Board members - Choose Brisbane


Board members

Spanning construction to innovation, accounting to aviation, our Board of Directors has cultivated success in a range of different industry sectors.

Paul Spiro (Chairman), National Chairman - Gadens

Paul Spiro is the Brisbane and National Chairman of Gadens, a leading Australian law firm that actively supports the Museum of Brisbane and Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Paul is one the country’s most respected property lawyers and an expert in all areas of property law. He was named as Chairman of Brisbane Marketing in November 2018. Paul, who has been a long-serving champion of the Brisbane creative industries and arts community, has been Chairman of the annual Brisbane Festival since 2014 and is a member of the Lord Mayor’s Creative Brisbane Advisory Board. Paul is a Committee Member of the QAGOMA Foundation and was the recipient of the Arts Law Centre of Australia’s Arts Community Pro Bono Award for 2013, in recognition of the tremendous contribution he has made to the arts in Queensland.

Adam Penberthy, Managing Director, City Winery

Adam has extensive experience in the technology, advertising and hospitality industries. Adam has founded or co-founded a number of successful businesses in these sectors, most notably Fresh, a leading mobile application development agency that has significant experience in the startup, emerging tech and enterprise sectors, and City Winery, an urban winery launched in Brisbane in 2019.

John Shepherd, Managing Partner - Gallus Partners Pty Limited

John is an experienced Executive Director and Non-Executive Director, with more than 25 years’ experience across banking, finance, major projects, hospitality and manufacturing. Both highly disciplined and entrepreneurial, John brings experience, candour, and vibrancy to the board team. As the Managing Partner at Gallus Partners, a boutique investment banking advisory, he works on opportunities in urban renewal, agriculture, advanced manufacturing, and the aged care sectors on projects with retail values of more than $20 million and up to $7 billion. John has a successful record in assisting organisations reach their full potential and believes that leading organisations must possess a strong sense of purpose and agility. He has also been a Non-Executive Director at Brisbane Racing Club, the Urban Development Institute of Australia and Brisbane Cruise Wharf Terminal.

Sofie Formica, Brand Ambassador

Sofie Formica has a high public profile as a respected media personality and as a passionate advocate for tourism, the sustainability of the environment, community resilience and social inclusion. In a public career spanning over 30 years, Sofie has extensive experience in broadcast, production and content creation and has worked with both the private and government sectors, with a particular focus on tourism. After 12 years hosting Queensland’s most popular lifestyle TV show, Sofie recently founded her own production company, TravelWell Media, a multimedia producer and platform which enables its clients to tell stories about their purpose and mission based on experiences and purpose-led strategies. Much sought after as an communications advisor and brand ambassador, Sofie is excited to apply her skill set, network and public profile to Brisbane Economic Development Agency.

Helen Besly, Managing Director

Helen has more than 35 years’ experience providing strategic counsel in communication, issues management and organisational change. Helen is widely regarded as one of the leading minds in Australia’s communication industry and is known for her insightful and candid approach to business and communication challenges. Helen is managing director of Rowland, a communication, digital and creative agency. Prior to joining Rowland in 1996, Helen lived in Hong Kong where she was Vice President and Deputy Managing Director of global PR firm Burson-Marsteller. She is a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Chief Executive Women, the Queensland Community Foundation Board of Governors and QUT’s Business School Academic Board. An active member of the Queensland business community Helen was awarded a Centenary Medal for her services to Australian business leadership and has also won a Telstra Business Award.