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SPE : A-NZ Office Bearers for 2022-2023

Hamed Ghajarnia

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President and Publicity Chair

Hamed Ghajarnia graduated in Polymer Engineering in 1997 in Tehran, Iran. He has worked in many different roles in the automotive, plastics and rubber industries and has also worked as a polymer expert and consultant. He has been a senior editor of “Plastics Industry Magazine” and editor-in-chief of “Recycling Magazine”. He was also the founder of two companies in the polymer industry in Iran.

Hamed migrated to Australia in 2010. He is the founder and managing director of CRINNAC, an engineering and product development company. CRINNAC works with start-ups, entrepreneurs and established companies providing new product development and engineering services. 


Hamed is also involved with MOR Industries as their technical director. MOR Industries has almost 140 years of expertise and experience in the manufacturing and supplying plastics, rubber and silicone extrusion and mouldings to the food, mining, transport, agriculture and construction industries. While working at MOR, Hamed managed to develop new fire-retardant rubber products mainly for the transport industry. These products are unique in Australia.

Hamed is the current president of SPE-ANZ. He has actively worked with the SPE: A-NZ Section for more than 11 years, of which for 10 years he has served as Publicity Chair. His focus is to improve the Section’s connection and communication to its true stakeholders.

Bill Verhagen

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Vice President

Bill is a qualified Plastics Engineer and Business Graduate from RMIT University. Bill has worked in plastics materials and packaging for over 35 years. As a Technical Specialist in the early 1990's, Bill was involved in one of Australia's first post-consumer plastics recycling initiatives called Full Cycle Plastics.  


In recent years, Bill has worked on a number of developments to improve packaging sustainability so that these materials can actually be used as Circular resources.  


Green Angel was co-founded by Bill in 2020 with the mission to accelerate progress towards a Circular Economy. Various tailored programs are aimed mainly at primary and secondary school levels students but are designed to be adapted more broadly across local communities, as well as corporate and business organizations. 


The aim is to provide a meaningful experience in Circular Economy practices and, ultimately, to have Circular Economy education as an integral part of our school’s curriculum.

There is also a goal to build a bridge between education, training and industry sectors that encourages young people to consider vocational opportunities in the broad and growing area of environmental sustainability. 


Bill is the current Vice President of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) ANZ and a member of the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP).

Jeroen Wassenaar

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Dr Jeroen Wassenaar is the Head of Innovation at Cleanaway. He is leading Cleanaway’s efforts to create circular and low carbon solutions for plastics and other waste resource streams.

He has more than 13 years of experience in the petrochemical and plastics industries across Europe and Australia working in R&D, TS&D, marketing, and project management. He holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of Amsterdam and his areas of expertise include catalysis, polymer chemistry, plastics sustainability, and the circular economy.

Jeroen is also the Treasurer of the Society of Plastics Engineers A-NZ section and member of the Committee of Management. He has also held advisory roles at Chemistry Australia and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO).

Kevin Thomson

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Company Secretary and Chair Corporate Affairs

Kevin Thomson has gained more than 25 years of experience in the plastics industry through technical and senior management roles, in both large and small companies, including material manufacturers, compounders, automotive, and medical device manufacturers.

He also has considerable experience as a technical consultant and held senior roles in three start-up companies.

He is currently employed by CSIRO to facilitate collaborative projects between industry and research organisations. He has a BSc (Hons), M Eng Sc and a PhD from Monash University and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

He was President of SPE: A-NZ Section from 2007 to 2009.

Yvonne Mah

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Program Chair

Dr. Yvonne Mah is Business Development Manager, Plastic Additives Australia and New Zealand. She

has been with BASF for over 20 years. She began as a Graduate in the Engineering Plastics Division then Plastic Additives in various technical and marketing roles covering the Asia-Pacific region. She is also an active ally of BASF Australia’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and is a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI).

