Our Team

CMAX Advisory’s team is made up of exceptional individuals who guide strategy development and execution with unwavering commitment, passion and professionalism. Our talented team has worked across the breadth of government and business internationally, including politics, public policy, media, peak industry bodies, academia and not-for-profit organisations. Special Counsels

Christian Taubenschlag

Founder & Chairman

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Expertise —
Government relationsBusiness development strategyMarket positioning
Interests —
Mountain bikingSkiingInternational politics
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Christian Taubenschlag is the founder and President of CMAX Advisory.

Christian has been advising and assisting both private and public sector clients with their corporate and public affairs communication needs for more than 20 years.

Christian has worked across a range of industries and represented clients involved in areas as diverse as defence, national security, mining and resources, agriculture, infrastructure, health and media.

Christian has a wealth of government experience derived from roles heading several departmental communication units. Christian has also established himself as a trusted advisor to the federal government, having worked as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Minister for Defence and National Security Adviser and Director of Communications to the Minister for Home Affairs.

Christian is fluent in Spanish, has a Bachelor of Communications and prior to establishing CMAX Advisory he worked as a journalist.

Tara Taubenschlag

Managing Director

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Expertise —
Stakeholder engagement Reputation & crisis managementMedia strategy
Interests —
Global development & maternal healthEquestrianHiking
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Tara Taubenschlag has worked in government relations, communications and journalism for more than 15 years.

Prior to her career with CMAX Advisory, Tara worked as a print and television journalist both nationally and internationally, producing and presenting news and current affairs programs for Sky News and Channel Ten. During her time at CMAX Advisory, Tara has counselled clients from a range of sectors including digital, cyber, defence, agriculture and education in government relations, reputation management, corporate communications, issue management and corporate social responsibility.

Tara’s professional experiences also includes work for a variety of consultancy firms, where she supported clients in the development and execution of strategic communications campaigns, government relations strategies, stakeholder engagement plans, ASX company listings, the development and launch of company prospectuses, and campaign and media management of events.

Tara assists a number of non-profit and community organisations with their PR and communication needs on a pro bono basis. She sits on the Board of Fortem Australia and is a passionate maternal health advocate and works with charities including Every Mother Counts, and The Hands of Rescue to raise funds and awareness for maternal health programs in developing countries. Tara was a founding board member of Women in Media – Canberra Group, was named the 2013 Government Relations Practitioner of the Year and was a finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards 2015. Tara helped establish the East Timor Free Press Foundation following the independence referendum in 2000, receiving an Australian Government Award in recognition for her volunteer work there.

Tara holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Queensland.

Tyson Sara

Chief Executive Officer

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Expertise —
Strategy developmentInternational relationsNational security
Interests —
HistoryAFL footballTravel
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Tyson Sara has more than 25 years’ experience in defence, international relations and government.

Tyson has served in a number of senior executive positions in the Department of Defence, managing strategic policy, capability and personnel. Tyson has also managed Defence’s international relationships, with particular expertise on the United States, South Pacific and Southeast Asia.

Tyson served in Parliament House as the Senior Adviser for Intelligence, Operations and International Affairs to the Minister for Defence and was lead adviser to the minister for the development of the 2009 Defence White Paper.

Overseas, Tyson served as the Policy Adviser to the Australian Commander in Afghanistan in Kabul. On a second tour he was seconded to the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division as Senior Adviser to the Commander of NATO Forces in Southern Afghanistan based in Kandahar, but travelling widely in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At CMAX Advisory, Tyson is responsible for strategy development, political analysis, political engagement and geopolitical forecasting and analysis. Tyson assists our clients to understand and navigate the political and international landscape and develop ambitious but feasible strategies to help clients achieve their objectives.

Tyson grew up in rural South Australia and attended Flinders University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in International Relations. He has a Master’s in International Security and Strategy from King’s College London and is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies. Tyson has also completed the Senior Executives in National and International Security Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Mick Murdoch DSM

Chief Operating Officer & Account Director

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Expertise —
National securityStrategy development and implementationCapability acquisition
Interests —
TravelMountain bikingFamily time with his young boys
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Mick has more than three decades of senior leadership and management experience in the national security sector.

Mick’s deep national security and geopolitical expertise supports CMAX Advisory partners in the energy, national security, defence industry, health and higher education sectors to develop and implement superior organisational strategies and solutions to complex national and international challenges.

Mick’s diverse career in the Department of Defence saw him serve in senior roles in strategy development and implementation, international stakeholder engagement, capability acquisition, national training and development and strategic policy.

