• Elsa Antunes
    Senior Lecturer – Mechanical Engineering, James Cook University

    Session: Elevating efficiency, productivity & growth though smart manufacturing

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: How we can work together to drive positive change

    Elsa Antunes is a Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering in the College of Science & Engineering, James Cook University. Elsa’s research is focused on the field of Materials Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, developing innovative advanced materials and manufacturing techniques for biomedical implants, smart materials, and developing circular economy approaches to keep materials and products in use while mitigating its environmental pollution and creating a resilient economy.

    Elsa obtained her PhD degree in Engineering from James Cook University in 2018. Prior to her academic career, Elsa was the Head of Advanced Materials Department in a private company (Europe) capitalising more than 10 years employment within industry undertaking research projects. Elsa was awarded the 2023 Women in Industry for Excellence in Engineering.

  • Else Bright
    Head of Region APAC, Director ANZ, World Commerce & Contracting

    Session: Navigating the 10 pitfalls of contracts in manufacturing

    Experienced Commercial, Subcontract Manager with extensive and demonstrated history of working in the Defense & IT industry. Skilled in Negotiation, Government Procurement, Management, Contract Management, and Supply Management. Strong sales professional graduated from Scotwork Negotiating Skills.

  • Kerryn Caulfield
    Executive Director, Composites Australia

    Session: From the factory floor to the boardroom

    Kerryn Caulfield is a well known industry identity who has been actively engaged as a worker, advocate, Board Member and leader in Australian manufacturing. Her company, Apical International is a service provider to industry and is committed to the advancement of Australian manufacturing and social enterprises.

    Kerryn has a proven record in senior leadership roles. Prior to forming her company, Kerryn held senior international trade positions with the Australian Chamber of Manufactures and large manufacturing firms. She has headed over 50 international missions focused on developing export markets for Australian manufactured goods all of which has provided her with a legacy of global contacts which she fosters and continues to grow. She was honoured with the Women’s Achievement Award during International Business Week in 1995 for building an export sales portfolio while employed at Bradmill Textiles.

  • Jennifer Conley
    Chief Executive Officer, Geelong Manufacturing Council

    Session: Opening remarks from the Chair

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: Innovating safety in manufacturing through technology

    Jennifer Conley is CEO of the Geelong Manufacturing Council (GMC), the peak industry association for the manufacturing sector in Geelong and the south-west region of Victoria. 

    Jennifer has a background in advocacy for business and Australia’s innovative manufacturers. She led a national program from 2011 to 2017 to raise understanding about the value and importance of manufacturing to Australia’s economic future and was inaugural Executive Director of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council, a CEO-led group of manufacturers including CSL, Cochlear, Boeing, GE, Siemens, Agilent Technologies, Marand, ANCA and Northrup Grumman. 

    Prior to this she worked in strategic communications, including for a business organisation in Southeast Asia, after starting her career as a writer, editor and journalist in Australia. 

    She is currently a director on the Board of a specialised technology group, 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.

    Jenn has three grown-up children and lives on the Surf Coast of Victoria.

  • Latinka Cubitt
    General Manager – Administration, Catten Industries

    Session: Becoming the leader you want to be and that your organisation needs

    Latinka Cubitt is an accomplished professional who wears multiple hats as the General Manager and Owner of Catten Industries and LaTink. In the ever-evolving landscape of business, Latinka's journey began in the mid-eighties within the IT industry, where she embarked as a mainframe computer operator. Her tenacity led her through roles as a Systems Analyst, Project Manager, and ultimately an IT Manager, contributing her expertise across diverse sectors including Manufacturing, Banking, Distribution, and Medical.

    In a pivotal move, 2017 marked a significant chapter in Latinka's career as she and her husband Ian assumed ownership of Catten Industries, situated in the heart of Bayswater. Renowned for their excellence in manufacturing Sheetmetal products and providing solutions from Concept to Completion, Catten boasts extensive experience spanning various industries. Their profound understanding of systems and innovative practices has consistently set them apart. Catering to sectors such as Building, Electrical, Renewables, Transport, Shopfitting, Display, Point of Sale, Communications, Furniture, Material handling, General Engineering, and Defence, Catten continues to be a reliable industry partner.

  • Stephanie El Akkaoui
    Manufacturing & Processing Leader, Bega Cheese

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: How we can work together to drive positive change

    Session: Overcoming imposter syndrome in the manufacturing profession

    Stephanie El Akkaoui is the Manufacturing and Processing Leader at Bega Cheese after having spent 12 years in Quality at several organisations, including Lion, Snack Brands Australia, Lindt & Sprungli, and George Weston Foods.