After living abroad and travelling extensively and seeing the chemical industries first-hand, Yvonne volunteers to share her experience and give back to the community by participating in different organisations, Society of Plastics Engineers, RACI, Chemistry Committee for Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, The Australian Academy of Science and RMIT’s Chemistry & Environmental Sciences Industry Advisory Committee (IAC).  Recently, she is the Committee Program Chair for the Society of Plastic Engineers, Australia and New Zealand.

Neil Whelan

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Deputy Program Chair


Eustathios (Steven) Petinakis 

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Membership Chair

Steve is highly organised technical professional employed as a Senior Materials Engineer within the University sector.  Doctorate qualified in Materials Science and Engineering, Steve is a highly skilled in product development and technical consulting in plastic, rubber and composite materials within the research and corporate sectors. 

Steve has held a variety of roles over a career that spans 30 years, including laboratory management, project management and execution, research scientist and more recently supporting the Pact Group circular economy strategy to implement solutions for increasing recycled content into packaging and industrial products.

Steven has recently been elected as Membership Chair (FY22-23) for the CoM SPE-ANZ division and during his tenure with Pact was a member of the TAC for the Australian Packaging Covenant.  Steve is currently employed with the Monash Institute for Railway Technology, where he is managing projects with a focus on developing plastic composites derived from recycled plastics, for deployment within the railway sector.

Russell Speight

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Russell Speight joined Moldflow, Australia, in 1995 (acquired by Autodesk in 2009) and has held roles of increasing responsibility within the Engineering Simulation Team.


He is currently Director, Injection Molding Technology, managing a global engineering team. Russell was awarded a PhD in 1993, University of Bradford, UK and an MBA in 2018, Deakin University, Australia. Russell has actively supported Autodesk funded PhD students from around the World.


He was engaged as President of the SPE: A-NZ Section in 2019, where he previously held the positions of Vice-President, SPE Councillor for 2011-2017, and is presently SPE Councillor.


Russell is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Institute of Measurement and Control, UK. He is an inventor of Patented Automated Machine Optimization Technology, with over 70 research publications.


He holds the position of Honorary Visiting Professor of Polymer Process Measurement Technology, University of Bradford, UK, Advanced Materials Engineering.


In 2018 Russell was recognized as an SPE Fellow.

Craig Benson

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Sustainability Chair

Craig Benson is currently Sales Manager at Qenos, joining in 2016.


He has 30 years in the industry across various roles, mostly in Polyethylene and Polypropylene, but has also worked in Polyurethanes, PVC and Engineering polymers.  Experience in commercial roles but also product management and new technology. Specialised in understanding business development and market supply chains.


Craig has had previous roles at VIP Packaging as Category Manager, at Sunace as National Sales Manager and at Milliken as Country Manager.  Craig commenced his career in the industry as a Chemist with Joyce Foam Products before joining Montell / Basell Australia where he had roles in Technical, Product Development and Logistics. 


Craig is a Past President of the SPE: A-NZ Section. He obtained a PhD in polymers from the University of New South Wales.

Ricki Hersburgh

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Ordinary Member

Ricki Hersburgh is the founder and Executive Director at the Plastics Oceans Australasia Foundation.


Plastic Oceans Australasia (POA) works throughout the region to eliminate plastic waste by challenging society’s perception that this indestructible substance is ‘disposable’. Plastic pollution affects the world’s oceans, marine life, human health and everyone’s wellbeing. Through education, business and science, POA works to stem the tide of plastic entering the ocean.  


As Executive Director, Ricki has been instrumental in building the POA foundation by inspiring people from all walks of life to join this determined cause. In the past 5 years, Ricki has forged positive change  by creating a community collective world-wide.  Starting her plastics journey as a teenager working with her family’s plastic recycling business, she has devoted her career to drive systemic change in the corporate, community, government and not for profit sectors.  Ricki has a diverse professional background from delivering environmental education programs such as the Asia Pacific Healthy Oceans campaign for schools, Women on the Waves Movement in British Columbia, Canada to environmental accreditation platforms for the development industry in Australia to name just a few. Along with other senior positions with WWF, Greening Australia and Hilton International Hotels Group, Ricki studied at HK Polytechnic, Melbourne Business school and University of Victoria holding various degrees in marketing, tourism, business and plastic manufacturing.

Shane Weeks

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Ordinary Member

Shane Weeks has a background in Materials Science and Materials Engineering, working in the compounding of materials and distributions of them.  Shane began in a lab and production environment and moved quickly to a Technical Service / Application and Business Development Engineering role. On progression through the industry Shane has conducted a variety of Business unit Manager Roles and is currently General Manager for a large Chemical Distribution Business.


Shane has held many titles with SPE ANZ, one of which was President for 3 years.

Carlos Demnati

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Ordinary Member

Carlos graduated in 1997 as a Plastic Engineer from the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany.

He worked from 1997 till the end of 2008 at BEKUM Blow Moulding Machinery in Berlin Germany, first as a Project Engineer, but soon after as the Area Sales Manager Asia/Pacific. Carlos’s work included attending numerous exhibitions in Germany and in the Asia/Pacific region as well as acting as a speaker on various blow moulding conferences.

In the beginning of 2009 Carlos migrated to Australia to start his new career at Eurotech Agencies Pty. Ltd where he worked until mid-2017 as the representative Sales Engineer for European Injection Moulding-, Blow Moulding-, Thermoforming-, Extrusion-, and Printing Machinery.

In July 2017 Carlos founded Polymeracle Pty. Ltd. and received the trust of various European machine manufacturers for the plastic processing industry to represent them on the Australian market with his contacts, knowledge and expertise. Carlos is the owner and managing director at Polymeracle Pty Ltd.

Roger Cater

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Ordinary Member

Roger holds a Bachelor of Business, majoring in applied economics and market research and a minor in commercial law from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), and is a member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (MRACI), Diploma of Industrial Chemistry (Dip. Ind. Chem.).

At "Plastic and Rubber Technical Education Centre" (PARTEC) and "Composites Training Centre" we train Australian Apprentices in Polymer Technology and the polymer processing (Plastics) industry. Polymer technology supports and expands into all industries, and our apprentices are highly valued. Roger has managed PARTEC Institute for the past 25 years, training many hundreds of apprentices and short courses in Plastics. He has had  tremendous support from the industry, and they deserve most of the credit.

Biggest challenge has been getting formal recognition and funding by Government for the half-dozen brand-new trade qualifications. The Queensland Government is the national leader in supporting this effort, and the industries in the other States are envious of their Queensland counterparts.  We have not succeeded in the biggest challenge, which is getting the other States to clone the Queensland system, or even just send their apprentices to Queensland for training.


Getting the Partec Institute up and running, and seeing our graduates take positions of influence in the industry is the best achievement ever.

Jeremy Curtin

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Ordinary Member

Jeremy Curtin has been working in the plastics industry for 25 years in the Automotive and Water Sectors in a variety of roles, from processing plastic to Managing plastics manufacturing functions as well as Tool rooms that support injection moulding infrastructure. Jeremy joined Philmac part of the Aliaxis group in 2018 and is currently the Engineering Services Manager. Jeremy has a Bachelor of Management and is currently studying an MBA with the University of South Australia.


Jeremy is passionate about the Plastics industry and has a keen interest in ensuring that South Australia continues to educate in the field of plastics processing to ensure the industry is supported into the future. In 2020 Jeremy lead an initiative in collaboration with the SA government to introduce certificate 4 in Plastics Processing in South Australia where 21 participants from a variety of plastics manufacturers across the state trained their employees with valuable skills to support their companies and the industry as a whole.  Jeremy will champion training into the future until permanent pathways are established to sustain the industry for the long term.


Jeremy himself holds a Diploma in Polymer Processing.

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