Navtej Bal, Chief Executive Officer

Navtej Bal is the CEO and Managing Director of Ironwood Institute. He is dynamic and focused individual who believes in” Impossible is nothing”. Apart from his post graduation from RMIT University, Melbourne and eight years of extensive experience in management of international colleges, Navtej brings on board his personal success story as an international student who arrived in Australia 13 years ago.

Navtej believes in seizing opportunities from the challenges and embrace positivity and innovation.

He is passionate about helping student to become employment ready in a rapidly changing world and students look upon him to be great guide, helpful and trustworthy through all times of their study journey with Ironwood.


Camilo Esparza, Director of Academics and Head of Agribusiness
Camilo holds a Master of Global Food and Agricultural Business from the University of Adelaide, and a Bachelor of Animal Husbandry from the National University of Colombia (South America) where he is originally from. Camilo has participated in research across 6 countries in the Pacific and in Indonesia, focusing in livelihood benefits of smallholder farmers. Some of his areas of expertise include understanding market and consumer drivers and implementing value chain analysis across industry sectors. His new role as a trainer at Ironwood will allow him to prepare students for a fast growing agribusiness sector. Camilo aims to deliver high quality training in a dynamic way, bringing key elements from innovation and systems theory.


Karen Montgomery, Horticulture Trainer and Assessor
Karen holds qualifications in Horticulture, Conservation Land Management, Training & Assessment and Small Business Management. She is the past EO of the Master Landscapers of SA, President of the Horticultural Media Association, a committee member of the Horticultural Therapy Association & The Rare Fruit Society.

Karen has been running workshops and the media on a range of gardening topics including Crops in Pots, Vertical Gardens, Natures Fertilisers, Community Gardening, School Kitchen Gardens, Sustainability, Plant life Balance & much more. She is a garden writer contributing to media including SA Gardens & Outdoor Living magazine and can be heard regularly on ABC891 and 5AA radio shows.

Karen holds a Peter Bennett Award for sustainable living practices, was a Judge for the South Australian Nursery Industry Retail Nursery Awards, judge for Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Australia (SPASA) & was on stage at the ABC Gardening Show with the ‘Ask it Solve it’ crew in Adelaide. She is also a recipient of the Playford Memorial Trust Award for her commitment to her studies and the Industry, as well as the Nursery & Garden Industry’s Doug Smart Award for ‘passion and commitment to the promotion of good gardening’.


Paulo Guanaes, Marketing Manager
Paulo is a marketer with more than 10 years of professional experience, being working the last 2 years in the international education market, in Australia. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Torrens University, in Melbourne, and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Advertising from PUC-MG, in Brazil. He is focused on promoting Ironwood’s brand and programs, while advising agents and students on choosing the right courses that will help them to achieve their professional and personal goals in Australia.


Soon Teik Oon, Diploma of Leadership and Management Educator
Soon Teik has 17 years of education/training experiences in institutions in Australia, Malaysia and China including the University of Nottingham, the University of Adelaide and Kaplan Business School. His experiences include working with both public and international universities in China, lecturing and developing course structure and syllabus for their International Business course module. Apart from teaching, he was involved in coordinating work, formulating lesson plans and methods of delivery to non-English speaking students, providing students with academic advice and support to prepare them for their continuing studies and cultural change in Australia.

In addition to that, Soon has over 15 years’ experience in the corporate sector. He has held position such as Principal Consultant, engaging in international consulting and development in the Asian region, particularly Australia, China, Indonesia and Malaysia. His work includes working in high level cross cultural understanding of small/medium sized businesses. SoonTeik was also Branch Manager with a Fortune 500 company, before venturing into consultancy.


Jennifer Bourne, Admissions and Quality Administration Officer
Jennifer has extensive know-how in management, with over 5 years’ experience in the international education sector. With strengths in people, communication and team management, she has the ability to give full support to our team and agents.

She looks after all the Admissions for Ironwood to make sure the Letters of Offer, Confirmations of Enrolment and any other documents are issued in a perfect and timely manner.

Jennifer’s other roles include Quality Administration and ensuring that our administrative areas of the institute are to the highest quality and meets all the requirements that relate to a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).


Dr Vinay Patel, Horticulture and Agribusiness Educator
Dr Patel delivers horticulture and agribusiness courses at Ironwood Institute. With a Doctorate in Botany and Masters in Agribusiness he has over five years’ experience in the horticulture industry.  Working with hydroponic he is an expert in growing plants starting from seed growing, grafting, staff management, chemical spray, crop work, irrigation, climate control, packaging and dispatch. Vinay teaches our students the latest skills which the industry seeks. He also has run research and development programs for major producers.


Victor Cahu, Diploma of Social Media Marketing Educator
Victor’s expertise is in marketing and advertising with over 5 years practical experience.  He has an Australian Master’s in Business Administration (Marketing) and a Bachelor of Advertising and Marketing from Portugal. With a good knowledge of the emerging digital market he imparts his enthusiasm and knowledge to students with diverse backgrounds.  Originally from Brazil, he has a creative aptitude with a talent for communication.


Komal Sodhi, Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management and Advanced Diploma of Marketing and Communication Educator
Komal has over 15 years of international education and training experience, specialising in business, leadership, management, marketing and accounting.  She also has industry experience as an accountant.  With Masters in both Education and Commerce/Management, Komal is our Advanced Diploma educator in both the Marketing and Management streams.


Samone Wear, Diploma of Social Media Marketing Educator
Hands on management in business development and marketing, Samone imparts her excellence in teaching of Social Media and Digital Marketing to both international and domestic students. A Education Instructional Designer, Samone disciplines encompass the following vocations: Business, Entrepreneurship, Leadership & Management, Event Management, Tourism, Marketing (Digital) and Hospitality.

Samone has navigated her way through business ownership, incubators and delivering professional services to private, public and non for-profit sectors. An accomplished Director, professional Educator, on a Board of Directors and Brand Developer, Samone has received recognition across Australia within her specialised fields and of recent a 2020 Telstra Businesswomen’s Award nomination under category: For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award.

Samone holds qualifications in Bachelor Business (Innovation and Enterprise), Diploma Training Design and Development, Diploma Business (Frontline Management), Diploma Management, Diploma Travel and Tourism Management, Small Business Management, Hospitality and Marketing. The next milestone ahead is the completion of a Master of Business Administration (Innovation and Leadership).