Keynote speakers

This year's line up

Mason Ailstock

Vice-President of Operations at The University Financing Foundation

Passionate about place-based design and the convergence of university/industry relationships, Mason Ailstock has led the operations and physical development of university research parks and innovation districts for more than 15 years. As the Vice President of Operations for The University Financing Foundation (TUFF), Mason combines his passion for real estate development and architecture, with his breadth of experience in management operations, project finance and public-private partnerships. Founded in 1982, TUFF has delivered education, research and multi-use facilities accounting for over $1 billion USD.

Prior to joining TUFF, Mason served as Chief Operating Officer of the 7,000-acre (2,833-hectare) Research Triangle Park (RTP). There, he led the operational, business development, marketing, real estate, and partnership strategies of the largest high-tech research park in North America. As COO, Mason was responsible for the recruitment and retention of private sector companies, development of mixed-use projects involving multiple stakeholders, and expanding partnerships among the three founding research universities and the 220 companies located in RTP.

Prior to his leadership at RTP, Mason served as the Real Estate and Global Partner Manager at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research. Mason played key roles in the master plan execution and real estate transactions of the 250-acre (101-hectare) research campus, accounting for $250,000,000 USD in investments.

Petra Adren

CEO of Cicada Innovations

Petra Andrén is CEO of Cicada Innovations (, Australia’s only deep technology “super incubator” for Australia’s largest collection of 70+ advanced technology entrepreneurs across the medical, engineering, and IT web sciences. Petra is an ambassador for global non-profit, InBIA, working with sustainable entrepreneur support programs in every industry and demographic around the globe. She lectures on entrepreneurship at the University of Sydney, the University of Technology, and the Australian National University. She holds a MA (University of Uppsala, Sweden/exchange for thesis work University of Salzburg and University of Vienna, Austria) and an MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management (UNSW, and USYD), and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Julie Batch

Chief Customer Officer at IAG

Julie Batch was appointed Chief Customer Officer in December 2015. In this role, she heads up Customer Labs, which is responsible for improving customer experiences and product, pricing, marketing and digital innovation through data and insights, customer engagement systems, brand architecture across the group, human centred design and new business incubation and venturing.

Julie was previously Chief Analytics Officer. She was appointed to that role in June 2014, responsible for Group Reinsurance and Analytics. Prior to this, Julie was the Chief Risk Officer in IAG’s Direct Insurance business (now Australian Consumer Division), where she led a group-wide program aimed at improving our information and analytics capabilities.

Since joining IAG in 2005 Julie has held a number of senior roles in Group Reinsurance including Group General Manager Reinsurance from 2008 onwards. Earlier in her career, Julie held senior roles at Gen Re Australia, part of the Berkshire Hathaway Group, as well as other reinsurance organisations. She has extensive international experience including time spent in France, Monaco, London and Japan.

Rachel Bondi

Marketing and Operations Director, Microsoft Australia

With two decades at Microsoft Rachel Bondi has earned a reputation as a top marketer with her uncompromising focus on delighting customers, her drive for business results and is a recipient of the Bill Gates Chairman’s Award. Currently the Director Marketing & Operations for Microsoft Australia, Rachel leads the go-to-market strategy and execution across Microsoft’s products and services, including the central marketing organisation and the business operations for the plus one thousand employees in the local subsidiary.

Prior to her current role in Australia, Rachel spent 16 years working in Microsoft’s Redmond campus and in Mountain View California, leading product marketing, business planning and channel strategy with OEM, retail, distribution and ecommerce sales for Office 365. Rachel also led the integrated marketing team for Consumer Apps and Services delivering on driving end user adoption of Skype, Bing and Outlook. Rachel began her career at Microsoft in 1997 in the Australian subsidiary as a Partner Account Manager and in 1999 moved to join the US field marketing organization to launch the company’s first small and business customer marketing engine. It was this work that earned her the Bill Gates Chairman’s Award in 2001.

Rachel is also known for her organization leadership when it comes to Business Transformation. Her uniquely creativity and growth mindset leadership approach has positioned her to drive companywide initiatives, where she spearheaded Microsoft’s early Customer & Partner Experience initiatives. Her breakthrough initiatives and start up concepts, became company-wide investments that drove expedient improvements to customer satisfaction results. Rachel holds a degree in Education from University of Queensland in Australia. Outside work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters especially on her family farm located in outback Queensland.

Dr. Charlie Day

CEO of The Office of Innovation and Science Australia

Dr Day is the CEO of Innovation and Science Australia (ISA). He brings to the role significant expertise in innovation, business development, technology commercialisation, venture capital and start-up creation. As CEO, Dr Day leads the Office of Innovation and Science Australia and supports the Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) board’s implementation of long-term initiatives to boost Australia’s innovation, science and research system.

ISA provides strategic, whole-of-government advice on all science, research and innovation matters. In January 2018 ISA released the Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation report, which sets out a path for Australia to become a leading innovation nation by 2030.

Immediately prior to taking up his role with ISA, Dr Day was the Program Director for the Carlton Connect Initiative, an ambitious project to create Australia's premier STEM innovation precinct anchored by the University of Melbourne.

Ann Hoban

Director City Life at City of Sydney

Ann believes city life is rich and rewarding when people are connected, where imagination and experimentation are welcome, where value is created, not just acquired and where no-one is left behind.

