Ignite MNC Speakers

Meet the Ignite MNC 2019 Speakers

Steve Sammartino

Australia's leading futurist, and keynote speaker.
Steve starting coding at age 10 and had his first startup by age 12. He has since built and sold a number of businesses. As a futurist, he’s ahead of his time. He launched one of the first Sharing Economy Startups – Rentoid.com in 2006. Respected global business media including Forbes, Fast Company and TechCrunch credited it as the start of the sharing economy movement giving birth to Uber and Airbnb. Steve later sold it to a publicly traded company in Australia.

Pat Conaghan Federal Member for Cowper, NSW, The Nationals. Official Portrait. Parliament House Canberra . 25th June 2019. 20190185. Image David Foote - AUSPIC/DPS. 46th Parliament

Patrick Conaghan MP

Pat is the Federal Member for Cowper. He was elected on 18 May 2019. Born and raised in Kempsey, Pat was a police officer for 12 years, followed by a further 18 years practising law before taking up a role in politics. Pat is passionate about representing not just the regional cities but the smaller townships and communities in between. Pat recognises that representation for the communities is not only about jobs, infrastructure and growth, but also that there are many who are less fortunate and who need a hand.

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Paul Pellier

Paul is an education professional and in 2010 established a registered training organisation that delivers accredited in-house and online courses to government, defence, private enterprise and individuals across Australia and internationally. The business has been based on the mid north coast since 2012 under the name SAVE Training and has recently been re-branded as Accellier. Paul is an energetic and engaging public speaker and in his free time Paul can be found playing in rock bands, hiking the mountains of Dorrigo or riding his motorcycle.

Anwaar Ul-Haq

Dr Anwaar Ul-Haq

Dr Anwaar Ulhaq is serving as a lecturer in School of Computing and Mathematics, Charles Sturt University. Anwaar holds PhD in the filed of Artificial Intelligence from Monash University, Australia. He won Vice Chancellor research fellowship in 2018 at Institute for Sustainable Industries & Liveable Cities, Victoria University, and Teaching Excellence Award at CSU in 2018. His research work in applied robotics and Energy systems is covered by ABC News and other national media. His research interests include applications of artificial intelligence in aged care, robotics and ecology.

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Andrew Lord

Founder of Blueprint Life Coaching and Blueprint Life Academy, he is dedicated to maximising the human experience through his training programs and personal coaching. Andrew is an entrepreneur and award-winning thought leader in the world of education. He has developed a range of personal growth programs for organisations including; TAFE, Mid-Coast Connect, Department of Education & Communities and The Green Room. His innovative coaching and courses push the traditional boundaries of what is possible for young people and enhance motivation, self-confidence, academic performance and personal happiness. Andrew is a proud supporter of the Ignite MNC Symposium and loves empowering entrepreneurs, educators and families to discover their true potential and live their maximised life.


Mariane Power

A former theatre-maker turned psychologist, Mariane is obsessed with the question of what makes for a meaningful life. Her curiosity, compassion and commitment toward human potential sees her empowering people to craft personal narratives of strength and courage, and set action plans that generate personal and global impact. She proudly applies her purpose-driven business philosophy as Co-Director of The Posify Group, and serves as a board member for a number of not-for-profits working to amplify their impact. Mariane's 2030 vision is for a world that flourishes through human compassion, courage and connection.

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Scotty Schindler

At its core, Scott’s career is a story of creativity, hard work, and a love of Australian life. As CEO of ReNet, Scott has presided over the growth of a start up business that began in 2000 with just 1 single property listing advertised. On Scotts’ retirement in 2017 ReNet managed 900,000+ properties and $1.125 Trillion Dollars ($1,125,771,059,045) in real estate across Australia and New Zealand by 5,000+ real estate offices and some 11,000+ real estate sales people.

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Sam Byrne

Sam assists people to set up, develop, manage, govern and even close co-operative enterprises in all sectors of the economy and society. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a Masters of Management (Community/Not-for-profit) from the University of Technology Sydney. His diverse experience includes 25 years in co-operatives, 10 years as a director of a mid-sized superannuation fund, 9 years as a local Councillor and Mayor, and several years as a consultant in the community sector.


Dr Kim Houghton

Dr Kim Houghton is the co-CEO of the Regional Australia Institute and leads the think tank’s policy and research work.  Kim was previously the Institute’s General Manager Policy and Research, and in both these roles works to ensure the Institute’s work has practical application and supports a better policy environment and more vibrant regional economies. Having worked on regional economic development in Australia for almost 20 years, Kim has a passion for engaging, motivating, informing and connecting regional leaders from business, community and government.


