Speakers

Speakers

COBA are busy planning our line-up for 2024. We aim to bring to you the same level of highly rated speakers as the 2023 convention.

Plenary Speakers

Dr Bruce McCabe
Q

Dr Bruce McCabe

Dr Bruce McCabe is a global futurist who presents on the technologies and game-changers shaping our world.

He is passionate about helping people create a better future.

He has a PhD in innovation and for thirty years has travelled the world exploring how people innovate with new technologies.

Bruce began his career at IBM in 1988 and went on to hold senior roles at IBM, WordPerfect, Novell and Gartner. In 2002 he founded S2 Intelligence, a think tank to support organizational innovation through grounded research.

Bruce has served as a trusted innovation advisor to a range of multinationals, governments and universities.

When not speaking, he likes hanging out with scientists, podcasting and writing about the near future.

Dr Bruce McCabe

Craig Foster
Q

Craig Foster AM

Following a celebrated football career as Australia’s 419th Socceroo & 40th Captain,
Craig enjoyed an 18-year, triple Logie winning career with Australia’s multicultural broadcaster, Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).
Current Work:
A member of the Australian Multicultural Council, Craig is an Adjunct Professor of Sport & Social Responsibility with Torrens University and works across a vast range of social programs from indigenous rights and self-determination, homelessness, climate action along with refugee advocacy as: an
Ambassador for The Big Issue Street Soccer Program; Amnesty Australia; Australia Committee member with Human Rights Watch; Advisory Council member of the Australian Human Rights Institute, UNSW; and the Affinity Intercultural Foundation.
Previous Experience:
Craig is a former Chairman, Life Member and CEO of Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), Australia’s representative body of the Socceroos, Matildas and professional players where, as Chair, he oversaw the introduction of a gender equality quota at Board level, is a former Director of the Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR) with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and has led a number of sport and business missions abroad with the NSW Government and Australian Government.
His humanitarian activism extends to several high profile, global campaigns including #SaveHakeem to free Bahraini refugee Hakeem al-Araibi from a Thai prison for which he was a Finalist for the Australian Human Rights Commission Medal, #GameOver to call for the resettlement and freedom of over 400
refugees and asylum seekers indefinitely detained by Australia in PNG and Nauru for eight years and #PlayForLives which is a humanitarian response by sport to the COVID-19 pandemic which began in Australia and expanded internationally. Today, Craig is a key driver behind #RacismNotWelcome encouraging action on racism by all Local Government Associations Australia-wide to normalise
acknowledgement of, and action against, racism in Australia.
Author: He is an author and co-author of several books including Fighting for Hakeem’ by Hachette Australia and writes for the Guardian, The Age and other publications.
Recognition and Awards: In 2019, the Australian Financial Review recognised Craig as a True Australian Leader’, the Sydney Morning Herald as one of the People that Defined 2019, he was the recipient of the 2020 NSW Government Humanitarian Award for his work with sport and human rights, an Australian
Human Rights Commission Medal finalist, was awarded the Australian Muslim Council Abyssinian Medal and was a finalist for NSW 2021 Australian of the Year.
In 2021, Craig became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day Honours List.
Academic: He holds a Bachelor of Laws, Master’s Degree in International Sports Management and a Postgraduate Degree in Football Management.

Craig Foster AM

Dr Kirstin Ferguson
Q

Dr Kirstin Ferguson AM

Dr Kirstin Ferguson is an internationally acclaimed leadership expert, author, columnist, and keynote speaker. Ranked as one of the top 50 management thinkers in the world by Thinkers50, Kirstin was also
awarded the Thinkers50 Distinguished Leadership Award in 2023.

Kirstin began her career as an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force and has held roles including chief executive officer of an international consulting firm and acting chair and deputy chair of the Australian
Broadcasting Corporation. During a fifteen-year career as a company director, Kirstin sat on a range of large publicly listed, private company and non-profit boards.

Kirstin has a PhD in leadership and culture and honours degrees in Law and History. She is an adjunct professor at the Queensland University of Technology Business School, where she was named
Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 2020. In 2023, Kirstin was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to business and gender equality.

Dr Kirstin Ferguson AM

MC

Effie Zahos
Q

Effie Zahos

Effie Zahos is one of Australia’s leading personal finance commentators with more than two decades of experience in consumer finance topics including banking, investing and property. She has a knack for making money matters simple.

Starting out as a graduate trainee for one of Australia’s major banks she moved to TV in 1997, kick-starting her career in finance journalism as head researcher of Channel Nine’s Money Show.

A regular money expert on Channel 9’s Today and on radio around Australia, Effie is also the author of The Great $20 Adventure and A Real Girl’s Guide to Money and Ditch the Debt and Get Rich.

Effie is Chief Content Officer and Money Commentator at InvestSMART. She was Editor-at Large of Canstar for four years and now acts as an ambassador for the comparison site. Effie was editor of Money magazine until 2019.

