Speakers & Presenters
2017 Small Business Development Conference

Maree Adshead

Maree Adshead has been appointed Queensland’s first Small Business Champion.

Maree is committed to ensuring that Queensland small businesses are brought to the forefront of Government policy and decision-making. Under her leadership as founding CEO of the Open Data Institute Queensland both Maree and the institute have been recognised as leaders in bringing business, industry, academia and government together to utilise government data as a strategic resource.

Maree’s career began in the legal profession, as partner of a tier one national law firm. Ten years later, she co-founded a successful software start-up which received multiple awards for excellence in innovation.
In 2012 Maree received the prestigious Women in Technology ICT Outstanding Achievement Award which recognises the achievements of outstanding women within Queensland’s ICT industries and was the 2015 Patron of TechGirls are Superheroes.

Maree has had industry roles including establishing and chairing the Technology Council of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) and chair of the Queensland branch of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).
As the inaugural Small Business Champion, Maree will play an active role in voicing the needs of small businesses to ensure they have the best chance to start, grow and employ.

The establishment of the Small Business Champion is another way the Queensland Government is strengthening the support for small business.

Marcus Akuhata-Brown

Marcus Akuhata-Brown grew up on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. 
His father is from Te Whanau o Tuwhakairiora of Te Araroa on the East Cape, also the tribes of Ngai Tahu and Kahungunu. His mother is a fifth generation New Zealander with European ancestry. An experienced educator and gifted communicator, Marcus has led a number of innovative programmes around the world. 

In New Zealand his work has focused on addressing the learning and developmental needs of youth at risk and young offenders. From 1996 to 2004 Marcus travelled all over the world as a diplomat, international representative and delegate to multilateral meetings. 

Marcus was a Director on the international board of CIVICUS as well as being an ex-officio member of the Commonwealth Youth Caucus. Marcus founded Tukaha Global Consultantcy in 2000 and currently divides his time between speaking and consultancy work, land development activities in his tribal area and studies through Te Wananga o Raukawa, a tribal university.

Nick Bowditch

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Nick Bowditch is the only person in the Asia-Pacific region to have worked at both Facebook and Twitter, and the only person in the world to have worked in marketing at both brands. He is a successful (and unsuccessful) entrepreneur and a thought-leader in social media globally.

He works extensively in the start-up ecosystem in Australia and internationally as both an advisor and investor, inspiring others to create and build businesses that use authentic storytelling, and have empathy, a focus on social contribution and kindness at the core. Having lived with mental illness and addiction himself, Nick is also passionate about raising awareness for mental health by sharing his personal story.

Bruce Buchanan 

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Bruce Buchanan is the Executive Officer of Central NSW Business HQ (formally Central NSW Business Enterprise Centre) based in Orange. Over the 19 years with the BEC in Orange Bruce has grown the Centre’s turnover by over 1000%. He has established the BEC as a Centre of Business Excellence and won Best Regional BEC at the National Industry Awards in 2008 which was followed up when he won Best National BEC Manager in Australia in 2009 & again in 2014.

Bruce has over 30 years of experience in helping businesses achieve their goals and has carved a niche that’s lined with diverse qualifications, experience, awards and achievement on both a regional and National level. Bruce has a wealth of experience in “Customer Relations” and “Marketing” having been in the hospitality industry for over 16 years. Prior to joining the BEC Network in 1996, Bruce was with Pepsi Co Australia where he worked in the Pizza Hut Australia Restaurant Division as a Restaurant Manager, Area Manager and Training Manager prior to joining the BEC network in 1996. In 1990 Bruce was sent as the only Australian delegate to Moscow to train and open Pizza Hut in 2 locations with 14 other trainers from around the world.

Bruce has a Graduate Certificate in Small Medium Enterprise Management through Charles Sturt University (Albury Campus) and is a foundation member of the Australian Institute of Enterprise Facilitators, Australian Institute of Management and has an Advanced Diploma in Business Facilitation through Victoria University.
Bruce sits on numerous boards, business chambers and committees throughout the Central West of NSW and is the Chairman of the Cadia Valley Mines Community Consultative Committee & has recently retired from a 4 year appointment on the NSW Fair Trading Advisory Committee. Bruce is a respected public speaker and has spoken a business and industry functions throughout Australia.

