The Spotlight Series - Don’t just survive, thrive!

The Spotlight Series - Don’t just survive, thrive!

Welcome to "The Spotlight Series – Don’t Just Survive, Thrive”. Season 1 was launched to help people through the pandemic by talking to a variety of experts about topics such as psychology, finance and health. Season 2 focused on more work related issues including HR, marketing and leadership. Now it is time for Season 3! Season 3 is centred on the IT industry, specifically tech startups. There are also Career Spotlights from senior IT people revealing the secrets to their impressive career trajectories.Your host is Nicola Steel, founder of JJP Talent Solutions, an Australian IT recruitment company. For over 20 years, she has helped tech startups and innovative SMEs to attract, recruit and retain technical talent.


September 12, 2023 43 mins

Charlie Wood is the CEO of Wiise, the fastest-growing cloud ERP platform. He has over 25 years of tech experience.  Charlie is a successful Sydney-based entrepreneur and business leader, who formerly headed up Dropbox ANZ, held leadership roles at Microsoft and Salesforce, and has built and mentored several startups.

In this episode, Nicola and Charlie discuss his main career highlights and challenges.  They discuss what q...

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Kody Cook is the Head of Software at Gilmour Space Technologies.  Kody has extensive experience of space and aerospace technologies working at the Australian Space Agency, Fleet Space Technologies and Boeing.  His experience encompasses mechatronics, software and systems engineering.  Gilmour and Kody's team are working towards launching Australia's first sovereign made orbital launch vehicle.

Kody demonstrated h...

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Ben Shapira has extensive experience in the digital advertising and marketing industry. More recently, he has become a tech founder, solving problems in the financial services industry with his innovative tech solutions.  His newest venture is dineiro - a mobile app focusing on the interactions between consumers, mortgage brokers and financial advisors.

Ben and Nicola discuss a variety of topics including:

💲 the future of tech in fi...

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Christin Marshall is the Founder of Sol & Sonder.  Sol means sun and Sonder is the realization that each person has a life as vivid and as complex as their own.  Sol + Sonder is a lifestyle brand which is looking to integrate renewable energy into everyday accessories which use solar energy so that people can have access to the power of the sun at any time.  Her first product is a solar travel wallet which combines solar power ...

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Henry Boulton is the Chief Innovation Officer and CoFounder of FocusBand. He is an innovator, entrepreneur and performance coach. FocusBand has created a wearable brain sensing headset that helps people improve their performance. 

Henry explains that only 2 out of 10 people are actually engaged at work.  Many people are "time travelling" into the future or they are stuck in the past rather than being in the prese...

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Tony Schirmer is the CEO of CQSola and Co-founder at Neocreative.  CQSola builds cutting edge technology which reduces losses in Solar Farms by up to 25%.

Tony explains how he studied Mechatronics at university but ended up dropping out to set up his own business. In this episode, he talks about the various highlights and challenges in his career.

Tony talks about both the benefits and problems of solar power. For...

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In the first episode of Season 5 of the "Don't Just Survive, Thrive" podcast, Nicola talks to Dinesh Palipana OAM.  Dinesh is a doctor, lawyer, disability advocate and the first quadriplegic medical intern in Queensland. He has many accolades including Queensland Australian of the Year. 

Nicola talks to Dinesh about his personal story including his highlights and challenges.  They discuss how tech and his researc...

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How can data and geospatial analytics help us understand climate change and climate adaption?  Gopal Erinjippurath is CTO and Head of Product at Sust Global, a Climate Intelligence SaaS company based in San Francisco.


Gopal has an impressive background.  He moved from India to the US to study electrical engineering to then work in a research lab, studying a PhD and working as a research scientist. He believes that this background i...

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What would you say is the secret to your success?  Which of the following resonates most with you: 


⭐ Being in the right place at the right time 

⭐ Knowing when to quit and when to quit early 

⭐ Being willing to take risks in decision making 


Rav Raniga, Partner Lead at tech startup ELARA, believes all of the above are the secrets to his success.  

After a brief break from podcast recording, I was thrilled to speak to Rav who has...

