Executive team

Jeff Penrose
Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer

Jeff is an ICT domain specialist, with significant international business development, sales and delivery experience in the private and public sectors. He has held executive management and technical roles in both commercial and large government organisations. Jeff has extensive experience in defining and understanding business needs from clients and delivering creative outcomes. He is a detailed problem solver, with the ability to engage across a broad cross section of an organisation. Jeff is married with four adult children and an appetite for continuous learning of business and technology trends and issues – Graduate Diploma on Executive Leadership.

Kris Poria
Cofounder and CEO

Kris Poria is an extremely successful and highly achieving international businessman who has combined a thirst for learning with a determination to improve business functionality throughout his career. Born in a humble farming community in rural village, at the age of 16, Kris spent three months at an English school with no understanding of the English language. Rather than shirk the task of mastering a much-needed foreign language, Kris displayed resilience, character and determination to learn and soon succeeded in becoming fluent in English. By the age of 21, he was juggling two businesses, a new marriage and university studies. Kris saw the vision in all three and effectively managed his time and money accordingly. His love and inquisitive nature of software saw him become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer and leave his native country to gain international experience in Europe and America. Deciding that Australia was the best country in the world to raise a family and expand his entrepreneurial spirit, Kris first moved to Sydney where he launched a new media publication, ‘Invest in Australia’. As well as successfully publishing this magazine Australia-wide, Kris’ love of IT and its endless foray into every business overtook his energies and he was back in that world again with some of the largest IT production companies and system integrators. But the entrepreneurial bug was still running through his veins and when Kris stumbled upon a gap in the market for big companies to work with start-ups that had innovative solutions, he realised a platform needed to be launched, to marry the two together, along with enabling start-ups and early adopters to exchange value early on. Along with his co-founder and business partner, Jeff Penrose, they launched EarlyBirds - a global platform and business model that connects tech innovators, start-ups, along with independent experts, to share expertise and knowledge, to enable businesses to upscale quicker. EarlyBirds helps companies by providing capability solutions within a trusted networking platform to millions of businesses around the world. The platform allows early adopter technical issues to be solved quickly by experts providing solution options. This is complimented by innovation programs, products, and services on offer to allow newish companies to see what the global market is doing. Finally, subject matter experts are welcomed onto the platform to work with customers to deliver business-focused outcomes. This helps improve the innovation lifecycle and enable any products or services to come to life quicker. There are already 4 million + innovators on the platform; 1000+ companies and in excess of 100 SME consultants with the numbers growing quickly. The key going forward for EarlyBirds is to continue to add value to all providers on the platform and learning fast. Kris’ subject matter knowledge, passion, vision, and boundless energy are unsurpassed meaning that the EarlyBirds platform will only continue its journey around the world acquiring customers at a rapid rate of knots, as it becomes the obvious choice for custom-made solutions for all parties involved.

James Palmer

Over 25 years experience in professional services – 20 of those with a Big 4 accounting firm and ten years as a partner. Before Early Birds, James was the CFO at Seeing Machines and, during his tenure has been instrumental in four share placings raising more than £58m in capital. Over this period the Company has grown from a staff of 50 to just under 200 full-time employees, with top-line revenue growth of over four times. Before joining Seeing Machines James ran his own business providing consulting CFO services and advice to fast-growing entrepreneurial companies. Prior to that, James spent 24 years in professional services in London, Sydney and the USA, 20 of those years with a major accounting firm. He was a partner with Ernst & Young (now EY) for a decade, and for six years, Managing Partner of the EY assurance group in Canberra. James holds a BSc (Honours) in Management Sciences (Manchester University) and is a Fellow of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. He is a registered company auditor in Australia and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Andy Dougherty
President - USA Operations

Mr. Andy Dougherty joins EarlyBirds bringing his 40+ years of industry and government experience as well as knowledge of the US Industry and Federal Government space at-large. In 2001, following a decorated career in the US Navy, Mr. Dougherty continued his career in the Defense and Intelligence Community as Senior Vice President and General Manager of 3001 International Inc, during which time he quadrupled both revenue and EBIT. This growth led to an acquisition of 3001 by Northrop Grumman in 2008 where he supervised and led the integration efforts of all defense and intelligence groups until 2010. Mr. Dougherty then moved on to assume the position of Federal Vice President for GeoEye Inc./DigitalGlobe, which he held from 2010 to 2013, winning several contracts to support satellite imagery and analysis across the Community. Later in 2013, he accepted the position of Senior Vice President and Sector Deputy Director for KeyW (now Jacobs) where he established several new lines of business with key government agencies in the US, Australia and other Commonwealth nations. In 2016, he transitioned to the role of President and Chief Strategy Officer for Continental Mapping Corporation (now Axim Geospatial) and has since resigned from that position to serve on their Board of Advisors. Throughout his career Mr. Dougherty successfully coupled the needs of the customer with industry innovations. While advancing from Manager, VP, SVP and President positions, he forged new paths for his customers taking advantage of all available technologies. Twice a recipient of a “Manager of the Year” award, he was known for his strategic leadership and innovative solutions. Each step in Mr. Dougherty’s career has resulted in significant revenue growth, new customer development (relationships) and dramatically improved margins. Mr. Dougherty holds a BS Marketing and Spanish (dual major) from LaSalle University in Pennsylvania and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He currently holds a US Security Clearance.

