Presenters and Panellists

Kyle Loades, Chairman, Non-Executive Director, Advisor (various)

Kyle has more than two decades’ experience in transforming businesses in the face of disruption. His current roles include Non-Executive Director of Credit Union Australia, Chairman of Drive Yello, Chairman of Hunter Medical Research Institute and Conjoint Professor of Practice at University of Newcastle. Kyle was the Chairman of NRMA until December 2017. He was the 2018 business leader of the year by the Hunter Business Chamber.

Kyle is the MC for the Symposium.

Dr Michael Schaper, former Deputy Chairman, ACCC and CEO, Canberra Business Chamber

Michael has a long track record working, advising and advocating for business in the capital region, and at the national level. Prior to joining the Canberra Business Chamber in 2019, he was Deputy Chair at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, with responsibility for small business, franchising, and industry and professional associations. Michael has served as the ACT’s inaugural Small Business Commissioner and has worked in the university sector in leadership roles focused on business and entrepreneurship development.

Michael is hosting the panel: Can SMEs save small cities? at 2.50pm on Thursday 10 October. He is also hosting the panel: Bridging the government and industry divide at 9.30am on Friday 11 October.

Dr Gerry Bobsien, Head of Governance and Strategy, National Gallery of Australia

Gerry has held leadership roles in strategy and engagement, business development and governance across local government and in the research and arts sectors. Prior to joining the National Gallery of Australia, she was Executive Manager Economic Development with Muswellbrook Shire Council. She has extensive experience in the cultural sector including curatorial and urban art consultancy projects, Director and then Chair of the Lock-Up Contemporary Art Space and Public Art Curator, Newcastle Art Gallery.

Gerry is participating on the panel: Investing in creativity: culture and creativity as an economic engine at 4.00pm on Thursday 10 October.

Mark Grimson, Manager Community, Cultural and Economic Development, Wollongong City Council and representing Advantage Wollongong

Former head of the Illawarra Business Chamber, Mark leads Wollongong City Council’s economic development program promoting Wollongong as open for business and sustainable economic growth for the local economy. Within his portfolio is Advantage Wollongong – a partnership between the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, the University of Wollongong and the Wollongong City Council. The Advantage Wollongong partners work together to attract businesses to the city.

Mark is participating on the panel: Consensus or majority? Negotiating civic collaboration at 4.00pm on Thursday 10 October.

James Markham-Hill, Executive Director, Corporate Strategy, EPIK

James is a global corporate strategy and communications professional with a deep knowledge of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry and a track record of growing companies. His expertise lies in strategic communications, marketing and regulatory affairs. EPIK is a global LNG project development company, which is leading the Newcastle GasDock LNG project at the Port of Newcastle. The project was recently declared Critical State Significant Infrastructure by the NSW Government.

James is participating on the panel: Bridging the government and industry divide at 9.30am on Friday 11 October.

Laureate Professor Jenny Gore, Director, Teachers and Teaching Research Centre, University of Newcastle

Jenny is the co-creator, with Dr Julie Bowe, of Quality Teaching Rounds – a unique approach to teacher professional development. Her work has attracted more than $23 million in research funding. Philanthropic support for Quality Teaching Rounds from the Paul Ramsay Foundation announced in 2018 will enable a series of new trials as the program is expanded to at least 30,000 more Australian teachers over the next five years. The University of Newcastle leads the sector nationally in industry engagement.

Jenny is participating on the panel: Bridging the government and industry divide at 9.30am on Friday 11 October.

Michael Cohen, Director, City People

Michael has over 25 years’ experience delivering creative strategy in Australia and abroad. He was the Creative Producer at Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority where he led the development of major cultural initiatives and an activation program for the revitalization for Darling Harbour and The Rocks. He has also worked as Creative Producer at UrbanGrowth NSW, developing place-making strategies for urban renewal sites such as Green Square, White Bay Power Station and Parramatta North.

Michael is participating on the panel: Investing in creativity: culture and creativity as an economic engine at 4.00pm on Thursday 10 October.

Katherine O’Regan, Executive Director, Cities Leadership Institute

Katherine has over 30 years of experience in developing and implementing growth strategies for businesses and governments. Katherine has served as a Chief of Staff and Advisor to federal and state government ministers and was Deputy Mayor of Woollahra Municipal Council, where she served as a Councillor for five years. Katherine has unique insights into the policy, process and priorities of government.

Katherine is hosting the panel: Consensus or majority? Negotiating civic collaboration at 4.00pm on Thursday 10 October.

Michael Comninos, founding Director, Astrolabe group

Michael is a former Executive Director in the NSW public service. With Astrolabe Group, Michael is responsible for strategy and development advice where he works with local, state and federal government agencies, industry bodies, as well as private companies operating in planning and urban innovation. Prior to establishing Astrolabe, Michael led the establishment of the infrastructure planning and digital tool development capabilities at the newly formed Greater Sydney Commission.

Michael is hosting a clinic: Landing a city deal at 1.30pm on Thursday 10 October.

Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Newcastle

Alex is a recognised leader in innovation, science and technology, research, commercial start-ups and education. Prior to joining the University in November 2018, he was Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist and leader of Defence Science and Technology. He was previously Group Executive for Information Sciences at CSIRO, and CEO and co-founder of Seeing Machines, a technology company now listed on the London Stock Exchange. Among his numerous awards is inclusion in Engineers Australia's ‘100 Most Influential Engineers’ from 2009 – 2015.

Alex is speaking on building diversification and resilience and introducing keynote speaker Jim Betts at 8.30am on Friday 11 October.

Professor Andrew Beer, leading researcher in regional development, University of South Australia

Andrew is a leading authority on the drivers of regional growth in the Australian and international contexts. His expertise lies in the areas of regional policy and development, housing research and in the growth processes affecting regional cities. Andrew is the Chair of the Regional Studies Association, and the Chair of the Homelessness Strategy Group for the South Australian Government. He is the Dean, Research and Innovation at the UniSA Business School.

Andrew is delivering the keynote address at the Symposium dinner at 6.30pm on Wednesday 9 October.


Richard Anicich AM, Chair, Committee for the Hunter

Richard Anicich is a passionate advocate for the Hunter. He is a non-executive director, commercial lawyer and mediator, and previous partner in the national firm Sparke Helmore Lawyers. A Conjoint Professor of Practice in the School of Law at the University of Newcastle, he is also on the Advisory Boards for the Faculty of Business and Law and the School of Law. Richard is Chair of Hunter Primary Care and a non-executive director of Rural and Remote Medical Services.

Richard is participating on the panel: Consensus or majority? Negotiating civic collaboration at 4.00pm on Thursday 10 October. He is also delivering a PechaKucha presentation on collaboration at 11.30am on Friday 11 October.

Dr Anthea Bill, Lead Economist, Hunter Research Foundation Centre

Anthea is a key member of the HRF Centre's economics team leading the delivery of the quarterly Hunter Economic Indicators. She has expertise in economic and socio-spatial analysis and almost two decades’ qualitative and quantitative research experience working in academic, commercial consultancy and government contexts. Anthea has authored and co-authored peer-reviewed research papers exploring geo-spatial disadvantage in Australian cities, labour market outcomes, housing affordability, commuting and the social impacts of unemployment.

Anthea is participating in the panel: Creating the people’s city at 2.50pm on Thursday 10 October.

Anna Chubb, Director of Strategy, Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation

As the Director Strategy at HCCDC, Anna is responsible for working across all levels of government, industry and the community to deliver the Hunter Regional Plan 2036. This plan will guide the NSW Government’s land use planning priorities and decisions across the Hunter over the next 20 years. Anna is a town planner who has worked in strategic and statutory planning, sustainability policy and practice, planning and housing policy as well as land development.

Anna is delivering a PechaKucha presentation on identity and positioning at 11.30am on Friday 11 October.

Dr Peter Cock, CEO Newcastle Airport

Newcastle Airport generates around $1.2 billion in economic benefit for NSW, including $300 million directly to the visitor economy. Under Peter’s leadership, the Airport has achieved record passenger throughput and record profits. This is set to grow with the release of the 60-year Master Plan in 2018, which includes the development of the Astra Aerolab aerospace and innovation precinct. Prior to Newcastle, Peter worked with Perth Airport as Chief Operating Officer.

Peter is delivering a PechaKucha presentation on collaboration at 11.30am on Friday 11 October.

Matt Coetzee, Director, Sense Strategy

Matt is a leading project feasibility expert, strategic urban planner, project leader and general manager, with over 27 years of experience in Australia and around the world. In his role with Sense Strategy Consulting, he leads the delivery of complex physical assets, advising on project strategy, project development and integrated planning. Prior to establishing Sense Strategy Consulting, Matt led the global environment and planning business of a major global consultancy and ran its global cities practice.

