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About us

About Us

Our vision is to solve the world's most complex data and metadata management problems ethically to achieve real world outcomes for society.

SURROUND is an Australian technology company that develops advanced software systems and supplies consulting services. Our forté is in working with complex, multi-dimensional data. Collectively we have over a century of software and data architecture, design and operations experience. Our staff include seasoned veterans of Australian government IT and international technology giants as well as internationally-renowned Semantic Web, spatial data and machine reasoning and conceptual modelling experts.

In 2015, SURROUND's two founders (Dr Brad McCusker and Marcus Jowsey) set out to transform the way government and business work. Our focus is linking knowledge in order to assist organisations to make improved empirical, traceable, and explainable decisions. The SURROUND team has created an integrated knowledge engineering platform using semantic, knowledge graph, and machine learning (ML) technologies.

SURROUND's core mission is to provide value to our customers and the broader citizen community by providing government agencies and business with cost-effective solutions which address and solve organisational complexity. Our solutions leverage global standards and world-class algorithms in the design of generic or customised solutions as required.

Dr Brad McCusker

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Dr Brad McCusker

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Brad has comprehensive experience in leadership and technology roles with IBM, Accenture and CSC. He also has an outstanding academic record including a Ph.D. from ANU’s School of Business and Economics, and a Master of Business Administration from Macquarie University.

Brad has successfully leveraged world-class research in evidence-based policy, alignment, optimisation, reasoning, impact analysis, ontology-based inferencing, and model-driven software architecture.

He has in-depth knowledge of Information, Enterprise and Technology Architecture requirements from client engagements with ANZ Bank, ING, Services Australia, plus the Departments of Health, Home Affairs, Social Services, Finance, Treasury and Defence.

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Marcus Jowsey

Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder

Marcus Jowsey

Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder

Marcus has extensive and diverse technology and business experience. He leads the strategy and development for SURROUND’s Technology Offerings.

Marcus brings to this role significant technology experience from strategic engagements with the Australian Taxation Office, DXC, Services Australia, Dialog and the Departments of Health, Environment and Social Services.

He is recognised as a leader and expert in core SURROUND capabilities including:

  • Metadata Management
  • Data Governance
  • Semantic Technologies
  • Machine Learning
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Knowledge Graphs
  • Software Lifecycle Management
  • DevOps

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Dr Nicholas Car

Chief Data Architect

Dr Nicholas Car

Chief Data Architect

Nicholas is internationally recognised as a thought leader and expert in Data Architecture, Data Systems Design, Linked Data and Semantic technologies.

He was the design lead for nationally significant and innovative Linked Data and Semantic Web projects including the Location Index and the Longitudinal Spine of Government Functions.

Nicholas also has outstanding academic achievements including a Ph.D. (Engineering) from the University of Melbourne, and a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) from the University of Sydney.

He is active as a standards editor in the W3C’s Dataset Exchange Working Group and the Open Geospatial Consortium’s GeoSPARQL Standards Working Group, a co-chair of the Australian Government Linked Data Working Group, and a member of the ISO’s TC 211: Technical Committee for the geographic standards information.

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Rob Atkinson

Chief Ontologist & Product Lead

Rob Atkinson

Chief Ontologist & Product Lead

Rob leads the design and implementation of the SURROUND Ontology Platform (SOP). He is internationally recognised as a thought leader and expert in Spatial Data, Data Modelling, Linked Data, Model-driven Architecture and Semantic Interoperability.

Rob is a pioneer in both the delivery of spatial data and the integration of data access services with semantics and Linked Data on the Web, working with and developing Open Geospatial Consortium and W3C standards including the W3C Data Exchange Working Group. 

He has lectured on Computing Science and Geographic Information Systems, worked as a Senior Research Scientist with CSIRO and mentored several international subject domain communities such as Geoscience, Marine, Aviation and Hydrology in data modelling, and model-driven architecture techniques.

Rob’s experience includes data modelling and semantic mapping as part of hybrid Linked Data, Semantic Web, service-oriented and data warehouse architectures. He is active in improving methodologies for sharing semantic knowledge across enterprise boundaries, and in the development of standards.

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Simon Opper

Chief Data Scientist

Simon Opper

Chief Data Scientist

Simon leads the management, design, and implementation of the SURROUND Ontology Platform for client applications. He excels at aligning business needs and technical requirements, and in bridging the gap to the solution design and implementation.

