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CEO & Managing Director – Melanie Summer

Melanie Summer describes herself as the product of innovative thinking, hard work and determination. Winner of the National Telstra Business Award (2011), Wife, Mother, Business Owner and Community Leader, she is an example and testament to what is possible when you choose to take a chance and go for what you want in life.

A Master Practitioner in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and Hypnotherapist, Melanie views business from a unique perspective. Her innovative thinking combined with her real-world experience, completion of an Executive MBA as well as her studies at Wharton and London Business School give her a cutting-edge advantage across all her business endeavours.

Born and raised in Germany, Melanie has a life story that spans from being a troubled teenager to sailing the world and creating a business empire from less than nothing. After settling in Australia, Melanie found herself as a struggling single mother with determination and a dream to create a secure life for her daughter.

Today, Melanie is on the Tier 1 External Academic Advisory Committee of the USC Business School, one of the inaugural Business coaches at the Sunshine Coast Start-Up Weekend, as well as a coach for the government program ‘Mentoring for Growth’. She is the co-author of Online marketing 3.0 and 20/20 A Fresh Look at Business Inspiration.

Meet the Team

National Training Manager – Emma Siebuhr

Emma joined the Fortress Learning family in 2014, after having children and wanting to get involved with the workforce again. With a background in more traditional educational methods, Emma has really enjoyed being a part of the innovative world of online training. Emma enjoys getting to work with students from a range of backgrounds and social settings, from people who have no qualifications and are unsure about what training is, to university lecturers who are experienced in the field. Emma uses her wealth of knowledge in the VET sector to contextualise training and assessment to meet student needs and support her team of Trainers and Assessors to continually strive to learn and grow as educators. A keen reader of all things book, ranging from the popular to the literary canon, Emma enjoys spending quality time reading on the weekends and having fun with her family ( husband, Troy and 12 and 13-year-old kids, Issy and Tom) and with her 3 dogs, Rocket, Maisie and Nala.


National Operations Manager – Jonathan Stekhoven

Jon is the Operations Manager here at Fortress and he is passionate about supporting students and staff. Jon has 13 years of management and operations experience in the education industry. Jon believes in authentic leadership and relationship management with an emphasis on an open communication leadership style to foster a strong, stable and respectful workplace culture. Jon lives on the beautiful Sunshine Coast with his young family and in his spare time, he enjoys going to the beach, cycling and gardening.


Certificate IV Trainer & Assessor – Debbie Thomas

Deb joined the Fortress Team in 2019. Deb’s background before having children was as a Registered Nurse and Midwife in Brisbane. Whilst her three sons were growing up she engaged in community volunteer work, in particular within schools and a local kindergarten where she was eventually employed as an Administration Officer gaining her Cert IV in Finance Bookkeeping. After completing her Cert IV TAE in 2015, she commenced training First Aid face to face; a role that Deb loves. Being involved in training led Deb to complete her Dual Diplomas in TAE. She has trained TAE via Zoom as well as assisted students with their online TAE journey.

Her passion is to help people, and Deb really enjoys engaging in personal interaction with her students and assisting them to achieve their goals. In addition to this, Deb is an Authorised Marriage and Funeral Celebrant and has performed over 200 Ceremonies. In her downtime, Deb enjoys meeting with friends, reading or just relaxing with a good movie, and still isn’t sure what she wants to be when she grows up.


Diploma Trainer & Assessor – Jane Macinthosh

Jane joined the Fortress Team in June 2021 as a TAE Trainer and Assessor. Although born in England, Jane grew up in South Africa and emigrated to Sydney, Australia in 2009.

Jane’s passion is to help people towards achieving their potential and their dreams, through learning. She loves helping students to get through the times when they want to give up and loves those light bulb moments when it all begins to make sense.

Jane has been involved with adult education for the majority of her working life. She has worked in all roles within a Registered Training Organisation including course administration and coordination, developing VET accredited courses and assessments, delivering training and assessment and managing an RTO and its compliance. Jane wants to help create great teachers that inspire others to achieve great things.


Certificate IV & Diploma Assessor – Maniya Ongpauco

Maniya had the chance to work with Fortress in late 2018 after setting in Australia. Maniya is still fascinated working in the vocational education and training field. She values every students’ journey in learning the knowledge and skills in training and assessment. Before joining Fortress, Maniya was a design educator in international design schools in higher education. She was also a designer in graphic/packaging and product design companies. Outside of work, Maniya takes time in designing handmade polymer clay pieces. She also likes craft-making, photography and botanical painting.


Accounts Officer – Eunice Faustino

Eunice has been with Fortress Learning since she retired from teaching Mathematics in 2010 to join us and further her interest in e-Learning and business administration.  Like many of our multi-skilled people, Eunice has enjoyed many roles across administration, support, assessment and accounting.  Eunice believes that education and technology work best together, and shares this through development opportunities she hosts for teachers in the areas of Education and Technology. During her free time, Eunice enjoys studying the stock and currency markets and listening to audio books.


Lead Trainers Assistant – Bheng Celon

Bheng has been with Fortress Learning since 2010 and has enjoyed working her way in the organisation from full-time Receptionist to the Lead Trainers Assistant. Previous to Fortress, Bheng worked as an Executive Assistant to several expatriate business people. Bheng enjoys the family environment created at Fortress and appreciates how understanding the team at Fortress is – giving the flexibility of working from home, so Bheng can balance family life with her two boys.


Trainers Assistant – Odeza Tadoyo

Odeza enjoys being a part of the Fortress team as it allows her to work online while being at home and close to her children. Odeza has fond memories of joining the Fortress Team and being welcomed by the entire staff who have continued to be warm, supportive and helpful. Outside of Fortress Learning Odeza enjoys keeping busy with her three boys and travelling.


Trainers Assistant – Karenn Octubre

Karenn joined Fortress in mid-2018, after working as a nurse for 3 years. Like many people, Karenn’s first forays into the Australian VET sector have pushed her into a whole new world, with its own rules and unique language! “I joined Fortress Learning to go outside of my comfort zone and to be able to explore the things I never thought I could do.”

Karenn’s natural instinct to support people and her vibrant personality make her ideal as a Trainers’ Assistant. She loves new challenges, assisting others in traversing new things and hanging out with her dogs, Dory and Princess. We’re all delighted to have Karenn as part of our team


Trainers Assistant – Cory Sabela

Cory is always looking for new challenges. Before joining Fortress, Cory worked as a sales representative, MC and event organizer, and has now dived into the waters of the VET industry with enthusiasm and positivity. In her free time, Cory enjoys a good book, singing along to her favourite tunes and cooking (sweets being a particular specialty of hers). We are privileged to have such a bright and effervescent addition to the Fortress team!


Student Support – Tammy Balzer

Tammy joined the Fortress Learning Team in the role of Student Support in 2019. Prior to this, she enjoyed working as a teacher’s aide with primary school students. She has engaged in tertiary study in the fields of theology, education, literature and theatre, and draws upon her experience completing her Bachelor of Ministry online in supporting Fortress Learning students with their own online study journey.

Tammy is passionate about sustainability and enjoys learning about and experimenting with new ways to tread lightly on the earth.