Damien Connell


Meet Damien Connell




Waste Management

Meet Damien Connell

Principal: Circular Economy Damien Connell joined the Ratio team in July 2023, providing expert sustainability advice and circular economy knowledge and passion to the waste management team.

Damien discusses his local government experiences, his areas of expertise and how he was selected to go on stage with AC/DC.

Meet Damien Connell

What piqued your interest in circular Economy?

Having worked in sustainability for years, the circular economy resonates with me as it’s about keeping valuable resources in the supply chain as long as possible, reducing our need to extract finite resources wherever possible. Circular economy supports job creation, economic activity and encourages us to think of innovative solutions where possible – it’s an interesting area to work in!

What continues to excite you about your job?

Helping clients transition from a linear to a circular economy is a big job! Every project and client I work with is different. The environment is constantly changing as are government policy and regulations. I take great pride in helping people deliver sustainable outcomes and enjoy the steep learning curve I am on while at Ratio.

What is your specific area of interest or speciality?

In addition to a passion for research/innovation, I am a keen facilitator having led many workshops and stakeholder engagement activities over my career. I feel it’s vital for work in the waste and circular economy, as the return on investment can take time, requiring parties to collaborate together and pooling resources, skills and knowledge to realise circular economy activity.

How will your skillset contribute to Ratio’s Waste Management Team?

Since commencing at Ratio, I have initiated workshops and created frameworks and tools to develop circular economy opportunities, which I’m always keen to test and share with the team. I enjoy being part of a team and hope my local and state government experiences and understanding of the various waste/recycling Acts, regulations and policies will be useful, as the team develops further.

What’s been the biggest change or challenge in your career?

While at RMIT, I was leading many strategic projects, one focused on designing Reconciliation training programs for RMIT’s business partners who wanted to upskill their workforces and attract Indigenous employees to their businesses. I was fortunate to work with RMIT’s Indigenous Engagement and Education team and came face-to-face with my limited understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. It challenged me in ways that are hard to quantify, but I feel I am a better person for it, more self-aware, curious and humble, with a greater appreciation of the deep and continuous cultural connection First Nations people have with the lands we all live and work on.

While there, I worked under guidance of the Indigenous Engagement team and many other Indigenous colleagues, to deliver culturally appropriate Executive and senior management Reconciliation training programs, which later evolved into an Indigenous-owned and led business that continues today. This program received two Premier’s design awards, due to its best practice collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff, designers and academics ‒ it was amazing to be a part of that!

What are some memorable projects you’ve worked on?

The Regional Circular Economy Plans (RCEPs) are the most recent and memorable project I worked on, which I was accountable to deliver. The RCEPs are important strategic documents, identifying the waste, recycling, and circular economy aspirations and priorities for regional Victoria up to 2030.

They were complex, as they involved detailed planning, data gathering and delivering effective stakeholder engagement process for the plans to be delivered. It involved many parties, often with competing needs. These strategic plans required agreement to form a consensus on the most important circular activities, of all the hundreds identified, from over 125 different representative organisations involved in the 12-month project.

What’s a big, incoming industry change you can point to?

These days sustainability is no longer a fringe issue. It is something that industry understands it needs to strive towards, to retain its social license to operate. It highlights to me the need to understand best practice and the requirement to support different parties to incorporate sustainability measures that add value to a specific project, organisation or business/industry sector.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself!

As a teenager (a lifetime ago!) I was playing in bands and auditioned with many others to be an ‘Angus look-a-like’, competing to go on stage with AC/DC, for their ‘Back in Black’ tour. It must have been my lucky day, as I was one of a handful selected to go on stage, two nights in a row,m at John Cain arena, with the mightiest rock and roll band in the world. I was standing in front of thousands of people, behind my two guitar heroes Angus and Malcolm Young (RIP), Brian Johnson, Phil Rudd and Cliff Willams – yes, my 15 mins came early!