Program Speakers


Yvonne Adele - Managing Director, Yvonne Adele Management

yvonne-adele_headshot-sml A Microsoft graduate with a couple of decades of corporate experience, Yvonne created the Ms Megabyte brand/persona in the mid 90’s. This led to a national media profile and best-selling book (Conquer Your Computer). Ms Megabyte was also the author of Australia’s PCs for Dummies, and a Telstra Business Women’s Awards Finalist.

During her 10-year stint as Ms Megabyte, Yvonne assisted thousands of Australian’s to embrace their technology and travelled around the country and overseas as IT Reporter for the Today Show and enjoyed a long residency as columnist for Woman’s Day and Women’s Weekly. During this time, Yvonne accepted requests to speak at conferences and found it to be her absolute passion.

She eventually left the media behind to concentrate solely on speaking and consulting and has spoken to over 500 groups including NAB, Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals, realestate.com.au, Telstra, Schwarzkopf, Neways, LJ Hooker, Intel, Microsoft, Fujitsu, Mitchell & Partners, REIV, Austereo, Westpac, Westfield, Optus.

Kristin Devitt - Managing Director, KDPR

kristin-devitt-smlKristin Devitt is Managing Director of KDPR and has forged a successful career spanning more than 20 years as a highly effective communications strategist. With a background in broadcast journalism including time spent as a journalist and presenter with the Ten Network, Kristin has established her credibility on the media map.

Building on her media expertise, Kristin founded KD Public Relations in 2003, attracting a loyal client base and gaining a reputation for delivering powerful communications strategies across a variety of sectors. With a wealth of experience in delivering tangible communications results, Kristin is sought after by private, public and not-for-profit organisations, and is highly skilled in reputation management and crisis communications.

Adam Franklin - Marketing Manager, Blue Wire Media

adam-franklin-smlAdam Franklin is the co-author of Web Marketing That Works — an Amazon #1 best seller.

He is also the host of a top rating iTunes podcast, is an international social media speaker and the cofounder of Bluewire Media.

Adam’s Bluewire Media blog was Australia’s #1 business blog in 2015 and has been named in the top 20 for the last 6 years.

He has also written for The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald and dozens of widely read blogs.

His weekly ‘Bluewire News’ email goes out to over 22,000 readers worldwide.

Suellen Holland - Executive Manager, ICMS Australasia

suellen-hollandSuellen has been involved in Events Management for over 25 years and currently holds the position of Executive Manager with ICMS Australasia, a role which encompasses Business Development, International Marketing Promotions and Operational Leadership.

Previously, Suellen held the position of Lecturer, Event Management with TAFE at the Brisbane North Campus teaching event management in hospitality and tourism. For over 10 years, as a Product Development Executive for CPA Australia, Suellen developed events and programs for the CPA professional development audience.

Megan Isles - Market Leader, Australia, American Express Meetings & Events

Megan is Market Leader for American Express Meetings & Events, Australia. In this role Megan focuses on the complete market leadership of the Australia Meetings & Events business division, with accountability for financial performance as well as the management of both sales and operational teams. This role focuses on ensuring the business goals are met through the provision of compliant, high quality meetings and group air services. These are delivered to both “Event by Event” and “Strategic Meetings Management” clients in the Australian market.

Over Megans’ 17 year career within meetings and events, she has acquired an expansive knowledge of all facets of industry. In 2011, Megan lead on the 35th International Trumpet Guild Conference, which was recognised at the Australian Event Awards, taking out the category of ‘Best Meeting and Conference Award’.

Paula Leishman - Managing Director, Leishman Associates

paula-leishman-sml-2Paula is the founder and Managing Director of Leishman Associates, an industry leading conference and events business based in Hobart and Melbourne. The business’ motto is “it’s all about people”, and the success of this attitude to personalised customer service is evident.

