Chief Sparrow, Giovanna Lever
Giovanna Lever is the founder and managing director of Sparrowly Group. Her first experience of business was as a child working on her family vegetable farm in Bundaberg. Mentored by her father, she was trained and supported the operations of the family agribusiness. So business became a way of life - as natural as sleeping and breathing.
That background allowed Giovanna to thrive in roles across multiple industries with InterContinental Hotels Group, Tourism Australia and Australian Rugby Union where she was known for the commercial success of her work. She also gained a reputation for inspiring teams to give their best and her ability to facilitate competing sets of stakeholders to work together towards common goals.
With 20 years experience working as an integrated commercial marketer in tourism, hospitality, entertainment and sport behind her Giovanna began Sparrowly Group with a clear vision to create a better workforce for the future. She has been at the helm of high profile projects for destinations, businesses and brands across Australia. As well as providing strategy and consultation for large and small businesses, she runs impactful leadership and development and reflective mentorship programs. These have previously been utilised by Virgin Australia, Reserve Bank of Australia, Hamilton Island and Bundaberg Tourism, as well as small to medium sized businesses that need support to thrive.
Giovanna is a regular keynote speaker, speaking to emerging leaders on topics including management, business skills, governance, marketing and crisis management. She is a regular guest lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Queensland.
Smart Sparrow - Ben Lever
Ben Lever has over 17 years of experience building and leading research and development teams, working with commercial and government organisations across Australia and Asia. His experience spans data analytics and data partnering, to technology evaluation and solution development.
Ben previously led data engineering and research at CSIRO’s Data61 prior to operating it as the CTO of the spin-out company Ambiata. There, he was instrumental in evaluating and researching cutting-edge techniques in the areas of data analytics, AI, and computer vision, then developing solutions for their application to pain-points and opportunities in government and business. In the commercial sector, Ben has engaged with tier-1 telecommunication, financial services, retail, and media companies in designing evidence-based work programs and deploying technology-based solutions for automated data-driven decisioning.
In recent years Ben has had an interest in the nascent market garden industry and has completed training in permaculture as well as volunteering with local urban farms.
Ben has been an invited speaker on technology and data in Australia, UK and USA, and has strong relationships within the start-up ecosystem.
Smart Sparrow - Jennifer Richards
Jennifer Richards is an experienced writer and researcher, and a passionate advocate for agritourism as a way to sustainably transform the food system. She has pursued this topic with a diverse set of clients including the Australian Macadamia Society, The Institute for Sustainable Futures and Harvest Trails and Markets. She is also a regular contributor to ABC Radio Sydney on the topic.
As well as providing sustainability-related research and advice for Sparrowly’s projects, Jennifer is able to understand the essence of businesses, brands and destinations to write content and copy that inspires and sells.
Prior to this, she has ten years experience as a voice and communications consultant developing programs to help professionals in a variety of contexts to improve their presentation and oral communication skills. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Sustainability.
Smart Sparrow - Emma Costin
Emma Costin holds a Bachelor of Management in Tourism from UTS. She provides thorough research, support and coordination across all Sparrowly Groups projects. Her extensive research, stakeholder engagement and communication skills were integral to the success of the Cradle Coast Events, Arts and Festivals Strategy.
Always purposeful and curious in her approach, Emma is dedicated to developing creative solutions for all clients. She has collaborated on implementing the destination marketing plan for the Hawkesbury region of NSW through rigorous research, social listening and assisting with digital ready workshops for business. She also works closely with external stakeholder to develop practical solutions which deliver both commercial success and benefit to the community.
In addition to this, she has collaborated on projects for Macadamias Australia, Shoalhaven City Council and several small business clients. In a previous role, she coordinated the production of the Qantas Virtual Reality Travel Series for Grainger Films.
Smart Sparrow - Jacqueline Hicks
Jacqueline Hicks has contributed her exceptional attention to detail and thorough research to many of Sparrow Group’s projects. Most recently, her audit of tourism products and experiences across NSW and understanding of their context within each destination network was integral to the successful development of 12 new driving itineraries for Destination NSW.
She has also supported Sparrowly Group’s delivery of the Hawkesbury Destination Management Plan through product and event auditing and training stakeholders to use the ATDW platform. She has also assisted the delivery of several other successful projects for clients in the travel and tourism industry.
In a previous role at the Sydney Jewish Museum she undertook marketing research projects, developed and published online content and had the opportunity to take educational tours of the Museum.
She is passionate about the role tourism plays in protecting and preserving Australia’s heritage. Due to her interest in historical figures and events, she has a keen enjoyment in dark tourism.