Institute Leadership

The Institute's activities rely heavily on the efforts of several key groups, led by our pro bono Board of Directors. 

Board Members

Andrew Balmaks

Chairman and Research Committee Member

Andrew is a founder and Chairman of the Noetic Group which operates both in Australia and overseas. He retired from the Australian Army, after 22 year service, and has continued to work extensively on defence and security matters consulting to a range of Government departments both in Australia and overseas. A twice former visiting fellow with the University of New South Wales, Andrew continues to engage broadly on national security issues.


Simon Cullen  AM, CSC

Deputy Chair

Rear Admiral Simon Cullen retired from the Royal Australian Navy in late 2014, following a 38 year career.  His career highlights included command at sea and ashore, extensive operational service and appointments to key senior military positions in the United States.
Rear Admiral Cullen is now pursuing a portfolio of new challenges, ranging from consulting to working in the not-for-profit and charity sectors.  He resides in Canberra.


 Peter Nicholson, AO

Executive Director

Former senior Air Force officer who has held several operational command and strategic level joint staff appointments. He has commanded the RAAF combat force, served as the Head of Strategic Policy and Plans, and as the Chief Knowledge Officer of the Department of Defence.


Jim Bancroft

Jim Bancroft served for 28 years as an infantry officer in the Australian Army. He joined the commercial sector in 2004 on leaving the Regular Army as a Colonel. Jim joined Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems (NGES) in 2008. He now leads NGES international growth strategy and business development interests in Australia and New Zealand.



Brett Biddington, AM

Treasurer and Research Committee Member

Brett Biddington consults to governments and the private sector on space matters and has more general interests in community resilience, notably in the electronic and communications and cyberspace domains. He maintains strong linkages to all elements of the Australian space community including the national security, space science, astronomy and education sectors. Previously he was a member of the Cisco Systems Space Team, in the vanguard of activities which are transforming global space communications and before that was an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force specialising in intelligence, security and capability development.


 Jasmin Craufurd-Hill

Jasmin Craufurd-Hill is a Management lecturer and consultant who has held both senior and project management roles within the government, not-for-profit and emergency services sectors. She currently serves as an Executive Board Member of Women in Nuclear (WiN) Global and previously served as the I&C Team Leader for the OPAL Reactor’s Commissioning Operations Group at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). She is an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and a member of both the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Project Management.


Drew McKinnie

Commodore Drew McKinnie completed full time service in the RAN in 2009, with over 34 years experience as an innovative Naval Officer and Engineer. Since 2010 he has continued reserve service as a technical member of Defence Seaworthiness Boards, independent project reviews, and RAN Keeping Watch charity grants committee. He is  a negotiation consultant, trainer and stakeholder engagement strategist, supporting both public and private sectors.  Drawing on his strategic insights and his enterprise risk management, leadership, training and facilitation expertise, Drew has led many strategic assessment workshops with industry, government agencies, think tanks and strategists. Drew is also Chairman of Operations Department of the Gliding Federation of Australia, with national operations, training and safety responsibilities, and an active power and glider pilot and instructor. He has a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) and Master of Arts in Strategic Studies.




Nicole Quinn

Nicole Quinn is the Director of Government Relations at Parker & Partners and heads up the  Canberra operations of Ogilvy Public Relations.  Nicole has more than 20 years’ experience advising in executive management, advocacy and stakeholder relations at the Federal Government level.
Immediately prior to joining Parker & Partners, Nicole was the General Manager of IFRS.  Nicole has also held a non-partisan Ministerial appointment working directly to senior Federal Ministers of the Defence personnel portfolio. 
Firstly in Sydney and then Canberra, Nicole has held senior roles in marketing, communication, sponsorship and stakeholder relations in the corporate sector, with peak industry bodies and with Federal Government Agencies.
At Parker and Partners Nicole is working with clients including Australian Tax Office, Tresillian, Department of Industry (NSW), Mars Wrigley Australia, American Express, AbbVie, Roche and Sydney Invictus Games. Nicole offers her clients the insights and understanding of the political landscape, bureaucracy and key influencers at the most senior Federal level that ensures highly successful engagement and communication campaigns.
Nicole is currently also a board member of the air power think tank, the Sir Richard Williams Foundation.