Paula has over 25 years’ experience in Conference and Event Management and is a Certified Event Manager through the Professional Conference Organisers Association; she is the Tasmanian Director of this peak industry body, a Director of Business Events Tasmania, was the 2012 Telstra Business Women’s Awards Business Owner of the Year for Tasmania.

Michael Licenblat - CEO, Bounce Back Fast

michael_licenblat_headshot-smlMichael Licenblat is a resilience expert who teaches people how to perform better under pressure by bouncing back from pressures, setbacks, and rejections.

Born into a family of entrepreneurial parents, Michael grew up working inside the numerous family businesses and quickly learnt that success often came to those who can ride the bumps, get up, and keep going.

Over 20 years ago, Michael became one of the pioneers in building a successful natural therapies business through overcoming market rejection, refusals, and knockbacks.

Drawing on his background in Psychology, Shiatsu therapy, and over 25 years of Martial Arts experience, Michael has helped countless companies become ‘pressure proof’ and learn how to bounce back from the setbacks and rejections so they can out-achieve their competition.

Callum Mallett - GM Operations NZICC, New Zealand International Convention Centre

callum-mallett_headshot-smlCallum Mallett is the GM NZICC – Operations. He has significant operational, sales and marketing experience. Over the last 10 years Callum has held various roles within SKYCITY Entertainment Group, including Director of Sales and GM Hotels and SKYTOWER in Auckland.

Prior to joining the NZ International Convention Centre, Callum  was the General Manager of the SKYCITY Darwin Casino. His early career was in the retail and entertainment sectors.

Debbie Mayo-Smith - Managing Director, SuccessIs

debbiemayo-smith_headshot-smlDebbie is one of the most in-demand speakers in Australia and New Zealand and sits in the top 7% of speakers worldwide. As a media columnist and best-selling author of sixteen books, Debbie has sharpened the activity of over 1 million individuals around the world through her presentations, quick tip newsletters, articles, books and videos.

She is well-loved for her practical, plain talking technology quick tips and is known as Ms Productivity by the media and it’s not just for her work; Debbie is also a mother of six children including twins and triplets!

Sonia McDonald - CEO & Founder, Leadership HQ

sonia-mcdonald_headshot-smlSonia McDonald, CEO & Founder of LeadershipHQ, is an entrepreneur thought leader, dynamic keynote speaker, executive coach and author. She was recently named in the Top 250 Influential Women across Globe by Richtopia. She is also Australia’s Leading Leadership Coach. Sonia is the Author of her Amazon eBook Neuroscience of Leadership and she has also launched a online magazine called LeadershipHQ. Sonia is Keynote Speaker where she has spoken across the globe on Leadership, Diversity and Neuroscience.

Her company LeadershipHQ are the Headquarters in Exceptional Leadership and she leads a team of highly experienced Leadership experts. They provide solutions, coaching, programs and strategies that help organisations and leaders to achieve maximum success. Their purpose is to partner with organisations and leaders in building high performance leadership, culture and strategic interventions – improving staff engagement, motivation,retention and ultimately – the bottom line!

Leonie McKeon - China-Educated Strategist

leonie-mckeon_headshot-smlLeonie McKeon is an Australian China-educated strategist who teaches the rules that drive business success in the massive and complex China market. Leonie has lived and travelled in the Greater China Region for several years where she learnt Mandarin, and through these hands on experiences discovered that “everything is negotiable”.

By enabling her audiences to understand Chinese negotiation tactics, she inspires people to feel confident and therefore able to enjoy being part of the Game of Negotiating with Chinese people. She travels to China regularly assisting Australian companies conduct business with China and sees these negotiating tactics in action first hand. For Leonie it is very clear that to function successfully in China, knowledge of the Chinese negotiating culture is crucial.

Bryon Merzeo - Consultant, Deloitte

bryon-merzo_headshot-smlHaving studied at the University level in five countries, including a Masters in International Tourism Strategy, Bryon has a strong understanding of the global tourism marketplace.

