Thrive 2022 Speakers

CEO, LaunchVic

Dr Kate Cornick

Kate has been the CEO of LaunchVic, Victoria’s lead startup agency since 2016. She recently received the Global Policy Champion award at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) for her exceptional leadership in developing a broad set of policies to dramatically increase early-stage investment and help startups grow in Victoria. She is also a member of the Charles Sturt University Council and a Director of the auDA Board. Kate has previously founded a human resources technology startup, worked as Ministerial Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and worked at NBN Co. Kate has a PhD in optical telecommunications from the University of Melbourne.

CEO & Founder, Startup Genome

JF Gauthier

JF is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and the world’s leading expert in innovation ecosystem development, having advised more than 100 innovation ministries and agencies across 50 countries. He is an angel investor and has founded five businesses with two exits. He previously worked in corporate innovation advising some of the world’s largest tech companies.

Chair, The Alice Anderson Fund

Susan Oliver AM

As chair and non-executive director, Susan has been involved in the governance of global companies since 1996 including IFM Investors, Transurban Group, and the restructure of Centro Group. Susan's expertise is in rebuilding stakeholder trust and finding the potential in legacy assets, all whilst mapping a path for a company to succeed into an unknown future. Before joining boards Susan had a long career in technology and futures consulting, cumulating with leading the Commission for the Future for the Australian Government.

MD Runway

Linda Wong

Linda combines over 25 years of professional consultancy and industry experience, which has developed her into a well-rounded, dedicated and astute business woman.   Amongst Linda’s strengths is her ability to bring together the knowledge that she has collected over her career and adapt it to various cultures and circumstances in a non-confronting and engaging manner. With strong strategic thinking, she combines it with her broad experience in complex environments to execute and deliver outcomes. Her dedication to people and team work has often seen her leading large change programs to meet the vision and mission of organisations. She brings great drive and tenacity to programs requiring rigour and clear direction, but also provides a good mix of empathy and support.   In addition to being the MD at Runway HQ, Linda is the Chair at Hands of Change Limited, a charity she established in 2016. She is also completing her PhD studies at Deakin University, where she plans to submit her thesis by June 2023.   Linda’s three greatest passions have come together in her work and personal life – that is people, horses and learning.

CEO & Founder, GippsTech

Dr Elena Kelareva

Dr Elena Kelareva is the founder of GippsTech, an award-winning digital innovation consultancy with the mission of growing regional startup and tech ecosystems. Elena has a PhD in Computer Science from ANU and 15 years' experience in innovation, startups and technology, including at Google where she was the Product Manager for the Google Maps Web APIs. Elena worked with the 6 local councils in Gippsland to create Startup Gippsland, one of the largest regional startup programs ever to be run in Australia. She has been recognised for her work on building regional startup and tech communities by being selected as one of 3 finalists for the Regional Development Victoria Leadership & Innovation Award 2018, and a winner of the PauseFest SuperConnector award 2020.

MD, Startup Shakeup

Ilena Young

Ilena is a highly experienced, pragmatic and innovative thinker who is passionate about the potential in the communities of Regional Australia. In 2018 she became founding Chair of Startup Shakeup, collaboratively building an Innovation Ecosystem across North East Victoria, in 2021 she led the establishment of Startup Shakeup as an independent Not For Profit with full Board, and January 2022 she became inaugural CEO.

Researcher, Future of Work, Melbourne University

Dr Peter Ghin

Director and co-founder of management consultancy Cultural Value. Previously Lecturer in public management within the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne. Postgraduate subjects taught include: Executive Leadership & Management, and Innovative Design & Service Delivery. Professional with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in organisational behaviour, focussing on executive health and wellbeing. Experienced Director with a demonstrated history of working in the management consulting industry and in the public sector. Skilled in teaching, curriculum design, coaching, facilitation, leadership development, stakeholder management and project management.

Founder & CEO

Alex Sinickas

Alex, Milkdrop’s founder, struggled with pumping. In the days, weeks and months that followed the birth of her daughter, Alex began to realise she was not alone. There are many, many women who share her problem. Being an engineer, Alex founded Milkdrop to find ways pumping could be easier, more enjoyable and empowering for women.

Founder & CEO, Ripe Robotics

Hunter Jay

Hunter Jay is the co-founder and CEO of Ripe Robotics, a startup working on autonomous harvesting of fruit. Hunter has a varied and technical background, with experience as a software engineer focused on artificial intelligence.

Founder & CEO Invest Inya Farmer

Nathan MacPhee

Nathan is the founder of IIF, a start-up that enables anyone to invest in agriculture without owning a farm. His background has primarily been within the financial services industry in Australia and abroad. Nathan had the opportunity to be CEO of three organisations, each at different stages and operating in different market segments.

Founder & CEO

Aiman Hamdouna

With over a decade of experience in business and innovation globally, Aiman is on the mission to empower and enable individuals, communities, organisations and the public sector to solve problems, achieve objectives and connect globally. Aiman has been dedicated to the growth of the technology startup ecosystem in Australia and has founded the first collaborative community for International Entrepreneurs to help new Australians integrate through startup and innovation in Melbourne.

Project Lead-Industry Facilitator & Events | Regions & Partnerships, Sustainability Victoria

Emma Forster

Emma is passionate about driving projects, collaboration and open, inclusive innovation. She has a diverse background spanning creative, tech and innovation ecosystems and is intent on using this varied experience to improve outcomes for people, place and planet. Across her professional career Emma has established and executed hundreds of programs, events and activations to engage, support and grow the startup and innovation ecosystem in Melbourne. Most recently posted at the City of Melbourne in an economic development role, Emma applies open innovation as a platform to engage citizens in solving some of our biggest challenges.

Community Programs Lead, LaunchVic

Josh Lipscombe

I have been involved in building community programs in Victoria for the better part of the last decade. In my current role with LaunchVic, where my role is to empower startups and scaleups across Victoria, connecting them with the people and knowledge who will enable their success. I have presented at local and international events on building communities and am passionate about supporting regional entrepreneurship and purpose-driven businesses.

Co-CEO, Scale Investors

Samar McHeileh

Samar is the current co-CEO at Scale Investors after joining the business in early 2019. Samar has over 12 years of financial services experience having worked across a range of executive roles at JBWere including Operations, a $150m transformation project, Markets Desk and Chief of Staff. Samar has also worked in London for a Hedge Fund Publication and started her career inLogistics exporting scrap metal to S.E. Asia. Samar is an active participant in the Australian early stage ecosystem and was part of the first 100 women Startmate Fellowship in Spring 2020.

Co-founder, Birchal

Matt Vitale

Matt is Co-Founder of Birchal, Australia's leading equity crowdfunding platform. Matt is an experienced financial services lawyer and entrepreneur having worked in private practice at a top tier law firm, and founded several successful businesses. A recognised expert in the regulation of financial services, and crowdfunding, Matt is a regular media commentator and contributes to scholarly journals and industry consultations.

Chief of Staff

Phoebe Pincus

Phoebe is the Chief of Staff at Startmate, responsible for amplifying the impact of Startmate's team and community. Her role involves working on engagement and infrastructure, streamlining systems and breaking down silos to build a cohesive internal community.