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CEO & Managing Director – Melanie Summer

Melanie Summer describes herself as the product of innovative thinking, hard work and determination. Winner of the National Telstra Business Award (2011), Wife, Mother, Business Owner and Community Leader, she is an example and testament to what is possible when you choose to take a chance and go for what you want in life.

A Master Practitioner in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and Hypnotherapist, Melanie views business from a unique perspective. Her innovative thinking combined with her real-world experience, completion of an Executive MBA as well as her studies at Wharton and London Business School give her a cutting-edge advantage across all her business endeavours.

Born and raised in Germany, Melanie has a life story that spans from being a troubled teenager to sailing the world and creating a business empire from less than nothing. After settling in Australia, Melanie found herself as a struggling single mother with determination and a dream to create a secure life for her daughter.

Today, Melanie is on the Tier 1 External Academic Advisory Committee of the USC Business School, one of the inaugural Business coaches at the Sunshine Coast Start-Up Weekend, as well as a coach for the government program ‘Mentoring for Growth’. She is the co-author of Online marketing 3.0 and 20/20 A Fresh Look at Business Inspiration.

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National Training Manager – Emma Siebuhr

Emma joined the Fortress Learning family in 2014, after having children and wanting to get involved with the workforce again. With a background in more traditional educational methods, Emma has really enjoyed being a part of the innovative world of online training. Emma enjoys getting to work with students from a range of backgrounds and social settings, from people who have no qualifications and are unsure about what training is, to university lecturers who are experienced in the field. Emma uses her wealth of knowledge in the VET sector to contextualise training and assessment to meet student needs and support her team of Trainers and Assessors to continually strive to learn and grow as educators. A keen reader of all things book, ranging from the popular to the literary canon, Emma enjoys spending quality time reading on the weekends and having fun with her family ( husband, Troy and 12 and 13-year-old kids, Issy and Tom) and with her 3 dogs, Rocket, Maisie and Nala.

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Certificate IV Trainer & Assessor – Debbie Thomas

Deb joined the Fortress Team in 2019. Deb’s background before having children was as a Registered Nurse and Midwife in Brisbane. Whilst her three sons were growing up she engaged in community volunteer work, in particular within schools and a local kindergarten where she was eventually employed as an Administration Officer gaining her Cert IV in Finance Bookkeeping. After completing her Cert IV TAE in 2015, she commenced training First Aid face to face; a role that Deb loves. Being involved in training led Deb to complete her Dual Diplomas in TAE. She has trained TAE via Zoom as well as assisted students with their online TAE journey.

Her passion is to help people, and Deb really enjoys engaging in personal interaction with her students and assisting them to achieve their goals. In addition to this, Deb is an Authorised Marriage and Funeral Celebrant and has performed over 200 Ceremonies. In her downtime, Deb enjoys meeting with friends, reading or just relaxing with a good movie, and still isn’t sure what she wants to be when she grows up.

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Diploma Trainer & Assessor – Jane Macinthosh

Jane joined the Fortress Team in June 2021 as a TAE Trainer and Assessor. Although born in England, Jane grew up in South Africa and emigrated to Sydney, Australia in 2009.

Jane’s passion is to help people towards achieving their potential and their dreams, through learning. She loves helping students to get through the times when they want to give up and loves those light bulb moments when it all begins to make sense.

Jane has been involved with adult education for the majority of her working life. She has worked in all roles within a Registered Training Organisation including course administration and coordination, developing VET accredited courses and assessments, delivering training and assessment and managing an RTO and its compliance. Jane wants to help create great teachers that inspire others to achieve great things.

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Certificate IV & Diploma Assessor – Maniya Ongpauco

Maniya had the chance to work with Fortress in late 2018 after setting in Australia. Maniya is still fascinated working in the vocational education and training field. She values every students’ journey in learning the knowledge and skills in training and assessment. Before joining Fortress, Maniya was a design educator in international design schools in higher education. She was also a designer in graphic/packaging and product design companies. Outside of work, Maniya takes time in designing handmade polymer clay pieces. She also likes craft-making, photography and botanical painting.