She sits on the board of directors for Ecstra, a not-for-profit organisation committed to building the financial capability of all Australians.

Effie Zahos

Business Session Speakers

Nicki Hutley
Q

Nicki Hutley

Nicki Hutley is COBA’s Chief Economic Adviser and one of Australia’s leading economists. Over her career, she has worked in financial and investment markets and as a consultant on economic policy. She is particularly interested in the intersection of economy, society and environment.

After many years in the corporate world, including as a partner at Deloitte Access Economics, Nicki established her own economic consulting practice in 2021. Nicki is also Chief Economic Adviser to the Customer-Owned Banking Association, a Councillor on the Climate Council, and a member of the Financy Women’s Index Advisory Committee.

Nicki is a member of the Australian Business Economists’ executive committee and the immediate past-president of the Economics Society of Australia (NSW branch), and is a frequent commentator across the media.

Nicki Hutley

Dr Sandra Peter & Dr Kai Riemer
Q

Dr Sandra Peter & Dr Kai Riemer

Dr Sandra Peter and Dr Kai Riemer are Co-Directors of Sydney Executive Plus and professors at the University of Sydney Business School. They are renowned experts in business, emerging technology,
artificial intelligence, generative AI, and the future of work.
Together, Sandra and Kai form an exciting duo, combining their extensive knowledge and insights with an entertaining and accessible style, to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities of the ever-evolving business landscape. Their uniquely dynamic event offerings span productive engagement with the future and understanding the profound impact of emerging technologies, such as AI, on both business and society.
Dr Sandra Peter has spearheaded strategic initiatives and collaborated on executive programs with highprofile organisations, across business, government, and defence. Her research expertise lies in strategic
foresight and the transformative influence of emerging technologies, with a focus on AI. She is a co-host of influential business and technology podcasts and a published author in high impact journals. She
regularly contributes commentary and interviews in national and international media.
With a background in AI, collaborative systems, and strategic foresight, Professor Kai Riemer brings a wealth of expertise in disruptive phenomena and envisioning the future of work. He boasts an impressive
track record of industry-funded research, high-impact projects, and publications in esteemed journals.
Sandra and Kai are highly sought-after advisors to corporate boards and prolific public speakers, captivating audiences with their insights on the business potential of AI, AI and the future of work, the dark side of AI, the trust economy, digital disruption, strategic foresight and future trends.

Dr Sandra Peter & Dr Kai Riemer

Simon Kuestenmacher
Q

Simon Kuestenmacher

Simon Kuestenmacher is a Director and Co-founder of The Demographics Group based in Melbourne,
Australia. Simon holds degrees in geography from leading universities in Berlin and Melbourne and
worked for several years as a business consultant with KPMG Australia.
In 2017 Simon, with Bernard Salt, co-founded The Demographics Group. The group provides specialist
advice on demographic, consumer and social trends for business.
He presents on demographic and global trends that are shaping Australia today and into the future and
his presentations and quirky observations are enjoyed by corporate, government and industry audiences
alike.
Simon is a columnist at The New Daily newspaper and a regular contributor to The Australian newspaper;
and he is also a media commentator on demographic and data matters.
Simon has amassed 600,000 global followers on social media, reaches over 35 million people every
month and ranks as one of the world’s Top 10 influencers in data visualisation. If you can’t get enough of
data that explains how the world works, make sure to follow him on Twitter or any of his other social
channels.

Simon Kuestenmacher

Rosie Batty AO
Q

Rosie Batty AO

When her 11-year-old son Luke tragically lost his life at the hands of his father, Rosie Batty was catapulted into the media spotlight. But from the very start, she made sure her story was never just about her own horrific tragedy. With fierce determination and incredible courage, Rosie channelled her grief into a tireless and inspirational crusade against domestic violence, becoming a beacon of hope and a powerful catalyst for systemic change.

From the day Rosie so bravely fronted the media after her son’s death, she has given voice to thousands of domestic violence victims – and her impact has been extraordinary.

Appointed as the inaugural Chair of the Victorian Government’s Victim Survivor’s Advisory Council, set up in response to the country’s first Royal Commission into Family Violence, Rosie was determined to put victims at the centre of policy decisions.

From being named Australian of the Year to receiving the Pride of Australia National Courage Medal and the prestigious Order of Australia, Rosie’s accolades speak volumes about the indelible mark she has made on our world. Her relentless dedication has also seen her inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women, named by Fortune Magazine as one of the world’s top 50 greatest leaders, and voted as the most influential person in the not-for-profit sector on Pro Bono Australia’s Impact 25 list… twice.