Prior to joining CMAX Advisory, Mick was the Director of Strategy and Plans for a 30 country multi-national coalition operating in the Middle East, where he led the development and implementation of a new strategy. Earlier, he was the Deputy Chief of Staff at Australian Defence Force Headquarters.

Mick deployed to East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan on several occasions. In latter deployments, he specialised in senior mentoring and advisory roles, providing strategy advice to United States Central Command in 2021 and 2022 and to the Afghan National Security and Defence Force senior military commander in Kabul in 2015 and 2016.

Mick grew up in Bundaberg and holds a Master of Strategy and Policy, a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Arts (Peace Studies), and a Bachelor of Management. He is a graduate of the Royal Military College – Duntroon, the Australian Command and Staff College and the Australian War College’s Defence and Strategic Studies Course, where he specialised in China’s role in the Pacific.

Josh Copland

Director of Intelligence & Account Director

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Expertise —
National security International relations Stakeholder engagement
Interests —
Outdoor adventuresGood food & wineRichmond footy club
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Josh is a defence, intelligence and capability specialist who served as a former Australian Army officer in a range of intelligence and operational roles.

Josh’s expertise includes strategic intelligence analysis, capability development and integration, stakeholder relationship management, and international engagement.

As CMAX Advisory’s Director of Intelligence & Account Director , Josh supports industry partners across the defence, technology and cyber security sectors in the development and execution of government engagement strategies, advises on government policy and process, and supports businesses overcome market and reputational challenges to leverage opportunities in the Australian market.

During his time in the Australian Defence Force, Josh was responsible for delivering strategic and operational analysis and advice across all levels of government on national security issues, counter terrorism, and international engagement. Overseas, he deployed as a tactical commander to Afghanistan as an intelligence officer to joint intelligence capabilities the Middle East region, building relationships with coalition partners.

Prior to joining Defence, Josh worked in the hospitality industry, plying his trade in some of Canberra’s best bars and restaurants.

Josh grew up in Canberra and graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations. He has a Master’s of Strategy and Security from the University of New South Wales and is a graduate of the Royal Military College – Duntroon.

Jarryd Williamson

Director of Political Analysis & Account Director

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Expertise —
Political strategyIssues managementStrategic communications
Interests —
Golf travelFood travelWine travel
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Jarryd is an experienced political and strategic communications specialist with experience across the health, aged care and sport sectors.

As an Account Director with CMAX Advisory, Jarryd counsels clients from a range of sectors including digital, defence, health and infrastructure in corporate strategy, government process and engagement, reputation management, corporate communications and issues management, to support them in overcoming challenges, leverage opportunities and grow in the Australian market.

His expertise includes political strategy, stakeholder mapping and engagement, media management, and strategic and crisis communications. In his role with CMAX Advisory, he supports the development and execution of client strategies, communications and engagement plans, white papers, reports and policy submissions.

Jarryd previously worked for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a Senior Adviser for Strategy and Research, where he developed and delivered cross-portfolio briefings to the prime minister and senior ministers ahead of parliamentary and media engagements. Prior to joining the prime minister’s office, Jarryd was an advisor to the former federal ministers for Sport and Health.

Throughout his career, Jarryd has fostered and managed relationships with influential individuals and a full range of critical stakeholders across government, business, media, peak bodies and community groups.

Jarryd holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) from Deakin University. He is passionate about sport and despite playing golf for over 15 years, he’s yet to hit a hole-in-one.

Alyssa Waters

Director — Queensland

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Expertise —
Corporate strategyGovernment engagementDefence and national security policy
Interests —
TravelHealth and wellnessFamily outdoor activities, including skiing and time by the ocean
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Alyssa is a corporate strategy specialist who supports businesses to enter and grow in the Australian and Indo-Pacific markets, and manage complex stakeholder relations.

Alyssa has worked in a number of legal and public policy roles across state and federal government departments, as well as in the private sector, helping companies to navigate the Australian operating environment and build brands that resonate with Australian customers and decision-makers.

At CMAX Advisory, Alyssa has supported Australian and multinational companies and non-profits across defence, aerospace, international development, technology, government and manufacturing sectors. She has led large corporate restructures, designed market growth strategies, and developed and executed government engagement plans for industry partners pursuing significant investment, commercial and branding campaigns in Australia and the Indo-Pacific region.

