Special Counsels

On CMAX Advisory’s panel of Special Counsels, sit a collection of highly-talented senior leaders who provide strategic advice to CMAX Advisory.

Our Special Counsels boast distinguished careers in their particular sectors and strengthen our team’s capability to assist clients identify opportunities for growth, mitigate complex risks, and execute strategies to meet corporate objectives.

Neil Hart AM

Special Counsel

View Neil's Biography

Expertise —
Strategy development and implementationLeadership and transformationNew technology concepts and innovation
Interests —
FlyingAdventure motorcyclingAFL, rugby and cricket
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Neil Hart AM is on CMAX Advisory’s panel of Special Counsels.

Neil also serves as a Strategic Defence Advisor to the Minister and Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Industry and Planning in Queensland, with a focus on the Aviation and Space industry. He was also recently appointed as a Professor at Deakin University and Chair in Defence Technologies for the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation.

Neil remains active in the Australian Defence Force though the Air Force Reserves, principally through work in ADF Airworthiness Boards. His previous senior command appointments and positions with the ADF include Deputy Chief of Air Force, Head One Defence Implementation, Head Force Structure Review, Head Joint Capability Coordination Division, Commander Air Combat Group, Director of the US Central Command Combined Air and Space Operations Centre, and Director-General Capability Planning in Air Force.

Neil is a fighter pilot and flying instructor with over 3000 fast-jet hours, including time on the F/A-18 Hornet, the Mirage IIIO and the Macchi MB326H. He graduated with distinction from the Royal Australian Air Force Academy and was awarded a Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne. He is also a graduate of both the USAF Command and Staff College Course (Alabama) and the Royal College of Defence Studies (London).

Neil has served on flying squadrons operating throughout Australia and South-East Asia, culminating as Commanding Officer of Number 3 Fighter Squadron, including leading the squadron on an operational deployment. Other key previous appointments include Director Special Operations Development in Special Operations Command, Director of the ADF Airworthiness Coordination and Policy Agency, and Deputy Director in the New Air Combat Capability project team.

Paula Benson

Special Counsel

View Paula's Biography

Expertise —
Strategy & leadership Stakeholder & community engagement Corporate responsibility & ESG risk
Interests —
Women's healthSkiing & runningTextiles, design & gardens
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Paula Benson is on CMAX Advisory’s panel of Special Counsels.

Paula has almost twenty years’ experience in financial services, media, resources, infrastructure, education and non-profit sectors. Paula is Non-Executive Director of the Victorian Funds Management Corporation; Director of Care Australia; and, a Trustee of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

She is the former chair of Ovarian Cancer Australia and former director of the Port of Melbourne Corporation, the Melbourne Royal Women’s Hospital Foundation and Regional Arts Victoria.

Paula has held senior roles in business and the media including, Executive General Manager Corporate Affairs at National Australia Bank (NAB); General Manager, Corporate Responsibility at NAB; General Manager Corporate Affairs at Alcoa of Australia; Manager Public Affairs at RMIT University; and Producer of Channel Nine’s A Current Affair.

Paula holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales.