Fellowships Testimonials

Hear from IEAA Fellowship recipients about their fellowship journey in what having their experience recognised means for their career.

Callum Cowell IEAA-SF

Dean, Birmingham International Academy, University of Birmingham

What motivated you to embark on the IEAA Fellowship journey?

As a long term member of IEAA and past Board Member, I was delighted to see the Fellowship program established. It provides our industry sector an avenue for specific recognition of the amazing work being done by talented individuals working in International Education. My initial motivation was to support the growth of the Fellowship program by being involved myself.

How has IEAA Fellowship enhanced your career?

At my stage of career, IEAA Fellowship is more about affiliation and networking with peers than career enhancement. I am proud to be gathered alongside many respected colleagues as part of the Senior Fellowship group.

What tips would you give to someone on the Fellowship journey?

Start your Fellowship journey now! By registering and setting a goal. Record activities (and keep documentation about the things you do) as you do them. Then when you secure enough points, the process of assessment will be easy.

Ainslie Moore IEAA-SF

Executive Officer, AEMG
CANIE Global Chair

I first set a Fellowship goal in March 2020, just as we were entering into a series of lockdowns. Naively, I thought I’d have more free time not commuting into work every day and could source all the evidence required to prove my experience relatively quickly and gain my first credential. My pandemic experience (like many in international education) turned out not to be a slow period of sour dough and language learning, but rather a series of constant and varying challenges to support our students and my team through crises. Consequently, I didn’t finish my Fellowship journey till we were well out the other side of lockdowns and border closures!
To anyone considering IEAA Fellowship, I’d advise you to not think about this as a goal, but rather as a learning journey in which you not only build your skills and knowledge, but also your network and your contribution to our field. International education is not just a job, it’s a community of passionate people. Your fellowship journey will help you find your tribe outside of your workplace and keep you motivated and learning as your progress.

Peter Burgess IEAA-SF

Executive Director, EdBiz Pty Ltd

It’s only since facing the IEAA Fellowship challenge to track and document my time in international education that I have realised how extraordinary the journey has been and how rewarding it is to have my contribution recognized with this Fellowship. Since 1977 as an international student in the UK to my latest adventure advising an Austrian university on TNE strategies, I’ve had the opportunity to work in 16 countries in roles including academia, advisor to national/foreign government agencies, marketing director within a government international project agency, TNE director, international education consultant, and mentor to many. My formal association with IEAA dates back to 2005 when the TNE SIG was first planned. I therefore commend the IEAA for its support over the course of my journey and I would genuinely recommend that you seek the benefits of the Fellowship recognition.
Neema Cucinotta

Neema Cucinotta IEAA-AF

Director, Transnational Education Partnerships, Swinburne University of Technology

What motivated you to embark on the IEAA Fellowship journey?

Since my first role at an International Office front desk I have seen what a difference International Education makes of people’s lives. Through the ups and downs of this industry I think many of us are encouraged to learn, grow and adapt because we know that education has real impact and changes views and perceptions in the world. The fellowship encourages us to think about our own education and growth as professionals in the sector. Who can we learn from and how can we contribute to new ideas or learnings of others.

How has IEAA Fellowship enhanced your career?

I was very lucky to have colleagues early in my career who encouraged me to expand my networks and seek to learn different things about how international education works in Australia and globally. This approach to knowledge and relationship building stayed with me over my career and has provided me with confidence when embarking on new challenges such as taking on new roles or stepping sideways to try new things. Over the years, IEAA has developed the fellowship to guide so many others coming into the industry on how to approach professional development. This gives people a lot of independence on shaping their own careers which I think is a great contribution to the sector.

What tips would you give to someone who is on the Fellowship journey?

Think of exploring new things that are a bit out of your comfort zone. You never know what you might find that sets you up to do something new in the present or something that you reflect on later, to help you in the future. I would also say that most people get a lot more out of experiences by being active rather than passive so engage with your colleagues, speak up and see how you can participate in the networks around you.

Craig Wallace IEAA-F

Associate Director (Operations), Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity

Having recently started a new role, the IEAA fellowship journey gave me a chance to review and reflect upon the positive experiences I’ve had in International Education. It reminded me of the skills that I’ve acquired along the way, not to mention the incredible people that have been so instrumental in my career. I also have a clearer sense of the skills I need to build and new ideas for how to continue engaging in the higher education sector. Even though my international education career started in Canada, it was reassuring to see how the IEAA Fellowship celebrates a diversity of experiences and contributions.