Rosie Batty AO

Kamal Sarma
Q

Kamal Sarma

Kamal Sarma has a deep insight into people and organisations, in large part, due to his unique personal and corporate experience. Kamal spent 6 years living as a monk in a desert monastery and returned to Australia to build a successful corporate career. Today Kamal focuses on helping people master the art of human connection through navigating complex and critical conversations, developing resilience, navigating change and transforming cultures.

A fascinating blend of east and west Kamal is well suited to any audience. He has been that busy executive, so understands their mindset and challenges, yet also understands people at a deep level through his monastic training. Kamal has held senior executive positions in organizations, including McKinsey & Company, Eli Lilly and AMP Capital Investors. He has also been the co-founder of two venture capital businesses in the IT and biotech sectors. Kamal currently is a Chairman for Amicus Digital and the founder and CEO of his strategic Leadership firm, Rezilium. For the past 17 years Kamal and team have been helping top companies within Australia and Globally.

Kamal Sarma

Jennifer Dalitz
Q

Jennifer Dalitz

Jennifer Dalitz is a Board Director and CPA qualified finance professional currently serving as Chair of Qudos Bank, Non-Executive Director of iPartners, Trustee of the Australian Museum and the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation, and independent Audit & Risk Committee Member of Australian Physiotherapy Association.

With a finance and management consulting background, Jen brings to her board roles both audit/finance/risk skills, as well as deep experience across strategic change, transformation and people agendas.

Over two decades, Jen has held board and governance positions across banking and financial services, professional services, agribusiness, mental and emotional wellbeing, member services, cultural institutions, scientific research, manufacturing, sports administration, and education. With deep strategic and executive experience to CEO level, Jennifer has been a member or Chair of risk, audit, finance, people, governance, merger and transformation committees.

An internationally recognised advocate for inclusion and diversity, Jen served for four years as the CEO of Women in Banking and Finance, focused on increasing gender diversity within the sector. Prior to this, she built a community and website portal to provide career support to women, and assist organisations in implementing gender diversity strategies. Attracting over 50,000 unique page views per month to the portal, and hosting conferences for over 1,000 women across four cities, Jen became a sought after speaker on topics relating to gender, equity and inclusion, receiving several citations and awards in the process for this work.

Jennifer Dalitz

Tracey Lake
Q

Tracey Lake

Tracey Lake is Great Southern Bank’s Chief People Officer.  She leads all facets of People & Culture for the Bank, including Business Partnering, Remuneration, Culture, Leadership, Learning & Development, Organisational Change Management and Strategic Workforce Planning.  Tracey has been with the Bank for over 7 years and is also a Non-Executive Director of Mutual Market Place, a subsidiary of Great Southern Bank and People’s First Bank, supporting our industry’s procurement, supplier and contract needs.  Her achievements Include leading Great Southern Bank’s recognition as a Gallup Engagement Global Exceptional Workplace award, Diversity Council Australia Inclusive Employer recognition, and the Australian Human Resources Institute Best Organisational Change and Strategy award. 

Prior to working at Great Southern Bank, Tracey has undertaken Executive and Senior Manager positions leading Human Resources professionals and teams within the Insurance and Assistance industries, for companies including Allianz Worldwide Partners and Insurance Australia Group.   Tracey holds a Bachelor of Business Majoring in Human Resource Management, a Graduate Certificate in Employee Relations, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and accredited Executive Coach through the Institute of Executive Coaching.

Tracey Lake

Mark Rigotti
Q

Mark Rigotti

Mark joined the Australian Institute of Company Directors as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer in 2022. Mark served as the Global CEO at Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) for two terms over 2014-2020 where he was also a Partner. He was also Chair of the firm’s Global Executive, Chair of the Global Diversity & Inclusion Group and a Member of the HSF Global Partnership Council. He was responsible for developing and implementing the “Beyond 2020” strategy. Prior to becoming the Global CEO of HSF, he was a member of the management team having led a number of practice groups including the Banking and Finance Group as well as the Corporate Group. He practised as a Partner in the Banking & Finance area.

Mark is the Chair of Redkite Children’s Charity, a Non-Executive Director of Smartgroup Corporation Limited (ASX: SIQ) and a Board Member of the European Australian Business Council. Additionally, Mark is a member of Financial Services Institute of Australia.

Mark was based in London from 2013 until 2020.

He is a graduate of the University of Sydney; Melbourne University (Mt Eliza), Harvard University and Singularity University.

Mark Rigotti

Rebecca Campbell
Q

Rebecca Campbell

 Rebecca Campbell is Queensland Country Bank’s Head of Human Resources, joining the team in 2010.  Her passion for diversity, requisite organisational structure, performance management and talent acquisition has seen her team implement strategies which has helped the bank navigate through significant organisational change whilst upholding strong staff engagement. 

In her spare time, Bec’s focus is on her two young children and the community, including working within the school P&C, managing sporting teams, and working with First Nation foundations, small business and community groups to help students, people with disabilities and long-term unemployed transition into the workplace.  Bec holds a Bachelor of Psychology from JCU and is accredited in WHS and Rehabilitation.

