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AIFST Governance & Board


Dr MICHAEL DEPALO

Acting Chair of the Board & President

Michael Depalo has over 40 years’ experience in food product development, ingredient technology, and food regulation. After a distinguished career at the Arnott’s Group, most recently leading the regulatory and specifications team across APAC, Michael is now the founder of ANZ Food Innovation and Compliance Network, a consultancy established to support and advise food businesses and their stakeholders in R&D, Food Labelling and Regulations. Michael is committed to the promotion of Food Technology and the Food Industry and is a member of the AIFST Technical Advisory Committee and a mentor in the AIFST Mentor programme. Michael was also a long serving member of the Australian Food and Grocery Council Health, Nutrition and Scientific Affairs Committee serving as deputy chair for many years. Michael is a trusted advisor and has been a Board member and Trustee of several not for profit and member-based organisations and CRCs. He was awarded the 2016 Arnott’s Group “Leading with Integrity Award” for demonstrating consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values. Michael has a Bachelor of Applied Science from UTS where he received the Institute Medal and a PhD in Biotechnology from UNSW. Michael has over 30 years of continuous membership with AIFST and is a Fellow of the Institute. 



MS FIONA FLEMING

Chief Executive Officer and Company Secretary

Fiona is Managing Director of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST). She is an experienced Corporate and Regulatory Affairs professional who has been involved in leading and facilitating change and developing management strategies across a portfolio of food policy and regulation matters in global FMCG and NGO environments.

Fiona has more than 30 years’ experience in the food industry in the areas of dairy, seafood, cereal based foods, smallgoods, tea, simmer sauces and pastes, ingredients and infant formula. Fiona has previously worked for a large FMCG company in the role of Group Quality and Corporate Affairs Manager.  In this role she was responsible for providing leadership across Australia and New Zealand in the areas of food policy and regulation; consumer affairs and communication; issues and crisis management and food quality and safety.

Fiona is a Professional member of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology. Fiona is currently serving as a Non-Executive Director and Deputy Chair of Healthy Kids. Fiona is a member of Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia; an Associate Member of the Allergen Bureau and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


MR MARC BARNES

Non-Executive Director 

Marc is highly motivated, result-driven, and internationally accomplished business leader with innate commercially acumen, he can track his success back to growing up in an entrepreneurial family in rural Tasmania.

Within that environment I was primed from a young age to manage the family business, building strong foundations as a proactive, goal-oriented professional, subsequently within the food and beverage sector, achieving tangible results and driving sustainable growth and profitability whilst managing risk for multiple enterprises throughout my career.

Outgoing and engaging, I am recognised for being passionately outcomes focussed, dedicated to delivering successful, intended outcomes, and ability to get people onboard, building momentum through inspiring individuals, teams, colleagues, and associates.

I enjoy and have a strong track record of engaging across all levels of an organisation building collaborative, high performing, multi-functional teams that exceed business targets and are aligned to a company’s values.

My 20 years of experience in food safety assurance and 8 years as managing director of BSI Group has given me a wealth of experience and knowledge. This experience has helped shape best practice standards to enable an organisation with the discipline and mechanisms for compliance and continuous improvement. 

Key to this success has been leading and coaching employees, senior leadership, and business owners to deliver beyond expectations within often complex global matrix environments, and establishing a culture committed to sales and organisational growth (organic and M&A), durable stakeholder relationships and delivery of exceptional client service.

Marc currently runs his own management consultancy Flinders Lane Advisory, is a member of the AICD and has previously held senior roles at British Standards Institute, NATA Certification Services, St Vincent’s & Mercy Private Hospital and Sheraton Hotels.


DR GREGORY HARPER

Non-Executive Director

Gregory is a biological scientist who focuses on the translation of scientific discoveries into commercial, environmental, and social benefits. He is a senior manager in the University of Melbourne and Director of Business Development in the Faculty of Science.

He is currently a member of the University’s professional staff, and he has been senior academic staff, as well as management and governance staff in other contexts. Adaptability has been a key attribute of his career. He also sees himself as an engaged global citizen.

