Team Biographies


Bret Barton, General Manager Integrated Solutions, Nova Systems

Bret Barton has worked for over 25 years as an engineer and manager where systems engineering principles have been actively applied.  Bret is currently a Senior Manager at Nova Systems, which is a private Australian Engineering Professional Services company, with over 350 employees throughout Australia, Singapore and the UK.  Nova Systems was born from a group of flight test professionals and has diversified over the last 15 years into all areas of engineering professional services.  Bret is focused on bringing Nova’s skills in solving challenging problems and systems engineering experience to the Transport, Energy & Resources and Land Vehicle and Protective Services sectors.

Bret spent 15 years working as an Aeronautical Engineer in the Canadian Air Force.  The majority of that period was spent in the “Flight Testing” specialty area working on integrating modern weapons to fast jets such as the F-18 and F-16.  He has worked on several weapon development programs, international flight test programs and major acquisition test programs with the Canadian, United States and Australian Air Forces.

Post retirement from the military in 2004, he moved his wife and two children from Canada to Australia to join Nova Systems. Over the past 11 years Bret has helped Nova grow from 20 to 350+ professionals.

Bret’s time at Nova Systems have included the following roles:

  • Senior Consultant and Instructor – Consulting roles and instructing including managing the test and evaluation program for Australia’s first cruise missile integration and clearance on a RAAF F-18;
  • Newcastle Operations Manager – Middle management role where Bret started the Newcastle, Australia office;
  • Australian Operations Manager – Senior management team role responsible for managing the Australian consultant staff and middle managers running local operations;
  • General Manager Transport – Senior management team role focused on managing and growing the rail and Australian Civil Aerospace businesses;
  • General Manager Integrated Solutions – Senior management team role responsible for developing and managing the Transport, Resources & Energy, and Land Vehicle programs

Bret Barton
General Manager Integrated Solutions
Nova Systems
Unit 1, Building D, 1 Technology Place
WILLIAMTOWN New South Wales 2318 Australia
M:  61 2 9046 0876

Adam Loong, Co-founder & CEO, Skildare

With over 20 years of experience operating and leading high performance teams within the Royal Australian Air Force and United States Air Force, Adam Loong now leads the team at Skildare whilst providing specialised consultation to the Aviation and Defence Industry. Additionally, he supports the HR Team at Skildare by providing expert operational analysis and support to all clients to include the provision of Motivational Leadership Training, executive coaching and mentoring.

Adam has a particular passion for Performance Management and has used this inspiration to develop a unique Performance Management System (called deBa) which combines simplicity and transparency with a focus on regular two-way communication. ‘deBa’ draws its origins from the Fighter Pilot communities debriefing process, which is centred on regular, open and honest two-way feedback. These origins have been combined with an online application solution that eliminates paperwork and encourages leaders to inspire and motivate their team members.

Adam maintains an active role in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a Fighter Combat Instructor flying F/A-18 Hornets as a reservist. His RAAF experience includes the Director of the Fighter Combat Instructor Course (TOPGUN Equivalent), Executive Officer (2IC) of an Operational Fighter Squadron and multiple other leadership and instructional roles within the fighter pilot community. He has extensive experience in the development and oversight of aviation training systems, multi service integration and tactic development.

In the civilian world, Adam’s experience extends across project management to leadership coaching and mentorship to the development of operational plans (drawing on his years of Risk Management experience). Adam has active knowledge and practice with large scale State Government Requests for Tender as well as the provision of direct support to multi-national Prime and Sub Prime Defence companies.

Adam specialises in Strategy and Leadership and enjoys supporting clients in developing and achieving their strategic and operational plans. He has recent experience supporting large scale tenders as well as working within the Defence industry. Adam is the founder and a Director of the Hunter Defence Support Network (HDSN), a not for profit organisation whose mission is to “Improve the lives of Hunter based ADF members and their families”. Whilst still a new venture, HDSN is well supported by the Hunter Business community and great results are expected in 2016.

Adam is an active member of the Hunter Defence Industry Committee and the JSF Sustainment Collaboration Hub.

Adam Loong 
Co-founder & CEO
M: +61 0447 294 063

Scott van Epen, Director, CoBond

Scott van Epen has more than 20 years of experience in strategic and leadership roles across a diverse range of industry sectors, including government, health, insurance, finance, manufacturing, mining and property.

After completing a Bachelor of Business at the University of Newcastle, Scott’s professional life started in recruitment and human resources (HR) before accepting the position of Employee Relationship Manager with national and publicly listed health insurer, nib health funds.

This was the start of a seven-year tenure that saw Scott promoted to the position of Manager – People and Development. As the head of the company’s human resources, as well as learning and development functions, he established and effectively implemented nib’s HR strategy and was responsible for its alignment with the organisation’s overall business objectives. Scott, was also heavily involved in the mergers and acquisitions undertaken by nib health funds following its listing on the Australian stock exchange.

In 2011, Scott took up the role of Executive Manager Corporate Services with RPC Technologies; a global leader in the design, engineering and manufacturing of fibre composites and advanced materials. In this role Scott was responsible for the functions of HR, IT, payroll, marketing, quality assurance and safety across the organisation’s national and international workforce.

Scott is the Business Development Manager for Armor Composite Engineering Pty Limited (A.C.E.), which focuses on the development of new composite armour technologies and materials. Together with Adam Fairbairn (the director of A.C.E.), Scott is also the co-owner and director of CoBond Material Solutions; a company that develops innovative solutions to solve the wear issues in the mining industry.

Outside of work, Scott has served on the University of Newcastle Advisory Board (HR Professional Advisory Committee), as well as the Advisory Board of Premier Youthworks (PYW). This is a non-government organisation that provides specialist support and residential services to children and young people who have experienced trauma and neglect in their lives.

In 2011, Scott received his MBA from the University of Newcastle and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Scott van Epen 
M: +61 400 386 239