Paula Soon IEAA-F

Assistant Director, Pathways & Operations, RMIT University

What motivated you to embark on the IEAA Fellowship journey?

The motivation behind undertaking the IEAA Fellowship journey was to broaden my understanding of international education. The opportunity to interact with diverse viewpoints, innovative concepts, and cross-cultural encounters served as the driving force.

How has IEAA Fellowship enhanced your career?

Participation in the IEAA Fellowship has significantly enhanced my career path. Exposure to prominent experts, immersive learning experiences, and global networking has enriched my grasp of international education trends and methods. These insights have not only deepened my expertise but also expanded my professional connections, facilitating access to fresh collaborations and prospects.

What tips would you give to someone who is on the Fellowship journey?

For aspiring Fellowship participants, I advise approaching each moment with curiosity and an open perspective. Actively engage with peers, tap into mentor-provided knowledge, and utilise the platform to build enduring relationships. Embrace challenges as chances for advancement, and consistently seek to apply newfound insights practically. The IEAA Fellowship presents a transformative opportunity for those prepared to fully embrace it.

Donna Cook, IEAA-F

National Manager, ACU English Language Centre, Global and Education Pathways, Australian Catholic University

Like many in this sector, serendipity brought me to a career in international education, but I came with a strong desire for professional development and a passion for transforming our students’ lives. Throughout my career I have been able to take advantage of so much rich and rewarding professional development. The IEAA Fellowship gave me the opportunity to reflect on these experiences, and the process of remembering and recording them reminded me of the wealth of knowledge and experience I had acquired, and the contributions I have been able to make. This process fuelled my enthusiasm to continue learning as much as possible from experts, mentors, and colleagues, and to give back to the sector. My advice to anyone who is on the fellowship journey would be to say “YES” to every learning opportunity, have the confidence to step up to present at that conference, be a part of that committee or take on that leadership role and record it as you go!

Rebecca Cozens, IEAA-F

Doctoral Researcher (PhD Candidate & Research Assistant), Griffith University

As I’m sure a lot of colleagues in the international education community would agree, there is no clear and defined pathway to a career in international education. The IEAA Fellowship has filled that gap by providing a framework to help guide my career. When the Fellowship launched, I had hit the 10-year mark of working in the sector and was thinking deeply about what I wanted to do next and how to get there. The Fellowship was so helpful in not only encouraging me to reflect on my career journey to date but also offering suggestions on how to be a more active member of the community. No matter how long (or short!) you’ve been engaged in the sector, I highly recommend to start tracking your activities through the Fellowship—you might just surprise yourself with how much you know and have contributed already!

Elissa Newall, IEAA-F

Partner, Edified

When the IEAA launched its Fellowship program, I thought it was a wonderful way to recognise and acknowledge the experience of its members and the contribution they make to our industry. It was actually really enjoyable taking a trip down memory lane as I went through the Fellowship criteria and gives you a sense of achievement and confidence as you reflect on your activity (and hopefully impact) over the years. As I look through the list of Fellows, I’m delighted to be among great company! For anyone considering their own Fellowship application, it's worth the time. You may be surprised when you see a list of everything you've done over the years. Along with feeling a sense of pride in past achievements, it may also fan the flame to get you thinking again about future conferences, papers or other ways of contributing to the industry.


Sam Thomas IEAA-AF

Channel Operations Manager - International Strategy, OES

What motivated you to embark on the IEAA Fellowship journey?

>After attending my first AIEC at Gold Coast last year I was not only impressed with the conference itself (and its after parties) but also how much I benefitted rubbing shoulders with my peers in different levels of conversations throughout the week. I came back motivated to be more involved with IEAA activities happening locally and thought undertaking the fellowship would complement it nicely.

How has IEAA Fellowship enhanced your career?

I fell into this industry by chance and following success in my previous role for over a decade I was looking for a new challenge and found a new opportunity within an organisation expanding into the international space. I wanted my previous achievements to stand out and undertaking the fellowship has made my contributions in international education more transparent to my peers. The Fellowship also provides a great platform for future learning which I am always reflecting upon and am confident will contribute to my current role.

What tips would you give to someone who is on the Fellowship journey?

Getting involved with IEAA events happening within your city is a great starting point. I was impressed with the talent and openness of the community. Reflecting on my past achievements as part of the process for fellowship was fulfilling and you will be surprised how much your experience and achievements can contribute to your fellowship.