Matt is participating on the panel: Consensus or majority? Negotiating civic collaboration at 4.00pm on Thursday 10 October.

Bob Hawes, CEO, Hunter Business Chamber

Bob has advocated for business and economic development across the region for almost 20 years. Prior to joining the Hunter Business Chamber, he was interim CEO of Dantia – the Lake Macquarie Economic Development Company – and General Manager of the Hunter Development Corporation. Bob works closely with the Chamber’s strong membership base while advocating on behalf of all businesses across the Hunter to promote the region as a great place to do business.

Bob is participating on the panel: Can SMEs save small cities? at 2.50pm on Thursday 10 October.

HunterNet Future Leaders

The HunterNet Future Leaders Program mentors and trains emerging leaders. The program is designed to expand participants’ networks, linking them with the best from the region, supported by mentors drawn from a cross-section of Hunter businesses. The final weeks of the Program involve the participants developing a team-based submission on a regional challenge, supported by an experienced industry mentor. In 2019, the HunterNet Future Leaders are focused on the challenge of building Greater Newcastle’s identity and positioning.

Representatives from the HunterNet Future Leaders are delivering a PechaKucha presentation on the identity and positioning challenge at 11.30am on Friday 11 October.

Joe James, CEO, Hunter Joint Organisation

Joe is a trained lawyer with extensive expertise in project and asset management in economic and infrastructure development. Prior to joining the Hunter Joint Organisation in 2019, he was with the Port Authority of NSW as Executive General Manager Bays Development and as Executive General Manager, Commercial, Technical and Legal. He has also been General Counsel for the Sydney Ports Corporation, Legal Counsel for Arana Therapeutics Limited and worked as a solicitor for Deacons and PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal.

Joe is participating on the panel: Bridging the government and industry divide at 9.30am on Friday 11 October. He is also delivering a PechaKucha presentation on collaboration at 11.30am.

Justine Kinch, Group Director, Buildings & Places, AECOM

Justine has worked in the development industry for over 20 years delivering major city shaping projects with a focus on urban renewal and transport-related initiatives. She has previously helped to launch AECOM’s Western Sydney growth strategy and led the Sydney design and planning team. In her current role, Justine is responsible for teams, client service and market engagement across the NSW and ACT regions, encompassing offices in Hunter, Western Sydney, Canberra and Sydney.

Justine is hosting the panel: Creating the people’s city at 2.50pm on Thursday 10 October.

Rosemarie Milsom, Director, Newcastle Writers Festival and journalist

Rosemarie is the founding director of the Newcastle Writers Festival, one of the city’s biggest cultural events. In its 7th year, the 2019 event attracted more than 12,000 people. An award-winning journalist, she has been a senior feature writer with the Newcastle Herald, a section editor at The Sun-Herald and features writer and editor at Sunday Life magazine. Rosemarie is also a regular host on ABC 1233.

Rosemarie is hosting the panel: Investing in creativity: culture and creativity as an economic engine at 4.00pm on Thursday 10 October.

Nuatali Nelmes, Lord Mayor, City of Newcastle

Nuatali was first elected Lord Mayor in 2014, and was returned for a second consecutive term in 2017. A strong champion for Newcastle and its revitalisation, she has worked to provide all Novocastrians with equitable access to high-quality public facilities. Nuatali has participated on committees overseeing recreation, urban planning and design, assets, and catchment management; and she currently sits on the boards of the Hunter Westpac Rescue Helicopter and the Newcastle Airport Partnership.

Nuatali is delivering the welcome address and introducing the keynote speaker, Nigel Jacob, at 8.45am on Thursday 10 October.

Bob Pynsent, Mayor of Cessnock and Chair, Hunter Joint Organisation

Bob is serving his second term as Mayor of Cessnock. He is passionate about growing and developing his community and providing jobs for local people. Through his efforts, Cessnock has received increased federal and state government funding vital for the completion of major infrastructure projects. Bob serves on boards including Hunter Resource Recovery, Westpac Rescue Helicopter and is the Chairman of Hunter Councils. As a white ribbon ambassador, Bob is passionate about reducing domestic violence in the Cessnock community.

Bob is delivering a welcome address at 8.45am on Thursday 10 October.

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