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Our Board

Our board of directors are volunteers who are dedicated to delivering a high-functioning business platform for the Australia Japan ecosystem.

Natsuko Ogawa

Co-chair

Natsuko is a partner in the Corporate Transactions team at Ashurst in Melbourne, specialising in M&A and joint ventures for Japanese clients investing in Australia. Natsuko graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Western Australia in 1995 and joined Ashurst as an articled clerk in Perth.  She has also spent time in the firm’s Sydney, Canberra and Tokyo offices. She was a member of the executive council of the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan from 2010-2013. 

Natsuko was appointed to the advisory board of the Japan Australia Research Centre in 2020 and became the Co-Chair of the AJBCV in May 2023.  She is passionate about helping Japanese clients transition into new opportunities in and with Australia, and developing diverse talent in both countries which can work effectively together to face future challenges. 

Ross Ciaravolo

co-chair

Ross has volunteered with AJBCV since 2015, including a stint as CEO until 2021. He is Principal of Food Advantage Consulting Services and has been engaged in the food, agriculture and dairy industries across Australia and Japan since 1977.

With extensive experience and industry expertise, Ross has advised on regional agriculture and food industry policy development and direction, including the TPP, JAEPA, and other bilateral agreements. He is also a member of the Ministerial Advisory Panel on Innovation in Victoria.

Celeste Koravos

CEO

Celeste is our stellar CEO who has been a part of AJBCV as early as 2012. She is a dual-qualified lawyer and civil engineer with a Japan background, having studied and worked in Japan, including Meiji University and Waseda Business School.

Her day job is at Xodus, a European renewable energy developer. As Principal of Decarbonisation and Energy Transition, she focuses on Japanese investment into Australian renewable energy projects such as offshore wind, hydrogen, CCS, onshore wind and solar. 

Mitsuru Katada

Vice-President

Mitsuru became Vice-President in April 2021, but has been volunteering with us for many years prior. Mitsuru works for PERSOLKELLY as a Business Development Manager. He completed a Bachelor of Law from Aichi Gakuin University and is also qualified as a real estate agent in Japan.

Mitsuru is passionate about promoting the strengths and interests of Japan and Australia’s economies. Within the next 5 years, he hopes to see more bilaterial interaction in business, sports and culture between the Australia-Japan space.

Shojeeb Alam

Secretary

Shojeeb (“Sho”), the current AJBCV secretary, is a senior associate in Ashurst’s corporate transactions team, working with Natsuko Ogawa to act primarily for Japanese clients investing in Australia and also with Ashurst’s Sydney-based venture capital transactions team to support investments into Australian startups. Additionally, Sho has undertaken a client secondment to the in-house legal department of a major Japanese trading house in Tokyo, which has provided him with a deeper understanding of Japanese business culture and the internal processes of Japanese organisations.

Sho is also fluent in Japanese and Korean, having double majored in Japanese and Korean at Monash University as part of a Bachelor of Arts & Law degree and completed exchange programs at Hitotsubashi University (through the New Colombo Plan) and Seoul National University in South Korea.

Meg Sing

Strategic Partnerships Director

In addition to her role as Strategic Partnerships Director, Meg is a key contributor on our Innovation Committee and Gala Committee. She also coordinates our internship program, and AJBCV’s IT needs and website.

By day, Meg is a Sales Executive at Katonic, a generative AI company providing enterprise-grade applications and platforms that revolutionise business productivity and processes. Meg holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Economics and Management) and a Diploma in Japanese from the University of Melbourne. She completed an exchange at the Economics Faculty of Hitotsubashi University in 2014. She is proficient in Japanese (JLPT N1).  

Hannah Bourke

Marketing & Communications Director

Hannah is Marketing & Branding Manager at ST Solutions Australia (SoftBank Corp.), creating AI content for the local Japanese community. At AJBCV, she is the mastermind of our social media and engagement strategy,

Hannah has recently completed a Bachelor of International Studies (Languages) at RMIT University, majoring in Japanese. She is undertaking a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) (Honours), with plans to pursue an Honours thesis focusing on the Australia-Japan relationship.

Stephen Good

Memberships Director

Stephen joined the AJBCV as Memberships Director in 2023. He also chairs our Innovation Committee as a passionate advocate of the potential in collaboration between Japan and Australia’s startup innovation ecosystems.

Stephen’s career in investment banking included stints at Morgan Stanley and Mizuho International, and working in Japan for over 12 years. As a Japan specialist, he has extensive knowledge in navigating Japan’s unique business customs and practices, and is fluent in Japanese. He holds a Bachelor in Economics from the Australian National University, and a Master of Economics and Finance from Hitotsubashi University.

Fiona Lewis-Gray

Culture Director

Fiona works as Team Coordinator at recruitment firm, Slade Group. She graduated from La Trobe University with a Bachelor’s Degree, majoring in Japanese and History. She has also studied at Kansai Gaidai University and Kyoto Tachibana University on exchange.