Rebecca Campbell

Christine Mackenzie
Q

Christine Mackenzie

Christine Mackenzie is the Chief People Officer of P&N Group, which operates P&N Bank in Western Australia and BCU Bank in New South Wales and southeast Queensland.

 

Christine heads the People & Culture division which includes people services and capability, work, health and safety, wellness, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), corporate affairs, and enterprise change management.

 

As a Director of COBA, Christine is a passionate advocate for the Australian customer-owned banking sector as a trusted and purpose-driven alternative to the major banks.

 

Since joining P&N Group in 2021, Christine has been responsible for delivering an award-winning cultural renovation program, has overseen top quartile engagement scores, launched the Group’s inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan, supported the organisation’s major transformation program, and is the steward of its first ESG Strategy.

 

Christine has a wealth of experience in change, mergers and acquisitions, and integration. Her credentials include long-standing experience of managing large and distributed multi-disciplinary HR teams and building cultures of high performance and engagement across her 25 year international career in financial services.

Christine Mackenzie

Breakfast Speakers

Rosie Batty AO
Q

Rosie Batty AO

When her 11-year-old son Luke tragically lost his life at the hands of his father, Rosie Batty was catapulted into the media spotlight. But from the very start, she made sure her story was never just about her own horrific tragedy. With fierce determination and incredible courage, Rosie channelled her grief into a tireless and inspirational crusade against domestic violence, becoming a beacon of hope and a powerful catalyst for systemic change.

From the day Rosie so bravely fronted the media after her son’s death, she has given voice to thousands of domestic violence victims – and her impact has been extraordinary.

Appointed as the inaugural Chair of the Victorian Government’s Victim Survivor’s Advisory Council, set up in response to the country’s first Royal Commission into Family Violence, Rosie was determined to put victims at the centre of policy decisions.

From being named Australian of the Year to receiving the Pride of Australia National Courage Medal and the prestigious Order of Australia, Rosie’s accolades speak volumes about the indelible mark she has made on our world. Her relentless dedication has also seen her inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women, named by Fortune Magazine as one of the world’s top 50 greatest leaders, and voted as the most influential person in the not-for-profit sector on Pro Bono Australia’s Impact 25 list… twice.

Rosie Batty AO

Mark Nguyen
Q

Mark Nguyen

Mark Nguyen is Chief of Policy for COBA, managing COBA’s engagement with policymakers, regulators and other stakeholders in regulatory policy development and implementation.

Mark has held various policy roles of increasing responsibility within COBA since joining as a Policy Adviser. Mark has been a passionate advocate for the customer owned banking sector since 2016, participating in a broad range of regulatory policy debates, including debates on prudential regulation, competition, proportionality and capital raising.

Prior to joining the customer owned banking sector, Mark worked as a federal public servant in various economics roles in economic statistics, productivity measurement, international development, international energy & resources policy and energy security. 

Mark has a Bachelor of Finance and a Master of Economics from the Australian National University. Outside of work, Mark enjoys cycling, pickleball and tending to pet guinea pigs. Mark is based in Melbourne.

Mark Nguyen

Stephanie Elliott
Q

Stephanie Elliott

Stephanie Elliott is COBA’s Chief Operating Officer, leading COBA’s strategic engagement and reputational initiatives. Her team includes government relations, media, marketing and communications, stakeholder relations, events and business services.

Prior to joining COBA, Stephanie served as a lawyer, a federal and state public servant, a ministerial adviser and a senior manager of government relations within the financial sector. She has advised both domestic and offshore governments. As an experienced corporate affairs professional she specialises in managing organisational and reputational risks.

Outside of work, Stephanie is a board member and company secretary of, and provides consulting advice to, non-profit organisations. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Laws from the Australian National University.

Stephanie Elliott

Emerging Leader Program Speakers

Kamal Sarma
Q

Kamal Sarma

Kamal Sarma has a deep insight into people and organisations, in large part, due to his unique personal and corporate experience. Kamal spent 6 years living as a monk in a desert monastery and returned to Australia to build a successful corporate career. Today Kamal focuses on helping people master the art of human connection through navigating complex and critical conversations, developing resilience, navigating change and transforming cultures.

A fascinating blend of east and west Kamal is well suited to any audience. He has been that busy executive, so understands their mindset and challenges, yet also understands people at a deep level through his monastic training. Kamal has held senior executive positions in organizations, including McKinsey & Company, Eli Lilly and AMP Capital Investors. He has also been the co-founder of two venture capital businesses in the IT and biotech sectors. Kamal currently is a Chairman for Amicus Digital and the founder and CEO of his strategic Leadership firm, Rezilium. For the past 17 years Kamal and team have been helping top companies within Australia and Globally.

Kamal Sarma