Gregory has spent his career in the global R&D community and has expertise in management and governance of public and private R&D funds. The agrifood innovation system has been a particular focus, and this probably has its roots in his childhood, when his parents ran a suburban meat retailing business in Brisbane.

He has worked in five countries and for multiple Australian innovation system actors. His partnership building experience includes Australian R&D organisations; urban and regional universities; international universities; international public entities; and small, focused service organisations.

Gregory holds multiple Fellowships and was very proud to become a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology in 2022. His work has been recognised internationally through the Alliance of Technology Transfer Professionals as an RTTP.


DR HEATHER HAINES

Non-Executive Director

Heather has a strong applied science background, having spent more than 35 years as a microbiologist. She has worked in the areas of (human) diagnostic microbiology, education and training, food safety research and food safety policy. While working in the Food Safety Unit of the Victorian Department of Health, she managed projects to deliver tools for food businesses and staff to improve food hygiene, to improve the Victorian government food surveillance activities, and contribute to national initiatives on food surveillance and food safety research. Examples include the first version of the free online food safety learning tool ‘Dofoodsafely’ and a food surveillance app which is used by many local government officers in Victoria. Latterly her role, and that of her team, at the department was to analyse proposed amendments to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, then brief to and support senior officers and representatives of the Food Ministers’ Meeting in their deliberations on these amendments, with the imperative of protecting the health and safety of consumers.

Heather completed a Bachelor of Applied Sciences (Medical Laboratory Sciences) and later a Master of Applied Science (Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology – Food Stream) at RMIT. Her PhD studies were undertaken at the University of Tasmania, supported by scholarships from Meat and Livestock Australia (through Mintrac) and the (then) Department of Agriculture. She has been a longstanding Professional Member of AIFST, involving periods on both the Victorian and Tasmanian Committees, and is a member and previously a Victorian committee member of Australian Society for Microbiology. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


JULIE COX

Non-Executive Director

Julie is a commercial lawyer with nearly 20 years’ experience advising leading food, healthcare and technology businesses on intellectual property, consumer, product safety and regulatory compliance matters. Julie spent the majority of her legal career with global law firm Baker McKenzie across London and Australia before establishing her own specialist legal consultancy for the FMCG industry.

With a background in both science (biochemistry) and law, Julie is passionate about the food industry. Her longstanding work with food businesses, ranging from multinationals to start ups, has enabled her to develop close working relationships and a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the industry. Julie also has extensive experience advising media and technology businesses having previously worked as an in-house lawyer at British Sky Broadcasting.

In addition to her undergraduate degrees in science and law, Julie is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a current MBA candidate with the AGSM at the University of New South Wales. Julie is passionate about innovation, continuous learning and promoting the Australian food industry as sustainable, innovative, and safe.



BRONWYN POWELL

Non-Executive Director

Bronwyn is a senior marketer and specialist in digital transformation and food innovation specialist. She has more than 30 years’ experience transforming and positioning for growth, many well-known, iconic global food brands across Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) to Retail/Quick Service Restaurants (QSR).

She is a recognised leader for new, brave, disruptive campaigns. Such as the introduction of the McDonald’s digital menu and the transformation of the in-store experience, in which she played an instrumental role.

And strategically, her leadership to transform business can be seen in her close to 10 years’ experience as Global Marketing Director and Chief Marketing Officer for YUM Brands - KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut Canada – where she grew the brands globally from Canada to the Europe to Asia.

Her experience in strategy development and execution extends beyond transformation and growth to customer experience across all touchpoints including digital, especially within Retail/QSR.

Other notable food experience includes her integral part in the team which secured the Victorian Government’s support for SPC Food Manufacturing transformation for Coca-Cola Amatil.

Bronwyn is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and of University of NSW –Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing). And she is a Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) with Australian Marketing Institute (AMI).

She is currently Marketing Director for Mars Food Australia and is leading Australia’s favourite food brands including MasterFoods, Dolmio, and Uncle Ben’s across retail and food service channels.

Bronwyn’s is passionate about quality Australian sourced food and using these home-grown ingredients to inspire her own cooking journey. She loves to spend time teaching her twin girls the joy of great food and how home cooking and great food brings us together.

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