Presenter Information

More presenter bios will be added daily. Visit the registration page for the full list of workshops and presenters.

Day One, December 4 - Online

Dr Deirdre Hughes, OBE (Day 1 – Keynote)

Dr Deirdre Hughes is a policy adviser, academic researcher/writer, trainer and freelance consultant specialising in the impact of careers, employment and skills policies to support the development of jobs and growth.

She is a Principal Research Fellow at Warwick University’s Institute for Employment Research and an Associate at the Centre for Educational Sociology, Edinburgh University. Deirdre was awarded an OBE in 2012 in recognition of her services to career guidance.

Nikki Lawrence (Day 1 – Presentation 1)

Chief Executive, Careers Wales

Nikki is the Chief Executive of Careers Wales, a role she has held since 2019.
With a background as a qualified accountant (ACMA), Nikki's career has spanned the NHS and senior positions in the manufacturing and construction sectors. Her extensive experience in both private and public sector has equipped her with a wealth of understanding about modern business needs. Nikki's influence extends beyond her executive responsibilities. She also serves as a non-executive Board member of the Career Development Institute, the leading UK professional body in career development. Within Careers Wales, Nikki's leadership has included the overseeing of key corporate functions including finance, HR, IT, quality assurance, and strategic planning.

Chris Percy (Day 1 – Presentation 2)

Visiting Research Fellow, University of Derby (UK)

Chris Percy is a London-based data scientist and strategy consultant working mainly on career trajectories, school-to-work transitions, explainable AI, and economic development. Chris has worked with the OECD, the ILO, the World Bank, and government organisations in eight nations. Public-facing work includes presenting on career trajectories in a primetime three-part TV documentary (called “When I Grow Up”), developing a chatbot to support career guidance (CiCi), and exploring the future of maths education for the Royal Society.

Sareena Hopkins (Day 1 – Presentation 3)

Executive Director, Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF)

As Executive Director of the Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF), Sareena works in Canada and internationally to strengthen the reach and impact of career development. With her team at CCDF, she moves from ideas to action in areas of public policy, research and development, capacity building and advocacy. Sareena chairs the International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy, is an International NICEC Fellow and was awarded the International Gold Medal for Leadership in Career Development.

Professor Jaana Kettunen (Day 1 – Presentation 4)

Professor and Vice-director, IAEVG President Finnish Institute for Educational Research

Dr. Jaana Kettunen is Professor of Guidance and Vice-director at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research (FIER) of the University of Jyväskylä. Her work focuses on lifelong guidance practices, practitioner training, quality, strategic leadership and policy development in career services at the regional, national, and global levels. Her research that has a strong international orientation, revolves around career guidance practice and public policy development with a special interest on the design and use of information and communication technology in career guidance. Her work is both theoretical and practical.

Ruby Toh (Day 1 – Presentation 5)

Principal Researcher, Institute for Adult Learning Singapore

Ruby Toh is Principal Researcher at the Institute for Adult Learning, an autonomous institute of Singapore University of Social Sciences. She leads research studies in the area of career and employment. Her current research interests are in adult learning, employability, employment facilitation, labour mobility, workplace mistreatment, and wellbeing. She has a Ph.D. in Economics from National University of Singapore.

Esther Doyle (Day 1 – Presentation 6)

Senior Inspector (Guidance), Department of Education - Ireland

Esther was a member of the Department’s Indecon Task Force which was formed following publication of the Indecon review of career guidance in 2019. Esther was then assigned to the Curriculum, Assessment and Policy Unit with specific responsibility for Guidance policy for three years during a time of significant change in Guidance in Ireland. A lot of Esther’s work was focussed on the reorganisation and strengthening of guidance support to schools. Esther represents the Department of Education on a number of national and international committees focused on Guidance, inclusion, disability, ethics and standards in education. Prior to joining the Inspectorate Esther was an Assistant Principal and worked as a post-primary guidance counsellor and as a teacher in a variety of education and training settings including a long period in a disadvantaged school. Promoting high quality Guidance in schools and greater inclusion in education continue to be priorities for Esther and areas of research interest to her.

