Our People

The Chief of Staff Association is composed of a diverse, experienced group of global thought, business and academic leaders.

Operational Team

Trent Smyth AM
Chief Executive Officer

Trent served as the Honorary Consul for Malawi for nine years and the Secretary of the Consular Corps Melbourne between 2014-2021. Trent is the founder of the Sports Diplomacy Foundation and a former Director of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and holds a Bachelor of Commerce and an MBA from the University of Melbourne.​ In 2021, Mr Smyth was awarded an Order of Australia for services to international relations, motorsport and business.

Jeremy Costa
Chief of Staff to the CEO

A master’s graduate of international relations at the University of Melbourne, Jeremy is an experienced writer on Australian foreign policy, previously working for international affairs think tanks Asialink and the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA). Jeremy is passionate about connecting people and believes strongly in the power of diplomacy.

Polly Holtby
Financial Controller


Polly is a graduate of Manchester University, having studied Chemistry with Industrial Experience. She has worked and volunteered for a variety of organisations, including a US blue chip FMCG company, a UK Management Consultancy firm, a variety of UK, Estonian and Australian charities and an Australian NFP organisation.

Nicholas Langford
Membership Services Manager

After reading Classics at the University of Cambridge, Nicholas worked as a political staffer and civil servant. He managed the office of an Australian parliamentarian before serving as Aide to the Governor of Victoria. Most recently Nicholas was an advisor on trade policy and diplomatic relations, focusing on the Middle East, Türkiye and Africa. He is passionate about the power of networks to support learning across disparate disciplines and cultures.

Saira Latif
Customer Success Manager

Saira has a diverse background that includes experience in administration, procurement, member services, and event management in both the private and public sectors. She has also worked for a women’s charity, where she played an active role in raising awareness about domestic violence,  FGM, and forced marriage. Saira is passionate about interacting with people and enjoys learning about their upcoming projects, organizational strategies, and personal interests. Saira’s curiosity and willingness to learn make her a valuable asset in any team.

Meena Vahabzadeh
Membership Services Manager

Meena is an International Development graduate who has worked in India and Sri Lanka, overseeing operations and communications across several development initiatives. She was chief of staff to an ultra-high-net-worth principal based in Austria and the Isle of Man before resuming work in communications strategy.

Richard Williams
Learning and Development Manager

Richard has built his career at the nexus of education, community and technology. An Australian native he was worked for global companies in New York, San Francisco, Accra and London. He has served as the chief of staff at Change.org, Operations Associate at Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Startup Consultant at Harambeans and Senior Instructor Manager at General Assembly.

Erin Sanders
Intern – Learning and Development

Erin is currently in her gap year, planning on studying Social and Public Policy at the University of York next year. She has an interest in journalism, and one day hopes to be a political journalist or focus on diplomatic relations. Erin also participates in many charity events, one of the more recent being a skydive raising money for a local mental health charity. Erin is passionate about learning about other cultures and building global connections, whilst using these to make an abiding difference.

Editorial BoardThe Chief of Staff

Caroline Scotter Mainprize
Chief Editor

Caroline is a writer, editor, and communications advisor, working mostly for organisations involved in research and education. Clients have included Oxford University Press, Saïd Business School, Bayes Business School, and the international development and publishing organisation CABI. She has edited a number of books, annual reports, and journals, and written practitioner-focused research reports, including Oxford’s The Museum Leaders Report and Understanding Chief Digital Officers.Before freelancing she was responsible for the corporate communications at Oxford University Press. She had previously worked for a London PR consultancy and as a journalist on a business newspaper.

Dr Carolyn Kissane
Ph.D (Columbia)
Member of the Editorial Board

Dr Carolyn Kissane serves as the Academic Director of the graduate program in Global Affairs at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. Dr Kissane is a Clinical Professor where she teaches graduate level courses examining the geopolitics of energy, comparative energy politics, energy, environment and resource security. She serves as the Academic Director for the MS in Global Affairs and the new MS in Global Security, Conflict, and Cybercrime.

Keith Ferrazzi
MBA (Harvard)
Member of the Editorial Board

Keith Ferrazzi is a #1 NYT bestselling author, who wrote Never Eat Alone, Who’s Got Your Back, and most recently published Leading Without Authority. He’s an entrepreneur, Founder & Chairman of Ferrazzi Greenlight and an executive team coach to some of the most prominent organizations in the world. He’s a thought leader and frequent contributor at publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, WSJ, and Fast Company.

The CSA is fortunate to have a network of Fellows who support our community with experience, influential connections and mentorship.