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Jonathan Girroir is Technical Evangelist at Tech Soft 3D, a company which provides 3D software development toolkits that power world class engineering applications.  Jonathan has 25 years experience in the software development industry and has a passion for building the next generation of 3D software. 

Jonathan talks about Tech Soft 3D’s main software – HOOPS – 3D software development toolkits (SDKs) which power world-clas...

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In this first episode of Season 4, Nicola Steel talks to Colin Goudie and Charles Connell. Colin is a serial co-founder of various tech startups including Userlot - Customer Success Management, Social Pinpoint and Dogeared. Charles is the other Co-Founder of Userlot - Customer Success Management and was also a Co-Founder at Social Pinpoint. 

They begin by talking about their backgrounds and purpose behind Userlot and Socia...

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That’s a wrap for Season 3 of “The Spotlight Series – Don’t Just Survive, Thrive” podcast for 2021.  Here are podcast mashup highlights from this year talking to startup founders and senior tech leaders.  

Maree Beare, Founder of Wanngi (and more recently Clinials) talking about disrupting health tech and her purpose behind Wanngi (0:33- 2:58)

Tony Ryan, Education Futurist, talking about the future of work and if there is a 50% cha...

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Mary Callaghan, Senior Director of Product Management at Hitachi Energy, talks about her career and the secrets to her success.

Mary was born in Dublin and was the youngest of 7 children! She visited Australia for a year of adventure and has been here ever since. One of the key highlights of her career was being awarded Global Product Manager of the year in 2019. 

She believes that the secrets to her success are:

⭐ Having a strong fou...

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Would you be bold enough to leave a small suburb north of Wellington, New Zealand, borrow some money from your mum to fly to San Francisco and then contact VPs of leading software companies to introduce yourself over a coffee?! 

This is the bold (and successful) move Evan Cummack made at the end of 2010.  He moved from a small team at NEC creating fingerprint identification technology for the New Zealand police department to then jo...

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“Saying yes to the weird things” has been one of the highlights of Eli Harrell’s career.  Eli explains that realising that the things we tend to shy away from because they are unknown or scary is really where the growth is. 

Eli Harrell is the Co-Founder and Chief of Strategy at, a company which helps tech companies build high performing teams which create products with purpose. 


In the latest episode of “The Spo...

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“Don’t take life too seriously and make sure you have fun” is the advice Miriam van Heusden would tell her 16 year old self in the latest podcast episode of the “The Spotlight Series – Don’t Just Survive, Thrive”.

Miriam is the founder of Maralytics, a software startup which has created a marketing performance program that provides accurate results for sales revenue and customer acquisition. Miriam has many years’ previous expe...

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“Time is a valuable commodity and taking too long to make any sort of decision comes at a really significant but invisible cost” are the wise words Yaniv Bernstein would tell himself if he could turn back time. In the latest podcast episode of “The Spotlight Series – Don’t Just Survive, Thrive”, Yaniv advises that you should act early, act quickly, be courageous and don’t look back!


Yaniv Bernstein has extensive experience as a Sof...

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“You can’t do the hours of a 28-year-old but the wisdom you have as a founder over 50 is the counterbalance” are the sage words from Vijay Solanki.

Vijay is the co-founder of ParentalEQ, an app which helps parents manage their children’s emotional & social development.  Vijay has had a diverse career that traverses marketing, digital and innovation, delivering a succession of major marketing and digital transformations at ...

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 “Be stubborn on the vision and flexible on the details…. the “why” is what drives you to keep fighting the good fight” is some key advice from Leanne Kemp.

Leanne is the Founder and CEO of Everledger and until recently was Queensland Chief Entrepreneur.  Originally from Brisbane, Leanne describes herself as unemployable and a serial entrepreneur.  She is a self taught engineer who loves to solve problems and scale and grow co...

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“Learning is the main skill of the future” is my favourite quote from the latest episode of the “Don’t just Survive, Thrive” podcast with Madhu Sundararajan and Abhinav Raje.  In this episode, we talk about their journeys from humble beginnings in India to successful careers in Australia. 


Every couple of years, Madhu asks himself if he is learning and if he is being useful.  His role model is himself in 10 years so he looks forwar...

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