Dr Carol Guildea (Day 1 – Presentation 6)

Guidance Specialist (Assistant Principal Officer), Guidance Unit, Department of Education - Ireland

Carol has twelve years of experience as a Guidance Counsellor in a variety of post-primary school settings. She has also undertaken numerous additional roles during her eighteen years of practice in the wider education sector. During her time working with the National Centre for Guidance in Education as Guidance Programme Coordinator (2019-2022), Carol coordinated and delivered a comprehensive programme of support for schools and contributed directly to the development of post-primary Guidance policy. In 2021 Carol completed her PhD on stakeholder perspectives and assessment in second level education. She has co-authored and published two books to support students and parents as they navigate the Irish education system. Carol holds a BA (Sociology and German), MEd (Specialisation in Guidance Counselling), GDEd (German and CSPE) and a PhD (Education Policy and Practice). She is also a Guidance Counselling Supervisor. 

Day 2, December 5 - The University of Melbourne

Dr Mary McMahon (Day 2 – Keynote Speaker)

Honorary Associate Professor at The University of Queensland, School of Education

Mary is a developer and co-author of the Systems Theory Framework of career development. She researches and publishes on career development across the lifespan, narrative and systems approaches to career counselling, and qualitative career assessment. Mary received the 2020 European Society for Vocational Designing and Career Counseling award for distinguished contributions to vocational designing and career counselling and the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asia Pacific Career Development Association.

Teresa Tjia (Day 2 – Workshop 1)


Teresa Tjia brings over 30 years diverse leadership experiences in tertiary education and community and philanthropic organisations, informed by her lived experience as a migrant woman. Teresa is the inaugural Chief Executive Offcer (CEO) of the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC). Teresa’s expertise spans organisational transformations, strategy development and implementation, service design and delivery, digitisation, data and insights, governance and crisis and risk management. As Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education, Teresa co-authors papers on current higher education issues.

David Carney (Day 2 – Workshop 2)

Executive Director, Career Industry Council of Australia

David currently holds the position of Executive Director at the Career Industry Council of Australia. With over two decades of experience in the field of career development, he has garnered national and international recognition for his profound knowledge and expertise within the profession. David is deeply committed to supporting and contributing to endeavours aimed at improving the quality and accessibility of career development services across Australia. His contributions encompass the establishment of professional standards, quality frameworks, online services, practitioner registration, workforce career development, and various national initiatives in the field of career development.

Furthermore, David actively participates as a member and contributor to a diverse array of government and corporate consultative and advisory bodies that focus on career development, employment, skills, training, and workforce development. Notably, he serves as a member of the Australian Government National Careers Institute Advisory Board and has recently assumed a position on the Board of the International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy. His areas of expertise encompass career development, employment, skills and training, and workforce development.

Sue Asimoudis (Day 2 – Workshop 3)

Transition Coordinator, Noble Park English Language School

Sue Asimoudis and Danielle Wightman are Leading teachers and Transition Coordinators at Noble Park English Language School. They are highly experienced and have worked in the New Arrival program at NPELS for many years and have recently completed the Graduate Certificate in Careers Education and Development. Sue and Danielle work consistently to ensure that students have a successful transition to mainstream schools and further educational settings once they complete their intensive English Language program at NPELS.​

Warren Frehse (Day 2 – Workshop 4)

Senior Advisor - Careers and Employability, The University of Melbourne

Warren Frehse is a senior advisor in careers and employability at The University of Melbourne. He is a professional member of the Career Development Association Australia and Australian Psychological Society.

Warren had extensive experience in human resources across multi-sectors prior to joining higher education. He has worked in career transition and outplacement and is author of "Manage Your Own Career: Reinvent Your Job; Reinvent Yourself".

He is a member of the award panel committee for The Australian Career Book Award supported by The Royal Society of Arts Oceania.

He has also appeared in various publications including The Australian Financial Review and The Age as a workplace and careers commentator.

Luke Ridgwell (Day 2 – Workshop 4)

Future Students Coordinator, Deakin University

After completing a Bachelor of Commerce in 2007, Luke has spent the past 16 years at Deakin University in a variety of Faculty, Student Selection, Recruitment and Marketing Roles. Luke is currently a Coordinator in the Future Students Engagement team, where he works closely with a variety of areas of the University, including Deakin Talent - the Graduate Employment Division. 

Erika Munoz (Day 2 – Workshop 6)

Student Recruitment Coordinator (Vocational Education), RMIT University

Erika Munoz is a Student Recruitment Specialist at RMIT University with over six years of experience in the tertiary education sector. She possesses a wealth of knowledge in pathways and collaborates closely with the College of Vocational Education, helping students chart their educational journey and find the right fit for their academic and career aspirations.