Rebecca Hall GAICD IEAA-SF

Victoria's Commissioner to Southeast Asia

What motivated you to embark on the IEAA Fellowship journey?

Hotel quarantine! I was on the IEAA board when the fellowship model was being developed and could see the value in being part of the fellowship community, but it took me years to finally start my application, til a 10-day hotel quarantine stint.

How has IEAA Fellowship enhanced your career?

I only wish the fellowship had been around when I started my career. Gaining my fellowship credentials has been a reflective process to document activities, presentations and achievements that I had forgotten about. Doing the fellowship at this point of my career has given me new appreciation for my time in international education and the people who’ve helped me along the way.

What tips would you give to someone who is on the Fellowship journey?

Soak up every opportunity to learn and contribute to the sector. It not only makes you better at your day job but gives you broader skills and networks. And lastly, as you start to document your efforts toward a fellowship, make sure you stop and celebrate the steps on that journey.


Manager, International Education, City of Melbourne

What motivated you to embark on the IEAA Fellowship journey?

For close to two decades, from international student to Senior Fellow of IEAA, I have long been a passionate member of the international education community, though the start of my career was somewhat accidental. When I first got to Melbourne from Malaysia to study, I volunteered with the RMIT Association of International Students (RAIS). I was the Publicity Officer in my first year of study, President the next. This experience connected me with mentors, the sector and the people within it, which quickly deepened my passion for the people I was working with and for. My first full-time job was as an International Student Advisor, then as an Education Abroad Advisor before making my move to the City of Melbourne where I got to build the international education portfolio from scratch and grow it. So although I never planned to work in this sector, my foundations were built from all the volunteering I did as an international student leader and the first few professional roles which followed soon after. For years, we talked about the lack of accreditation for professionals in the international education sector, as there’s no specific ‘qualification’ that one can attain to work in this field. The IEAA Fellowship is the much needed recognition for us to establish our accomplishments, development and engagement; and serves as a platform for us to demonstrate our commitment to the sector we respect and adore. The Fellowship has helped me focus on my career growth, encouraged me to partake in professional development workshops, join committees and working groups, and by doing these, to continue to expand my networks which has led to many magnificent opportunities, including being engaged to work on a diversity campaign with Study Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games in 2018; and invited to be the keynote speaker for Testgrid ‘recruiting for diversity’ tour across Australia.

How has IEAA Fellowship enhanced your career?

The IEAA Fellowship provided me with aspirations to strive for. It offered benchmarks to which I could measure and manage my professional growth. It provided me the motivation to acquire and update my knowledge of the industry, volunteer for committees and projects, and pursue new opportunities that weren’t always obviously beneficial to my role. Being part of the Fellowship demonstrates my commitment to the sector, nurtures my professionalism, grows my breadth of experience from the people I meet and work with and enhances my dedication to upholding industry standards and continued learning, all which are significant to the community we serve, that being our inspiring international students.

What tips would you give to someone who is on the Fellowship journey?

There is no ‘right’ way to progress through the Fellowship journey. Whether you prefer to learn (PD workshops, online modules, webinars), present and share (conferences, workshops) or contribute (volunteer for committees, participate in industry projects and events), the Fellowship embraces the different sorts of, though all outstanding, international education professionals. In my lifetime, I have presented keynote addresses, run conferences, written papers, volunteered on committees (I'm currently a committee member for ISANA Vic/Tas), managed volunteers, attended conferences, hosted industry dinners and even choreographed a flash mob dance at AIEC (Gangnam style)! However, it’s always a good idea to seek mentors, those who share your values and definition of success. I have been blessed with many, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Sarah Michel IEAA-AF

Global Education Program Coordinator, UniSQ International

After working in the International Education industry for over 13 years, I thought the IEAA fellowship was a good way to collate my experiences. As I like to participate in a lot of professional development activities, the IEAA fellowship was a way for this to count towards my overall experience in the industry on top of my work and traditional education. Being based in regional Queensland, I have found participating in IEAA events and activities extremely valuable and I enjoy being a part of the wider Learning Abroad community. My tips for anyone thinking of participating in the fellowship program is to keep a folder for every development activity you complete so you can find it easily when the time comes to apply. I look forward to connecting with other IEAA members on LinkedIn or at the next event.