Bruce was awarded a Pride In Workmanship award from Rotary International for his work with small business in NSW, was awarded Australia Day Award by Weddin Shire Council for his community contribution to the business community of the shire and was recently recognised for his contribution to business growth and contribution to the community at the Orange 150 years celebration of local government.

Kate Carnell

Kate Carnell commenced her role as Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) in
March 2016.

Kate brings extensive experience and knowledge to the role of Ombudsman, having run her own small businesses for
15 years before becoming ACT Chief Minister in 1995 for a five year period. Prior to her appointment as the inaugural ASBFEO, Kate held the position of CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents more than 300,000 businesses across Australia. She has also served two years as CEO of beyondblue, four years as CEO of the Australian Food and Grocery Council, four years as CEO of the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) and three years as CEO of the National Association of Forest Industries (NAFI). Kate is a pharmacist by profession and was the inaugural chair of the ACT Branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the first female to become the National Vice-President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

Kate was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2006 for her services to the community through contributions to economic development and support for the business sector, knowledge industries, the medical sector and medical technology advances.

Thea Chase

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Thea is the Director of the Southwest Innovation Corridor (SWIC), a Telluride Foundation initiative. Working with community stakeholders - Universities, Governments, Businesses, Chambers and Agencies regionally and nationally to facilitate collaboration, resource and program development, moving the 8-county rural southwest region of Colorado towards a healthy balanced economy with a greater emphasis on innovation-based businesses.  She also currently services her local community as a town trustee in Palisade, CO.

For the past 3 years, Thea was the Director of the Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA).  The momentum gained in building innovation-based companies in Telluride led to the successful award of 900k in federal, state and private funds to launch the SWIC initiative in 2016. 

Prior to her work with the Telluride Foundation, Thea was the founding Director at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, led the development of the Entrepreneurship concentration at Colorado Mesa University and was the Executive Director of the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction, CO from 1993-2006, a 5-time National Business Incubation Association (NBIA n/k/a INBIA) award winning program. 

Thea has also gained extensive experience consulting internationally in entrepreneurial eco-system building including recent projects in the Middle East.

Thea’s passion is working with entrepreneurs and building programs to support them. She has coached and mentored thousands of entrepreneurs and teams from diverse industry sectors in designing sustainable business models and building quality companies, and worked with numerous communities interested in engaging these entrepreneurs through developing supportive eco-systems.

Nigel Collin

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Nigel created his first business at the age of twenty and sold it at twenty-one. He then went on to build Absurd Entertainment, one of Australia largest entertainment design companies. He worked extensively on the 2000 Olympic Games, was entertainment advisor at the 2000 Paralympic Games, and holds the accolade of being show director for Australia's largest ever corporate event in 2005. Having passed the baton by selling the Absurd in 2004, he moved into the world of consulting, advising his clients on implementing ideas and everyday innovation.

In 2013, armed with a video camera, Nigel set off on an initiative to travel throughout Australia, solo on his motorbike, to discover ingenious Australians and share their stories. His quest was to inspire the ideas of a nation and led to the founding of ‘Ingenious Oz Project’. In 2014, as an ambassador of Start-up Australia, he interviewed over 50 of Australia’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders. He is now founder and maestro of ‘Game of Inches’.
He has advised C-Suite executives, Ministers of Parliament and entrepreneurs in both public and private sectors. As an international speaker, he has presented his experience and expertise to organisations in myriad industries including IT, Franchise, Events, Marketing, Finance, Pharmaceuticals, Government and Telecommunications.

Having now spent over 20 years in business events (both on and off the stage) he understands the importance of not just being engaging, but delivering practical and lasting business benefits. As a speaker he is in demand both in Australia and overseas He is an alumni of the Disney Institute, a Ted-Xer, and author of two books with a third in production titled "Game of Inches’ When not speaking, working with clients, writing or riding his motorcycle he spends his time between Sydney and the rural mid north coast of NSW with his family.