As part of the Deloitte Tourism Team, he analysis & forecasts tourism performance across Australia. Other tourism pursuits include being Sydney chapter leader of Travel Massive, organizing Hotels After Hours networking events, and running a domestic tour operator.

Professor Suzanne Miller - CEO & Director, Queensland Museum Network

suzanne-miller_headshot-smlProfessor Miller commenced as CEO and Director of the Queensland Museum Network in 2013.

Suzanne has previously held positions as Director of the South Australian Museum, Research Fellow at the Universities of Lancaster and Oxford, Lecturer in Earth Sciences at the University of Aberdeen and the Open University and as Geologist with the British Antarctic Survey.

Belinda Moore - Director, Strategic Membership Solutions

belinda-moore_headshot-smlBelinda has been involved in the association sector in a wide variety of capacities since the early 1990s. She is Australasia’s foremost membership specialist and has assisted thousands of membership based not-for-profit organisations with their challenges. She specialises in training, motivating and up-skilling boards, staff and volunteers to improve membership performance.

Belinda is the author of two books including “The Membership Machine” and “Membership Fundamentals”. She is the author of the popular paper “Membership is Dead?” which forecasts future trends for member based organisations. She recently released The Membership Managers Handbook, a free PDF guide for membership professionals.

Belinda frequently presents at conferences and other events around the world. She arrives on the platform armed with an array of topics relating to membership. Revealing insights from her personal and professional experiences, she ensures that participants walk away with practical ideas and information that can immediately be applied.

Julian Moore - Director, Strategic Membership Solutions

julian-moore_headshot-smlJulian is Australasia’s foremost association sponsorship practitioner specialising in charities, associations and other non-profits.  Julian specialises in training, motivating and up-skilling boards and staff to improve sponsorship performance. He draws on his extensive experience in Australia and the United Kingdom to deliver sponsorship outcomes for clients.

Julian is also an accomplished and entertaining speaker who regularly presents at conferences and other events around the world. Throughout his presentations he gives real world examples and case studies that inspire and motivate attendees. He focuses on providing practical and useful ideas that can be implemented immediately to start benefiting your organisation.

Stefan Pernar - Managing Director, Virtual Reality Ventures

stefan-pernar-smlStefan is a veteran of the booming virtual reality industry. Having founded his immersive content and interactive application development company in early 2014, he was one of the first entrepreneurs in Australia to recognize the vast potential of the new medium of Virtual Reality.

Since then his company has delivered successful projects to companies such as AGL Energy, the REA Group, Australia Post and many others.

Mike Pickford, Executive Director, ASN Events

mike-pickford_headshot-smlMike’s career has been varied but a common feature is his ability to implement innovative ideas and projects into successful outcomes. As an event manager working for others, his scientific and educational background has complemented his vision and practical skills to ensure great outcomes for all involved.

He is a founding executive director of ASN Events and after 27 years the company now completes 60-70 conferences a year mainly in the association sector. He is also a founding director of Currinda, an event software company, and serves as a councillor on the boards of both the Business Events Council of Australia and the Professional Conference Organisers Association.

Omer Soker - CEO, The Future of Associations
omer-soker_headshot-smlOmer Soker helps associations navigate the future. He is a professional speaker and works with associations to achieve their goals faster and with minimal effort. He is the creator of The Future of Associations as a 6-step roadmap to progress, change and influence. He works with boards to instil rigour and future vision into strategic plans, supports management in inspiring staff and helps employees to better engage members.

As CEO, Omer led an $8 million association through its biggest crisis, influenced government to overturn a decision in favour of members, launched digital services to engage new members, resolved the concerns of a member action group, broadened the membership with a strategic acquisition and worked with the President to modernised governance and board structures. He has also run corporates, media and events businesses.

Karen Sainsbury - Managing Director Sales & Development, HOT Events

karen-sainsbury-smlKaren is Managing Director of HOT Events Australia, and combines her strong operational background with her sales and marketing acumen. Karen originally trained as a school teacher, though after a few years of teaching was lured to the hospitality and tourism industry.

