Our team

The Alchemy Growth team has deep experience and a shared commitment to our clients' success.

Mehrdad Baghai

Mehrdad is Chairman of Alchemy Growth, a boutique strategy advisory firm. Mehrdad advises large companies on their growth strategies and business building initiatives. He specialises in strategy in turbulent environments and the design of enterprise operating systems for growth.

He is a frequent lecturer and writer on management theory especially in the growth strategy domain. He is co-author of the New York Times bestseller As One as well as international bestsellers The Alchemy of Growth and Granularity. Previously, he was a partner in the Sydney and Toronto offices of McKinsey and Company and co-leader of the Firm’s worldwide Growth Practice.

Mehrdad also serves as a venture partner with a number of Silicon Valley technology ventures as well as a few promising technology ventures. He is co-founder of High Resolves, a social venture around global citizenship which has engaged over 165,000 young people in Australia, U.S., Canada and China. Mehrdad received a B.S.E. with highest honors from Princeton University, an M.P.P. as a Kennedy Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a J.D. with high honors at Harvard Law School.

Ben Shields

Ben is Managing Partner of Alchemy Growth, a boutique advisory firm. He has twenty-five years of corporate strategy, strategy execution and transformation experience.

In his corporate career and as a consultant, Ben has worked throughout Asia (China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Japan), the US and UK, specialising in growth strategy, M&A strategy, commercial & operational due diligence, strategy execution and organisational transformation. He was a partner at Deloitte Consulting and leader of the Australian Growth Practice and of Deloitte Ventures.

He is a highly analytical decision-maker with extensive experience both as a C-level adviser and as a leader building, turning around, and operating companies, along with proven history of commercialising new ideas and leading in dynamic and diverse circumstances.

Nichole Brien

Nichole is the Business Manager for Alchemy Growth. She is responsible for all operational and administrative aspects of the firm. Prior to joining Alchemy Growth, Nichole worked previously at the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, where she managed the Business Development & Commercialisation office as well as supporting Mehrdad across all his responsibilities as an Executive Director.

Nichole has over 20 years of professional experience having worked in various industries, ranging from entertainment, travel, professional services and the public sector. During this time, she has demonstrated strong administration and organisational skills and an ability to forge strong relationships.

Alex Ksugas

Alex is a senior engagement manager with global experience across multiple industries including technology, telecommunications, financial services, and natural resources. He has twelve years of experience as a strategy consultant and corporate executive incl. corporate strategy & planning, growth strategy, strategy execution, marketing & sales, organisational transformation and change management.

Before working with Alchemy Growth, Alex was Director Product Strategy at Telstra where he oversaw the development and implementation of the 3-year product plan for a $17B P&L and a capital portfolio of $150M. He was also a key leader in Telstra's Corporate Strategy team working closely with the Board and CEO leadership team. Prior to Telstra, Alex was an Engagement Manager with McKinsey & Company based in Zurich working across Europe and the Middle East.

He holds an MBA from INSEAD in Singapore and France as well as an MA in Sociology and a BA in Business Administration from University of Graz in Austria.

Doug Haggstrom

Doug has worked as a strategy consultant for over 15 years in Australia, Sweden and Switzerland advising companies in media, financial services, technology and healthcare industries. His focus has been on growth strategy and execution.

Prior to Alchemy Growth he worked at Port Jackson Partners, Fairfax media and as a freelance consultant. He also has experience as the European manager of a fintech company and as a drug development engineer with AstraZeneca.

Doug holds a Bachelor of App. Science Industrial Chemistry (Hons.1) from UNSW and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance from the Securities Institute of Australia.

Aina Frandas

Aina is a strategy professional with seven years experience in corporate strategy and mergers & acquisitions across a number of industries including financial services, technology & telecommunications, food & beverage, and investment management in both private and public sectors. She has experience as a member of an Executive Management team and as a strategy manager working closely with the leadership team in corporate strategy & planning, strategic capital allocation ($6bn portfolio), strategy execution, Board papers and presentations, organisational transformation, and marketing & sales.

Aina holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce from Monash University.

Michael Hunter

Michael has extensive experience in corporate development, investment and early-stage technology businesses as a founder, investor and corporate advisor. He holds multiple Boards and Advisory Board roles and is an investor of several VC backed global tech companies, including companies in Artificial Intelligence, on-demand public transport platforms and data analytics Michael co-founded an EdTech company that serves the B2C and B2B space and is currently a Non-Executive Director.

Michael was previously driving ‘InfraTech’ investments at Macquarie Capital in Australia and previously a strategic advisor to private equity and large corporates at L.E.K. Consulting advising on strategy, M&A and corporate turnaround. Prior to that, he spent a decade in Canberra, mostly at the Australian Treasury advising on microeconomic reform.

Michael holds an MBA from Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) and Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance), Honours (Finance) from the Australian National University.

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