Michael Bos IEAA-F

Director of International, The Moreton Bay Colleges

What motivated you to embark on the IEAA Fellowship journey?

I was curious. Having spent over 20 years in international education - and mostly in the school sector - I wondered if that experience would translate into a level in the IEAA Fellowship. I started the process of gathering my evidence and was surprised to find that every little thing added up. I soon found myself attaining Associate Fellow. With a little more digging, my experience culminated to Fellow. There is still more digging to do but I am pleased that I embarked on this journey.

How has IEAA Fellowship enhanced your career?

It is nice to have recognition for all the engagement, experience, and involvement in the industry. The fellowship provides me with a talking point for industry colleagues and for new people that I meet in the industry.

What tips would you give to someone who’s on the Fellowship journey?

I am a huge advocate for professional development and recognition, so I encourage my school-sector colleagues to embark on the IEAA Fellowship journey. My recommendation is to try it - you never know where you might end up.


Senior Executive Officer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Griffith University

The IEAA Fellowship program is a great mechanism for documenting my education, experience and engagement in the international education and training (IET) sector. It is proving to be particularly useful as I re-join the sector after a decade away. My IET journey started in the 1990s when I studied in Shanghai and then received one of the last Commonwealth Scholarships to Hong Kong. Returning to Australia, I worked in government export / investment facilitation agency, schools sector and universities. Australia’s IET sector was emerging and I learnt much from the folk I worked with, but there was no defined career path or credentialing available. After a decade away, I returned to IET work in 2020 with my married name and many insights gleaned from my international PhD mates. The Fellowship Program continues to shape my IET journey through promoting learning opportunities and proves my competency.

Zarana Shah IEAA-AF

Senior Country Manager, Macquarie University

What motivated you to embark on the IEAA Fellowship journey?

My enthusiasm for professional learning and ambition to achieve great heights and recognition in the industry motivated me to embark on IEAA fellowship journey. IEAA has provided me a platform to expand my knowledge about the international education industry, network with like minded people and learn from the industry veterans. The online modules and masterclass offered by IEAA is designed to broaden the mindset and provide an edge to the career, I started my journey keeping growth in mind.

How has IEAA Fellowship enhanced your career?

I am recognized as one of the experienced and knowledgeable members of international education industry with IEAA-F. IEAA-F title is a testament to your expertise in the international education industry. Whether you are applying for a promotion or a new job, IEAA-F makes you stand out as a valuable member of this industry. The professional learning that I have gained has also given me more confidence and knowledge to speak at the public platforms to influence the audience and shine the brand Australia.

What tips would you give to someone who’s on the Fellowship journey?

IEAA Fellowship is just not a title it’s a privilege you earn for yourself. Keep up with your passion to grow the professional network and learning, explore your education and work profile with the IEAA staff to understand the progression and try to be consistent with your engagement and learning.

Vincent Blokker IEAA-AF

IELTS Operations Manager, IDP Education

What motivated you to embark on the IEAA Fellowship journey?

I’ve always been passionate about personal and professional development. The IEAA provides a framework for me to structure my development. It also encouraged me to explore things outside my comfort zone.

How has IEAA Fellowship enhanced your career?

At IDP Education, we specialise in combining human expertise with leading technology to help students worldwide reach their global ambitions. Continuous professional development through the IEAA Fellowship has cultivated my expertise in international education. And it has opened new doors within IDP to exciting career opportunities!

What tips would you give to someone who’s on the Fellowship journey?

My No. 1 tip? Add your fellowship activities regularly: For example, set a monthly reminder in your calendar or align it with your performance reviews at work. It helps you keep track bit it also provides a moment to reflect on your amazing achievements.

Ben Fenton-Smith IEAA-SF

Director, International, Griffith University

Like many people, I worked for years – in fact, decades – in international education without thinking about it in those terms. My first full-time job was a Junior High School English teacher in Japan. It was only when I became Director, International, of Griffith University’s Arts, Education and Law faculty in 2020 that I began to consider myself a ‘specialist’ or an ‘expert’ in the field. This led me to think about professional recognition,and IEAA’s Fellowship Scheme. I started ‘playing’ with the points system (it’s actually a lot of fun), and I realised that virtually every aspect of my career – from teaching jobs, to research outputs, to places I’ve lived, and the Japanese I learnt – accrued value as evidence of ‘expertise’. In the end, when I submitted my 30 yearsof work, I came out as a Senior Fellow. I recommend you try it too if you haven’t already!