Building a highly skilled team, as Director City Life at the City of Sydney, she has supported and delivered creative spaces for artists, affordable work space for entrepreneurs, incentives to improve the city’s environmental performance, technology to make the city accessible and welcoming, events such as the New Year’s Eve fireworks and spaces that bring communities together and the world to Sydney. She has built partnerships with government, peak business and community organisations, communities and individuals, knowing that we are all in this together!

Career highlights include teaching arts administration at National Music Camp; producing Sydney Symphony and the Planet of Doom, the first foray into live computer gaming in the Sydney Opera House; being Company Manager at Fox Studios backlot; having a scholarship in her name after merging the Queensland Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras; as a Sydney Festival board member, appointing 4 Festival Directors; completing an MBA in entrepreneurship at UTS.

Professor Kourosh Kayvani

Managing Director - Design, Innovation & Eminence at Aurecon

With a career spanning over 25 years, Kourosh has played key roles in the design and delivery of many innovative, complex and award winning projects across the globe. His project portfolio includes Wembley Stadium in London, Sydney Olympics Hockey Stadium in Sydney, Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, and Liberty Place and 5 Martin Place in Sydney, to name a just few.

Kourosh is an Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney, a Visiting Professorial Fellow at UNSW and a Director of Australian Steel Institute. He is the founding Head of Aurecon Design Academy.

Kourosh is the Laureate of the IABSE Prize awarded by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering for his contribution to design of long span structures world-wide. He was also named one of the Top 100 most influential engineers by Engineers Australia in 2009 and won the 2016 John Connell Gold Medal Award from Engineers Australia – Structural College Awards. In October 2017 Kourosh was appointed a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE), a significant and prestigious achievement.

Anna Leibel

Executive Manager, Technology at UniSuper

Anna is an experienced executive and corporate adviser, renowned for her ability to blend strategy development and transformational change across technology, business practices and growth culture. Anna’s cross-industry career spans more than two decades in transformation programs, management consulting and technology start-ups.

Anna joined UniSuper in 2017 and is responsible for developing and delivering the technology strategy to achieve UniSuper’s strategic goals. The technology strategy prioritises the customer experience, modernising the way that we bring value to our customers, which includes introducing new technologies, the time that it takes for us to deliver new products and services and also keeping information secure and safe.

Anna has previously held senior consulting and general management roles with PwC, Telstra and NAB, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Anna has also participated in two senior executive programs at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT): Succeeding in a Digital Economy, and Driving Strategic Innovation.

Steven Miller

Director of Education for Microsoft Australia

Steven Miller is the Director of Education for Microsoft Australia. Steven and his team are responsible for supporting the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of the Education system, supporting the transformation of learning and empowering students and teachers to achieve more.

In the IT industry for over 15 years, prior to this role, Steven previously led the Small and Medium Business segment team at Microsoft as well as roles leading the Office Business Group and Business Planning and Operations teams.

Steven is passionate about transforming how we learn and use technology to extend opportunity across Australia. Originally, from Glasgow, Scotland, Steven holds a Double Honours Degree in Marketing & Organisational Behaviour, and a Masters in Accounting.

Richard White

Founder and CEO, WiseTech Global

Richard has over 30 years of experience in software development, embedded systems and business management, and over 20 years of freight/logistics industry experience.

Prior to founding WiseTech Global in 1994, Richard was founder and managing director of Real Tech Systems Integration and founder and CEO of Clear Group. Today, WiseTech Global, a leading provider of software solutions to the logistics execution industry, has over 8,000 of the world’s logistics companies as customers, across 130 countries.

Richard holds a Master of Business in Information Technology from UTS and is a UTS Luminarie and a Fellow of UTS.

Emma Woodhouse

Project Director, Melbourne Connect, Urban Regeneration, Lend Lease

Emma Woodhouse is the Project Director for Melbourne Connect which Lendlease are delivering for and in partnership with the University of Melbourne. Emma has had 24 years of experience within the development and construction industry including 18 working for Lendlease spanning across a diverse range of sectors including commercial & education, multi-unit residential, hotels, retail, infrastructure and large scale urban regeneration development.

Dr. Anna Wright

CEO and Founder of BindiMaps

Launched in January 2017, BindiMaps is an award-winning smart cities technology startup, bringing accessibility to people and places currently out of bounds for people who are vision impaired. By providing a navigation tool that works where traditional GPS does not - inside major public precincts such as university campuses, airports, shopping malls and office buildings. .

Anna developed the idea for BindiMaps after undergoing years of major surgery to save her own eye-sight - a daunting experience that led her to ask the question "how can we make the world more accessible for people with vision impairment?". Prior to launching BindiMaps, Anna had helped many other businesses move from startup through to IPO, as a consultant specialising in Business Development and Business Analysis. She holds a PhD and has built an academic career as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, researching and teaching in the areas of Innovation and Valuation. .

Today, her startup has grown to a team of four full-time employees, opened the doors to their own office in Surry Hills, closed a $1M seed financing round, and is currently competing as a finalist in Tech23.

Less than two years since launching BindiMaps, Anna is now is a recognised leader in the startup ecosystem, lighting a path for non-technical founders to start and build tech companies that can change the world. It is her passion for impact that has seen Anna nominated for 2019 Australian of the Year, in recognition of her leadership and commitment to creating a more inclusive world through BindiMaps.