Alex Lloyd (Day 2 – Workshop 6)

Team Leader - Swinburne University of Technology

Alex Lloyd is currently Team Leader of Schools Recruitment at Swinburne University of Technology. Alex has over ten years' experience in Future Students leadership roles in both the University and TAFE sector and has led the evolution of Swinburne's non-ATAR Early Entry Program since its launch in 2020.

Bernadette Gigliotti (Day 2 – Workshop 7)

Senior Executive Officer, Australian Centre for Career Education

Bernadette Gigliotti is the Senior Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for Career Education (ACCE). Over a period of twenty years, she has been instrumental in shaping the professionalisation of the career industry. Bernadette’s work on the national peak industry body the Career Industry Council of Australia (CICA) has been central to the development of the Australian Professional Standards for Career Development Practitioners. In 2006, as President of CICA, Bernadette launched the Professional Standards for Australian Career Development Practitioners. This groundbreaking work was acknowledged by international career development associations as leading the world in quality careers services. In 2010, Bernadette was the lead developer on the first Victorian Careers Curriculum Framework and the Career Development Quality Benchmarks for good practice. Her work in careers practice has been extensive. She has published textbooks, articles and submissions focused on improving the engagement of Australians with their life formation through career development practices.

Kristy Lillyst (Day 2 – Workshop 7)

Aboriginal Liason Officer, Australian Centre for Career Education

Kristy is a proud Gunditjmara woman who lives and works in Melbourne. She has more than 20 years' experience in education, working within the catholic, government and tertiary sectors. Her key work focus is in service provision, with a major focus on Koorie education and student outcomes. She is a professional Career Practitioner currently working with ACCE as the Aboriginal Liaison Officer with My Career Insights, and as a trainer in the First Nations Career training through the CEAV Institute.

Ray Boyapati (Day 2 – Workshop 8)

Gastroenterologist, MedEntry UCAT Prep & Monash Health

Ray is a practicing gastroenterologist at Monash Health and adjunct senior lecturer at Monash University. Ray has a specialised interest in the inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. He has numerous publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has spoken at a number of conferences in Australia and abroad. He is also the founder & managing director of MedEntry, an educational organisation helping the students of today become the doctors of tomorrow in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Jennifer Barfield (Day 2 – Workshop 10)

Jennifer recently was involved in the Jobs Victoria Career Counselling Service as a qualified Career Counsellor, specialising in Veterans and Defence Family member career transition support. Jennifer has significant experience working in the military sector and has been involved in the military community since 2006. Jennifer has extensive lived experience as a former military spouse, and professionally, supporting military members and the veteran community through transitions, both with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the British Army (in the UK and Germany).

Annette Travers (Day 2 – Workshop 11)

Online Youth Career Consultant, Orygen

Annette has over 40 years’ experience working across a variety of educational institutions as a leading teacher and Careers practitioner. She also has experience working in a variety of community organisations as an educator and social worker. As a past Vice President of the Victorian Association of TESOL & Multicultural Education (VATME) Annette’s work has always had a strong focus on supporting migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. She holds qualifications in Education, Social Work, IT and Media.

Tania Sacco (Day 2 – Workshop 11)

National Manager - MOST Career Programs, Orygen

Tania supervises a team of online youth career consultants across East coast Australia delivering digital career support to young people with mental ill health, through Orygen’s Moderated Online Social Therapy platform. Tania has over 20 years’ experience working across education, training and career transitions in secondary schools, international language centres, community training organisations and a university setting. She holds qualifications in education, training, community management and career development. This experience is complimented by Tania’s work with industry associations in public relations and education management roles.

Tania is passionate about developing youth career support and training programs, to provide young people with individualised tools and build self-efficacy to plan, work towards or achieve education and employment goals. But most importantly, to build their lifelong learning and career management skills.

Ashley Beeby (Day 2 – Workshop 12)

VET Champion - Diesel Mechanic

Apprentice Pathway Lead, Kinetic

Ashley’s career journey illustrates the power of school-industry partnerships. With no family background in mechanics and no initial interest in cars, she reluctantly attended work experience at a heavy vehicle workshop during year 10. To her surprise, she discovered a passion for this field. So, despite performing in the top 5% of the state in her year 12 exams, Ashley pursued an apprenticeship as a Heavy Vehicle Diesel Mechanic. Now, as a VET Champion for the Department of Education, she advocates for the potential of VET Pathways and trade careers, even where they’re least considered.

