Our Team


Narelle McClelland

General Manager

Qualified with a Bachelor Of Commerce, majoring in Accounting, holds a Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment, Narelle is also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Narelle has been a successful business owner with a wealth of experience in business management and development. Narelle has held management positions in both private enterprise and Local Government and more recently has owned and managed businesses in both the retail and service industry. Narelle understands the challenges facing small business owners in the start up and growth of their business, and is now focused on the growth and development of The Business Centre in delivering innovative and world competitive business assistance.

Michael Hilsden

Business Advisor and Mentor

Mike is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society, Oxford University Advanced Arithmetic.

Michael is focused 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. 


Brooke Phillips

Business Advisor and Trainer

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.

Cheryl Anderson

Small Biz Solutions Co-ordinator

Cheryl is currently studying a Certificate IV in Small Business Management.  For 15 years Cheryl was a partner in an entertainment business which encompassed all areas of promotion, marketing and advertising.

With many years experience in office management roles, Cheryl offers a decisive yet creative people focus at The Business Centre.  As your first point of contact with Business Advisory Services, Cheryl will diagnose exactly how we can be of assistance and steer you in the right direction.  


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 co-ordinates detailed projects from planning and co-ordination 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.


Paulina Mangano

Small Business 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.

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Martin McKenzie

ASBAS Coordinator

Martin brings to The Business Centre a depth of knowledge of government programs with over twenty years' experience delivering and managing programs across all levels of government. The diversity of programs and projects has ranged from cultural and educational to waste, environmental management and capital works. Tenures have included positions with the Office of Environment and Heritage, EPA, Hunter RDA and most recently for the Federal Department of Industry and Science, delivering industry and business support initiatives.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts/Visual Art and a Certificate IV in Work Place Training and Assessment. His varied background gives him particular and rare insight into multiple sectors with a constant underlying theme of quality customer/people focused outcomes.

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Steve Wait

Business Development Manager and Business Advisor

Steve is an experienced strategic manager with specific expertise in developing business systems and successfully applying systems methodology to business. Steve specialises in turning around non-compliant businesses, service operations and people in commercial, government and not-for-profit organisations.

Steve has worked with clients to prepare for angel investor pitches, preparing businesses for capitalisation through growth strategies and to be investor ready. He has also worked closely on joint initiatives with Hunter Angels, regional innovation networks and entrepreneur groups.

Steve has a Master of Business (Human Resource Management), a degree in Education and Training, Cert IV in Workplace Assessment and holds National Skill Set qualifications in Innovation Practice and Innovation Management.

Steve also led the development and implementation of one of the first innovation training programs available in Australia known as The Rippler Effect. He is a certified internal systems auditor (to RABQSA Standard) with a specialisation in the implementation of behaviour based training and management systems.

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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).


Christina Gerakiteys

Christina Gerakiteys

Creative Industries Business Advisor

Christina is currently completing her PhD in Innovation and Creativity and is qualified with a Bachelor of Arts, an Advanced Diploma in Business Management, a Diploma of Education in Technical and Further Education, as well as Diploma in Training and Assessment and Frontline Management.

Having produced, scripted and directed content for television, web sites, training organisations, universities, corporate clients and small businesses, both locally and nationally, Christina also has experience with branding, rebranding, marketing campaigns, media and organisational development.

Christina brings to The Business Centre a passion for empowering creative industries and individuals to embrace innovation as part of their culture and a dedication to supporting clients turn a creative passion into a sustainable career.

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Andrew Powrie  

Business Advisor and Trainer

Andrew Powrie joins The Business Centre as Business Advisor and Trainer with responsibility for the Hunter Valley and Upper Hunter LGAs.

Andrew is well-schooled in the area of business growth and development, being Chairman of the Hunter Economic Development Network and Chairman of the Economic Development Australia (EDA) NSW Board. Andrew holds the distinction of being the only person to have been a national director of both Economic Development New Zealand and Economic Development Australia.

Andrew also has a Masters degree in management, Graduate Diploma of Economic Development and is an Australian Certified Economic Development Practitioner.

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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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Maddie Sain

Trainee Office Manager

As Trainee Office Administrator, Maddie provides administration service support to assist with the efficient running of The Business Centre. Maddie helps with all matter of things including greeting clients, maintaining reception and managing bookings, preparation and room set-up for all workshops, events and room hire.

Maddie is also currently undertaking a Certificate IV in Business Administration as part of her traineeship.


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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