Rebekka Wheate

Rebekka Wheate has over 15 years experience in the national security community, and currently serves as Superintendent within the Australian Border Force.

This followed previous policy and operational roles in the AFP’s Strategic Policy branch, the International Deployment Group, Counter-Terrorism and ACT Policing. Rebekka has also held roles in corporate services including Legal and Recruitment, and in 2014 undertook a secondment to the UN Security Council Taskforce at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Rebekka is a foundation governor of the Institute for Regional Security and served for 4 terms on the Future Strategic Leaders Program Committee. In this role she developed the Women in National Security (WiNS) program to attract and retain women into careers in the national security community.


Christine Zeitz

Christine Zeitz is Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Leidos Australia. Christine is responsible for the performance and delivery of programs, as well as strategic growth of Leidos Australia and Asia Pacific. The business has revenues of approximately AU$ 300 million annually and 750 staff located in Canberra and Melbourne. Since joining Lockheed Martin (LM) in August 2015, she managed LM's Information Systems and Global Solutions (IS&GS) business in Australia and Asia Pacific, prior to the business merging with Leidos.

Following a 25-year career with BAE Systems, where she was based in Australia, UK and Japan, Christine has a record of achieving excellent business outcomes in challenging circumstances across geographic regions. Christine was part of BAE System’s management board and held senior positions in logistics, strategy, business development, commercial, procurement, government relations and communications.

Prior to joining LM, Christine was President of BAE System’s North East Asia region. Appointed to this senior executive position in 2013, she carried sole responsibility for government, customer and industry relationships for the region with annual orders of $US600M per annum.

During her time with BAE Systems, Christine was also Director of Defence Logistics in Australia (2010-2013) responsible for P&L of $A200m per annum, 1,500 staff, and 1 million hours of maintenance per annum across 26 sites. Between 2008 and 2010, she was Business Development Director in Australia, responsible for corporate strategy, business development, government relations and communications at a time when BAE Systems in Australia acquired Tenix Defence.

Earlier in her career with BAE Systems (between 1995 and 2005), Christine held a number of senior procurement and commercial positions in both Australia and the UK, responsible for the negotiation, execution and administration of commercial agreements in a number of countries, including Israel, USA, Canada, Kuwait, UK and Indonesia.

Christine was born and raised in Adelaide where she graduated with a Bachelor of Economics (Accounting) from Flinders University. She has also completed post-graduate business administration, management and marketing courses with the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Harvard Business School and the University of South Australia. Christine has been very active on a number of industry councils, boards, forums and committees. Currently, she is a member of the Defence Council of Victoria and a council member of Flinders University (South Australia). She’s also championed the diversity agenda of BAE Systems focusing on gender equity and in 2009 was a Telstra Business Woman of the Year Finalist. She enjoys family time with her husband, Michael, and her two children, along with keeping fit, watching sport, and travelling.


Senior Management


 Catherine Scott

General Manager

Catherine's professional background began in Information Management/Librarianship.  During her career Catherine has worked in a range of professional and voluntary positions including Senior Reference Librarian at the State Library of NSW, in policy research in Australian Government, as Communications Officer at Defence Families of Australia and in several project management roles in website and events management. Catherine holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, a Graduate Diploma in Information Management, Librarianship and a Masters of Business Administration.



Future Strategic Leaders' Committee

 Ruob Yan

Committee Chair

Ruob Yan works at the Department of Defence, having joined the Department through the Graduate Development Program in 2015. He has also been a member of the Army Reserve since 2010, serving in the Melbourne University Regiment, the 4th/19th Prince of Wales’ Light Horse, and now the 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers.
Prior to his national security career, Ruob undertook senior leadership roles in AIESEC, including as National Education Manager at AIESEC Australia and Director of Outgoing Exchange at AIESEC Melbourne.
Ruob holds a Master of Strategic Studies from the Australian National University, and a Bachelor of Arts, Diploma in Languages, and Associate Diploma of Music from the University of Melbourne.