Troy Haines 

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As the CEO of theSPACE Australasia, Troy has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, corporations and regions across Australia to develop and commercialise ideas. Amongst many awards, he was named Innovation Champion in 2014 by the Minister of Innovation and Premier of QLD. He was also inducted into the QLD Government Innovation Wall of Fame for his work in building the FNQ startup & innovation ecosystem. Troy was also the winner of the SEGRA 2015 challenge – “Building startup & Innovation Ecosystems in Regional Australia”.

Troy and the team at theSPACE have developed startup & innovation programs which they deliver across a wide audience, from high school students, SME’s to Government (and everyone in between).
As an entrepreneur Troy works with a team of 10 across 4 separate businesses, many of which have won individual awards.

Troy is considered a specialist in startup, innovation, innovation strategy, futurism and ecosystem development.

Greg Leslie

Greg Leslie has spent all of his working life in small business. He started his first enterprise, an auto electrical business, Leslie’s Auto in 1992 at the age of 24 and built this to be one of Australia’s largest auto electrical firms.

Greg moved into the franchise arena in 2005 when he purchased the Battery World franchise in Townsville after the financial collapse of the previous franchisee. Greg took the failed franchise from the worst performing store out of 110 to the number 1 store in the network in less than 20 months and has held this position for 10 consecutive years. He has been on the Battery World National Development Council for 9 years and has held the position of secretary for the past 7 years.

Greg is also involved with mentoring new franchisees and spending time with underperforming sites.
Greg has been a member of the board for the Townsville Business Development Centre for 5 years and held the Deputy Chair for 2 years.

Greg completed an MBA/MPA at James Cook University in 2008 and is the author of “Postcards from the Coalface, a Small Business Journey”. He resides in Townsville with his wife Sonya and five children including triplets.


Battery World Marketing Excellence- ’07, 09, ’12, ‘15
Battery World Highest Network Sales- 2007-2016
Battery World Community Recycler- ’09, ’10, ’11, ’14.
Battery World Franchise of the Year- ’08, ’15, ‘16
Battery World Network Leadership- ’15, ‘16
Battery World Hall of Fame- Inducted 2015

Caroline McManus

Carolyn is the Director of The McManus Group which operates six The Coffee Clubs, one Ribs and Rumps and an Italian pizzeria Donna Bionda.   She has built and grown her business in a challenging market with a consistent focus on people development and organisational structure. The McManus group employs over 200 people and Carolyn is recognised for her business leadership and people management strategies. 

She has lead her business through challenges such as shopping centre re developments, tourism development delays and downturn in markets. She is Chairperson of The Coffee Club's franchise Advisory Council and a board member of several not for profit and profit businesses.   She is a multi award winning franchisee with a passion for Multi Unit Franchising. Recognition includes The Coffee Club's Franchisee of the Year five times, Franchise Council of Australia QLD & National Winner Multi Unit Franchisee of the Year 2011, Franchise Council of Australia  QLD & National Winner Franchise Woman of the Year 2012.  Carolyn's is well regarded in the Franchising industry and her experience includes multi sites, multi brands and remote management.  

She is an engaging and generous speaker with a strong focus on people, leadership and balance.

Judy O'Connell

Victorian Small Business Commissioner

In December 2016, Judy O’Connell commenced as the Victorian Small Business Commissioner, where she advocates to make sure Victorian small businesses have a fair and competitive environment whilst running their business.

Judy also manages the quick, low cost dispute resolution service for small business.

Judy has had a long and distinguished career both nationally and internationally in roles with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and more recently with the Australian Taxation Office, as Assistant Commissioner for Small Business where she helped educate small businesses about paying their tax.

Judy comes from a family of small business owners and has a wealth of knowledge and experience working with the Victorian small business community.

Judy lists, as a highlight of her career, being posted to the OECD in Paris where she led the International Tax Dialogue.

"I am passionate about helping small business because I’ve lived and breathed it most of my life."

Mark Paddenburg 

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Mark has a demonstrated track record in creating value by connecting ideas, people, projects and capital. Mark was appointed CEO of the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast P/L (IC), in 2012 to assist entrepreneurs and innovators to develop and scale.

Since 2002, the IC has been home to over 200 startup and high growth companies (currently 56 members). As CEO Mark has introduced new Incubator/Accelerator Programs, the Annual Business Pitch 4 Investment Event, Innovator DemoDays and helped establish new initiatives for the region like Startup Weekends, Mentor Blaze and CoderDojo. Mark is Chair of the Health Panel (which has a strong business development and innovation focus).
In previous roles Mark has directly assisted a range startup ventures including Dascom (now owned by IBM), Quickbeds.com (now owned by Flight Centre), Firewire and Tracknology. Mark has also assisted a range of larger companies with their expansion plans, including Unisys, Digicel Pacific, Youi, Sandvik, ABB, Talisman Energy, IBM, Air AsiaX whilst Manager at Invest Queensland. Mark has worked in a range of senior business development roles in Australia, the UK and China (including Shell, Peregrine Capital, Office of Economic Development - City of Brisbane Ltd, Invest Queensland and Senior Business Policy Advisor, Premiers Department). Mark also played a key role in establishing the Smart State Strategy, Brisbane Creative Industries Strategy, Australia TradeCoast and the first www.ourBrisbane.com portal (in 1998).

Mark is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a member of the Sunshine Coast Business Council and was President of the Brisbane Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1995. Mark completed a Bachelor of Commerce Degree at Griffith University and Graduate Certificate in Management at the University of Queensland.
Mark is married, has two boys and enjoys contributing to initiatives that strengthen community social and economic infrastructure. The IC was awarded the Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards Organisation winner in 2017. Mark has also delivered a range of public presentations and contributed to published articles and blogs, including:

The Role of IC in the Regional Economy, Journal of Economic and Social Policy: http://epubs.scu.edu.au/jesp/vol17/iss2/6/

Queensland, Australia: a Born Leader: http://www.siteselection.com/issues/2011/may/queensland.cfm

The 2015 Australian Innovation System Report: http://www.industry.gov.au/Office-of-the-Chief-Economist/Publications/Documents/Australian-Innovation-System/Australian-Innovation-System-Report-2015.pdf

Top 10 tips for startups Nov2016: https://issuu.com/thinkbusinessmagazine/docs/fortune_institute_issuu/34

Innovation Connections Nov2016: http://www.thinkbusinessmagazine.com.au/business/the-connector/

Josh Rawnsley

Josh Rawnsley, Wealth Manager and Principal at Yellow Brick Road Kirwan, loves his local area because really, what’s not to enjoy? Combine the relaxed North Queensland lifestyle, with beautiful, natural surroundings, a family friendly atmosphere and gorgeous year-round weather. It’s the perfect place to holiday, and an even better place to call home.
Outside work, Josh’s main passion involves spending time with his wife and their two young boys, camping, fi shing andgenerally enjoying the great outdoors. Josh also enjoys kite surfi ng (when the weather permits!) and is quite active in the local community. He current serves as a member of Apex Club of Townsville; a charity that meets every fortnight and runs fundraising activities to assist people within the local area.

After starting his career in 2005 as a Customer Service Offi cer at Bank of Queensland, Josh has gained a keen insight and a wealth of experience in the Financial Services industry. Josh held various positions within Bank of Queensland while working his way up to Mobile Lending Manager, and also enjoyed a period with Suncorp to further his knowledge and increase his skills set.

Josh has always enjoyed a more personal approach to banking and fi nances, which was one of the main motivations behind joining Yellow Brick Road. Josh saw the opportunity to provide a greater range of services and products for both existing and potential clients, while helping them achieve their dreams through access to information and assistance unmatched by the corporate Banking environment.

Josh and his team at Yellow Brick Road Kirwan strongly believe in giving everyone a fair go, and an opportunity to succeed fi nancially. Whether your goal is a new home, new car, or a savings plan for the future, Josh and his team understand your goals and provide you with the highest level of customer service, industry knowledge and
assist you on the road towards fi nancial independence, helping you reach your goals sooner rather than later.

Monica Wulff

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Monica Wulff co-founded Startup Muster in 2013 after recognising a lack of insight and statistics about the Australian startup ecosystem. Upon graduating from Macquarie University with a Bachelor in Applied Finance and a Bachelor of Economics she joined the Australian Bureau of Statistics.Monica caught the startup bug after visiting a friend at their coworking space and has been actively contributing to the ecosystem ever since.

In 2015 Monica left the corporate world to take on the CEO role with Startup Muster full-time.