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UNSW alumni take out two categories in the 2020 Advance Awards


Since 2012, the Advance Awards have recognised the work of remarkable global Australians making an extraordinary impact on the global stage in industry sectors that are of particular importance to Australia. 

From this year’s 295 nominations, judges shortlisted 37 finalists and awarded one winner for each of the 13 award categories; two of which were UNSW alumni. 

Olivia Humphrey (BSc `98) won the Education Award for her on-demand streaming video platform, Kanopy, while Premesh Chandran (BSc `92) took out the Alumni Award for being an important proponent of free speech in Malaysia and a disruptor of the media landscape. 

Yasmin Allen, Chair at Advance said, “It’s critical that our expatriate community remains strongly connected to Australia while they live and work overseas. We want to recognise and support their contribution. The Advance Awards shine a spotlight on these high achievers and provide a wonderful opportunity to share their important work with all Australians.

“Sharing the stories of our global Australians at the cutting edge of their chosen field, gives us all hope. It reminds us that Australians can and will continue to lead, with the determination and imagination needed to solve global problems and create inspiring new opportunities.”

Combining years of experience in media rights management and global entertainment with a love for independent film, Olivia Humphrey founded Kanopy in 2008. 

Kanopy offers films and documentaries to universities and public libraries around the world. With a focus on “thoughtful entertainment”, Kanopy profiles the best of independent foreign cinema, documentaries, classical cinema, and other genres that expand the mind and the soul. 

In 2018, Olivia sold the company in a 9-figure USD transaction, securing the platform as one of the great Australian tech success stories.

Premesh is a strong believer in the power of citizen journalism, having established training courses that spawned over 400 citizen journalists. As the co-founder and CEO of, Premesh is the face behind Malaysia’s top independent news website with readership of over 8 million. The site played a key role in informing a generation of voters, leading to Malaysia’s first democratic change in federal government in May 2018, the first since independence. 

Premesh’s passion for social entrepreneurship sees him speaking internationally and coaching extensively, helping others to impact society as tech startups and social enterprises.

Olivia and Premesh were in fact two of seven UNSW alumni that were finalists in the 2020 Advance Awards. The other finalists include:

We’re incredibly proud of the outstanding achievements of our alumni and congratulate them on their talent, exceptional vision and ambition. To be recognised by Advance as leaders in their field is a remarkable accolade and we look forward to celebrating them now and in the future as they continue their journeys.