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Our directors bring exceptional experience and expertise and collectively, are the driving force behind the delivery of Defence SA’s strategic priorities. They foster strong collaboration and partnership with key State Government, industry and research stakeholders in the pursuit of building and sustaining South Australia’s reputation as the nation’s hub of defence and space innovation.

  • David Eyre
  • Ilona Horan
  • Emily Young
  • Darin Lovett
  • Nicola Sasanelli
  • David Eyre
  • Ilona Horan
  • Emily Young
  • Darin Lovett
  • Nicola Sasanelli
  • David EyreDirector, Maritime

    David Eyre joined Defence SA as Director of Maritime in August 2016. The focus of his role is to develop and deliver a program of activities that grows defence presence and the defence industry base of the state sustainably.

    David has over 30 years’ experience in Shipbuilding construction (including Submarines, Patrol Boats, Frigates and Offshore Gas Platforms) across engineering, major subcontracts and senior management positions. Over 15 of those years working on South Australian naval shipbuilding projects with over 7 years on construction of the Collins class submarines, and almost 8 years on the construction of the Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers.

    Prior to joining Defence SA, David was responsible for the overall management of the Forgacs, Tomago (NSW) shipyard (400+ personnel) in construction and delivery of over $200m of ship blocks as part of the SEA 4000 Air Warfare Destroyer project. This role included management of all aspects of an EPC construction project including planning, production, quality, risk, safety and overall cost/schedule control.

    David’s formal qualifications in Engineering (BEng Hon), Project Management (CPPM) and Business Management (MBA) provide him with a broad skill set, with an excellent understanding of all aspects of naval ship construction.

  • Ilona HoranDirector, Projects, Infrastructure and Investment

    Ilona Horan commenced with Defence SA in September 2016 and is the Director, Projects, Infrastructure and Investment. The primary focus of her role is to assist defence and space organisations to establish and/or increase their presence in South Australia. She also assists South Australian based Defence personnel and any state-based Australian Army projects to navigate state government processes.

    Ilona is responsible for the Defence and Space Landing Pad at Lot Fourteen, which serves to attract and assist international companies to establish operations in South Australia.

    Ilona is Defence SA’s lead on state government sponsored defence and space industry infrastructure projects, including the relocation of the Australian Space Agency to South Australia and the establishment of Haulmark Trailers state-of-the-art manufacturing and maintenance facility at Edinburgh.

    Prior to joining Defence SA, Ilona served for over 18 years in the regular Army undertaking a number of regimental, training and instructional postings throughout Australia, including a posting in command of the Army’s Logistic Support Element at RAAF Base Edinburgh. Ilona has deployed to East Timor and Iraq. She currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve.

    Ilona is a science graduate of the University of Adelaide, a graduate of the University of Western Sydney (MAppSci) and a graduate of the University of New South Wales (MMngt).

    Ilona is the deputy presiding member of the South Australian Veteran’s Health Advisory Council and remains actively involved in South Australia’s Army and veteran community.

  • Emily YoungDirector, Defence Industry Workforce and Skills

    Emily Young commenced with Defence SA as Director, Defence Industry Workforce and Skills in September 2019. This position was created in partnership with the Department for Innovation and Skills, with a primary focus on ensuring South Australia has the workforce to support ongoing Defence manufacturing in the State.

    Prior to joining Defence SA, Emily worked for BCT Solutions, an Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare (ISREW) specialist consulting firm, as the lead Workforce Planner in the Learning and Development practice. In this role, Emily worked for the Defence Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, writing workforce plans for key strategic acquisition projects, as well as for the Wide Area and Space Surveillance Systems Program Office conducting business planning and governance reform. Emily has also worked in the People and Change practice at KPMG and as the Aide to the Governor of South Australia.

    Emily served for over 20 years as an Officer in the Australian Regular Army, with a focus on Workforce Planning, Human Resource and Change Management. Emily was employed in a range of regimental and staff positions throughout Australia, and deployed on regional force surveillance duties, to East Timor, the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt and Afghanistan.

    Emily is a graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon and the University of New South Wales. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Economics, Honours in Environmental Chemistry, and a Masters of Business in Human Resource Management.

  • Darin LovettDirector, South Australian Space Industry Centre

    Darin Lovett is Director of Space at the South Australian Space Industry Centre. His focus is on leveraging disruption, innovation, and strong support to build a sustainable space industry in South Australia.

    He brings more than 25 years’ experience in strategy and capability development for the Air and Space domains. His diverse background includes space operations and policy, university lecturer, weapons test and evaluation, airborne anti-submarine and surveillance operations, coalition partnering, and working on large-scale transformation projects.

    His space credentials include working as a staff officer in Australia’s joint Defence Space Coordinating Office, four years at the US Executive Agent for Space within the Pentagon, graduate of the International Space University, and Chief of Australia’s Space Operations Centre within HQ Joint Operations Command.

    Darin holds Masters degrees in Philosophy (Military Strategy), Arts (Strategy and Policy) and Science (Technology Management); and a Bachelor of Engineering (Aerospace). He is a graduate of the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), Canadian Forces Aerospace Systems Course (ASC), Australian Command and Staff Course (ACSC), and the US Air Force’s School of Advanced Air & Space Studies (SAASS).

  • Nicola Sasanelli AMSenior Advisor, South Australian Space Industry Centre Director, Communications & Outreach, SmartSat CRC

    Nicola Sasanelli joined SmartSat CRC in July 2019 as Director: Communications & Outreach and Defence SA in April 2016 as Director of the Space Industry and R&D Collaborations project.

    In September 2017 the South Australian Space Industry Centre was created, with Nicola as Director. His focus is to support space industry growth and increase international R&D collaborations in South Australia’s space sector. In September 2019 Nicola became a Senior Advisor at SASIC.

    In 2018 Nicola was appointed Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia – Division of Information Technology, Engineering and the Environment and he was appointed on the board of the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA).

    Nicola graduated from the University of Bari, Italy in 1987 with a degree in Electronic Engineering. He went on to work as a researcher in microelectronics high-reliability components at Tecnopolis S&T Park, Bari before being appointed as Scientific Attaché at the Embassy of Italy in Canberra from 2001 to 2008.

    In 2009, Nicola joined the South Australian Government as a Special Envoy for higher education research and technology transfer to Europe with the Department of Premier and Cabinet and later joined the Department of State Development as Director for International R&D Collaborations.

    From 2003 to 2013 he was appointed as Adjunct Professor of Science and Technology at the University of Canberra, Australia, and in 2007 he became an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia.

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