Our board and shareholder base offer a range of high-level executive, entrepreneurial, education and recruitment experience.
Mark Hutchinson, Founder & CEO
AVANA as a concept has its DNA in nature-based tourism. Mark founded the business in 2002 as a tour operator taking guests to the world’s last vestiges of pure, untouched wilderness. Over the years, AVANA turned to training and recruitment, after designing a unique concept called the business ecosystem. Mark’s passion for looking at sustainable business practices is built on his experiences with natural ecosystems and observing how nature designs robust processes to combat changing environments. These processes can be transplanted into a business context. After studying his MBA at INSEAD Business School in France in 2008, Mark expanded the AVANA offer and focused solely on workforce development through People and Performance. Since 2011, AVANA has experienced accelerated growth, both through organic and acquisitive opportunities, becoming one of Australia’s leading workforce specialists. Mark, as CEO, oversees AVANA’s expanding operations and continues to develop the unique workforce offering. Mark’s core experience resides in building businesses, customer service, leadership and innovative product development. He lives on the northern beaches in Sydney with his wife and four kids, with a passion for surfing and travel.
Jonathan Smuskowitz, Commercial Director
Jonathan has extensive commercial experience across a range of industries, including financial services, media and technology. Jonathan led the management buy-out, growth and later sale of the largest independent general insurance broker in Australia to OAMPS (now part of Wesfarmers) in 2005. Jonathan was a key part of the private equity team that acquired the CBA’s vehicle leasing business in 2004 and the largest novated leasing business in 2005 to form SG Fleet Australia. Jonathan would like to make a real difference so his kids can inherit a better world for their kids.
James Groom, Chairman
Principal of James Groom and Co., a boutique commercial legal practice, James was formerly Senior Corporate Counsel for GE Australia. Has worked at leading legal firms in the US and UK. James is non-executive director of a number of private companies in Australia.
John Prendiville, Director
In addition to being a Director at AVANA, John is the chairman of Point Capital Pty Ltd, an investment and corporate finance company with interests in companies across various sectors. John is Chairman of the board at ASX listed Kina Petroleum Limited, a conventional E&P company operating in PNG as well as Chairman (elect) at Global Advanced Metals, a privately held $700m industrial minerals company with operations in Australia, Japan, Africa and the US.
Prior to this, John was Chairman of Macquarie Capital Advisers, the global investment-banking arm of Macquarie Group where he handled some of the largest, most complex transactions for governments and enterprises. John particularly focused on takeovers, board strategy, restructuring, equity & debt raisings, sales and mergers & acquisitions.
John has served in the Australian Defence Forces as Lieutenant in the 3rd RAR Parachute Regiment and is Governor on the Board of University of Notre Dame. He enjoys swimming, tennis and extreme adventure events.
Peter Davis, Director
Peter is the founder and CEO of Astra Apartments, a company specialising in executive accommodation across Australia.
Prior to setting up Astra, Peter founded, owned and operated APM College of Business and Communication, a well known Sydney-based Business College specialising in vocational education and training across marketing and communication subjects. Peter successfully sold the business some years ago and it is now owned by SEEK, one of Australia’s largest education and job services companies.
Peter is a Commerce (Marketing) graduate from the university of New South Wales. In his spare time, Peter enjoys a round of golf, paddle-boarding and kayaking in Sydney’s superb waterways.