Meet the Board

Don Rankin


Don Rankin was appointed President of the Victorian Chamber on 17 November 2016, following three years as Deputy President. Don was a founding partner of Pitcher Partners. Don has over thirty years’ experience advising private and family businesses across a broad range of industries. He specialises particularly in assisting clients in the management, growth and evolution of their business. Don sits on a number of Family Board Advisory Committees. 

Karyn Sobels

Deputy President

Karyn Sobels was appointed Deputy President of the Victorian Chamber on 17 November 2016, with over 30 years’ experience in the Retail, Telecommunications and Banking sectors.

Currently the Principal of business advisors SKS Hub Pty Ltd, she also serves on the board of the Telstra Licensee Association, Riskinfo and SME Private Advisory Panels.

As a business owner and Chair of Victorian Chamber’s Small Business Taskforce, she has a significant appreciation for the challenges and opportunities faced by SMEs. Karyn holds a BA, a Masters in Commercial Law and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

The Hon. Mark Birrell

Immediate Past President

Mark Birrell became the Immediate Past President of the Victorian Chamber in November 2016, following three years as President. An experienced company director and corporate adviser, he is Chairman of the Australian Payments Council, Regis Health Care Limited, Infrastructure Australia and of Post Super Pty Ltd. 

Mark's previous roles include being Chairman of the Port of Melbourne Corporation, Chairman of VicHealth, Chairman of Evans & Peck Limited, Deputy Chairman of Australia Post and National Leader of the Infrastructure Group at MinterEllison. He was founding Chairman of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia.

He has a significant public policy background through his earlier roles as Minister for Major Projects and then Minister for Industry, Science & Technology. Mark was Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council.

Mark holds degrees in Economics and Law and has been admitted to practice as a barrister and solicitor in the Supreme Court and the High Court. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Kevin Brown

Following a career spanning 15 years with the international company SKF culminating in the role as Managing Director, SKF Australia Pty Ltd and Chairman, SKF New Zealand Pty Ltd, Kevin changed industries.

For five years (2000 to 2005) as a shareholder and Managing Director, Kevin grew Extel Communications Pty Ltd into an export focussed niche communications company, developing, manufacturing and marketing innovative access network products in Australia, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

In 2005 Kevin once again changed industries moving into the property sector, initially as CEO of Oliver Hume Real Estate Pty Ltd and currently as CEO of RPM Real Estate Group, innovative leaders in the property and development industry focussed on the marketing of residential land both developed and undeveloped.

Robert Van Stokrom

Robert was elected to the Board of the Victorian Chamber in December 2014. Robert is the CEO and an owner of DFP Recruitment and brings with him a wealth of experience from senior Executive roles within Listed Multinational companies and Private Industry.

Robert spent 23 years in the pharmaceutical industry, firstly in technical and logistics roles then senior Executive positions which resulted in involvement in projects in China and the Asia region. Robert then moved to manage businesses in Recruitment before becoming an owner of DFP. As CEO over the last 10 years DFP has expanded from 3 to 16 offices nationally and is now in the top 10 privately owned recruitment firms in Australia.

Robert is a board member for the RCSA (the recruitment industry peak body) and is the current President for Australia and New Zealand. In 1997 Robert was elected to Local Government as a Councillor for the City of Knox. Robert is A Fellow of the RCSA, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and a Certified Professional of AHRI.

Robert is Chairman of the Art Cabriolet, a not for profit organisation providing multiple platforms for art expression and experience for children in trauma or living in challenging conditions.

Robert has also for 5 years chaired a young Entrepreneurs group providing coaching and mentoring for up and coming business stars. Robert is an avid blogger, enjoys his MC duties and Conference presentations. Robert holds a Dip Business and a Grad Dip in Logistics from Monash.

Adrian Kloeden

Adrian Kloeden is the Asia Pacific Chairman of the FTSE 100 international service company Serco and was formerly the Chief Executive Officer from 2002–2007. Serco Asia Pacific has almost 10,000 employees in the region and 120,000 globally. He is also Chairman of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, Chairman of Aquasure Holdings Pty Ltd and associated companies and Chairman of Hancock Victorian Plantations Holdings Pty Ltd and associated companies.

Adrian’s management experience covers a wide variety of industries, including forestry, agribusiness, manufacturing, distribution, retail, research and development, brand management, technology, e-commerce, defence and tourism and transport. He has held leadership positions in large and small public and private companies and government related organizations in many regions of the world.

His early education was in Australia where he graduated in science from the Australian National University.  He followed this a few years later with a master’s degree in business from the London Business School. In 2013 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Deakin University.

Adrian contributes to community affairs through his former deputy-chancellorship of a University and advisory board positions at CEDA and the Australian British Chamber of Commerce.

David Richardson

David Richardson was appointed to the Board of the Victorian Chamber in April 2016, having served eight years in various Chamber roles including: Regional Chairperson; Chairman of the Victorian Chamber's Small Business Policy Sub-Committee; Regional Delegate at five Victorian Chamber Summits and was elected to the Executive Council in 2015. He is a strong advocate for SMEs and Regional Victoria.

David holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration. He is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

David leads Deakin University in Bendigo in a role that focuses on strengthening the University's engagement with industry, local government and the community. David has significant experience in business having been CEO for nine years of Strategem, a leading regional Accounting, Advisory and Wealth Management company with offices in Bendigo and Melbourne.

David is also an independent Director of Coliban Water Authority, CVGT Australia and is appointed by State Government to the Regional Partnership for Loddon Campaspe.

He has previously served as Director for Strategem Private Clients Pty Ltd; St Luke's Anglicare Ltd; Chairman of the Bendigo Professional Services Group and been appointed to various Advisory Boards in Higher Education, Local Government and the Arts.

Brian Negus

Brian NegusBrian is the Chairman of the CICA (Collaborative ITS Consulting) Group, and the Immediate Past President, and Ambassador of Intelligent Transport Systems Australia. Brian was elected to the Board of the Victorian Chamber in November 2016 and he holds qualifications in Civil Engineering, Transport and Traffic Engineering and Executive Management. Brian is also a Club Melbourne Ambassador.

Brian brings over 40 years of Government and private sector transport experience to these roles which draws on his senior management positions as General Manager, Public Policy at RACV, Deputy Director of Public Transport in Victoria, Regional Director at VicRoads and General Manager of Port Planning at the Melbourne Port Corporation.

Helen Fairclough

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Helen Fairclough returned to her hometown Melbourne from California to join the award-winning Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) four years ago as the Director of People, Culture and Improvement. Her role at MCEC involves implementing the venue’s people and culture strategy, partnering with the business to focus on talent acquisition, talent management and employee services as well as driving business improvement and innovation.

Prior to MCEC, Helen was the Manager, Human Resources Strategy and Talent Management for the Downstream and Chemicals division of Chevron Corporation in San Ramon, California.

With 30 years’ experience as a HR professional she has worked in industries as diverse as retail, advertising, government/public sector, hospitality, tourism & events, insurance, law, consulting, manufacturing and energy. Helen has Board level experience as a member of the Australian American Chamber Commerce Board (San Francisco, USA) and a Member of the Advisory Board Melbourne Chamber of Commerce.