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The 2019 Pearcey Medallist, Hall of Fame Inductees and National Entrepreneur of the Year Revealed

Professor David Abramson presented with the 2019 Pearcey Medal; Sonja Bernhardt OAM and Bob Beaumont inducted into the Pearcey Hall of Fame; Craig McDonald wins National Entrepreneur Award

The Pearcey Foundation last night presented its 2019 National Awards as part of a dinner to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Dr Trevor Pearcey, one of the pioneers of the Australian ICT industry.

The prestigious Pearcey Medal, which recognises a distinguished lifetime achievement and contribution to the development and growth of the ICT industry in Australia, was presented to Professor David Abramson, currently Director of Research Computing at the University of Queensland. The Pearcey Medal has been awarded annually since 1998, with this year’s medal presented to Prof. Abramson by Nigel Warren, CSIRO’s Executive Director, Growth.

All previous 21 Pearcey Medallists can be found at https://pearcey.org.au/pearcey-medals.


The 2019 Pearcey Medallist: Professor David Abramson

Professor David Abramson, Director of Research Computing at the University of Queensland, is a pioneer and world leader in the design, implementation and application of parallel and distributed computing systems including supercomputers. He has been published widely in both academic and industrial venues, and has designed and implemented innovative approaches to support software development for parallel and distributed environments.

His software products have been used widely in both academia and industry. One system, called Nimrod, was a leader in the use of globally distributed computer systems. It underpinned a commercial product (called EnFuzion) which is has been used by power utility and energy companies in nine countries, by major TV broadcasters in the US and Canada, and by 3D animation studios around the world including China. Another system for debugging parallel programs has been licensed to Cray, one of the world’s most significant supercomputer manufacturers.

Prof. Abramson has undertaken collaborative research with many industry partners including IBM, Microsoft, HP, Sun Microsystems, Leica Microsystems and Huawei. He is a Fellow of the ACM, a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society.


Pearcey Hall of Fame
Prof. Abramson was also inducted into the Pearcey Hall of Fame, and has been joined this year by Sonja Bernhardt OAM and Bob Beaumont. 

If you love cruising, you are likely to bump into Sonja Bernhardt presenting emerging technologies and the history of technology topics. Never one to ‘retire’, Sonja has taken her lifelong technology passion and interest to the high seas where she aims to edutain the general public on topics such as AI, Augmented Reality, Quantum Computing, Blockchain, IoT and more. Sonja is Director and CEO of software development house, ThoughtWare, which provides a Governance, Risk Management and Compliance platform for the Aged Care, Community Care, Disability Care and Indigenous Care sectors. She is also a popular ABC radio technology commentator and a published author, including co-author of a 2019 book Blockchain Technology for Global Social Change. Sonja has served on technology-related committees for the United Nations, APEC, Australian Ministerial Advisory boards, as well as prestigious national and state-based organisations. She is also a pioneer of women in technology programs and projects in Australia, which earned her induction into the 

Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to the IT industry.


Bob Beaumont has been a remarkable ‘top-to-bottom’ contributor to the Australian innovation sector. Bob has been instrumental in significant government policy initiatives, setting up grant programs and finding ways to support the development of entrepreneurs, particularly tech entrepreneurs. He has spent most of his working life deeply involved in a huge array of entrepreneurial-related activities including grant programs, international delegations, entrepreneur education and introducing start-up companies to partners, financiers and business opportunities both local and overseas. He has been a significant investor himself, including in some of the biggest Australian ICT success stories. Bob is affectionately known as “Uncle Bob” to hundreds of successful entrepreneurs. By any measure, Bob has been truly inspirational and motivational in helping Australian entrepreneurs, particularly in ICT, take on the world and be successful.

The Pearcey Hall of Fame was established in 2004, and is online at https://pearcey.org.au/pearcey-hall-of-fame.

“Each year three outstanding Australians are elevated to the Pearcey Hall of Fame for their lifelong contribution to the ICT sector, one of whom receives the Medal based on a nationwide voting system by their peers. These are the ‘best of the best’ in our industry and our Hall of Fame is a permanent recognition of the contribution they have made to the ICT sector over many years,” said Wayne Fitzsimmons, National Chair, Pearcey Foundation.

Pearcey National Entrepreneur Award

The CSIRO’s Nigel Warren presented this year’s Pearcey National Entrepreneur Award to Craig McDonald of MailGuard, chosen from the 2019 State Pearcey Award winners. The national award gives prominence to one of this year’s State Pearcey winners for inspiring leadership, scale, impact, innovation and acclaim on the world stage.

Commenting on Mr McDonald’s win, Rick Harvey (Chief Judge, Pearcey Foundation) said, “Craig McDonald is an outstanding entrepreneur who epitomises what it takes to successfully take all-Australian technology to the world. Since founding Mailguard in 2001, Craig has painstakingly grown his company to be an international leader in email security, with over 500 partners globally, including Microsoft using the technology to protect Office 365. In security, it is so incredibly hard to stay ahead of the threats, especially with technology moving so fast and the ever-increasing sophistication of hackers. More broadly, Craig is passionate about increasing security awareness and spends a lot of voluntary time in the industry, speaking, advising and even writing a book on cyber-safety trying to help keep us all safer.”


2019 State Pearcey Award Winners

ACT: presented to Penten CEO Matthew Wilson.

NSW: won by co-founder, CEO and CTO of Deputy, Ashik Ahmed

QLD: awarded to Toowoomba-based founder of DataFarming Tim Neale

VIC: awarded to Craig McDonald, CEO and founder of MailGuard and BlackEvents

WA: presented to Robert Nathan, CEO and founder of Australian Tenders, as part of the WAITTA Incite Awards on 14 June.


About the Pearcey Foundation
The Pearcey Foundation Inc. is a non-profit organisation established in 1998 to raise the profile of the Australian Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry and profession. It was created in the memory of one of the greatest pioneers of the Australian ICT industry, Dr Trevor Pearcey. By celebrating the heroes in our industry, past, present and future, the Foundation is looking to attract and encourage young Australians into this most exciting of global high technology sectors of our nation.

Web: www.pearcey.org.au

Twitter: @Pearcey_org #pearceyawards

LinkedIn: Pearcey Foundation #pearceyawards