Meet our team

Our team consists of highly trained technical, training and support staff who provide research, testing, engineering, scientific and training services to enhance industry safety and health outcomes.

From left to right: Gareth Kennedy, Estrella Moya, Craig Tayler, Nick Ahlstrand, Paul Chant

Meet the Leadership Team

Nick Ahlstrand, Simtars Executive Director

Nick Ahlstrand’s first role in the resource sector was project engineer on the BMA Goonyella Riverside underground coal development project in 2003.

His qualifications include Bachelor of Applied Science, Master of Business Administration and Graduate Certificate in International Relations. He has completed executive education at Columbia Business School, is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a member of AusIMM and a Certified Practicing Project Director (AIPM).

Appointed Executive Director of Simtars in 2016, he is passionate about improving sector safety and health outcomes. Nick is focused on ensuring Simtars continues to deliver critical emergency response capability and safety and health services to meet the current and future needs of the industry.

Craig Tayler, Director, Training, Testing and Certification Centre

Craig Tayler draws from his life experiences to provide strategic advice to resource, public sector and manufacturing industries about anticipating and eliminating adverse safety and health outcomes for workers. With over 27 years’ experience at Simtars, Craig is driven by continuous improvement and growth through consultation, team building, customer focus, strategic implementation and collaboration. These values make successful organisations and people and connect decisions with actions.

He has extensive experience designing, implementing and evaluating occupational hygiene management systems and exposure assessment programs for clients within Australia and internationally. From the workshop to the boardroom, Craig uses his expertise to provide practical advice and leadership so workers have the opportunity to go home safely. Craig is a Certified Occupational Hygienist, NATA signatory, full member of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists and holds a Master’s in Occupational Hygiene Practice.

Paul Chant, Director, Occupational Hygiene, Environment and Chemistry Centre

Paul Chant has been a technical consultant for over 17 years and is passionate about helping operators overcome their health, safety and environmental challenges. He has consulted to most mainstream industries in Australia including mines, bulk handling facilities, oil refineries, oil shale plants, CSG gas fields, power stations, paper mills, chemical manufacturers, vehicle holding facilities and landfills.

Paul is an accomplished Project Manager and Project Director Paul having designed, installed and managed some of Queensland’s largest monitoring programs for environmental regulatory approvals and compliance. Paul is a consultant by choice and Director of the Occupational Hygiene, Environment and Chemistry Centre and believes in only providing solutions that exactly meets industry needs.

Dr Gareth Kennedy, Director, Mine Safety Technology Research Centre

Gareth has over 18 years of experience in both the coal and metalliferous mining industries. He has held public and private sector roles in Australia and the UK. He has particular expertise in mining safety technology, mining automation systems, underground communications, energy management systems, instrumentation, telemetry and in managing large-scale projects.

Gareth and his team are responsible for providing mine technical support services, including emergency response, mine gas monitoring systems and services, consulting, research and development for the industry. He holds a PhD in Mining Engineering, a BEng (Hons) Electronic Engineering degree, and a Graduate Certificate in Business (Public Sector Management). Gareth is also an adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland's Sustainable Minerals Institute.

Estrella Moya, Business Support Manager

Estrella, an experienced administrator with over 30 years experience in the government sector is an integral member of Simtars Leadership Team.  As the Business Support Manager, Estrella has positively led the organisation through the many administrative and machinery of government changes.  Estrella has managed teams focusing on customer service, administration, human resources, finance, facilities and IT.  Has worked in regional and district offices supporting tenure administration including exploration permits, mining leases, explosives reserves and mines inspectorate.  Joined Simtars in 2005 where her team building skills and emotional intelligence have been utilised to mentor, develop and coach a diverse workforce and inspire a team work ethic for the benefit of the individual, customers and Simtars.  A certified Level 3 Procurement Officer, Estrella’s knowledge and skills are constantly sought-after.

Meet our technical experts

Martin Watkinson, Executive Mining Engineer

Martin has over 40 years underground coal mining experience , primarily in the UK, Australia and India. He provides technical advice on safety systems in particular ventilation, spontaneous combustion and emergency response to the Queensland mining industry and the Queensland mines inspectorate. This includes assisting with investigations into serious accidents and incidents. Martin is the Chair of the Queensland Level 1 exercise committee having organised 10 in underground coal, one in hard rock and two in New Zealand.

David Turner, Technical Director

David Turner provides engineering oversight of major internal development projects and oversees the maintenance of all Simtars technical accreditiations and management system certifications. He has over 10 years experence in the testing and certification of explosion protected equipment and over 20 years experience in the management of accredited testing facilities in the electricity supply industry. His qualifications include Bachelor of Engineering, Master of Engineering Science, Master of Business Administration and is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia and a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  He is currently Chair of the National Association of Testing Authorities and a Councillor of Standards Australia.

Training, Testing and Certification Centre

Bipin Parmar, Principal Engineer

Bipin has an excellent understanding of business, particularly in projects concerning hazardous areas process and products.  He has developed the art of making complex subject matter simple, through his practical approach and influence and has conducted many assessments and tests of Ex products to the recognised protection standards under IEC and AS/NZS standards. Bipin is a hands-on engineer who listens to both the client and company needs and delivers results that meet or exceed expectations by working across all functions.

