UniQuest, The University of Queensland’s main commercialisation company, has appointed Mel Dunn as General Manager, International Projects. This division is responsible for engaging with global aid agencies and other partners and practitioners to help developing nations improve their economies, infrastructure, and communities.

Mr Dunn has taken on the role ahead of the retirement later this year of his predecessor, Mr Harleigh Luscombe, who is currently on long service leave after 12 years of building UQ’s involvement in the international aid sector via UniQuest. UniQuest has now become Australia’s leading university-based provider of project management services to such organisations as AusAID, NZAID, the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, said appointing Mr Dunn to this senior executive management role reflected the company’s determination to expand UniQuest’s reach and introduce university-based expertise to more communities seeking to build their economic, social and environmental strengths.

“Mel’s qualifications and experience are very much aligned with the sectors we work in, especially education and governance. His understanding of the Asia Pacific region and global commitments to development such as the Millennium Development Goals will help UniQuest – and therefore UQ – remain closely connected with the needs and aspirations of developing countries, especially those right on our doorstep,” Mr Henderson said.

“Mel’s technical and management skills are complemented by an extensive, successful portfolio of business development initiatives. We are delighted to have him come on board to lead our International Projects team and share his expertise with our staff, our clients, and the communities we are all working together to help.”

For Mr Dunn, the opportunity to join UniQuest seemed a natural progression for a career spanning almost 20 years in the education, training and development sectors, which has included teaching, curriculum development, technical assistance and project management in Australia and overseas.

“Over the past few years greater emphasis has been placed on the effectiveness of development activities. Through UniQuest I will be able to connect my existing networks with the innovative ideas and evidence-based models coming out of The University of Queensland,” said Mr Dunn.

“I am joining the company at a very exciting and challenging time. Harleigh Luscombe’s divisional management over the past decade has laid solid foundations for UniQuest’s reputation in the international aid sector, and with such an enthusiastic, professional team to lead, I consider it a privilege to come on as General Manager and continue this commitment to changing lives for the better.”

Mr Dunn came to UniQuest from Coffey International Development Asia Pacific, where he was a member of the leadership team contributing to business growth and service improvements in that company’s international development assistance programs.

After completing Workplace Assessment studies at North Point Institute of TAFE in 1996, Mr Dunn took the next step towards a career in adult education by completing a Bachelor of Teaching (Further Education and Training) at the University of Southern Queensland in 1999. Mr Dunn’s ten years with TAFE Queensland, initially in teaching roles then leading international activities in China, provided opportunities to travel extensively throughout the Asia Pacific region.

With these experiences increasing his awareness of the challenges faced by under-resourced and under-stimulated societies, especially by the most vulnerable and marginalised people within those communities, Mr Dunn’s career took on a social reform focus. He supported this with a Masters of Social Change and Development from the University of Newcastle, graduating in 2005, and recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Gender Mainstreaming Policy and Analysis through Flinders University. Most recently, Mr Dunn had undertaken activity in support of indigenous community development in the northwest of South Australia.

Mr Dunn has become a White Ribbon Ambassador, standing up for addressing the issues of violence against women. He maintains an academic and practical interest in gender, and also the role of non-formal and informal education as potentially greater contributors to poverty reduction.

Mr Dunn’s understanding of socio-economic agendas is complemented by a strong business background. He is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and believes that good business outcomes will naturally follow when the focus is on best-practice development and making a genuine difference.

“There is still so much to be done towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and beyond, and UniQuest is well-positioned to provide technical leadership and management through its highly-professional and innovative approach to both service design and service delivery,” Mr Dunn said.

“What UniQuest has achieved to date – more than 400 projects in 46 countries – is not just an impressive track record to uphold – it also highlights the value of The University of Queensland’s contribution to this facet of international relations. I am looking forward to bringing together great ideas, good business practices, this commitment to global citizenship and promoting them as the UniQuest advantage.”

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