  • Mohana Ghate
    People & Culture Business Partner, Diageo

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: How men and women can work together to drive positive change

    Mohana Ghate is a Human Resources Business Partner at Diageo where she previously held an HR Coordinator role.

  • Jens Goennemann
    Managing Director, Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: Driving change, equality and inspiration through leadership

    Jens has been Managing Director since AMGC’s inception. He brings extensive experience from overseeing large manufacturing operations in Australia and Europe. Jens served as Managing Director of Airbus Group Australia Pacific and Airbus Helicopters. Before his eight-year appointment to Australia, Jens spent six years in Germany with the former European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), today known as Airbus Group. He was Head of the CEO’s office in Germany, and before that in charge of Soldier and Parafoil Systems within the Defence Division. Previously, Jens spent two years in Athens where he established and managed the Eurofighter Office of DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, one of the three founding partner companies of EADS. He began his career with Daimler-Benz AG in January 1996.

  • Catherine Hollyman
    Founder | Leadership Communication Strategist & Coach, Behind the Scenes Communications

    "As a child, I was always taking on the role of some character or another. I didn’t need a stage; any garden or lounge room would suffice. I would change my words, the way I spoke and the way I moved to bring my new identity to life so I could tell their story. I knew that even subtle changes in my behaviour meant my audience (OK – my mum, dad, and elderly next-door neighbour) would perceive me differently. As I got older, I became a student of acting and performing arts. I was captivated by the way actors, directors, set designers, script writers – the whole production crew in fact – use the written word, vocal delivery, body language and all manner of sensory signals to tell a story. To communicate a message. To create a connection with us, their audience and strive to cause a shift in our thoughts, attitudes or behaviours.

    This fascination with the way we send (and receive) information in order to build rapport with an audience, propelled me into a career as a public relations and communications consultant. I advised businesses of all shapes and sizes on how to tell their story and build their brand presence in a way that connected with their customers, employees and other key stakeholders, causing a shift in their perceptions and behaviours.

    In 2010, after speaking at a national sales conference designed to inspire and engage 2,500 employees to follow his vision and direction for the company, the Managing Director I was working with thanked me, saying: “you have provided me with the necessary coaching that has not only improved my communication and presentation style and capabilities, but has given me a lasting self-confidence that will remain with me for life.”


    My focus shifted from helping organisations communicate their business brand messages, to helping high-performing individuals identify and express their leadership presence. I uncover how they want to show up and speak up as a leader and empower them with the skills and confidence to communicate their best, authentic self to the world, so they can connect more meaningfully with their stakeholders and contribute with more impact and influence."

  • Erika Hughes
    Commercial Director, Integra Systems

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: How we can work together to drive positive change

    Session: Utilising data and analytics to increase efficiency, create new opportunities and make better decisions

    Erika Hughes has been providing her family business, Integra Systems, with her expertise in management, business development, strategy and marketing since 2001. In her role as Commercial Director, Erika ensures all pillars of the business are strong and drives the strategic direction of the company. Erika has been instrumental in building Integra’s new division, Integra TransForm, into a strong proprietorial division of the business.

    Graduating with a Bachelor of Business from RMIT and a Graduate Diploma in Management Leadership from Swinburne, Erika has a passion for transferring her knowledge and insights in the areas of business transformation, manufacturing digitisation and circularity. Winner of the 2023 Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame’s Woman Manufacturer of the Year, she has been recognised industry-wide as a judge for the Women in Industry Awards and has been a guest speaker at many women in industry forums and industry knowledge-sharing events.

    With her diverse knowledge and depth of experience across 20+ years in manufacturing, Erika now enjoys mentoring women in leadership as part of AMTIL’s Women in Manufacturing Leadership Mentoring Program launched in 2022.

  • Jo Kitney
    Managing Director, Kitney & Toolkit Solutions


    Jo Kitney is an accomplished professional with experience in WHS/OHS, quality, environmental and business management.

    She has 25 years experience in Australia and the UK across commercial, manufacturing, maritime, education, health care, local government, hospitality and service industry. Currently the Director of Kitney and Toolkit Solutions, Jo has had previous roles in Australia as the State Manager WHS for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Qld and Corporate Safety Team Leader for Brisbane City Council.

  • Belinda Layson
    Beverage Operations Manager ANZ, PepsiCo

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: Driving change, equality and inspiration through leadership

    Belinda Layson is a Beverage Operations Manager at PepsiCo, having previously worked as a Packaging Team Leader and an Improvement Engineer at Lion, and before that as a Process Engineer at Aquacell.

