I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. When I finished high school, I wanted to keep my career options as broad as possible. I chose to study economics and information systems, thinking this would give me an understanding of what made the world tick while I figured out what I really wanted to do. I moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1999 where I completed my undergraduate studies and then worked as a management consultant for a few years. By then I realised that I wanted to work in an area that aimed to make the world a better place, rather than just making money.
In 2007 I began my PhD in public health, and policies for obesity prevention in particular. The decision to focus my research on food policy was mostly opportunistic, rather than driven by a particular passion. However, as I have grown to understand the area, I have developed a fascination for the complexity of food systems, and the challenges of promoting public health against the enormous influence of the corporate sector.
My true passion is for the wildlife of Southern Africa, and I feel happiest when I’m in the Kruger National Park.
My research has been included as part of the 2011 Lancet Series on Obesity, and the ACE-Prevention study, which examined the cost-effectiveness of over 100 interventions for disease prevention in Australia. I have also co-authored several World Health Organization reports. I have undertaken short-term research placements at the World Health Organization (Switzerland), Harvard University (US), the University of Oxford (UK), the Northern Territory Department of Health and Community Services (Australia) and the International Telecommunications Union (Switzerland). Prior to entering the field of public health, I worked as a management consultant for Deloitte, providing strategic business advice to multi-national corporations and governments in Australia.