Her past roles as General Manager of an international hotel saw her undertake numerous national activities in the food and beverage specialty, related to staff development, client/supplier relationships and maximising revenue opportunities. Karen is an accredited meeting professional with the Professional Conference Organisers Australia and New Zealand.

HOT Events Australia opened its doors six years ago, and has enjoyed successful growth of the business as it continues to deliver exceptional results to our clients. Long term industry professionals Natalie Brumniach and Karen Sainsbury, co-managing directors of HOT Events in Australia, have an impressive record of event experience under their belts. Having first worked together at Novotel Twin Waters Resort in the late nineties where they formed a formidable team, they have fulfilled their vision of opening a business together.

Mary Sparksman, Managing Director, YRD

mary-sparksman-smlMary is the founding director of YRD, which was established in 1995 following a 10 year career in Hospitality and Event Management.

YRD specialises in Conference and Association Management and organises and manages conferences throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia, it has successfully completed over 500 such engagements for State, Federal and local governments, scientific, educational, medical, legal, business and professional services organisations over the past 21 years.

Mary is a Councillor of PCOA and a member of the Accor Advisory Board and has been invited by hotel chains across Australia to sit on Advisory Panels.

David Turner - Chief Consultant Risk

david-turner_headshot-smlDavid Turner is a senior business executive and trusted advisor with19 years experience in the risk management industry. David has a unique blend of expertise across diverse areas with a focus on risk management of human behavior – one of the more complex, dynamic and often over-looked areas of the industry. A strong leader, David has played critical roles in significant projects across Australia and abroad.

David currently advises global corporations within the business, governance, government, construction, and critical infrastructure sectors on pertinent risk issues and also provides services through the international Gerson Lehrman Group’s (GLG) consultancy and research units. David was the key advisor for several Perth companies on risk and security measures throughout the high profile Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Perth in 2011.

Mario Valenti - Director, Haycom

mario-valenti_headshot-smlMario is a major shareholder and also the Group Director of Sales of the NW Group. The NW Group is a collective of companies that are the specialist provider of equipment and Technical Production for the events industry. The NW Group companies are Norwest, Haycom and Cairellie in Australia and Oceania and Spyglass in New Zealand. Haycom run their innovation lab out of their Melbourne office and it’s here that the latest in event technology gets put through its paces.

Mario was responsible for bringing the hologram technology Musion to Australia in 2007 and he is still heavily involved with the licensing requirements and for all of the Musion events that happen in Australia. Mario has extensive knowledge of working overseas having been the technical producer for the annual Flight Centre Global event for the past 13 years.

Barney Withers - Creative Director, Haycom

barney-withers_headshot-smlBarney has worked in creative technical production for the last 26 years. Starting out in the film industry in London and then moving into events, Barney has worked across Europe on major events including film premieres, music concerts and award shows. Moving to Melbourne with his family in 2000 he joined Haycom and added his skills to their high-end technical delivery.

His last major project was producing the virtual reality experience at the brand new Bombing of Darwin Tourist Facility, teaming up the the animators behind the Hollywood blockbusters Mad Max Fury Road, Ghostbusters & Deepwater Horizon. Passionate about new technology Barney works within the innovation lab putting all the latest tech through it’s paces to see what’s hot and what’s not.

Felicity Zadro - Founder and Managing Director, Zadro Communications

felicity-zadro_headshot-smlA passionate, committed and energetic communicator, Felicity is inspired by supporting the growth and development of organisations through excellent communications. With her extensive education and experience, Felicity brings a unique approach to communications. Her training in sociology and anthropology, combined with numerous market and social research projects and business communications expertise, allows Felicity to broaden beyond the standard scope of communications practice.

Felicity believes a strong strategic approach is the key to all communication. In 2009 Felicity designed and founded Zadro’s very own strategic communications planning tool COMM*BATTM which has inspired numerous businesses and organisations to define their communications and put them on the road to success.