During her time in the Australian Department of Defence, Alyssa worked in key defence industry and international policy sections, managing Defence’s international relationships with Southeast Asia, and multi-million-dollar bilateral defence cooperation programs with regional partners. She also administered the implementation of defence industry and innovation programs, which strengthened government partnerships with defence industry and competitively positioned Australian companies for export success in foreign markets.

Alyssa has a wealth of public sector experience in government and stakeholder engagement, having previously worked with the Attorney-General’s Department, the Federal Court of Australia and a number of New South Wales government agencies.

Alyssa grew up on the beaches of Newcastle and graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Public Policy and French).

Sue Drinan

Account Director

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Expertise —
Civil-military relationsDefence PolicyStrategic Communications
Interests —
Trail RunningPersonal and Professional DevelopmentChristmas Movies
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Sue’s specialises in strategy development, stakeholder engagement and policy advice to help clients develop, implement and surpass their business objectives.

As an Account Director, Sue utilises her broad government background, to assist clients navigate the interface between Government and industry to maximise exposure and success rates when competing for future business.  She has a wealth of experience across the Defence and Space, health, education, infrastructure and consulting sectors.

Over Sue’s 20 years in Defence and the public sector she specialised in civil-military relations, policy development and strategic workforce planning. She has a wealth of experience in stakeholder engagement and has been a ministerial and strategic advisor to the Chief and Deputy Chief of Air Force.  Sue has served as a member of deployed joint task force in the Middle East, developing Australian property policy and as a key liaison officer.

Sue is a graduate of the Australian Command and Staff Course and has a Masters in Strategy from the Australian National University

Patrick Doyle

Manager — Victoria

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Expertise —
Policy analysisGovernment relationsStakeholder engagement
Interests —
Punk musicEverton FCHistory
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Patrick is a specialist in government policy and engagement, with expertise across defence, maritime, national security, infrastructure, health and government sectors.

As a Senior Advisor at CMAX Advisory, Patrick supports industry partners with the development and execution of government engagement strategies and market analysis across various sectors that interface with state and federal governments. His client-focussed work has included support to strategy development, policy analysis, government submissions and reports, stakeholder relations, and media and event management.

In addition to his support to private-sector clients, Patrick has also developed public-facing strategies for state government partners and supported stakeholder engagement campaigns. Drawing on his expertise in government and defence industry, this work has enabled government partners to attract economic investment, and foster defence industry and workforce growth in key regions.

Patrick has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of International Relations from the University of Melbourne. Before joining CMAX Advisory, he engaged in government relations and administrative activities in the non-profit sector.

Sarah Jewell

Account Manager

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Expertise —
Strategic communications Stakeholder engagement Advocacy
Interests —
International relations Live music Travel
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Sarah has been working in campaigns, government relations, stakeholder engagement, industry-wide advocacy, and strategic communications for over 14 years.

Sarah has recently returned to Australia after six years in New York where she served as senior advisor and political strategist to Nobel Peace laureate Leymah Gbowee. Sarah supported Ms. Gbowee’s public engagement, private diplomacy, and the profile of her foundation’s work through collaborations and campaigns with organisational networks and high-profile leaders.

Before moving to New York to work with Ms. Gbowee, Sarah worked in public policy at a state and national level in Australia, where she held leadership roles in peak bodies. A key component of these roles was the development of strong linkages and collaboration between the for-purpose sector, government, and the private sector.

Sarah holds a Master of Philosophy from Trinity College Dublin, a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Arts from the Australian National University, and a Diploma of Project Management.

Matt Pesce

Account Manager

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Expertise —
National securityDefence policyCapability development
Interests —
Spending time with familyCookingPlaying guitar
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Matt has two decades of leadership and management experience in Defence and government. Matt has expertise in strategic workforce planning, project management, capability development and policy implementation that directly supports CMAX Advisory in providing strategies and solutions to our national security and defence industry clients.

Matt’s breadth of experience in the Department of Defence saw him serve in operational and planning roles in international engagement, capability implementation, training and development and strategic level policy development.

Prior to joining CMAX Advisory, Matt was a Capability Development Officer within Defence and a human capital consultant.

Matt has deployed to Afghanistan on two occasions. In his latter deployment, he specialised in providing strategic planning and capacity building advice to the United States lead multinational headquarters, as part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission.

Matt grew up in South Australia and holds a Master of Business and a Bachelor of Management. He is a graduate of the Royal Military College – Duntroon.

Mitch Watson

Account Manager

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Expertise —
Strategy development and implementationDefence policyNational security
Interests —
FitnessHistorySport (cricket, golf, rugby league)
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Mitch has more than 20 years of leadership and management experience in the national security sector

Mitch’s deep national security experience supports CMAX Advisory partners in the defence industry, national security and higher education sectors to develop and implement superior organisational strategies to help them achieve their objectives.