Industry advisory board

Dr Tom Janoshalmi
SVP, Chief Growth Officer, SAP

Tom is a passionate, growth and outcome oriented professional with 20 years of executive experience in leadership roles including delivering digital transformation at Fortune 100 companies. He believes in lifetime customer success through resilience, honesty and integrity. Tom is the Chief Growth Officer of SAP’s Digital Business reporting into the Executive Board, with P&L responsibility for €500m worldwide. When not engaged in customer success you can find Tom spending time with my family in Australia or swimming.

Rowan Dollar
Australia's leading CIO

Judged recently as one of Australia's leading CIOs, Rowan is a highly experienced and multi-faceted business-focused technology executive and Company Director with 35 years’ experience in both private and public sector roles. Rowan has a solid reputation for delivering strategic transformational business change including cyber security, artificial intelligence, business intelligence and analytics. Rowan has a solid reputation for being an innovator and transformer managing change, building high performance teams and delivery in rapidly changing and complex situations. Rowan is known throughout Government and Industry as an expert advisor and thought leader re Digital and Data Transformations covering Financial Services, Banking, Consulting/Advisory and Government. Rowan is a sought after advisor and expert in AgTech and experienced with Artificial Intelligence project delivery. Acknowledged by industry, Rowan's reputation is for transformation, innovation and technology leadership.

Phillip Cenere
Chairman & Non-Executive Director

Higher education is experiencing major changes, challenges and opportunities. Borders are shifting, funding models are being reinvented, and the missions of universities are being redefined. Phil has served in senior academic leadership roles since 2003 and has been privileged to help shape and manage some of those changes. As the Associate Vice-Chancellor for CQ University’s New South Wales region and head of the Sydney campus, Phil had responsibility for managing business growth and development, regional engagement, teaching and learning, research and the pastoral care of students and staff. As a management and board consultant, Phil advised and served alongside ASX50/100/200 CEOs and directors, vice chancellors, not-for-profit leaders and government departments and has been involved in the business development of some of Australia’s best known institutions. Phil believes that success leaves footprints and has spent most of his life studying and modelling successful people and organizations. He enjoys working with great people, places and projects.

Nathan Plummer
Ambassador - Accelerators and Corporate Partnerships

Currently Head of Venture Cafe Sydney, Nathan has extensive experience in collaborating with Innovators and corporates.

Dr Lyndon Walker
Online education, statistical consulting, angel investing, and just generally knowledgeable and helpful :)

Dr Lyndon Walker is a former statistics lecturer turned consultant and entrepreneur. Lyndon offers statistical analysis and statistics training to corporate and academic clients as well as the moderation and review of analysis and reports. He also provide audit and moderation services for reviewing educational content, assessment, and delivery (especially online) in higher education.

Liam Holley
Health Research Expert

Liam is interested in shaping innovation that improves the way we live. He is an inventor with over one hundred patents published. Currently also lead Research Engineer with more than a decade of experience working in the medical device industry. Experienced in working with opinion leaders to identify clinical and market needs, and develop solutions from conception to product release. Expertise in mechanical design, acoustics, biomedical algorithms, systems engineering, technology and biomedical research, data science, sleep and respiratory medicine, lean innovation, machine learning, new business creation, technical leadership and management. Inventor of SleepQ acoustic technology used for monitoring sleep breathing in China.

Joseph Dalessandro
Security Audit | Research | Education (more privateer than pirate)

Struggling introvert who values teams and values curiosity and diversity of thought over everything else in team members. The more I work and live the more I find who I work with, and what I do, far outweighs other tangible benefits of having a job. I crave learning and thinking which has luckily been a part of every role in one way or another. Opportunities have come in starting three business, living in three countries, working in eight countries, working for very large and very small companies, and working and learning with individuals from varied educational and cultural backgrounds. I give back and want to give back more. I love teaching and will do it until the day I die. Huxley said, “…experience is not what happens to a [person]; it is what a [person] does with what happens to [them].”

