The Hills Grammar Original Alumni Award was introduced into the Annual Presentation of Awards to acknowledge a ‘Hills’ alumnus who has gone on to achieve extraordinary personal and professional success in their field of endeavour.
We are asking our past students, parents and community members to nominate a past Hills Grammarian for the upcoming Hills Grammar Original Award. The online nomination form is accessible here. We encourage our alumni and Hills community to participate in identifying future recipients.
Hills Grammar Original Alumni Award Recipients2019 - Rebecca James (Class of 1992)
Rebecca graduated from Hills Grammar with outstanding results and commenced a Law degree at Sydney University. It was not long before she realised her real passion was for Business and Marketing.
By the age of 22 Rebecca co-founded Sydney’s largest independent digital advertising and customer experience agency and at 27 she was the youngest Managing Director in her field.As Chief Marketing Officer for ME, she led the Product and Customer Experience teams, and oversaw ME’s very successful external and internal rebranding project. During her time at ME, Rebecca was voted #12 in the top 50 CMOs in Australia.Hills Grammar's 1992 Vice-Captain, cites the foundation of her success was, in part, due to her time at Hills Grammar where ‘Creativity was the currency of the day’ and her passion for the Humanities was nurtured by extraordinary teaching.
In 2018 Rebecca, as CEO of Flexigroup, became one of only 14 women to head ASX listed companies - a reflection of her ability to lead with empathy, strength and creativity.
Rebecca’s achievements in the world of Business makes her a most worthy recipient of the Hills Original Alumni Award.
There is no doubt about Rebecca’s extraordinary career, however, it is her very warm and sincere acceptance speech that we wish to share with our readers. Here is an excerpt;
The school played such an integral role in shaping me, that to be honoured in this way is incredibly humbling.
I was privileged to attend the school from 1987-1992, and even then, I knew that it was a special time to be attending Hills Grammar. Creativity was the currency of the day – an era where the humanities reigned supreme with some incredible teachers who shaped and left a lasting imprint on me, along with so many of the skills and qualities which I rely on every day.
So, I would like to use this opportunity to pass on a few of the life lessons, that they instilled in me, as my way of saying thank you to them and honouring them in some small way.
The first of these lessons is to be brave enough to swim against the tide. Mr Richard Baines made ‘you do you’ a movement long before it was an Instagram catch cry. So to say that Mr Baines ‘taught’ English, does not do him justice. He instilled a passion for creativity and storytelling, where conformity was the enemy of the day.
Above all else, he encouraged bravery. Bravery of thought. To be brave enough to try something new, even if it to ultimately fail. You had to be brave enough to express your opinion in every single class.
It was through Mr Baines that I found my voice, both written and spoken – and I don’t think I've stopped using it since!With Richard Baines encouraging you to have your own point of view, it was Jan Brady who instilled in me the ability to use that point of view and construct it into a compelling argument; people will only really remember three things. Have a power opening. It needs to be with conviction, a truly compelling thought. Back it up with three reasons why you believe you’re right, then you’re done. It’s a technique that I’ve used in creating ads, the way I have discussions with the board today, and it’s probably even helped me win a few debates with my partner Adam at home.
You can view Rebecca's speech here.
2018 - Dr Amelia Hynen (Class of 2008)
Amelia studied a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Macquarie University where she has completed a research scholarship at the Macquarie University Hospital examining the biochemistry of brain blood vessel abnormalities. It was here that she developed a passion for microbiology and infectious diseases.
In 2012, she undertook an Honours research project at the University of Technology, Sydney. Her Honours project in biomedical research characterised the Australian Epidemic Strain 1 of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a chronic bacterial lung infection in cystic fibrosis. She was awarded first class Honours and the Dean’s Merit Award for Academic Excellence. In 2013, Amelia undertook a Doctorate of Philosophy in bacteriology characterising explosive cell lysis in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Her PhD was supported by an Australian Government Postgraduate Award Scholarship and a Research Excellence Scholarship awarded by the University of Technology Sydney.
Amelia is a valued speaker at conferences in Australia and abroad with her work published in the scientific journal Nature Communications in 2015. In 2017 Amelia was awarded her PhD and her thesis was nominated for the Chancellor’s Award for the best doctoral thesis submitted at UTS in 2017.
After completing her PhD, Dr Hynen moved into the field of public health. In 2017 she commenced a dual Masters of Public Health and International Public Health at the University of New South Wales. During this time she worked as a research assistant at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW, examining immunisation coverage in Indigenous populations in Australia. Before graduating from her dual Masters with excellence, Dr Hynen interned at in the epidemiology department of the Global Influenza Programme at the World Health Organisation in Switzerland.
For six years Dr Hynen has worked at UTS as a teaching associate for undergraduate microbiology and epidemiology practical classes and has lectured on microscopy techniques. She currently works as a researcher at Policy Cures Research, a not-for-profit organisation funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Her work involves reviewing the science of grants and funding focusing on product research and development for neglected tropical diseases.
Delta attended Hills Grammar from Year 1 until Year 11 when she signed with Sony Music Australia. Her first album ‘Innocent Eyes’ in 2003 was one of the highest-selling debut albums in Australian history and Delta became the first-ever artist to have five #1 singles on the Australian charts from a debut album. Delta was named the ARIA Albums Artist of the Decade in 2010. Since then, Delta has achieved 17 Top-10 hits, four #1 albums, and over 8 million records sold worldwide. Her sold out arena tour saw Delta become the highest-selling Australian touring artist in 2016. In 2015 and 2016, Delta played in the role of Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical Cats and from 2011, appeared as a coach on the highly rated TV Show, The Voice, Australia.
Delta supports a number of charities and foundations across Australia and in 2018 the Delta Goodrem Foundation will be launched. Delta’s story of excellence, resilience, passion and philanthropy continues; a worthy recipient of the Hills Original Alumni Award.
2016 - Robert Ovadia (Class of 1990)
Robert’s career in journalism commenced in his early teenage years on the inaugural committee of the Hills Grammar Gallimaufry and Chief Editor of ACCENT. In 1988 he was awarded a high distinction in the Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year Competition. Robert studied Communications and French at Macquarie University before beginning his journalism career in regional television in Wagga Wagga. Robert’s career has taken him to London, Melbourne and Sydney where he is currently a senior reporter with Network Seven. Robert is a dual Walkley Award winning journalist with a reputation for toughness, integrity and a strong sense of justice; a fitting recipient of the Hills Original Alumni Award.
2015 - Joel Edgerton (Class of 1991)
Joel’s talent and love of Drama was evident from the beginning of his journey through Hills Grammar where he took every opportunity to participate in musical and drama productions. Not long after graduating from the University of Western Sydney’s Drama School in 1994, Joel was cast in the 1996 Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Nick Enright’s Blackrock. His stage career blossomed with many outstanding STC and Bell Shakespeare Company performances.
Joel and his brother Nash founded Blue Tongue films, which became a vehicle for Joel’s contribution to Australian movie industry as a writer, actor and producer. In 2002 Hollywood called and provided Joel with a huge range of characters to play, nominations for the Golden Globe – Best Actor as well as one for the Directors Guild of America - Outstanding Directing. In exhibiting Hills Grammar values of respect, integrity, excellence and service, Joel is a true Hills Grammar Original.