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Board Members

Tony Cochrane - Chairman

Whether promoting sporting events, concerts, live shows and theatre, one-off major events or whole touring spectaculars, Tony Cochrane’s passion and experience forge a formidable combination and have ultimately resulted in some unforgettable milestones in Australian entertainment, sports management and sport generally over the past 40 years.

Tony has made the stage his own from the Gold Coast in Australia. Not only with the formation and execution of V8 Supercars but along the way he has collected a Tony, from the American Theatre, a couple of Aria’s and is internationally recognized for his efforts in taking V8 Supercars to the world.

Tony and his partners have over the past twenty years produced/promoted over 400 sporting and entertainment events throughout the world, sold in excess of 25,000,000 tickets with gross sales exceeding $2Billion dollars and written nearly $250,000,000 in sponsorship sales. Not bad for a kid who never finished high school!

- Director - International Events Consulting Pty Ltd.
- Chairman - Gold Coast SUNS
- Director Backstage Australia Pty Ltd.
- Former Chairman V8 Supercars Australia – 16.5 years
- Former Director & Co Founder Sports & Entertainment Ltd – 16 years
- Former Australasian Senior Vice President IMG
- Former Director – UNICEF Australia – 3 years
- FAICD  - Australian institute of Company Directors

Tony joined the Gold Coast SUNS Board in March 2014 and took over as Chairman from John Witheriff in March 2016.

Bob East - Deputy Chairman

Bob East has more than 20 years’ experience in the tourism and property industry and is the Chairman of Tourism Australia. Bob created the Mantra Group with a core group of executives under a private equity model in 2006. Over 12 years the Mantra Group was developed into the largest Australian-based hotel company. He led the company to a successful ASX listing in June 2014 which culminated in its inclusion into the ASX 200 list in 2015 and managed the Mantra Group’s $1.3B acquisition by AccorHotels, one of the world’s largest hotel operators in 2018.

Bob has chaired Tourism Events QLD and co-chaired the ASEAN business and tourism summit.  Bob is also serving on the federal government’s brand Australia board.  Bob is also Chair elect for Experience Co (ASX EXP).

Bob holds a Master of Business Administration.

Dr Alan Mackenzie

Alan Mackenzie has been president of Southport Football Club for more than 34 years and has been involved in AFL football as a player, volunteer medical officer, coach, selector and administrator.

He served the Brisbane Bears/Lions for six years (1992-98) as club doctor, selector and match committee chairman. A Life Member of AFL Queensland, he received the Australian Sports Medal (2000), the AFL Merit Award (2003) and was the inaugural recipient of the Gold Coast Bulletin Sports Award (2003). In 2008 Dr Mackenzie was rightfully inducted to the QAFL Hall of Fame.

Simon Bennett

Simon was admitted as a Solicitor in 1993 after obtaining an Honours Degree in Law from Bond University. Simon joined OMB Solicitors in 1996 as an Associate and then became a Partner of the firm in 1999.

He is a QLS Accredited Specialist in Property Law and also specialises in Commercial Leasing including providing structuring advice, drafting all forms of contracts and agreements.

Simon was elected as the Gold Coast Ambassador from 2002 to 2004, is the chairman of The Southport School (TSS) Audit and Risk Committee and former chairman of the Gold Coast Community Fund. He joined the GC SUNS board in May 2016.

Paul Scurrah

Paul Scurrah was appointed Chief Executive Office and Managing Director of the Virgin Australia Group in February 2019. He has held previous roles as CEO and Managing Director of DP World Australia Ltd in December 2013, Australia’s largest Port-related container handling company, Executive Vice President – Commercial and Marketing at Aurizon Ltd, CEO of Queensland Rail Ltd between 2010 and 2012 and more than 20 years’ experience in transport, tourism and customer service at companies including Flight Centre, Tourism Queensland, Ansett, Qantas and American Express. Paul was also one of four founding executives when Rex Airlines was established in 2002.

Martin Rowland

Martin has been self-employed since the age of 22 when he started a civil construction company in Melbourne. Originally focussed in building backbone infrastructure in the telecommunication sector, Martin’s business expanded into other utility sectors.

Also involved in the sale and acquisition of numerous companies in recent times, Martin’s concentration has turned to investing in small medium enterprise start-ups and established businesses requiring capital and management expertise.

Having been involved with the GC SUNS as a sponsor and corporate member since its inception, Martin joined the board in May 2016.


Sam Riley- OAM

Sam Riley is one of Australia’s most recognised sporting personalities. A swimming champion, a successful business owner and a sought-after speaker, she is a respected advocate for women, sport and the community. A star of the pool in the 1990s, she has since positioned herself as a leader in both business and the community after creating the Sam Riley Swim Schools.

Sam competed in the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympics winning one silver and two bronze medals, which also gave her the honour of being the first Australian indigenous athlete to win an Olympic medal. In addition, Sam holds a Medal of the Order of Australia, and was both Queensland and Australian Sportsperson of the Year in 1994. That same year Sam was also awarded World Female Swimmer of the Year.

Sam has been heavily involved in several fundraising charities including Olivia Newton Johns Cancer and Wellness Centre’s ‘The Great Walk to Beijing’, the Raise the Youth Mentoring Foundation, Royal Life Saving Keep Watch Program, Mater Healthy Start Program, and Asthma Australia.

Sam is committed to the Gold Coast community and has a special interest in grassroots football, which her three boys take part in locally.


Leschen Smaller

Leschen is the foundation Director of Element Business & Accounting Solutions providing tailored financial solutions to her variety of clients from diverse industries including transport, hospitality, retail, health, professional services and property development.

Graduating from Bond University with a Major in Finance & Accounting, Leschen has enhanced her extensive skills both locally and internationally with KPMG, Deloitte Touch Tohmatsu (PNG) and WHK (Crowe Howarth). During her tenure at the largest independent accounting firm on the Gold Coast (WMS Chartered Accountants), Leschen achieved the accolade of becoming the first female Partner of the firm.
Leschen consults with and advises high net worth individuals and SME’s in order to achieve tax effective outcomes and has a particular interest in innovation, assisting clients with applications to access the R&D (Research & Development) Tax Incentive.

Leschen sits on a number of boards, including not for profit entities, providing financial guidance and business expertise. Leschen’s board experience is complimented by her community involvement, which extends to assisting businesses through the Government run program called Mentoring for Growth.



Annaliese Battista

Annaliese Battista commenced her role as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Destination Gold Coast in August 2018 relocating to the Coast from Perth.
Annaliese has nearly two decades’ experience in strategic destination marketing, communications, economic development and executive leadership across a range of government and corporate organisations and is proud and passionate about her new home on the Gold Coast. 
Annaliese holds tertiary qualifications in communications, marketing, and international relations, and champions many community building initiatives through active involvement in boards and volunteer work.


Mike Emmett

Mike has enjoyed a diverse career working across the Insurance, Consulting and IT Industries in Australia, the UK and South Africa. Prior to joining AUB Group, Mike was the Group CEO for Cover-More, previously an ASX-listed global travel insurer and now part of the Zurich Group. Mike previously held senior roles in Australia at QBE as Group Executive, Operations and at EY leading the Financial Services Advisory business.

Before moving to Australia, Mike spent several years working in London including at IBM leading the Insurance and Banking consulting teams and at Morse plc (Application Services) as Managing Director. Mike’s earlier career in South Africa included senior roles in Consulting at IBM, Accenture and PwC.

Mike also holds a position as Non-Executive Director of 1stGroup (ASX:1ST). Mike is a Chartered Accountant (SA).