Commtract is Australia’s first marketplace and
Pete McConnell: CEO and Founder
support network for communications professionals.
Prior to founding Commtract, Pete was Director of Corporate and Public Affairs for Woolworths Limited. His role included media relations, corporate communications, internal communications, government and industry relations and corporate social responsibility for the Woolworths Limited Group and its trading divisions. He was also a member of its Management Board.
Pete was formerly Chief of Staff to the New South Wales Premier, The Hon. Barry O’Farrell MP. He played an instrumental role in the March 2011 State Election in which the NSW Liberals and Nationals recorded the highest vote since World War II, and oversaw the subsequent transition to Government.
Pete has also worked as an adviser in the Commonwealth Government and as a Management Consultant.
Pete has been a Director of the Duke of Edinburgh Award of Australia and the Australia Asia Young Leadership Program. He has a Masters in Applied Finance from Macquarie University and an Economics Degree (hons) from the University of Queensland. He is also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Pete is married with two children and lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Luke Achterstraat: General Manager, Strategy and Operations
Prior to joining Commtract, Luke was an Adviser to Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck, Minister for Tourism and International Education in the Turnbull Government. He had previously been an Assistant Adviser to the Hon. Andrew Robb AO MP, Minister for Trade and Investment whilst historic trade deals were signed with South Korea, Japan and China. Luke worked in a tactical role in the 2013 Federal Election campaign that brought the Coalition to Government.
Prior to government, Luke was a Policy Advisor at the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), a peak body representing over 200 companies in the resource sector, and appeared on AMMA’s behalf at public hearings held by Senate committees and the Productivity Commission.
Luke holds a Bachelor of Economics and Masters of Management from the University of Sydney.
Anna Whitlam: Chairperson
Anna Whitlam is Managing Director of Anna Whitlam People, an executive search and management consulting firm specialising in corporate affairs, communications, investor relations and marketing.
CEOs and company Chairmen turn to Anna Whitlam and her team for confidential advice on reputation management and corporate affairs structuring at the most senior levels. As Managing Director of Anna Whitlam People, Anna is the Executive Search consultant of choice for many Top 20 ASX companies and global businesses seeking the best corporate affairs talent in Australia and globally. With over 25 years in the business, Anna has developed a formidable network of corporate affairs professionals working in senior roles in business, government and community organisations.
Commtract is a complementary business to Anna Whitlam People, serving a different market – connecting companies with corporate affairs and communications professionals seeking short-term contract and project opportunities.
Anna’s qualifications include a B.BUS and the AICD Company Directors Course. She is an alumna of Harvard Business School and INSEAD in Singapore. She has held non-executive director positions on not-for-profit boards and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, and the International Association of Communicators.
Rebecca Tabakoff: Director
Rebecca is a founding Director of Temple Executive Search and works with leading organisations to help them structure their corporate affairs teams and find the best people to work within them. She has conducted search for top-tier organisations including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Transurban, AMP, Insurance Australia Group, Crown Limited, Primary Healthcare Limited, Coca-Cola Amatil, The Nationals (NSW Division) and the NSW Government.
Rebecca has more than 20 years of experience in politics, communications and corporate affairs. She has built teams and worked in communications across agency, in-house and industry associations. Rebecca spent five years at FTI Consulting as Director of Corporate and Public Affairs where she consulted to many leading companies including Woolworths, Seven Group Holdings, Motion Picture Association of America, Pacific Equity Partners, Gilbert and Tobin, Rothschild and Primary Health Care Limited.
Prior to that, Rebecca was the Head of Corporate Affairs at FOXTEL where she was responsible for communications, government relations and community relations for the high profile business.
Rebecca started her working life as a political staffer during the NSW Fahey Government in the Nineties, culminating in a role on the media team of the NSW Leader of the Opposition. After six years in the NSW Parliament as well as working on the campaign for the republic and the 1999 campaign for the City of Sydney, Rebecca joined the business lobby group the NSW Chamber of Commerce where she led the government relations and media teams.
Rebecca has a Bachelor of Arts (Politics and History) from the University of NSW.
Ross Thornton: Director
Ross Thornton is a highly experienced strategic communications adviser with more than 20 years experience working in politics and financial PR. He is a co-founder of two of the most successful corporate/financial agencies in Sydney and has advised on many of the largest and most complex financial transactions in recent Australian history.
Until recently, Ross was a Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting, the company which bought his firm, Third Person. Ross had also led FTI Consulting’s Strategic Communications division in the Asia-Pacific region as well as serving as its global head of Mergers and Acquisitions based in London during 2011 and 2012.
Ross began his working life as a media adviser in NSW Government and had several in-house corporate affairs roles before co-founding both the Cannings and Third Person financial PR agencies. Over the past 16 years he has hired more than 200 corporate affairs specialists to work at his PR firms. He is now a partner at Domestique, a specialist PR agency focussing on financial and corporate PR.
Ross also serves as Chairman of the Michael Clarke Cricket Academy. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Communications) from the University of Technology in Sydney.