  • Annabel Lim
    Site Operations Leader, The Dow Chemical Company

    Session: Strengthening Australia’s manufacturing workforce: challenges, opportunities and changing the status quo

    Annabel Lim is a Site Operations Leader at The Dow Chemical Company, joining Dow as a graduate engineer from Sydney University. She worked at one of Dow’s large integrated manufacturing sites in Europe, returned to Australia and is now running Dow’s major Australian manufacturing site in Geelong.  She leads and has been deeply involved in developing the professional and unionized workforce and has great insight across manufacturing operations and EH&S.

  • Dr Yanling Lu
    Head of CMC (Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls), GlyTherix

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: Driving change, equality and inspiration through leadership

    Yanling is a technical leader with strong expertise in biologics and medical device manufacturing. She was initially trained as an applied chemist in China and later obtained her Master and PhD degrees in Physical Biochemistry in the UK. Prior to moving to Australia in 2009, she was a Senior Scientist in Bioprocess Development at MedImmune Cambridge UK (now AstraZeneca) leading key programs.

    In the last 17 years, Yanling has led R&D teams in the biotech sector across UK, US and Australia. She has a track record of bringing discovery projects through development to commercialisation with her versatile skills and experiences covering drug discovery and development, assay development, process development, biomanufacturing, clinical trials and regulatory.

    Yanling has been involved in the development of two commercial antibody therapeutic drugs and recently led the validation program for the FDA approval of a colorectal cancer diagnostic test InSure® ONE™. She has joined Glytherix since 2018 as the Head of CMC (Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls) managing their antibody manufacturing programs. GlyTherix Ltd is an Australian immuno-oncology company specializing in developing antibody radiopharmaceuticals for solid tumors. Currently Yanling manages all CMC programs to support an upcoming Australia Phase 1 clinical trial.

  • Fiona MacLeod
    General Manager Strategic Retail, Visy Retail Services

    Session: Unlocking your full potential through the power of mentorship

    Fiona MacLeod is a dynamic and accomplished leader with a diverse background in Strategic Sales and Operations. She joined the Australian owned and based Visy Industries in 2011 and is currently General Manager Strategic Retail for the newest division of Visy, Visy Retail Services.

    Before her current role, Fiona was the State General Manager of Visy Board NSW - a role that incorporated managing a team of 300 & operating 2 large manufacturing facilities in Western Sydney, and a smaller regional site in the Central West of NSW.  During this time, she built a diverse leadership team who assisted her to deliver & exceed their targets, improve productivity and deliver on customer commitments. This followed her first role in Visy as a Strategic Business Manager, working with multi-national customers across the suite of the Visy business until she moved into the Operational role in 2018.

    Before joining Visy, Fiona held Sales and Safety & Risk Management positions in companies such as Goodman Fielder, Integral Energy and Ansett Australia. 

    Fiona is passionate about mentoring more women in the Visy business, and via other professional and community organisations, to help them develop their careers and provide them with opportunities for growth and development across such as Operations and Strategic Sales.

    In her personal time, Fiona has held volunteer Board positions with Equestrian NSW and been an active member of committees running international equestrian events across Eventing and Showjumping. She had recently relocated and is enjoying getting out and about exploring her new State.

  • Kariza Martin
    Manufacturing and Process Engineer, Boeing

    Session: The road to equality – overcoming gender bias and discrimination in the manufacturing workplace

    Kariza Martin is a Manufacturing and Process Engineer at Boeing, having previously worked as an engineer at the Office of Projects Victoria and QinetiQ Australia.

  • Leanne Nelson
    Program & Engagement Manager, Geelong Manufacturing Council

    Session: Opening remarks from the Chair



    Leanne Nelson is Program Manager at Geelong Manufacturing Council, the region’s peak manufacturing industry body, where she leads a suite of programs and initiatives to build skills and capacity in the manufacturing sector.

    Leanne has a background in, the integration of systems and skills within SME’s, managing delivery of accredited training, and program delivery within the manufacturing sector including capacity and productivity building programs. Her focus lies in building gender diversity in traditionally male dominated roles with programs such as Girls Leading Advanced Manufacturing, Women in Manufacturing Network and its associated mentoring program, and the newly established regional workforce pipeline development program, Seed2STEM.

    Leanne is passionate about building strong regional communities through strong regional economies.

  • Kellie Potter
    Director - Manufacturing Programs, Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water, Queensland Government

    Session: Lessons & case studies from Queensland’s Women in Manufacturing Strategy

    Kellie leads the Queensland Government’s Women in Manufacturing Strategy and is passionate about the attraction, recruitment and retention of women in manufacturing, particularly in the technical and trades roles.  Kellie has been working with the manufacturing industry since 2016, and enjoys helping small to medium businesses implement practical strategies to drive diversity and inclusion.

    The Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water drives Queensland’s focus on creating competitive regional economies with an innovative and resilient manufacturing sector across the State, to create and support jobs for all Queenslanders. Its vision is for a strong, resilient and inclusive Queensland with thriving regional economies and an innovative manufacturing sector.

  • Rebecca Ransford
    Head of Global Operations & Supply Chain, SunRice

    Session: Optimising manufacturing supply chains – strategies to solve Australia’s supply chain challenges

    Rebecca Ransford is the Head of Global Operations and Supply Chain at SunRice. She previously held director roles at Unilever, the Kellogg Company, and PepsiCo.

  • Blake Redding
    Associate Director, Mapien

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: Innovating safety in manufacturing through technology

    Blake’s consulting career as a psychologist has been inspired by his passion for people development and a fascination with how people impact an organisation’s performance and success.

    His broad business and industry experience, combined with the application of psychometric assessment measures and a focus on improving employee performance and retention, has allowed Blake to work in every arena of human resources.

    Blake undertakes all aspects of organisational development and change work for his clients and his knowledge and understanding of the latest neuroscience research comes through strongly in the way he creates and presents ideas and provides recommendations.

    Blake has experience implementing a range of successful interventions across a variety of industry sectors, including state government agencies, government owned corporations, global corporations, energy, mining, engineering, leisure services, manufacturing, transport, health care, animal care, education and emergency services.

  • Kristi Riordan
    Co-Founder, Harvest B

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: Driving change, equality and inspiration through leadership

    Kristi Riordan is Co-Founder and CEO at Harvest B, an Australian B2B food technology company developing and manufacturing plant based proteins.  Kristi is an experienced operating executive of multiple venture backed tech companies that redefined categories in highly regulated industries over the past 20 years.  During this time, she has been supported by investors including W23 (investor of Harvest B), Bessemer, Matrix and CRV in the USA. 

    Having spent most of her career in New York City, Kristi was granted a Distinguished Visa in 2019 under the new Global Talent program and is now permanently residing in Australia.  Prior to her career in tech growth companies, Kristi spent time at Blackstone Private Equity in NYC, KPMG and served as a law clerk on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington D.C.  Kristi holds her Certified Public Accountant license and is an admitted lawyer in the USA.

  • Sharon Robertson
    Chief Executive Officer, Manufacturing Industry Skills Alliance

    Session: Overcoming the skills shortage – identifying and developing the right people & the right skills

    Sharon Robertson is the Chief Executive Officer at Manufacturing Industry Skills Alliance. She is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Sharon is skilled in Organisational Leadership, Negotiation, Business Planning, Analytical Skills, and Government. She is strong business development professional graduated from University of New England (AU).

  • Professor Veena Sahajwalla
    Founding Director, UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology

    Session: Using sustainability and circular economy strategies to improve environmental, social, and financial bottom lines

    Professor Veena Sahajwalla is an internationally recognised materials scientist, engineer, and inventor revolutionising recycling science. She is renowned for pioneering the high temperature transformation of waste in the production of a new generation of ‘green materials’ at the UNSW Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Centre, where she is Founding Director. Professor Veena is the inventor of polymer injection technology, known as green steel, an eco-friendly process for using recycled tyres in steel production. In 2018, Veena launched the world's first e-waste MICROfactorieTM and in 2019 she launched her plastics and Green Ceramics MICROfactoriesTM, a recycling technology breakthrough.

    Professor Veena is the director of the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for ‘microrecycling’, a leading national research centre that works in collaboration with industry to ensure new recycling science is translated into real world environmental and economic benefits. Professor Veena has also been appointed hub leader of the national NESP Sustainable Communities and Waste Hub.

    In 2021, Professor Veena featured in the ABC’s Australian Story and she was named the 2022 NSW Australian of the Year in recognition of her work. Professor Veena was named the 2022 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes winner for the Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science and was also awarded the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) Clunies Ross Innovation Award. In 2023, Veena launched The ARC Research Hub for Microrecycling of Battery and Consumer Wastes.

  • Sarah Sannen
    Head of Operations, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation

    Session: Adopting cutting-edge strategies utilising resilient and sustainable materials, waste solutions and packaging

    Sarah has over 10 years’ worth of experience in the sustainability sector. Previously, Sarah was the Australasian Recyling Label (ARL) Manager at APCO, where she supported brands and packaging manufacturers in designing packaging that is recyclable at end-of-life and qualifies for the ARL. In her new role, as the Head of Operations, Sarah is applying her expertise more broadly at APCO.

