-ups, scale-ups and established businesses achieve market realisation and commercialisation.


Brooke Phillips

Business Advisor

Brooke holds qualifications and certificates in Small Business Management, Training and Assessing, Freelancing, Social Media Marketing, UX Design Fundamentals, Growth Hacking for Digital Marketing Masterclass and Social Media Marketing PPC. She was the winner of the Best Business Mentor in Regional Australia 2014 by Business Enterprise Australia and received the Small Biz Connect Awards 2015 for Outstanding Achievement. Brooke was invited by The University of Newcastle to become a DCIT Industry Board member in 2015 and is a registered JP.

Brooke cut her teeth early as a director of a successful commercial and industrial landscaping company for 8 years and has since contributed to many industries including trade, retail and hospitality. She has a love of local business and understands the demands placed on SMEs, having nearly 20 years experience specialising in growing small business.

Her down to earth nature allows her to gain a comprehensive understanding of clients’ businesses and provide practical steps to overcome challenges faced. Her focus on the foundations of ideation, connection, collaboration and innovation in business is always top of mind.


Paulina Mangano

Business Advisor
New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) Mentor

Qualifications which include a Certificate IV in Training & Assessing and a Certificate IV in Small Business Management enhance Paulina's own small business experience which started 20 years ago in a range of industries including hospitality, wholesale and retail.

Having worked in several different roles at The Business Centre since 2002, Paulina is passionate about assisting the local small business community and provides a unique and motivating approach to guidance and advice.

By understanding the demands placed on small business owners, Paulina uses her skills in marketing, branding, purchasing and planning to ensure that her clients achieve their dreams and unlock their full potential.

Michael Hilsden

Business Advisor

Mike is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society.

He is focussed on helping to build a sustainable and vibrant business economy in the Great Lakes Region. For a number of years Michael has been involved in running, coaching and mentoring Australian companies, both large and small for the purpose of building dominance in their field.

He has extensive experience in international sales and marketing, finance management along with strategic and tactical planning. His strengths are in business development, IT, competitive intelligence, powerful sales and marketing tactics. 

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Jelinda Millgate

Business Advisor

Jelinda has a background in print media and television advertising, in both sales and management roles. She has predominantly worked with small business throughout her career and has extensive experience in sales, marketing, sponsorship, public relations, engagement strategy, relationship management, networking, event management, project management, customer service, strategic planning and leadership. She has also experience successfully managing her own hotel business.

Jelinda holds a Bachelor of Arts (Media Communications) from Southern Cross University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), specialising in marketing from The University of Newcastle.

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Dr Brian Freeman

Business Advisor

Brian has bachelor and masters degrees and a Doctorate in Plant Physiology. He used these skill to build a horticultural export business that focussed on tissue culture plants, blueberry fruits and eventually fresh cut flowers to over 20 countries and many US States. Over a period of 23 years he built this complex business that required focussed strategic planning, complex logistics and sound business systems.

Brian has also served in industry associations and has chaired several peak bodies and local not-for-profits. His strengths include strategic planning, cashflow modelling and management, business planning and general business common sense. He is a compassionate supporter of start-up businesses and provides a steady hand mentoring persona.

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Debbie Carroll

Business Advisor

As an experienced business owner, Debbie has an excellent understanding of today’s small business challenges. She also holds a qualification in Small Business Management and has experience in retail sales, promotions, marketing and frontline management. Debbie is also skilled in the areas of mediation and negotiation.

In previous roles, Debbie has successfully delivered and managed numerous state and federal government-funded education and networking programs to support small business. She finds working with business intenders, start-ups and established businesses, a diverse, challenging and highly rewarding experience.

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Melissa Archer

Business Advisor

Melissa has been working with small business owners for more than 15 years, assisting them with their accounting and providing profitability analysis and education. Holding qualifications including Chartered Accountant and Bachelor of Commerce, coupled with many years of business experience, she is extremely well-equipped to assist with a wide range of business concerns.

With a passion for small business, Melissa has helped many business owners overcome the massive learning curves involved in running a successful business. She has extensive experience advising on the financial aspects of small business, in particular understanding break-even point, identifying the profit drivers of a business and managing cash flow.

Melissa established and operated her own accounting firm for 10 years, giving her a greater understanding of the pressures faced by small business owners in managing operations, finances, marketing, human resources and generally staying on top of your game.

Cheryl Clifton

Women in Business (WiB) Manager

As an experienced business owner, Cheryl has an excellent understanding of the challenges faced by today's small business owners. She has extensive experience in event management, project management, office management, customer service and administration.

