Who We Are

As co-founder of Upstart Challenge, Heather Kelly has founded and run several successful businesses in the UK and Australia and has over 20 years of management experience within SMEs, Corporate, Government and Non-profit organisations across a variety of sectors and runs her own consultancy business.

As a national industry innovation and supply chain facilitator Heather fostered innovation, productivity and identified commercial opportunities for collaboration, working with firms to develop alliances and industry clusters.   

Often inspired by the entrepreneurs she meets, Heather saw the value of innovation and entrepreneurship to both business and the community and the diversity from which they came.  Wanting to share this with young people, Heather saw it as an opportunity to inspire and empower school students, especially those who were less engaged and at risk of leaving school without completing Year 12.  And so, with the support from St. Joseph College Foundation Upstart was born.

Jen Perks brings a broad range of skills to the Upstart Program. With an operations management background in the UK food manufacturing industry, Jen is a strong advocate for continuous improvement and employee engagement. Since moving to Australia in 2008, Jen has been running her own consultancy business facilitating client company teams to increase productivity and develop skills, project managing government funded programs and industry networks to improve the competitive advantage of Australian manufacturing, and encouraging youth entrepreneurship through the Upstart Challenge Program.

Jen's involvement in Upstart began when her two teenage boys came home buzzing with ideas to enter the Big Ideas Competition during the first two years running at St Joseph's. She saw first hand the impact that Upstart had on their imagination and creativity and watched their confidence grow as they worked with mentors to prepare and deliver their pitch to a business audience. Seeing how the Upstart Challenge can change conversations, provide meaningful experiences for young people, and connect them to inspiring mentors and business people inspired Jen to spread the word and get more people involved!


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