Michael Claessens was appointed Director of Regional Development Australia (RDA) ACT in July 2018. As a proud long-time ACT resident, he has more than 20 years experience in industry and investment, specialising in food, agribusiness and advanced manufacturing. Michael’s focus is on optimising RDA ACT’s connections with regional businesses, councils, government and industry to innovate, seize economic opportunities and attract investment.
Michael has broad experience in rural and regional stakeholder engagement and is particularly skilled in working with people to understand commercial challenges and finding practical market-based solutions. He has successfully maximised investment outcomes for industry, the not for profit sector and government in organisations as diverse as Invest Australia, Ausaid and the Australian Airports Association.
As the originator of award winning national projects in workforce and skills, Michael understands the value of building collaborative networks as a vehicle for delivering profound, sustainable improvements in business competitiveness. He believes that social responsibility and inclusion should go hand in hand with business success.
Carrie started her journey with RDA ACT in February 2022. She is an accomplished, motivated, and hard-working marketing professional with nearly a decade of experience in marketing and a strong focus on social media.
The opportunity of living, working, and studying in different countries (Poland, Canada, UK, and Australia) allowed her to understand different perspectives, values, needs, and problems within various cultures and societies.
Carrie's background is in sociology, communication, and advertising as she has always had an interest in environmental issues, nutrition as well as animal welfare. Carrie is very passionate about her work and she always tries to make the world a better place.
From a range of workforce development and training roles primarily in the agriculture and seafood industries, Ross has acquired second-to-none experiences in assisting workers gain the essential technical and leadership skills required at the workplace. These experiences have been gained through employment with the peak bodies for the Australian vegetable and seafood industries (AusVeg, FRDC), and as a Development Manager with the Agrifood Skills Council.From 2019-mid 2022 Ross was employed by Pacific Labour Facility (funded by DFAT) as the Agriculture Marketing Coordinator for what is now known as the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme. For variety, in 2008 and 2009 Ross used his TESOL qualifications to teach English in Vietnam.
In his earlier years, Ross was part of several teams that developed and conducted a range of leadership courses for the ADF. Ross has tertiary qualifications in economics, management and education, and is a Churchill Fellow. His interests include sport, sport and sport.
Adrian Best as Director of Synerge specialises in contract and project management roles across government and industry. He has a passion and commitment to building capacity and competitiveness in our rural and regional businesses through education, training and skills development.
He is a State and National Tourism Awards Judge, a business Ambassador for South Australia, member of the Australian Institute of Management, a Fellow of the International Specialised Skills Institute and holds a number of qualifications in business, tourism, Hospitality, Manufacturing and Agribusiness.
He has extensive experience working with regional communities; growers and producers providing industry based strategic planning and commercialising new products and services for individual businesses.
Adrian has produced numerous reports for Rural Industries Research Development Corporation including studies on commercialising fibre, tropical fruits, dates and seaweed. He has also worked extensively on the Value Supply chain Management and Food Processing in Regional Australia programs for the Federal Government.
For many years, Adrian Best worked as a production manager and food safety officer in several large manufacturing organisations and as a TAFE lecturer in Canberra Institute of Technology. He has worked closely with the food industry both as a consultant and later, through the National Food Industry Strategy (NFIS) and Australian Government. Commencing his career at the sharp end of the food industry, Adrian attained tertiary qualifications in Butchery, Pastry, Confectionary and Cooking.
Administration and Events Manager
Mark is our Administration and Events Manager at RDA ACT. He is a dynamic individual with a diverse background. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Marketing and a Breadth Major in Events and Tourism and is currently studying Commercial Cookery to pursue his passion for culinary arts. With a Hungarian background and having lived in multiple countries, he has developed a unique appreciation for a diversity of needs, values, and cultures, which is reflected in his work.