Maria Fernandez was appointed as the Deputy Secretary, Intelligence and Capability Group of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on 27 April 2015.
Maria joined the Department's Portfolio leadership team from Defence where from June 2012 she was Director of the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation. In this role Maria was responsible for the provision of geospatial-intelligence to Government, the Australian Defence Force and National Security Agencies for Operational and Contingency Support, National Security purposes and Emergency Management support.
Prior to this, Maria was First Assistant Secretary Capability, Investment and Resources Division, Capability Development Group. In this role she was responsible for the management of the Defence Capability Plan (major capital equipment plan of $260 billion over 10 years) and the provision of independent advice to the Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of Defence on capability related matters, including the overall balance of investment on current and future capability and major investment proposals and priorities.
Maria served as the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Deputy Director Intelligence responsible for the provision of all signals intelligence for Defence and National Security purposes. She has considerable experience in the Defence portfolio, principally at the strategic level. Prior to joining ASD she was First Assistant Secretary Defence White Paper responsible for the overall management of several reviews into the enabling and support functions of the Defence organisation and for the coordination of the costing of the 2009 Defence White Paper.
For several years Maria served as Chief of Staff to the Minister for Defence where she worked closely with the Defence senior leadership to deliver several significant outcomes in the acquisition of a number of major capabilities, favourable changes to Defence funding arrangements and important policy changes in the areas of Defence Industry and Australian Defence Force (ADF) recruitment and retention. Maria also served as Chief of Staff to the Minister of Education, Science and Training where again she worked closely with the senior leadership to deliver significant education policy initiatives. Prior to this she held several SES positions in the Higher Education Group of the Department of Education, Science and Training.
Maria spent several years as a senior consultant and manager with a software development firm and worked in the United Kingdom for two years consulting to the UK government on the design, development and implementation of financial systems.
Maria is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.