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TAE Trainer and Assessor – Richard Gietman

Richard has been training TAE for the last 10 years. He previously trained hospitality students and his vocational background was in hospitality, primarily in healthcare. He and his wife Sue have two grown up boys Aaron and Shaun. Shaun and his wife Steph have their pride and joy, Dorothy, their one year old grandchild.

Richard has an active family going regularly to the gym and participating in events such as Stadium Stomp and Spartan.

He loves the training industry with all the interesting people he meet. Although he’s a trainer, he also learns from the students (never stops). Speaking of love, red wine and blue cheese!

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TAE Trainer and Assessor – Steve Supel

When he left school, he was certain that he would never become a teacher! Too many bad experiences at school. However, life does bring about unexpected opportunities and eventually, somehow, he did become a teacher, best thing he ever did! He made a pact with himself that if he ever saw himself being like one of ‘those teachers’ that presented bad experiences to him, he would stop then and there.

He has been a teacher/trainer in the VET sector now for more than 20 years and still enjoys every minute that he gets to share with his students.

His teaching career began in the creative industries area before moving into the TAE arena where he has been delivering Training and Assessment courses for almost 8 years.

Outside Fortress Learning, he enjoys all things creative with a particular passion for cooking.

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TAE Trainer and Assessor – Brian Uren

Brian has had vast experience in training and mentoring over the past 30 years through a variety of senior management roles. He has held positions as CEO, General Manager and director of sales and marketing for a number of different marketing companies, both privately
and publicly listed.

It is through these roles and the years of experience he had developing the people he worked with, that Brian developed a passion for training and a skill for helping people achieve their own goals.

Brian formalised his qualifications in training and assessment and now holds the qualifications of Diploma of VET- TAE50116 and TDD – TAE50216. Brian has been a Trainer and Assessor in the VET sector for the last 12 years, where the wealth of experience gained in the corporate world has translated to a successful career in the classroom. Brian’s knowledge and passion to help others achieve and succeed, instils a sense of confidence and
self-belief in students.

Feedback from students talk about how they have enjoyed his enthusiastic and inspirational training and have often recommended others to seek their new qualifications with him as a result.

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Accounts Officer – Eunice Faustino

Eunice has been with Fortress Learning since she retired from teaching Mathematics in 2010 to join us and further her interest in e-Learning and business administration.  Like many of our multi-skilled people, Eunice has enjoyed many roles across administration, support, assessment, and accounting.  Eunice believes that education and technology work best together, and shares this through development opportunities she hosts for teachers in the areas of Education and Technology. During her free time, Eunice enjoys studying the stock and currency markets and listening to audiobooks.

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Lead Student Support – Bheng Celon

Bheng has been with Fortress Learning since 2010 and has enjoyed working her way in the organisation from full-time Receptionist to Lead Student Support. Previous to Fortress, Bheng worked as an Executive Assistant to several expatriate business people. Bheng enjoys the family environment created at Fortress and appreciates how understanding the team at Fortress is – giving the flexibility of working from home, so Bheng can balance family life with her two boys.

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Student Support – Odeza Tadoyo

Odeza enjoys being a part of the Fortress team (which she joined in 2013) as it allows her to work online while being at home and close to her children. Odeza has fond memories of joining the Fortress Team and being welcomed by the entire staff who have continued to be warm, supportive and helpful. Outside of Fortress Learning Odeza enjoys keeping busy with her three boys and travelling.

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Student Support & Enrolments – Karenn Octubre

Karenn joined Fortress in mid-2018, after working as a nurse for 3 years. Like many people, Karenn’s first forays into the Australian VET sector have pushed her into a whole new world, with its own rules and unique language! “I joined Fortress Learning to go outside of my comfort zone and to be able to explore the things I never thought I could do.”