Dr. Sabih Rehman

Dr Sabih Rehman works as an academic and researcher within the School of Computing and Mathematics at Charles Sturt University, Australia. Sabih’s earlier research was in the emerging area of autonomous vehicles for which he was granted Ph.D in Computing. Sabih’s present research is focused on the emerging areas of Internet of Things (IoT) especially in the domains of Intelligent Transport Systems, Smart Architectures, E-Health and Precision Agriculture with the aim to positively influence social, economic and environmental sustainability of communities in Australia via digitally enabled solutions. Currently he is exploring the use of innovative technological solutions such as robots and other gadgets to reduce social isolation among elderly population in aged care environments.

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Owen Lednor

In 2015 Owen studied his Bachelor of Nursing at Southern Cross University in Coffs Harbour having moved from small town Wingham on the Mid-North Coast. Owen found his passion working for a company that aligned with his values- NVC Group, a not-for-profit, community owned, aged care provider. Starting in their new graduate program, Owen rapidly progressed. In 2019 Owen took up the role of Quality and Education Coordinator, working across the organisation to up-skill the workforce and ensure quality care delivery via system adaption and improvement.


Jenna O'Connell

Jenna is a pragmatic optimist who loves using creativity, curiosity and play to guide people towards their potential so that, together, we can drive positive impact towards a thriving future. A proud multi-potentialite, her current suite of ‘work hats’ includes Co-Director of The Posify Group, educator, and career coach. In her 2030 world, every child has access to quality education, no-one lives in extreme poverty, suicide is only talked about as a part of our history, and impact at work is the new norm.

More Speaker information coming soon!


Zoe Eather

Zoe is an engineer and a millennial with a passion for Smart Communities, Smart Cities and Smart Regions, so not just in the big cities, but using technology and Smart ways of thinking as enablers to make the places we live more accessible, liveable and sustainable for all.  Zoe keeps up-to-date with the latest trends and shares her learnings through hosting The Smart Community Podcast and has recently returned from a Winston Churchill Fellowship researching Smart Mobility in 10 countries around the world.

Peter Auhl

Peter Auhl

Peter is the 2019 Digital Innovator of the Year, 2017 CIO of the Year and sits at number 6 on the CIO50 list. He led the Ten Gigabit Adelaide project at the City of Adelaide from concept to implementation. The successful delivery of the project is of global significance and has had an immediate and palpable impact on the Adelaide economy. In 2016, Peter finished in the top 5 CIO’s in AsiaPAC and received personal feedback for his disruptive innovation from Steve Wozniak and Sir Richard Branson. Peter is passionate about using telecommunications infrastructure, Enterprise Architecture and Human Centered Design to create agility in Government in a sustainable way. He is a thought-leader in new innovative approaches that deliver customer outcomes.

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Mark Almond

Mark Almond holds the Employer Liaison role as part of strategic engagement for the Australian Government Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business since January 2017. Working in the public sector, Marks work has focused on supporting business on the ‘demand side’ of the labour market. In the private sector Mark has many different roles including: HR Manager for a multi-disciplined Engineering Consultancy that included professional labour hire services, a manufacturing jeweller, a computer programmer / network administrator and a trades assistant to boiler makers and welders on site shutdowns.


Fiona Barden

Fiona Barden brings personal and learned business experience to her role in Coffs Harbour City Council, where she leads a team who look after economic development and destination marketing.  She is passionate about driving opportunity for her community to ensure sustainable growth.  Fiona has worked in private and small business, running a business with her husband for 12 years in Coffs Harbour before moving to working with small businesses on the Coffs Coast.  Her role at Council sees her working with a variety of industry partners, understanding the needs of business within the community and advocating for development and opportunity.

Dennis Christensen

Dennis Christensen

Dennis currently works as a Business Liaison Officer with MidCoast Council as part of their Economic Development Team. MidCoast Council covers a 10000 square km area and has 196 towns, villages and localities within the local government area. Previous to this, Dennis has had success in real estate, retail, trade and management roles. His favourite and most memorable role before his current one was as a store manager in Gapuwyak, located in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. The store had 34 staff, all are Yolgnu indigenous people and English is not their first language. It was a fantastic time for Dennis, learning the indigenous culture and language of the area. During this time Dennis developed a huge regard for community well-being, engagement and its value to retail sectors within town centres.

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Chris Simon

Born and bred on the Mid North Coast, Chris is passionate about working with local communities and industries through the provision of technology and connectivity. Chris has worked within utilities and telecommunications for over 10 years, managing renewable energy and demand reduction projects across multiple industries along with orchestrating connectivity solutions that assist to remove barriers of conducting business regionally. In his current role as General Manager Optus North West and Mid North Coast, Chris relishes the opportunity to provide genuine choice for regional Australia when it comes to connectivity and being able to provide localised presence.

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