Trevor Black (Day 2 – Workshop 13)

Career Practitioner, Carey Baptist Grammar School

Trevor has been involved in education for over 30 years and has been involved in careers education for the past 10 years. Based at Carey Baptist
Grammar School in Melbourne, he is the President of the Committee of Management of Australian Centre for Career Education (ACCE) and is a board member of the Careers Industry Council of Australia.

Catherine McKenzie (Day 2 – Workshop 14)

Manager Career Hub, MEGT Australia Ltd

Experienced Career Advisor with a history of working in the human resources industry, with almost 15 years' experience in The Australian Apprenticeships sector. Skilled in Coaching, Performance Management, Employee Engagement, Stakeholder Management, and Team Leadership. Strong community and social services professional with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics & Commerce from the University of Melbourne, Certificate IV in Career Development and Associate Membership with the Australian Centre for Career Education.

Johanna Apostolopoulos (Day 2 – Workshop 14)

Career & Recruitment Consultant Team Leader, MEGT Australia Ltd

Johanna is a passionate Career Development Practitioner and Youth Worker, with over 15yrs experience working in the Education and Australian Apprenticeships sector. Johanna's practice is underpinned by a client-centred focus that positions the client as the expert and driver of their own journey, and is committed to building meaningful relationships with clients and meeting them at their unique stage of career development.

Abigail Storer (Day 2 – Workshop 15)

Practice Lead, Practice Team in Youth Transitions, Brotherhood of St Laurence

Abbie Storer is a qualified classroom teacher with a background in social work and youth work. She is passionate about education and professional development. Abbie works in the Practice Team facilitating workshops, delivering training and developing resources to support an Advantaged Thinking and coaching approach to practice across BSL’s youth programs and partner organisations. She champions Youth Involvement and works closely with Youth Advisors to grow and embed youth participation practices at the BSL and beyond.

Catherine Newington (Day 2 – Workshop 16)

ICT Educator Specialist, Australian Computer Society

Catherine Newington is the ICT Educator Specialist at Australian Computer Society - ACS. ACS is the professional association and trusted leader in the tech sector. It brings together technology professionals from across business, government an education and equip them with the right skills and knowledge to power Australia now and in future. Catherine leads the ACS national program to support schools to implement the Digital Technologies Curriculum. Working with schools she creates resources that target the curriculum and support content knowledge growth. She holds a postgraduate degree specialising in Education Technologies, deepening her knowledge of how pedagogical practices influence the potential of technology in education.

Natasha Boyko (Day 2 – Workshop 17)

Careers Manager, Greater Shepparton Secondary College

As Greater Shepparton Secondary College’s Careers Manager, Tarsh oversees the careers program at our college. This includes managing our careers team, coordinating subject selection and change of preference, organising training for students, delivering professional development to staff, ensuring a careers focus is present across the College through relevant curriculum delivery and specialised programs, coordinating, developing and delivering the weekly Pathways Mentor Program, careers counselling and loads more!

Tarsh was born and raised in Melbourne, studied Public Relations at RMIT and worked in a variety of PR roles before moving to Indonesia (Bali). Here she kept busy volunteering, acting as an unofficial tour guide and playing lots of tennis! Tarsh returned to Australia in 2001 and moved to the Goulburn Valley where she worked at Shepparton News in a predominately public relations role. Tarsh completed a Graduate Diploma Education in 2011 and then commenced teaching at Wanganui Park Secondary College until the four schools merged in 2020. In 2019 Tarsh obtained my Graduate Certificate in Careers Development Practice and has worked in the Careers Team in some capacity since then, commencing as Careers Manager in 2022 when they relocated to our College’s new site.

Mary-Ann Linehan (Day 2 – Workshop 17)

Partnerships Manager/Career Practitioner, Greater Shepparton Secondary College

Mary-Ann Linehan Partnership Manager and Career Practitioner of Greater Shepparton Secondary College. Mary-Ann has been employed in education for the past 20 years after a long history in retail and owning a building company with her husband. Mary-Ann began her education employment journey as an interpreter for the deaf at Shepparton High School. She worked her way over to the careers space completing both the Certificate IV in Career Development and the Graduate Certificate in Career Practice with the CEAV Institute. Community has been a large part of Mary-Ann's life journey being an avid volunteer over the years with football /netball clubs, hospice, Shepparton and District Careers Association and completing the Fairley Leadership program which has enabled her to have a large network to connect business and community to GSSC. Mary-Ann loves to travel, cook, and sew, and is known for her mean sponge. She has two adult children who when teenagers would not listen to her career advice! She is now working in what she regards as the “DREAM TEAM” at Greater Shepparton Secondary College.