Simon leads clients through the process of transforming organisational data and knowledge to semantic data assets, then leverages SURROUND machine learning, data science and semantic data architecture to increase business intelligence; delivered through smart automation services, data governance and enhanced user search and discovery tools.

His skills in the socio-technical and organisational aspects of knowledge management were honed in data-driven Government and Engineering Consulting roles.

Simon has extensive linked data and governance experience relating to disaster management and community resilience from engagements with the NSW State Emergency Service, Environment Protection Authority plus Land and Housing Corporation.

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Mike Hennessey

Client & Partner Executive

Mike Hennessey

Client & Partner Executive

Mike is a highly regarded Business Development and Client Engagement leader. He has a successful track record with Australian start-ups & SMEs to generate consistent demand and deliver sustainable growth, locally and internationally.

He has over 20 years of Sales and Account Management experience with a history of positive, long-standing client relationships; and the proven ability to generate new clients that translate to repeat business.

Mike's key qualities include:

  • Long-term success within the Federal and State Governments – excellent senior executive network plus demonstrable new business & repeat engagements – value creation for SURROUND & our clients.
  • Ability to engage with, and present to, line-of-business plus ICT executives to create demand – marry a solution roadmap to qualified business outcomes to define a vision for success.
  • Consistent track-record of business capture and retention activity, accurate forecasting and achievement of business targets.
  • Disciplined adoption of sales and opportunity management processes – profiling, qualifying, negotiation and engagement.

Mobile: +61 403 000 026

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Professor Shirley Gregor

Advisor to SURROUND’s Board & Executive Team

Professor Shirley Gregor

Advisor to SURROUND’s Board & Executive Team

Shirley Gregor is a Professor Emerita at the Australian National University. Professor Gregor advises the SURROUND executive team and contributes via her research interests including artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction and the philosophy of science and technology.

Professor Gregor obtained her Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Queensland in 1996. She is internationally recognised and has numerous appointments and awards including:

  • Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June 2005
  • Director of the National Centre for Information Systems Research
  • Inaugural President of the Australasian Association of Information Systems
  • Asia/Pacific Councillor for the Association of Information Systems
  • Fellow of the Australian Computer Society
  • Fellow of the Association for Information Systems
  • Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 for contributions to design science research in information systems and technology (DESRIST).

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Professor Ghassan Beydoun

Advisor to SURROUND’s Board & Executive Team

Professor Ghassan Beydoun

Advisor to SURROUND’s Board & Executive Team

Professor Ghassan Beydoun received a degree in Computer Engineering in 1995 and a PhD degree in Knowledge Systems from the University of New South Wales in 2000. He has been in Australian academia since. He is currently a Professor of Information Systems at the University of Technology Sydney. He is fellow of the Australian Computer Society.

He has authored more than 180 papers in international journals and conferences. His research projects are sponsored by Australian Research Council, NSW State Government and the private sector. He investigates the best uses of models in developing methodologies for deploying distributed intelligent systems. His other research interests include cloud adoption, risk management, decisions support systems and their applications.

Richard Vahtrick

Advisor to SURROUND’s Board & Executive Team

Richard Vahtrick

Advisor to SURROUND’s Board & Executive Team

Richard's IT experience includes senior executive roles for IBM in Australia, Asia, and Europe including CFO for US$9 billion business units and COO and CIO roles for client-facing operational and technical teams managing billion dollar outsourcing contracts. Leaving IBM, he was COO for Perpetual Limited and also held senior financial and operational roles at Telstra Corporation.

He has M&A experience at IBM (Australia, India and Western Europe) and Telstra (Australia, Hong Kong and USA) where both companies continually invested in IT companies. With his own start-up experience in product distribution, building products and consulting, Richard is focussed on developing sustainable strategies for emerging IT companies. He has a BSC from Sydney University (major in mathematics) and is an FCPA and GAICD. He has held Board roles in 23 unlisted for profit and not for profit organisations.

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Who we work with

We work with Australian and International Federal & State Governments, Publicly listed and Privately held businesses, plus Not-for-profit organisations.

SURROUND is delighted to partner with industry-recognised experts and internationally-acclaimed organisations including: