Our 2024 Speakers

Harry Baxter

Head Government Relations & Comms │ DMTC

Harry Baxter is the Head of Government Relations and Communications for DMTC. He joined DMTC in 2016 and has led the Government Relations and Comms functions, as well as championing the development of the company’s Reconciliation Action Plan and Diversity & Inclusion Strategy. Harry is an experienced Government and defence sector specialist with over two decades of experience in policy development and implementation, stakeholder communications, business strategy and program delivery.

Harry has worked as an adviser to CEOs, senior executives and Ministers as well as in Senior Executive Service (SES) Band 1 and Executive Director roles in the federal public service, with accountability for geographically-dispersed and diverse teams and a multi-million dollar portfolio of industry engagement and assistance measures.

Prof Nick Birbilis

Executive Dean Faculty of Science, Engineering & Built Environment │ Deakin University

Professor Nick Birbilis is the Executive Dean for the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment (SEBE) at Deakin University.

For over a decade, Nick has held senior leadership roles in higher education, across research, research management, and administration. He has a strong passion for engagement and enterprise – including the nexus between education, research, and industry.

Nick is an engineer, and a world-renowned materials engineer recognised for contributions in materials design, durability, and advanced manufacturing. He has been involved as a Chief Investigator in projects including ARC Centres of Excellence, ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hubs, CRCs, defence and industry. He is a Fellow of Engineers Australia, ASM International and many other societies, and was awarded the Batterham Medal from the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. He has published over 450 papers, and has served as a long-term journal editor, including for the Nature family of journals.

Carley Brennan

Manager for Community & Industry Engagement │ The Gordon TAFE

As Manager for Community and Industry Engagement at The Gordon TAFE, Carley leads a portfolio of programs focused on improving education and employment outcomes for people in the Geelong and Barwon regions. This includes Skilling the Bay, a unique regional initiative led by The Gordon and delivered in partnership with Deakin University and the Victorian Government, as well as the Workforce Australia Local Jobs program for the Barwon region. These programs support the ongoing socio-economic transition of the region, enabling the community to prepare for the new world of work through a collaborative approach with education providers, community organisations and industry.

Carley has extensive experience in workforce training and development, stakeholder engagement, project management and facilitation. She has worked on, and led numerous strategic projects and initiatives throughout her career, including her years overseas as a Training and Development specialist in an Advanced Manufacturing environment and almost 20 years in Australia’s Vocational Education and Training Sector.

Carley is passionate about creating pathways through education and training into sustainable employment in the Barwon, enhancing individual and community prosperity.

Gerard Buckle

Chief Financial Officer │ Carbon Revolution

Gerard joined Carbon Revolution in September 2019. Gerard is an experienced senior executive with a demonstrated capacity to develop and implement strategic plans and improve business performance.

In his role as CFO of Carbon Revolution, Gerard has successfully led the business through an ASX listing, numerous equity raises in Australian and the USA, debt refinancing, a merger and a NASDAQ listing.

Gerard has previously held CFO or Executive roles at Incitec Pivot Fertilisers, Olex, Repco, Jetstar and Orica.

David Chuter

Executive Director, Industry Growth │ DISR

David Chuter has more than thirty years of international design, engineering, and manufacturing experience. With an extensive career developed in the global automotive industry, he has more recently worked across multiple sectors including transport, MedTech and health, renewables and low emission technologies, mining and resources, defence, and across a wide range of enabling technologies and ecosystems. David has also worked across both the private and public sectors. David’s primary focus is the successful launch and operation of the new $392.4 million Industry Growth Program to help innovative SMEs commercialise and significantly grow their businesses.

David is a passionate champion for industry, innovation, business growth and transformation. He is an experienced senior executive with a strong industry record in leading strategic business growth, innovation, investment, operational management, and change. He is a well-respected advocate for local industry, for small and medium businesses, and for creating a stronger platform for Australian design, engineering, and manufacturing. He has successfully catalysed transformation and investment in technology, innovation, research and development, talent, collaboration, and competitiveness.

Jennifer Conley

CEO | Geelong Manufacturing Council

Jennifer Conley is CEO of the Geelong Manufacturing Council (GMC), which plays a crucial role in supporting manufacturing in Geelong and the wider region. An advanced manufacturing advocate with two decades of experience at the intersection of industry, research, and government, she is passionate about building support, capability and opportunity for Australia’s innovative manufacturers.

Jennifer is also a non-executive director on the Board of a specialised technology group in the region, the Advanced Fibre Cluster Geelong, and a member of the Skilling the Bay Advisory Board, focused on improving education and employment outcomes for people in the Geelong and Barwon regions.

Jason Coonan

Director, Advanced Manufacturing │ Breakthrough Victoria

Jason leads Breakthrough Victoria’s advanced manufacturing investment portfolio. He has over 20 years of experience working across research & development, intellectual property management, technology commercialisation, venture capital investment, operational and strategic leadership. Before he joined Breakthrough Victoria, Jason was Deputy-CEO of the Innovative Manufacturing CRC, a leading manufacturing innovation organisation that catalysed over $250 million of investment into industry 4.0 R&D with Australian manufacturers.

Prof Doug Creighton

Director │ Institute of Intelligent Systems Research & Innovation

Professor Doug Creighton is an internationally recognised modelling and simulation, systems thinking and computational intelligence expert, whose research discoveries have translated into improved decision-making, productivity and sustainability in a range of industries from automotive, aerospace and rail to health.

Matt Dingle

Co-Founder & Managing Director │ FormFlow

Matt is a leader of innovation in building technology. His growing Geelong business, FormFlow, has developed a world-first process that enables sharp bends to be created in corrugated iron. The bend technology revolutionises the design and construction industry by delivering smooth transitions between corrugated sheet sections at a range of angles.

Matt is also co-founder of Carbon Revolution, now a global technology company and Tier 1 OEM automotive supplier, and Matt continues to develop and commercialise new technologies and innovative solutions.

Karen Durand

Corporate Sustainability Manager │ Incitec Pivot

Karen Durand is an Environmental Geoscientist and Corporate Sustainability Manager of Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL), a global fertiliser and explosives manufacturing company with a multibillion-dollar ammonia manufacturing base in Australia and north America. Before working for IPL, Karen’s research investigated the use of stable oxygen and carbon isotope ratios in freshwater molluscs, speleothems and tufas from northwest Queensland as indicators of past average temperature curves for their use in palaeoclimate reconstruction and the calibration of predictive climate change models. Karen has a working knowledge of the issues associated with energy, climate change and decarbonisation for both emissions intensive manufacturers and the agricultural and mining customers served by IPL.

Troy Edwards

Executive Director Corporate Services │ City of Greater Geelong

Troy brings to his role a well-regarded track record of achievements and deep understanding of council operations and the wider local government sector.  Respected in the public sector, he has a passion for positive outcomes, collaboration and innovation.  He also has extensive experience working in and around government at all levels.

Troy has held several positions in the Commonwealth public service, as a policy adviser in the Federal Parliament and as the managing director of one of Australia’s leading independent public relations consultancies.  Prior to joining Geelong, he was the Executive Director, Policy & Advocacy at the MAV.

An urban planner by education, Troy has completed a Master of Arts degree at Monash University and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  Troy is a current board member of No To Violence, Australia’s peak body for organisations and individuals who work with men to end family violence.

Jack Fitzgerald

Founder & CTO │ Think Fencing

Jack is Founder and CTO of Think Fencing, an entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in the plastics industry and committed to the future of sustainable high end, long lasting products and circular solutions.

From humble beginnings mowing neighbor’s lawns to founding a multi million dollar international manufacturing company, Jack has a broad set of skills bringing new products and revenue streams to the table, all whilst streamlining manufacturing operations and driving marketing and commercial sales.

He is an innovator and disruptor to industry – asking “why not” when most people ask “why.”

Prof Maria Forsyth

Professor in Electromaterials and Corrosion Sciences │ Deakin University

Professor Forsyth has worked at the forefront of energy materials research since her Fulbright Research Fellowship in 1990 and has consistently made breakthrough discoveries, including in polymer electrolytes, ionic liquids and organic plastic crystals. Her research has focused on understanding the phenomenon of charge transport within these materials and also at metal/electrolyte interfaces present in all electrochemical applications.  She is a co-author of over 890 journal and conference publications attracted more than 40000 citations with the h-index of 95 (Scopus). She has delivered more than 30 invited and plenary talks in the past five years.

Professor Forsyth has served on several editorial boards including ACS Journal of Physical Chemistry letters and ACS Energy Letters. She is the recipient of the Galileo Galilee award for her contributions to the Polymer Electrolyte and energy storage field, has received the Australian Corrosion Association Corrosion Medal and the RACI Stokes Medal ,was awarded to The Victorian Prize for Science and Innovation (VESKI) in 2017 the 2020 Victorian Honour roll for Women, was a finalist for the 2023 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers as well as being appointed as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for significant service to chemistry education, research and scholarship.

Prof Bronwyn Fox

Chief Scientist │ CSIRO

Professor Bronwyn Fox is Chief Scientist of CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency and innovation catalyst.

Professor Bronwyn Fox joined CSIRO in October 2021 and became CSIRO’s fourth female Chief Scientist. She is known globally as a leader in advanced manufacturing, materials science, and industry 4.0 technologies, and is passionate about bringing together multidisciplinary teams for collaborative research.

She was formerly Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at Swinburne University of Technology and founding Director of Swinburne’s Manufacturing Futures Research Institute. During that time, she established of a world first Industry 4.0 Testlab for additive manufacturing of carbon fibre composites, in collaboration with CSIRO.

Bronwyn was a member of the National Quantum Advisory Committee and most recently appointed as Chair of the National Robotics Strategy Advisory Committee.

Lyn George OAM

Co-owner & Director │ Austeng

Lyn is the co-owner and corporate director of Austeng, a boutique engineering business that specialises in the design, engineering and development of customised equipment for industry.

Lyn has been instrumental in restructuring and repositioning Austeng’s focus from very much reliant on the automotive industry to operating in several new sectors and working with start-up companies and Universities. Lyn is also an adviser to a number of start-up companies.

Lyn is on the board of both the Geelong Manufacturing Council (formerly Chair) and the Advanced Fibre Cluster.

In 2020 Lyn was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in recognition of her services to manufacturing. And she was instrumental in setting up the GMC Women In Manufacturing Network and mentoring program.

Lyn graduated in Law with honours from Melbourne University  and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Prof Roy Green AM

Special Innovation Adviser, Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise) │ University of Technology Sydney

Roy is Emeritus Professor and Special Innovation Advisor at the University of Technology Sydney, where he was Dean of the UTS Business School. Roy has enjoyed a career in universities, government and industry, and has led inquiries and undertaken projects in the areas of innovation, industrial policy and management education, including with the OECD and European Commission. He has chaired numerous policy and regulatory bodies, such as the CSIRO Manufacturing Sector Advisory Council, the Enterprise Connect Innovative Regions Centre, the Queensland Competition Authority and the NSW Manufacturing Council. Currently, he chairs the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub and the Port of Newcastle, and he is a board director of CSIRO and SmartSat CRC.

Tim Haden

Director, Head of Origination │ Australian Business Growth Fund

Tim joined Australian Business Growth Fund (ABGF) from Barclays Investment Bank, where he worked on numerous high-profile sponsor backed Australian buy out transactions. Prior to this he worked in various banking roles in the UK and New Zealand, and started his career as an Officer in the New Zealand Army. Tim leads the ABGF Origination Team.

Tim has experience in all aspects of merger and acquisition  transactions, including origination, structuring and transaction execution. He has advised and provided underwritten financing solutions to a number leading private equity firms on their merger and acquisition transactions. He graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) and Bachelor of Arts (Politics and Philosophy)

Thys Heyns

Chair | Geelong Manufacturing Council

Thys Heyns has 35 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry, most recently with Viva Energy as Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining Viva Energy in February 2015, Thys was with BP for 28 years in an international career across four continents that covered Supply Chain, Oil Trading and Refining.

Thys is an experienced Refining executive with recent roles including General Manager of the 120 kb/d Viva Energy Geelong Refinery, the 400kb/d BP Rotterdam Refinery and the 140kb/d BP Kwinana Refinery in Western Australia. Prior to that, Thys was the Commercial General Manager for BP’s global refining portfolio.

Thys’ academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) in Accounting and Economics as well as a Master in Business Administration. In addition, he has attended executive education programs at Stanford University, Cambridge University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Robert Hill

Viva Energy Chairman

The Hon. Robert Hill is a former barrister and solicitor who specialised in corporate and taxation law and who now consults in the area of international political risk. He has had extensive experience serving on boards and as chairman of public and private institutions, particularly in the environment and defence sectors.

Robert Hill was previously Australia’s Minister for Defence, Minister for the Environment and Leader of the Government in the Senate during his time as a Senator for South Australia. He served as Australia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. Robert is a former Chancellor of the University of Adelaide. In 2012, he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for services to government and the parliament.

Prof Tuba Kocaturk

Professor of Circular Cities │ Deakin University

Tuba Kocaturk is Professor of Integral Design at Deakin University School of Architecture and Built Environment. Tuba is the founding director of MInD (Mediated Intelligence in Design) Lab; a trans-disciplinary and practice-based research group that operates at the intersection of Built Environment, Information Technology and Design Innovation. The lab collaborates closely with design, construction, health, advanced manufacturing, art & culture, and technology sectors. As an architect, educator and international research leader, her work is predominantly practice-based and advocates the use of “design thinking” and “system thinking” as a methodology for knowledge production and as a strategy for cross-sector innovation.

Tuba is the co-founder of the European Network of Transdisciplinary Design. Her work led to her receiving one of the first Design Foundations grant, introduced by the UK government through Innovate UK, aimed at helping businesses engage with wider stakeholders through human-centred research to identify high-value innovation opportunities and generate more innovative products, services and business models. She has initiated a similar approach through Deakin University’s International Design and Innovation Platform, DesignMind, which connects industry with design-led research.

Sam McNaughton

General Manager │ DI Advisory Services

Sam McNaughton is General Manager of DI Advisory Services (DIAS). DIAS is a specialist consultancy which aims to accelerate the success of its clients in the Defence sector through business growth, business readiness and capability development.

Recently, Sam has been a key delivery partner in DMTC’s Smart Enough® Factory (SEF) Program. Sam’s role is key in assisting participating companies gain an understanding of the value of the smart application of simple, cost-effective technologies. The program demonstrates the adoption of I4.0 fundamentals in a way that is relevant to small business and gives participants a chance to observe the benefits that result from their digital uplift activity.

Sam has spent nearly two decades working in the aerospace and defence industry, including 10 years working with the Department of Defence and Department of Industry’s flagship industry development initiative the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC). Sam has extensive experience working with small to medium businesses to assist them to become more capable, reliable, and competitive suppliers to the defence sector.

Hon Richard Marles MP

Federal Member for Corio │ Australian Government

Richard Marles is currently the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Minister for Defence and the Federal Member for Corio.

Richard’s previous appointments include Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for National Reconstruction, Employment, Skills and Small Business, Shadow Minister for Science, Shadow Minister for Defence, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Minister of Trade, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry, and Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Affairs.

Peter Meikle

CEO │ Universal Motion Simulation

Peter joined Universal Motion Simulation (UMS) in October 2021. His role is to lead UMS to achieve its vision of becoming internationally recognised as the leading supplier of the most innovative and realistic motion platforms for military ground vehicle simulation.

Peter’s previous experience includes Chief Executive Officer, Product Development Director, Strategic Marketing director, project manager, consultant and engineering roles across small and large technology based companies, technology commercialisation consulting and small high-tech manufacturers, including in highly regulated environments.

His experience includes Invetech, Xtralis, CRM Advisory and Grey Innovation.

Lee Miezis PSM

CEO │ EPA Victoria

In May 2021, Lee Miezis was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA). As CEO, Lee is responsible for the operational performance of the organisation and, in association with EPA’s Governing Board, setting its strategic direction.

Lee was previously the inaugural CEO of Bushfire Recovery Victoria, and prior to that was a Deputy Secretary at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. He holds a Bachelor of Forest Science (with Honours), a Master of Business Administration, is a Victorian Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia and was awarded a Public Service Medal in the 2022 Australia Day honours for outstanding service to policy, regulation, and service delivery in Victoria, particularly in the area of environmental sustainability.

Lee has extensive experience and a record of delivery across policy, operations and regulation, having worked in the Victorian and NSW public services in the areas of public land management, fire and emergency management, and the environment.

Lachlan Pfeiffer

Chief Business Development & Sustainability Officer │ Viva Energy

Lachlan joined Viva Energy in 2014, and has held roles with the Group including as Executive General Manager, Legal and External Affairs and General Counsel. From 2018 to 2020, he also served as a Non-Executive Director of Viva Energy REIT (now Waypoint REIT). Prior to joining Viva Energy, Lachlan worked as a corporate lawyer for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom (UK) LLP, based in London for seven years. Lachlan started his career in Melbourne working for Norton Rose Fulbright (Australia).

Lachlan is a legal practitioner and holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Melbourne University and a Bachelor of Laws (with Hons) from Monash University. He is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Ivan Power

CEO │ National Reconstruction Fund Corporation

Ivan Power became the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation’s first CEO in February 2024. Ivan has extensive experience in finance, investment and capital markets, including through a successful 20-year career at Macquarie Group in Sydney and London.

Since 2019, he has worked with early-stage Australian companies as a direct investor and adviser. He has also advised Australian Government agencies, including the Commonwealth Treasury, the Department of Social Services and Housing Australia. He has served as chair or director of various social enterprises in both London and Sydney.

Ivan grew up in Western Sydney. He is a graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, Macquarie University and London Business School and a member of Chartered Accountants Australia & NZ.

Emily Rahles-Rahbula

Circular Economy Infrastructure Lead │ Barwon Water

Emily is the Head of Circular Economy Initiatives at Barwon Water. With a career that spans 20 years across strategy, infrastructure planning, major project design and delivery, operations and maintenance and systems development, Emily has had the privilege to work across the many facets of the water sector. Passionate about the circular economy and Australia’s transition to renewable energy sources, Emily is leading a number of projects that leverage cross sector partnerships and innovation to bring about better environmental and circular outcomes for the Barwon region.

Emily grew up in Geelong, is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from The University of Melbourne and was Australia’s first female winter Paralympian.

Nicole Sinclair

CEO │ Parish Engineering Co.

Nicole Sinclair is CEO of Parish Engineering and a Committee Member for the Women’s Defence Connection. A qualified Mechanical Engineer with over 20 years of experience in Manufacturing and 2nd generation of a family of Engineers who have been running Parish for 45 years.

Established in 1944, Parish Engineering is an AS9100D quality accredited repetition engineering firm with one of the largest CNC Mill-Turn operations in Victoria. A significant supplier of machined quality precision components to many industries, including Automotive, Heavy Vehicle and the Defence Industry since WW2.

In 2022, Nicole committed the team at Parish Engineering to DMTC’s Smart Enough Factory Program. This initiative supported Parish to commence its I4.0 journey. Parish undertook a pilot project to capture real time operations data from the shop floor to support operator and management decision making. From these initial steps Parish has developed a detailed Digitisation Strategy which Nicole is personally driving within the business.

Peter Smith

CEO │ Boomaroo Nurseries

Peter Smith, CEO of Boomaroo Nurseries, brings over two decades of leadership experience from both corporate and family business backgrounds. Originating from the UK, Peter honed his skills in quality and operational management for 15 years at a global stainless-steel producer before relocating to Australia in 2016. There, he embarked on his journey with Boomaroo Nurseries, a Geelong-based, Australian family-owned enterprise.

Under his guidance, Boomaroo has prioritised quality, sustainability, and innovation, positioning itself as a pioneer in the agricultural sector. Through the adoption of cutting-edge technologies such as automation, data analytics, and precision agriculture, Boomaroo has optimised its production processes and maximised yields, setting new standards for sustainable practices in the industry.

Mayor Trent Sullivan

City of Greater Geelong

A senior public speaking and executive leadership expert with experience across a range of organisations and industries including economic development, city planning, corporate services, tourism, circular economy, health and nonprofit organisations.

Skilled in strategy development and implementation; corporate governance and organisational design; stakeholder engagement; financial and project management and leadership coaching. Proven ability to engage diverse stakeholders to deliver strategic objectives and achieve business outcomes through people-led change. Strong communication skills combined with an unwavering commitment to high standards and professional integrity have resulted in a solid track record in achieving positive outcomes within the organisations he’s lead throughout his career with budgets exceeding $600M+ and up to 3,000 employees.

Shane Williams

Co Host │ Manufacturing Tech Australia

Shane Williams is a seasoned Virtual CTO and strategic technology advisor, specialising in guiding SME manufacturers and enterprise technology teams through the complexities of digital transformation. With a deep focus on maximising value from technology investments, Shane hosts the Manufacturing Tech Australia and Platform Diaries podcasts, sharing insights into the intersection of technology and business strategy. Author of Amazon best-selling ‘The Platform Owners Guidebook,’ Shane’s expertise empowers leaders to navigate the digital landscape securely and efficiently, ensuring their businesses are not only protected but poised for innovation and growth.

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