  • Bianca Shepherd
    Engineering Support Workshop Manager, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: Innovating safety in manufacturing through technology

    Bianca Shepherd is ANSTO’s Engineering Support Workshop Manager, confidently overseeing the manufacture and fabrication of equipment and specialised parts for critical Australian scientific and landmark infrastructure.

    In particular, Bianca oversees the manufacture of specialised parts for the OPAL multi-purpose reactor, which is required for the production of nuclear medicine that benefits half a million Australians each year. Bianca also enables the continued operation of infrastructure relevant to important health, environment and nuclear fuel cycle research.

    Bianca began her career almost thirty years ago as an Electrical Engineering Cadet at BHP. During that time, she completed an Associate Diploma in Electrical Engineering whilst undertaking an electrical trade, and working in the steel industry.

    Bianca remains grateful for her trade expertise, and developing the next generation of young trade professionals in STEM has become her passion. She possesses strong education and training skills, and has worked at the University of Ballarat to teach electrical modules to apprentices and tradespeople.

  • Vanessa Skipworth
    General Manager , Tasmanian Minerals, Manufacturing & Energy Council

    Session: PANEL DISCUSSION: Driving change, equality and inspiration through leadership

    Vanessa  is currently employed as General Manager of TMEC. Vanessa’s involvement with TMEC commenced in April 2021 with her appointment of Workforce Development Project Manager.  During her time with TMEC, Vanessa has built on TMEC’s earlier work of establishing a presence in Tasmania’s secondary schools. Vanessa has established but also cemented an extensive network across the state amongst both the membership base as well as the private and public sectors. A number of TMEC’s programs are nation leading and something TMEC are very proud of.

    Vanessa comes to TMEC with over 20 years’ experience in the apprenticeship sector. She has spent the last 17 years as a Business Consultant working with employer, industry bodies and various department stakeholders. Whilst predominantly signing up apprentices and liaising with training organisations, Vanessa also assisted with developing workforce strategies for industry sectors, identifying skillset needs and looking at funding opportunities that met those needs and requirements.

  • Cori Stewart
    Founder and Chief Executive Officer, ARM Hub

    Session: Integrating AI, robotics & automation to drive innovation, streamline operations, and reduce costs

    Associate Professor Cori Stewart is a skilled and versatile science and technology commercialisation leader, who works in executive and advisor roles across industry, government, and the research sector. She is passionate about driving impact through university and industry collaboration and building strategic and trusted collaborations in Australia and across the globe.

    As the Founder and CEO of the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub, Cori has built an Australian-first not-for-profit technology commercialisation company. ARM Hub has nurtured hundreds of businesses to validate, commercialise and modernise using cutting-edge technologies, design thinking, new IP and workforce development strategies in defence, energy, medical, resources, agriculture sectors and more. 

    Cori is widely recognised by her peers and the companies she works with, having been awarded one of Australia’s 2023 & 2024 ‘Superstars of STEM’ - lifting the profile of women and science in our communities – and the Asia Pacific 2022 Women in AI Award for AI in Manufacturing.

    Cori is a keynote speaker on topics such as technology transformation, university and industry collaboration, advanced manufacturing, supply chains, innovation and industrial policy, and inclusion.

  • Honi Walker
    Chief Executive Officer, South East Melbourne Manufacturing Alliance

    SessionManufacturing has evolved – so have our careers. The importance of introducing manufacturing as a career path

    Honi is a business development, marketing and media communications professional with twenty years’ experience in the not-for-profit, corporate and construction sectors.

    As the CEO of SEMMA (South East Manufacturers Alliance) Honi’s role is to advocate to government on behalf of members, grow the membership, raise the profile of SEMMA and change the perception of manufacturing to Smart, Secure and Sustainable while attracting a new cohort of employees to this growing sector that employs over 600,000 people in Victoria alone and generates $43b towards the Victorian economy.

  • Jacqui Walters
    National Rail Manufacturing Advocate, Department of Industry, Science and Resources

    Session: Advancing Australia’s manufacturing future through public and private sector collaboration

    Jacqui Walters is the National Rail Manufacturing Advocate. Ms Walters has extensive leadership and advocacy experience. This includes chairing the Citytrain Response Unit within the Queensland Government’s Department of Transport and Main Roads. She brings a strong understanding of challenges and opportunities for the rail industry.