Craig Robertson (Day 2 – Workshop 19, Day 3 - Keynote & Industry Panel)

CEO, Victorian Skills Authority

Craig Robertson is the CEO of the Victorian Skills Authority. The authority is tasked by the Victorian Government to plan for post school education and training to support a growing economy and good jobs for Victorians.

Previously, Craig was the CEO of TAFE Directors Australia, representing the TAFE model nationally and internationally. Craig has worked for over 30 years with the Commonwealth Government in areas of school funding, employment policy and most aspects of tertiary education and in 2015 and 2016 worked in the Victorian Government. Craig holds an Executive Masters in Public Administration and Bachelor of Education (Primary).

Tim Marchant (Day 2 – Workshop 20)

Director Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI)

Professor Tim Marchant is Director of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute at the University of Melbourne, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Wollongong. During his career at the University of Wollongong, Tim was Head of the School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics 2007-2009 and Dean of Research 2009-2020. He has undertaken senior leadership roles within the Mathematical Sciences, including President of the Australian Mathematical Society, Chair of ANZIAM and Director of the Mathematics in Industry Study Group. Tim has also had a range of external leadership roles, having twice been an executive member of the Council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies and a member of the Endeavour Awards and National Colombo Plan selection panels.

Chris Smith (Day 2 – Workshop 22, Day 3 – Industry Panel)

Co-Founder & CEO, BIGR AI

A 15-year veteran in the games, esports & influencer industry, Chris has experience working on global & local campaigns and spent time years ago competing as a semi-professional gamer. Last year he ran the world’s largest virtual reality esports event in Miami. With 40,000 LinkedIn followers and having spent the past 5 years scaling his own strategic marketing agency, Chris is currently developing an AI company that will automate social media marketing for small to medium businesses.

Samantha Jackson (Day 2 – Workshop 24)

Education Outreach Manager, EducationUSA - U.S. Consulate

I attended Northern Illinois University in the USA on a golf scholarship on a NCAA division I team where I completed my bachelor’s in science. After this great experience, I then completed my Master of Education at the same institution before returning to Australia. My career path has been within the events and education industries. Roles have included the following sectors: private, membership-based organizations, secondary and tertiary education. My vast international student knowledge has developed from my personal experiences and working at Victoria University for over 15 years, predominantly within the international student portfolio. Roles included study abroad and student exchange, marketing recruitment, and manager of international student support before working briefly in the secondary school and event industry sectors.

I commenced my role as Education USA Coordinator in July 2016 and love it! I enjoy empowering students who aspire to study at a U.S college in following their academic or student-athletic dreams. I feel privileged to support career practitioners, school staff in Australia who are the cornerstone in supporting and encouraging students to chase their dreams whilst working closely with US college staff.

Day 3, December 6 - The University of Melbourne

Tim Edwards (Day 3 – Masterclass 2)

VP, Strategic Partnerships, LifeJourney

Tim Edwards is the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for LifeJourney International, joining the organisation in 2016. His primary focus is working with corporate, university and government partners to develop innovative programs that inspire the next generation to pursue careers in STEM. Tim is passionate about helping students understand STEM career pathways. Tim serves as the Project Manager for the Australian Signals Directorate CyberEXP program. Tim previously served as Chief Program Officer at STEMconnector, a US based consortium of companies, universities, non-profit organizations and government entities committed to furthering the STEM movement. Tim’s first real job was as a Community Health & Economic Development volunteer with the US Peace Corps in Uganda.

David Payne (Day 3 – Masterclass 5)

STEAM Educator, Banyule Nillumbik Tech School

David has been a Carpenter and Joiner in the Australian Defence Force, Exhibiting photo media and sculpture artist, Director of photography in music, arts and advertising, and completed a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master of Teaching at Monash University. David is a secondary school classroom Art, Design and Technology teacher, most recently at Templestowe College. David is a passionate globetrotter with an insatiable thirst for adventure. Having explored the breathtaking landscapes and cities of Europe and North America extensively, their wanderlust-driven soul embraces the thrill of travel searching for their next transformative journey.