CQUniversity graduate and the President of GHD Digital, Kumar Parakala. Picture: Contributed
CQUniversity graduate and the President of GHD Digital, Kumar Parakala. Picture: Contributed

Tech innovator’s global digital career started in CQ

Rockhampton CQUniversity graduate Kumar Parakala has been named the 2021 Alumnus of the Year for Industry Achievement.

The annual awards recognised high-achieving graduates across four categories, and the 2021 recipients represented CQUniversity’s diverse alumni cohort.

Mr Parakala, who is the President of GHD Digital, said putting people first had always been the key to his success.

He had enjoyed a successful career over the years as a global professional services leader, innovator, and award-winning start-up founder.

In 1991, he moved to Rockhampton from Hyderabad in India to study his Master of Information Systems with CQUniversity.

At CQUniversity, he quickly established a strong network in the community and found a deep sense of inclusivity and belonging.

“I chose CQUniversity because they were incredibly responsive, and everyone was going out of their way to welcome me with open arms,” he said.

“Professors treated you like equals, and I could feel the trust they had in me – as a student, this was very empowering.

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“Eventually, this paved the way for my first entrepreneurial venture with CQUni called the Centre for Business Information Management, which focused on the local business community.

“My experience was truly life-changing.”

After graduating from CQUniversity, Mr Parakala became director of corporate services for St. Andrew’s Hillcrest Private Hospital in Rockhampton.

He then went on to join the Queensland Government, becoming its then-youngest ever chief information officer and winning the Government’s Excellence Award in 2000.

Eventually he moved to Sydney and joined the global consultancy firm KPMG, where he held many senior leadership roles and served as a senior partner.

He advised some of the world’s largest companies over the next 15 years, before founding the digital agency Technova in 2015.

He then joined global professional services company GHD in 2017.

Shortly after, in 2018, GHD Digital was launched.

GHD Digital was one of the world’s fastest-growing digital businesses, increasing from 30 to almost 600 people in fewer than three years.

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Mr Parakala’s national and international contributions were recognised by the ACS, the ICT sector’s professional body, with his induction into its Hall of Fame.

“My advice is never to follow the crowd,” he said.

“I’ve taken risks many hesitate to take because my ambition for greater good was always higher than the ambition I had for myself.

“Be bold to go where no one has gone before and serve others in a way no one has ever served before.”

Mr Parakala was recognised alongside Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Sheila Doyle, Alumnus of the Year for Social Impact Tandi Kuwana, and Alumnus of the Year for Early Career Achievement Jodie Mlikota.

CQUni Vice-Chancellor and president Professor Nick Klomp said the recipients reflected CQUniversity’s values of leadership, openness, and can-do attitude.

“Over their careers, and especially through the challenges of COVID-19, these alumni have all found resilience through innovative solutions,” Mr Klomp said.

“More than that, they’ve proven themselves true trailblazers by supporting people around them, across their teams and communities.

“These are qualities we’re proud to foster at CQUniversity, through our commitment to life-changing education, and I congratulate the Alumni Award winners for their achievements.”

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