Mitch’s diverse experience in Defence saw him serve in roles in strategy development and implementation, national and international stakeholder engagement, policy development, national training, operational planning and incident management. He supported delivery of capability projects as a user, by enabling trials of equipment, and by supporting the introduction of several large programs.

While in Defence, Mitch deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines. On his most recent deployment to the Philippines in 2019, he assisted in the development and implementation of Australia’s strategy in conjunction with many federal agencies and international counterparts.

Mitch grew up in Bundaberg and holds a Master of Arts (Strategy and Security), a Master of Defence Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts (History and Management). He is a graduate of the Australian Defence Force Academy, the Royal Military College – Duntroon, the Australian Command and Staff College and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Patrick Gheller

Senior Advisor

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Expertise —
Political analysisEnergy policyPolitical communication and strategy
Interests —
Red Hot Chili PeppersTravelSport
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Patrick brings a considerable amount of experience across both the public and private sector to CMAX Advisory, having worked in the Australian Public Service, in government relations and public relations, as well as in a federal electorate office.

As a Senior Advisor with CMAX Advisory, Patrick delivers insights, analysis and advice to clients with his experience and knowledge of the energy and disability sectors, as well as a deep understanding of Australian politics and broader policy analysis skills.

Patrick specialises in political analysis, helping to ensure CMAX Advisory’s clients are across the key issues in politics both at a national and state level, and ensuring that clients have a fulsome understanding of the implications and importance of key issues and the strategies of political parties.

Prior to working at CMAX Advisory, Patrick worked in government relations across a number of portfolios including energy, mining technology, infrastructure, and with a number of peak industry bodies. Patrick also held roles across the Department of Social Services and the National Disability Insurance Agency, as well as at the Office of the Hon Bill Shorten MP.

Patrick holds a Master of Public Policy from Monash University, and a Bachelor of Communication from RMIT University.

Holly Kessler

Office Manager

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Expertise —
Stakeholder relationsEvent planning and managementOffice administration
Interests —
Fitness & wellnessAnimal welfareSolo travel
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Holly has more than 15 years of experience in stakeholder relations, customer service, and office management, in Australia and throughout Europe.

As an Office Manager at CMAX Advisory, Holly provides support across a range of business functions including office operations, event planning and management, digital design and marketing, and executive support.

Holly has an interest in language and international relations, having worked with a number of commercial and private aviation companies for almost a decade in Switzerland.

Before relocating to Canberra in 2020, Holly grew up in Sydney and has a diploma in French language (DALF C1 Advanced) and is currently undertaking business studies.

Jason Staines

Senior Consultant

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Expertise —
Writing Editorial production Research and analysis
Interests —
Travel Family Rugby (both flavours)
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Jason Staines has worked as a journalist and editor in Australia, the UK and India. He has also worked in economic diplomacy and policy analysis for the Australian Treasury.

Prior to joining CMAX Advisory, Jason worked for the Commonwealth Treasury as an analyst in Canberra and before that in New Delhi, where he was the senior research officer for Treasury’s post at the Australian High Commission. This economic diplomacy role combined his journalistic experience in reporting on the Indian economy with establishing and maintaining relationships with the Indian government.

Jason has a strong background in editorial production, having worked as production editor on business titles in Sydney and London, as a senior sub-editor for Australian Associated Press and as a news editor for the Age in Melbourne. While in India he was an editor for Dow Jones Newswires.

Jason was raised in Sydney, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts (Communication) from the University of Technology, Sydney and his Master of International Studies from the University of Sydney.

Jennifer Doggett

Senior Consultant

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Expertise —
Health policyHealth care financingGovernment relations
Interests —
ReadingCyclingBridge
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Jennifer Doggett has more than 20 years’ experience in government, working with professional, industry and consumer groups and specialising in the health sector.

Jennifer is a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development and Chair of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance. She is a contributing editor to online health publication Croakey and has worked for a broad range of consumer, industry and professional groups in the health sector.

Jennifer’s previous roles include policy officer in the Department of Health, Communications Manager for a national medical organisation and political adviser to a federal senator on health and social policy issues.

Jennifer is the author of a number of publications on health issues including: “A New Approach to Primary Care in Australia” and “Out-of-pocket: re-thinking co-payments in the health system”. She is a contributing author to books More than Luck, Pushing our Luck and Creating and Implementing Public Policy.