Having worked in various roles at The Business Centre since 2011, Cheryl is responsible for delivery of the Women in Business (WiB) mentoring program and is passionate about assisting female small business owners/entrepreneurs achieve success in reaching their business goals.

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Gordon Whitehead

ASBAS Coordinator

Qualified with a Masters of Marketing (MMktg), Gordon is a Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute (FAMI) and is a Certified Practicing Marketer (CPM). His mentoring specialties include overall business analysis, strategic planning, marketing, social and digital marketing, customer engagement, branding, market intelligence, product development, and lean start-ups. He also understands markets through product design, production, distribution and related services within an economic and social context.

Gordon’s mission is to build an innovation ecosystem for entrepreneurs in Newcastle and foster new innovative start-ups by engaging all the active organisations in the entrepreneurial space and develop industry support networks. He founded the influential group, The Lunaticks Society, which is dedicated to the promotion of emerging technologies and local talent.

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Peter Hollingsworth

Business Advisor

Peter has conducted New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) training for the past seven years under Federal Government contract, and holds Cert IV TAA and TAE qualifications (including LNN), along with a degree in Business (Marketing) from the University of Newcastle. He has conducted both accredited and non-accredited training for several organisations in areas as diverse as frontline sales and business start-up basics. Peter also holds accreditations in business consulting services from the Institute for Independent Business (IIB) and the Quantum Organisation – both UK-based international business consultancies. He has a particular focus on strong financial management and has built a coaching methodology around sound marketing principle, which aims to deliver repeat business and drive referrals.

Peter has personally organised, planned, delivered and moderated training programs catering to all levels of learners over the last decade and a half. He has owned and operated several small businesses over this period, and developed a national franchise chain from scratch - and as such is strongly empathetic with the challenges and processes required around business start-ups, survival and growth.

Peter also has a strong background in retail, having been both a franchise operator and master franchisee for Brumby’s bakeries, gaining recognition as retail franchisee of the year from the Franchise Council of Australia (NSW) in 1999. He has owned and operated an electrical retail business under the Retravision brand, as well as a Joyce Mayne consumer electronics business as part of the Harvey Norman system.

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Andrea Pugh

Marketing and Communications Manager

Andrea is a marketing and public relations professional with experience working in a range of sectors including professional services (helping innovators commercialise new ideas), education and the arts. Andrea is well-versed in the delivery of various government-supported initiatives in the small business and entrepreneurial landscape.

Andrea also holds a Bachelor of Business (Marketing), Post Graduate Diploma of Public Relations and is currently undertaking a Master of Arts and Entertainment Management. She is also a professional member of the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) and the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA).



Angela Dowdell

Office Manager

With over 12 years’ experience in administration and the assessment of SME owner needs, Angela brings high-level organisational skills to The Business Centre team.

With a solid focus and eye for detail, Angela coordinates detailed projects from planning and coordination of venues, business advisors and guest speakers, creating trust by providing solid outcomes and accountability to key stake holders. In addition to project management, Angela puts her problem solving skills to work on a daily basis through RTO management, accounts and IT troubleshooting.

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Cathy Atkinson

Receptionist/Office Administrator

With more than ten years’ professional experience working in the travel industry, Cathy has exceptional customer service skills and highly efficient organisational and office management abilities. She holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Recreation and Tourism), Diploma in Hospitality Management, and is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Criminology at the University of New England.

Cathy manages all things front of house at The Business Centre and provides administration support for the Small Biz Connect Program including initial small business enquiries, calendar and appointment management for our team of Business Advisors and workshop creation and management.


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"I'm so very grateful for the Mentoring I received from Brooke through the NEIS program!" -- Roz Ewart
"I love working with Brooke, I always leave the mentoring appointments feeling energised and ready for business" -- Antonia Gore
"The NEIS program – training and mentoring – really helped me with by confidence in business" -- Mandy-Lee Cluff
"Mentoring through The Business Centre helped me set realistic targets and strategies to grow my business" -- Peter Brown
"Mikes mentoring has guided our business from imminent collapse to a position of renewed survival with stronger market share and increased profitability" -- Lesley Lalor
"The service was beyond expectations, professional and informative." -- Ray Bylart – Connect
"Without the continuous assistance I would never of been able to start and grow my business." -- Alida de Laubadere –
"Not only did I learn a great deal I also was very engaged and entertained by the Advisers professional and experienced style of training." -- Phil Byrnes - Exce
"I learned so much in the one on one Advisory sessions and this was backed up with the availability of workshops and networking opportunities." -- Block Sign – Fonehub