Fiona studied Japanese language and culture from an early age through school in regional Victoria. She is passionate about bringing together the best that Australian and Japanese culture has to offer.

David Buchanan

Director

David is CEO of the Australian Steel Association and an Executive of the Advanced Fibre Cluster Geelong Vision, a group of innovative organisations aimed at accelerating the growth of Australian carbon fibre and advanced fibre industries.

David has over two decades of steel trading experience working for Japanese companies, such as Mitsui & Co. and Toyota Tsusho. He has been an AJBCV Board Director since January 2019, specialising in Science and Technology. He holds a degree in metallurgy from Federation University Australia and is accredited by the Australia Institute of Company Directors.  

Laura Hughes

Ex-Officio Director

Laura is a Political & Economic Analyst who has represented the Consulate-General of Japan in Melbourne on our Board since 2019. She plays a vital role bridging the Government of Japan with the AJBCV.

Laura graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Japanese, from the University of Adelaide, and with a Masters of International Security Studies from Macquarie University. She has also spent three years working in Japan in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. 

Yoshiko Tanaka

Ex-Officio Director

Yoshiko is Regional Manager for North Asia at Global Victoria and joined the Board in May 2023. She has held previous state government roles involving the defence industry and the higher education sector. She has a background in political and security risk consulting.

Yoshiko graduated from King’s College in London majoring in War Studies. Her educational background spans various countries including Japan, Hungary, Egypt, the UK and the US. Impressively, Yoshiko is versed in English, Hungarian, Japanese, Arabic and French. 

Shane McIlroy

Ex-Officio Director

Shane is Senior Business Development Coordinator in the Economic Development and International team at the City of Melbourne council. He has managed the City of Melbourne’s interactions with sister city, Osaka, across business and trade, the circular economy and health.

During his tenure at the Consulate-General of Japan in Melbourne, Shane worked on the 2005 Aichi World Expo and the Nagano Winter Olympics for CBS Broadcasting. He graduated from Swinburne University of Technology with Bachelors of Business and Arts. He also speaks Japanese. 

Susumu ‘Steve’ Handa

Director

As CEO of Daiwa Capital Markets Australia Limited, Steve oversees Equity Sales, Debt Capital Markets, Principal Investments, M&A, as well as new initiatives on renewable energy, agriculture, and startups in Australia. He has brought key insights to the Board since May 2022 and continues to be a prominent representative of Japanese corporations in the AJBCV.

Steve holds an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School where he studied impact investing and social impact in the US, and also participated in exchange programs in China and Italy.

Katerina Aleksoska

Director

Katerina is International General Manager for the Australian Hydrogen Council. She has volunteered on our Board since November 2022.

Katerina has an extensive background in international trade and relations involving North Asia. She has completed her education in various countries, such as Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, Lund University in Sweden, Moscow State University in Russia, and more. 

Tim McLennan

Director

Tim is an internationally experienced strategic leader in areas of innovation management, industry engagement, technology commercialisation and many more. He joins the AJBCV board and Innovation Committee as a key champion of university engagement within the Australia-Japan relationship.

His current role is Executive Director at RMIT University. Tim graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Science (Honours).

D’Arcy Butler

Director

D’Arcy has been on our Board since 2010 and represents the AJBCV on the National Federation of Australia Japan Societies. He also coordinates our Japan exchange scholarship program and has over ten years of experience working in international relations and global engagement for a variety of organisations contributing to the Australia-Japan bilateral relationship.

Prior to his current role at the City of Melbourne, D’Arcy worked at the Consulate-General of Japan in Melbourne. He is also a founding member of the committee for the Australia Japan Youth Dialogue. Whilst his more recent professional positions have not had a specific Japan focus, volunteering with the AJBCV allows him to stay connected to the Australia-Japan community in Victoria. 

Josh Flannery

Honorary Director (Japan)

Josh is Founder and CEO of Innovation Dojo. He is also an Official Startup Recommender, J-Startup for METI and the Senior Advisor to GEN Japan, the Global Entrepreneurship Network with active members and programs across 180 countries. Joshua helped to establish European innovation firm, Rainmaking in Japan, as its inaugural Japan CEO.

As an honorary AJBCV director based in Japan, Josh aims to deepen the connection between Japan and the State of Victoria in the areas of innovation, startups and entrepreneurship. He assists the Victorian government to connect with key Japanese corporates and venture capital firms. Joshua holds an MBA (Technology) from AGSM and a Bachelor of Arts (Communications) from Western Sydney University.  

Takuma Yoshigai

Honorary Director (Japan)

Taku holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management from Hitotsubashi University. This included a year-long exchange at the University of Melbourne in 2022 and an internship in the Japan Strategy Team at venture capital firm, Artesian.

Since returning to Japan, Takuma continues to champion the AJBCV’s cause and make impressive contributions to our organisation to give back to the community. He is passionate about creating a deeper relationship between Australia and Japan in the next five years as mutual stakeholders in the shifting social order of today’s world.