Karenn’s natural instinct to support people and her vibrant personality make her ideal as Student Support She loves new challenges, assisting others in traversing new things and hanging out with her dogs, Dory and Princess. We’re all delighted to have Karenn as part of our team

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Student Support – Cory Sabela

Cory is always looking for new challenges. Before joining Fortress, Cory worked as a sales representative, MC and event organizer, and has now dived into the waters of the VET industry with enthusiasm and positivity. In her free time, Cory enjoys a good book, singing along to her favourite tunes and cooking (sweets being a particular specialty of hers). We are privileged to have such a bright and effervescent addition to the Fortress team!

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Course Advisor – Jonathan Stekhoven

Jon is the Operations Manager here at Fortress and he is passionate about supporting students and staff. Jon has 13 years of management and operations experience in the education industry. Jon believes in authentic leadership and relationship management with an emphasis on an open communication leadership style to foster a strong, stable and respectful workplace culture. Jon lives on the beautiful Sunshine Coast with his young family and in his spare time, he enjoys going to the beach, cycling and gardening.

Meet the Team

Course Advisor – Alicia Chua

Alicia is one of the newest members of the Fortress family and has taken on the role of course advisor. She hails from Singapore but moved to Australia in 2010.

She has a passion for teaching, having a Graduate Diploma in Education and also having spent several years as a dance teacher in Melbourne. She found great joy in seeing students improve under her tutelage and hopes to continue that one day in the field of Training and Assessment.

When she’s not working, Alicia enjoys learning French (she might be a bit obsessed with France) and cross stitching while bingeing on Netflix sci-fi.

Meet the Team

Marketing Manager – Gaven Orlando

Gaven is originally from the UK, and after graduating from university, he moved to London which is where he lived for 13 years.

Here he worked in various jobs, from sales and marketing to dressing up as a nun whilst working as a presenter for a radio station. Yes, unfortunately for him this is true, and eventually led to him being waxed live on stage in front of 5,000 people (although this is definitely another story for another time lol).

He knows what it takes to build a successful business from just an idea in his head to $1M in sales, the pain of losing it all during 2020, and some of the lessons that can be learned from picking yourself up and going again.

He’s joined our marketing team to help us communicate all of the great things that we do here, and comes to the Fortress family after many years of being an entrepreneur and a “digital nomad”, where he got to travel the world whilst running his business from his laptop.

He always knew that one day he was destined to land in Australia, and it was here that he fell in love, first with the palm trees, beaches and blue skies and then, with his partner Diana, who he first met at a dance audition over 4 years ago.

He loves helping businesses to create products and services that connect with their customers, but when he’s not doing that, you’ll find him relaxing in nature, out dancing cuban salsa and bachata, or simply just tucking himself away from the world to read a good book or watch a tv series (in which case you may not find him, because his hiding places are actually quite good).

Meet the Team

Digital Marketing OfficerRachael Wilson

Rach has joined our Marketing Team as a writing extraordinaire and wordsmith ninja, but she also brings a highly creative brain for out-of-the-box ideas into our management team.

She comes to us from many years spent being a business owner herself and doing all her own marketing, blogging, emails and all things business, coupled with a depth of experience and expertise in understanding people through being a relationship coach and communication commando.

She is married to her soul mate of 22 years, lives in Brisbane and is a Mum to 4 unique human beings ranging from over 20, down to nearly 4 yrs old. 3 out of 4 of them are neurodiverse (ADHD and ASD) with the youngest 2 both having additional needs and challenges.

This has only given Rach even more trouble shooting skills, compassion and understanding as to how each person’s brain can be wired differently, and what additional needs people have when trying to learn.

She brings this unique knowledge and perspective to our learning environment so rest assured, if you are neurodiverse or learning challenged, we have people here who get it and are here to fully support you in succeeding.