Jim Whalley is the Chair, an Executive Director, former CEO and co-founder (with Peter Nikoloff) of the Nova Group
(www.novagroup.com.au and a former air force fighter pilot and test pilot with over 6000 flying hours on more than 40 types of aircraft ranging from helicopters and jet transport aircraft to high performance fighters. He is a graduate of the Royal Air Force, Empire Test Pilots’ School and amongst other qualifications holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Adelaide and a Science Degree majoring in Physics from the UNSW.
Since starting the company with Peter Nikoloff in mid-2000, Nova has grown from a staff of two to a work force of over 550 people throughout Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Norway and the UK and is now one of Australia’s largest privately owned Defence Professional Service Providers. The Group itself comprises Nova Systems, GVH Aerospace, Geoplex and Two 10 degrees. The group’s customer base has expanded outside defence to include space, satellite communications, utilities, mining and rail where its expertise in systems engineering and complex project management has been used in a number of projects. The vast majority of Nova people are former military personnel with post graduate qualifications in areas ranging from flight test and electronic engineering to project management and oceanography.
Nova’s achievements have included selection as one of the top 20 fastest growing companies in South Australia, four years running, a BRW Fast 100 company, as a Top 100 South Australia company. It has also been named repeatedly in the top 40 largest Defence companies by Australian Defence Magazine, one of the BRW “Best Places to Work” in Australia and one of the most innovative companies in Australia. Jim is active in several business forums and is a director of the Adelaide Festival of Arts, AMCHAM and Australian Naval Infrastructure. He is a member of the Sir Ross and Keith Smith Fund Advisory Committee, the Commonwealth’s Defence Innovation Steering Group and the Council of the University of SA.
In September 2018 he was appointed Chief Entrepreneur for South Australia by the Premier to advocate for economic growth in the State; and provide independent advice to the Government on innovation and entrepreneurship policy as Chair of the Entrepreneurship Advisory Board. His previous roles have included Chair of the SA Defence Industry Association, the Defence Teaming Centre, Deputy Chair of the Repat Foundation and member of the Australian Industry Group Defence Council. He retains a strong personal interest in aviation as a civilian pilot and flies, flight tests and displays a range of antique, warbird and experimental aircraft and helicopters in his spare time. He is married to Melinda and has six children.