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Global business leader wins SCU Outstanding Alumnus of the Year award


Brigid Veale
14 September 2015
From humble beginnings working in a fast-food outlet in Grafton, Steve Layt has gone on to be a leader in the global restaurant industry, including former president of the multi-billion dollar restaurant company Applebee’s.

Steve's achievements were recognised on Friday evening (September 11), when he was announced as Southern Cross University’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. Kiri Dicker, who graduated with a Master of Community Development in 2010, was named the Young Alumnus of the Year.

Steve graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from Southern Cross University in 1997. In 2003 he took up a position with Yum Brands’ international division, moving with his family to Dallas, Texas. He was promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the US restaurant chain Buffets in 2007. He is the former president of Applebee’s, a company with more than 2000 restaurants globally and sales of more than $5 billion.

He grew up in Grafton and at the age of 17, was a member of the State Emergency Service that responded to the Cowper bus crash, which claimed the lives of 21 people and injured 22 others. Last year on the 25th anniversary of the crash, he received a NSW Premier’s Award for his efforts. He is also a licensed Federal Aviation Administration Private Pilot in the United States.

“Being able to go to uni nearly 20 years ago was a big deal for me, being able to graduate was an even bigger deal and it set me on just a wonderful course working around the world with some great companies and some great people,” Steve said.

“Certainly for me being a graduate and being a part of this University is pretty special.”

Kiri Dicker, who received the Young Alumnus of the Year Award, is a community development worker and gender equity specialist working to engage communities in social change. After graduating, Kiri established Think Out Loud International, a specialist community development consulting firm. She is currently based in the Solomon Islands, establishing an international office for Think Out Loud.

Kiri, was joined at the ceremony by her mother Anna Dicker, who was named the School of Arts and Social Sciences Alumnus of the Year.

The two completed their degrees at the same time and it was her mother, Kiri said, who provided her inspiration for the work she was now doing.

Southern Cross University’s Alumni of the Year Awards celebrate the achievements of the University’s alumni. The awards recognise excellence in the recipient’s chosen field of endeavour and outstanding service to the community or profession.

The awards were presented by the Chancellor Mr Nick Burton Taylor AM and the Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Lee.

Alumni Relations manager Dan Sloan said the recipients of this year’s awards epitomised the diversity and excellence of Southern Cross University alumni.

“At one end of the spectrum we have our Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Steve Layt, a corporate high-flyer. Then we have our 2015 Young Alumnus of the Year, Kiri Dicker, a gender equality specialist and community worker, based in the Solomon Islands. It’s exciting that our young university has alumni achieving incredible things globally,” Mr Sloan said.

Award winners

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year – Steve Layt, Bachelor of Business Administration 1997.
Young Alumnus of the Year – Kira Dicker, Master of Community Development 2010.

Awards were also presented to the outstanding alumni from academic schools.

School of Arts and Social Sciences – Anna Dicker, Master of Community Development (Emergency Management) 2009; Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing) 1997. Anna is a nurse, midwife and health systems management specialist. She has worked with Medecins Sans Frontier in locations including South Sudan, Nigeria, Syria, Laos and Eastern Ukraine.

School of Business and Tourism – Dr Nicky Antonious, Doctor of Business Administration 2015. Dr Antonious is acting executive director, information knowledge management for the Department of Health in Canberra, delivering a multi-million dollar analytics program.

School of Education – Ellie Wiseman, Bachelor of Education (Primary) 2007. Ellie has had a number of teaching roles, starting her career at Maclean Public School. In 2013, at the age of 31, she was appointed principal at Palmers Island Public School.

School of Environment, Science and Engineering – Professor Dean Jerry, Doctor of Philosophy 1999. Professor Jerry is a researcher at James Cook University, specialising in the use of genetics to improve the aquaculture of marine species. He has attracted $16 million in research funding and produced more than 100 refereed research publications.

School of Health and Human Sciences – Anne Jenkins, Bachelor of Nursing 2007. Anne is the senior guardian at the Office of the Public Guardian, Queensland State Government. She is responsible for advocating human rights for those who are unable to do so themselves.

School of Law and Justice – Danielle Hutchison, Bachelor of Laws 2012. Danielle is Assistant Director of Courts in the Northern Territory, where she is responsible for the operations and strategic direction of all courts and tribunals in the Northern Territory.

Photo: Kiri Dicker, the 2015 Young Alumnus of the Year, with Steve Layt, Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.