Joe Corvetti
Technical | Strategic Adviser in the Onshore & Offshore Energy Sector

Solution oriented. Motivated by building successful, cohesive teams, bringing resources and infrastructure to energy projects and operations. Collaboration and relationship management are key motivators.

Gordon Lang
NED | Director | Mentor | Advisor | Coach | Projects | Corporate - For Purpose - Community - Member based

Is your business or career resilient? You should be working the three critical components for future success: Survival - Revival - Reformulation. Gordon can help businesspeople and businesses develop and succeed. He is an Experienced Mentor, Board Member, Advisor and Senior Manager with more than 35 years of developing, guiding and sustaining businesses, including high level involvement with business associations and community organisations. He offers a track record of developing people and businesses that result in organisational growth and profitability. Recognised and respected as a businessperson adept at influencing commercial and business success, and as a community leader who uses experience, expertise and knowledge for professional mentorship and organisational and board participation and advisory.

Daniel Witherington
Digital Innovation, Strategy & Transformation Health & Life Science

Daniel is an experienced executive whose goal is to lead and in fluence a dynamic business, to exceed and outperform markets. Driving and influencing change to ensure the business strategy is at the forefront of transformation initiatives across culture, strategy, simplification, digital solutions, risk and AI. While continuing to deliver a strong customer centric solution.

Arjan Bloemer
Senior Transformation Leader

Genuine Senior Transformation Executive who leverages his extensive global experience, insights in best practices and deep understanding of (new) technologies to drive and lead Business and Technology Transformations. Worked in the industry both as a Senior Executive and Senior Advisor to Boards and C-suite. This unique and valuable combination has proven to be the best foundation to lead complex Transformation challenges. Every day Arjan lives by his personal values; honesty, integrity, courage, boldness and inclusiveness.

Dr. Kathleen L. Kiernan
President of NEC Security Systems (NSS)

Dr. Kathleen L. Kiernan is President and Chair of the Board of NEC National Security Systems (NSS), subsidiary of NEC Corporation of America. Dr. Kiernan executes the company’s vision of providing world-class biometric and identity, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and computer vision applications for federal government agencies in defense, intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security agencies. Dr. Kiernan is a recognized expert in strategic thinking, strategy development, and facilitating critical incident management exercises for senior leaders across government and private sector organizations. These include national and international level policies related to criminality and terrorism; Insider Threat, unconventional threats impacting the warfighter; anomalous behavior detection; continuity of operations and crisis management and crisis communications. In addition, Dr. Kiernan has served as a Subject Matter Expert for Risk Assessment and Gap Analysis efforts for some of our nation’s most critical assets. She was the Principal Investigator for an international project related to suicide bomber methodology; the results of which informed national level risk mitigation policies and the development of behavioral detection training, as well as countermeasure investment. An educator at heart, she has developed and trademarked approaches to complex national level issues which include: Fuciferi Versuiti® (AKA Crafty Bastards): A highly specialized, metric-based analytical process created to provide multidisciplinary problem solving and custom-tailored solutions for the world’s most complex current and emerging threats and challenges; Emerging Technology Innovation Center: Identifies, exploits, and often recombines technology capabilities across the virtual (cyber) and physical trade space; PWP®: Preparedness Without Paranoia, a community-based program that provides a common sense educational and training approach to preparedness at the intersection of fear and fact for active threats in consonance with national level standards and guidance. Additionally, Dr. Kiernan is an adjunct faculty member of the Johns Hopkins School of Education and the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School. Dr. Kiernan has been the recipient of several national awards to include the Women of Influence-Public Sector award; the American Security Today Platinum Award for Best Educational Program in Homeland Security from 2017 through 2022, the Illinois Security Professionals Association Excellence in Emergency Management in 2019. Other highlights of Dr. Kiernan’s credentials include: Chair of InfraGard, now Emeritus, previous member of the Army Science Board, where she led a panel exploring the transition of law enforcement training and technology to the warfighter; previous member of the Air Force Strategic Studies Board; former Chair of the Domestic Intelligence Council for the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA); graduate of the FBI’s National Executive Institute (Class 26), and a member of the Business Executives for National Security (BENS). Kiernan is a member of the Advisory Board for the Washington DC Police Foundation and San Diego Harbor Police Foundation and a member of the Advisory Board for the Center for Advanced Red Teaming at the University of Albany, SUNY.

Jennifer “JJ” Snow
Advisory Board Member

Jennifer “JJ” Snow is a retired Air Force Intelligence Officer and current Venture Partner at Allied Partners, an early stage NatSec venture firm. She is a strategic advisor to the George Kaiser Family Foundation’s Tulsa Innovation Lab Cyber Analytics Council and Advanced Aerial Mobility Council, CTO-in-Residence for the A.Team, and Founder of Snow Storm Advisory Services which currently advises early stage startups in the U.S., CAN, UK and AUS. JJ served as the Chief Technology Officer for AFWERX, the innovation arm of the U.S. Air Force and the military Chief Innovation Officer for SOFWERX at Special Operations Command. JJ served three combat tours with AFSOC, JSOC, SOCOM and NSA in Afghanistan and Iraq and has held multiple leadership roles with special operations and special mission units. She is a distinguished graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School Defense Analysis Masters program, distinguished graduate of NSA’s elite JOCCP program and alumni of the UVA Darden School Executive Course.


Dr Phil Kowalick
Design Thinking & National Security SME

Phil is the President of Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers (AIPIO). He is one of Australia’s foremost thought leaders in law enforcement, intelligence and national security. A serving police officer in the Australian Federal Police for over 34 years retiring at Commander level in 2014. Played a key role in many of Australia’s most important law enforcement programs and initiatives. Established multi-agency intelligence capabilities in Australia’s major airports; designed arrangements to set and manage Australia’s counter terrorism priorities in the Counter Terrorism Control Centre; and was instrumental in developing the Australian Criminal Intelligence Model. A critical thinker, with extensive experience in strategic design and harnessing skills to help clients achieve benefits within intricate systems. Solves complex problems in organisations and was engaged as a consultant to develop the strategic design of the Australian Border Force. Phil regularly presents scholarly papers on Intelligence, Law Enforcement, Counter Terrorism and Criminology and other associated issues at national and international conferences.

Brett Peppler
Design Thinking & Intelligence SME

Brett Peppler is specialising in management consulting practice providing intelligence-led approaches for managing uncertainty in strategic planning. He specialises in the creative application of strategic foresight to frame and navigate complex business challenges. Most recently, Brett worked in the corporate sector as an executive leader and practitioner in business model innovation. Previously, Brett was a professional intelligence officer, including appointments and professional engagements in the United States of America, Europe, New Zealand, and South-East Asia. Brett is a Fellow, Past President and Life Member of the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers (AIPIO), a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), a Member of the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE), and an Adjunct Fellow at Macquarie University. Industry Sectors: Defence, Intelligence, Law Enforcement, Public Policy, Higher Education, Financial Services Expertise: Foresight, Intelligence, Strategy, Innovation, Risk

Ryan Gonsalves
Banking and Financial Services - SME Leader

Ryan is an innovation strategist and engaging people leader with over 20 years' experience in consumer banking and wealth management at global corporates GE Capital, HSBC and AMP. Leading with strong commercial and political acumen and high emotional intelligence, his work has taken him across Europe, North America, Middle East, Asia and Australia in B2C and B2B2C industries. Born in England, Ryan started his career as a professional football (soccer) player at Huddersfield Town, before moving on to play semi-professionally around Europe and coaching in the US. Ryan has a demonstrated ability in leading diverse teams to the highest global regulatory and ethical standards. As a results-driven general manager, skilled at interacting with Board and C-Suite executives at challenging times, he will quickly simplify complex situations and drive trade-off decisions to enable businesses to move forward. He recently made the switch to full time consulting so that he could apply his critical thinking and cross-cultural delivery skills to businesses with varying degrees of maturity and across a broader range of industries. Initially as AMP Bank Head of Innovation and Change, Ryan swiftly moved into the AMP Group Strategy. His work focused on establishing the strategic plan as the wealth giant reset its strategy and reshaped its portfolio of businesses, following the fallout from the Royal Commission into Banking and Superannuation. Ryan joined AMP in March 2017 following 9 years in HSBC’s Global Retail Banking & Wealth Management team, based in Hong Kong. During that time, he travelled extensively across the HSBC global footprint, driving thought-leadership research to develop and implement innovative product propositions and leading the multi-jurisdiction award winning home ownership journeys. Prior to AMP and HSBC, he spent 9 years at GE Capital where he held various roles in Sales, Marketing and as a Six Sigma and Lean Black Belt. Always learning, Ryan holds an Honours degree in Marketing & Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Diploma, and a Global MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School. Although he still plays football, Ryan is more likely to be seen as a coach or hopeless triathlete. He lives in Sydney, with his wife and their 3 young sons.