He has worked in private and public companies with professionals for over 40 Years. He is Cert IV qualified assessor and trainer, a NATA technical auditor and technical auditor under the IECEx scheme.  He has been involved in the auditing of Ex product manufacturers and recognised service facilities for over 15 years.  As a fee for service Bipin conducts technical investigations of electrical equipment failure or breakdown.

Geoff Barnier, Principal Engineer

Geoff has over 30 years experience in the testing and certification of explosion protected equipment and played a significant part in Simtars gaining Quality Management System, NATA and Certification Body accreditations.

Geoff has conducted assessment and testing of explosion protected equipment and managed the Simtars testing team. Currently, and for over 7 years, Geoff has maintained and managed the Simtars Certification Body participation in the international IECEx and national ANZEx certification schemes for both manufacturers and service facilities (overhaul and repair workshops) as well as the Simtars Certification Quality Management System (ISO 9001) accredited Certification Body. This additionally involves the management of Simtars auditing for the above schemes, which Geoff is also a senior audit.

Geoff enthusiastically participates in the IECEx and ANZEx certification scheme committees, as well as a number of international IEC and national AS/NZS standards committees to ensure Simtars remains at the forefront for explosion protection afforded by equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres protecting lives and property.

Geoff holds a Bachelor of Technology in Electrical and Electronic Engineering which complements his previous Military training in Electronics, Communications and Metrology and is a NATA technical auditor and signatory.

Aaron Heck, Calibration Supervisor

Aaron Heck is a proactive, dedicated and experienced professional with extensive background in calibration, gas detection, quality management, operations management, business planning and continuous improvement which has been gained from 10+ years of employment with Simtars.
Aaron is committed to zero serious harm by ensuring gas detection systems and dust sampling equipment used in the resource sectors, manufacturing and processing industries are maintained to the highest standard.
Aaron is also a NATA signatory for calibrations of gas monitors, personal sampling pumps, flow meters, ovens and furnaces.

Neel Balgovind, RTO Manager

Neel has over 8 years of experience in the Vocational Education Sector. He qualifications are in Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science and Masters in Business Administration.  He is a member of the Australian HR Institute and Australian Institute of Project Management. Neel and his team are involved in delivery statutory training across queensland and providing other non accredited training services to both the industry.

Mine Safety Technology Research Centre

Andre De Kock, Research Manager

André has over 30 years of experience working in coal mining safety research, particularly in systems testing, design, installation and explosion protection techniques. André and his team are currently engaged in a number of research projects and complex technical investigations. André is responsible for coordinating new research projects, developing new technologies, disseminating knowledge and developing new products. Prior to joining Simtars, he worked for the Chamber of Mines of South Africa Research Organisation and CSIR Miningtek for 17 years.

Dr Snezana Bajic, Technical Services Manager

Snezana was appointed as Principal Scientific Advisor of Simtars in 2014. Snezana has 18 years of mining and mineral processing experience in Australia and overseas, ranging from base metal and coal processing operations, safety, emergency response, risk management and risk assessment and research (Simtars). She was previously involved in industrial applications of automated mineral liberation analysers, QEMSCAN/MLA systems, research (UQ and overseas), processing plant safety audits and other mineral processing (flotation and comminution) consulting projects. Snezana was responsible for executing projects on many mine sites in Australia, USA, Serbia, Canada, China and Turkey.

Snezana is currently leading the mine emergency response unit, Safegas and CAMGAS mine support. Her particular interest and expertise are gas monitoring, gas analysis and gas interpretation and quality control in mine emergency and spontaneous combustion events. She enjoys teaching various Simtars training courses and leading simulations for MEMS (Mine Emergency Management System) training with Queensland Mines Rescue service. Snezana was also Level 1 emergency exercise assessor on multiple occasions.

Occupational Hygiene, Environment and Chemistry Centre

Deborah Van Zanten, Principal Occupational Hygienist

Deborah van Zanten is the Principal Occupational Hygienist at Simtars. With nearly 23 years’ full- time experience in Occupational Hygiene, Deborah has extensive experience in the mining, quarrying and manufacturing work environments. She leads and manages the Hygiene Team in developing, delivering, monitoring and evaluating a portfolio of client jobs, with a focus on driving and delivering technical excellence, client outcomes as well as supporting achievement of organizational outcomes.

Deborah’s commitment to health and safety stems from her nursing background working as a Registered Nurse within the Public and Private sectors, as well as a Reservist in the RAAF. This prior knowledge and experience is a driving force in her commitment to improving the health and safety of workers. Deborah is a Certified Occupational Hygienist (COH), holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (OHS) and is a NATA signatory for all occupational hygiene test reports.

Micheal Lewis, Principal Occupational Hygienist

Micheal Lewis has worked in the occupational health and hygiene fields for 30 years, is a Member of the AIOH (MAIOH), a Certified Occupational Hygienist (COH) and member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine (ANZSOM). Micheal has worked in the public and private sectors in both Australia and New Zealand as a Workplace Inspector, Project Lead, Technical Consultant, Scientific Advisor, Laboratory Manager and Principal Occupational Hygienist. Micheal is experienced in auditing drugs, poisons and hazardous chemicals management systems, complex health based investigations, laboratory compliance auditing, and competency based training package development and delivery.