Conversations with The Academy
A series of candid conversations with leading Industry and Community organisations on a range of critical and topical issues. Gain valuable insights on getting ahead professionally with topics such as Networking with Impact and Discovering the ideas, trends and technologies shaping our future. Enrich your cultural awareness, discover things you never knew about our First Peoples, and hear some first-hand experiences of Refugees living in Australia.
Career Change Catalysts and Caring
Conversations With Janice Stokes
Janice Stokes shares the story of her career journey which saw her move from the finance sector into community services, as a result of a significant ‘ah-ha’ moment. Referring to the changes in demand for services at Vinnies and adaptations within the organisation, Janice also provides her insights on the social impact of the pandemic generally, and the effects on mental health of individuals now and how they may look in the future.
Janice works with the St Vincent de Paul Society in the role of Community Engagement Manager within Sydney Metropolitan Region. Janice is also a Vinnies Member, engaging with her local community and the Matthew Talbot Hostel community.
Her role within Vinnies is to support the Members who give up their time to provide “a hand up” to those in need, and also to work with Community Organisations in identifying areas of need and implementing programs to address that need.
Before joining Vinnies, Janice worked with the Westpac Foundation for a year in a secondment role, learning more about the Community Services sector. Her previous roles had been within the Finance and Insurance Industries, working as a project manager and programme manager with the Information Technology division.
Janice feels very fortunate to have found her sense of purpose through time spent volunteering with First Nations’ organisations, which was her ‘ah-ha’ moment and the reason for her career change to Community Services.
Covid, Contacts and Communication
A conversation with Dr Kate McBride
Dr Kate McBride speaks about her first hand experience with NSW's response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Kate discusses her observations of the impact of information on people's behaviour during this time and provides details on contact tracing and how this strategy was implemented.
Dr Kate McBride
Dr Kate McBride is a Senior Lecturer in Population Health at Western. She is an epidemiologist with broad expertise in public health. In relation to COVID-19 specifically, Kate is focussing on the 'infodemic' and how this may affect people's behaviours around COVID-19 including how they access healthcare and robust information sources.
Kate has also recently co-led the development of a case investigator for COVID-19 training programme and is fully conversant with the Australian context in the light of international COVID-19 situations.
A Conversation with Tanya Hosch
This Conversation explores systemic racism, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, Gender Equality, Sexuality and Gender Diversity and more. Learn about how and when to speak up, what to know when advocating for a cause that you believe in.
Executive General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy at the Australian Football League, 2021 South Australian – Australian of the Year
Ms Hosch has a long and distinguished history in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy, advocacy, governance and is an accomplished public speaker.
Before joining the AFL as the first ever Indigenous person and 2rd woman in their Executive ranks in August 2016, Tanya was the Joint Campaign director of the Recognise movement for constitutional recognition.
At the AFL Tanya’s portfolios include – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, Gender Equality, Sexuality and Gender Diversity, racism and sexism. Tanya is tasked with the implementation of the AFL’s enhanced Indigenous strategy, advising the AFL National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council, maintenance of the Respect and Responsibility Policy, 2017, the AFL’s Gender Action Plan and the Gender Diversity Policy.
Tanya is a Co-Chair of the Indigenous Advisory Group of the National Australia Bank and is a Board Director of Circus Oz, and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School and was a member of the Referendum Council that led the process and final recommendation that resulted in The Statement from the Heart in May 2017. A career highlight was contributing as a Consultant on the ABC drama, Total Control.
In October 2020, Tanya was announced as the South Australian of the Year for 2021.
A chat with Lawyer of the Year, John Schembri
Award winning lawyer John Schembri explores the legal sector, professional development and tips to advance your career, irrespective of your area of study. We delve into whether the law has caught up to the rate of changes in technology, how to deal with challenging clients and how to establish competencies in key development areas among a number of topics.
John is a partner and head of Gilbert + Tobin's Banking + Infrastructure group and is a member of Gilbert + Tobin’s Board of partners. John is recognised as a leading banking and project finance lawyer in numerous publications including leading directories such as Chambers, the Legal 500, Best Lawyers and IFLR1000. John led the TransGrid team, which was awarded 2015 M&A deal of the year by Project Finance International.
John Schembri is a member of Western Sydney University's Foundation Council and has made significant contributions to student advancement through the 'Schembri Law Scholarship'.
John Schembri's major areas of practice are structured and project financing and leveraged financing. He also has experience in various other areas including the financing of construction and resources projects, property, acquisition and general corporate financing.
He has worked with arrangers, lenders, equity investors, end-users and credit enhancers on various tax-based structured products, including R&D syndications, lease-tail transactions, foreign tax credit structures and the use of limited partnerships.
His experience also extends to corporate debt and leveraged finance transactions, including the financing of specific asset acquisitions as well as funding general working capital requirements. In this area, he has acted for both lenders and borrowers and in secured, unsecured, syndicated and club loan arrangements.
John is recognised as a leading banking and project finance lawyer in numerous publications including leading directories such as Chambers, the Legal 500, Best Lawyers and IFLR1000. John led the TransGrid team, which was awarded 2015 M&A deal of the year by Project Finance International.
John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Laws degree with first class honours and a Master of Taxation degree. He is admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia and has also been admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in England & Wales and as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England & Wales.
A Day in the Life of a CEO
A Conversation with Mr Cameron Clyne
Cameron Clyne discusses life as a CEO and the importance of Western Sydney, and explored corporate social responsibility, crisis management and the skills needed to excel and make an impact in your field of study.
Mr Cameron Clyne is currently Chairman of Camel Partners, a private advisory firm, and the Camel Foundation. He was Chairman of Rugby Australia from December 2015 to February 2020. He is a director of SANZAAR Pty Ltd; the Whitlam Institute; Camp Quality; a Patron of the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, and an Adjunct Professor at the WSU Business School.
Cameron was appointed to the Foundation Council on 2 March 2015 and his current term ends on 12 June 2022. He was appointed to the Whitlam Institute Board on 8 November 2016.
Networking with Impact:
Why being from Western is your advantage
A Conversation with Christopher Brown AM
We all know what networking is, and why it is important, but HOW do you network? Join us as we speak to Christopher Brown AM, an influential leader and champion of Western Sydney, on how to network with impact. A candid discussion with Christopher Brown AM on how to develop the skills to create a lasting and positive impression on current and future networks and how to identify opportunities to connect with a range of people in both your professional and personal lives.
Refugees, Resilience and Resourcefulness
A Conversation with Arash Bordbar, Alfred Mupenzi, Anyier Yuol and Maryam Zahid
How are your resilience levels? Do you consider yourself to be resourceful? Imagine putting these qualities to the ultimate test of leaving your country for an uncertain future on the other side of the world.
The Refugee Convention defines a refugee as: "Any person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country."
The story of every refugee is a story of overcoming odds – and most importantly, it’s always a story of resilience. The Academy is honoured to welcome this panel of incredible people to our 'Conversations' series. Join us as they share their respective journeys of resilience and resourcefulness in order to make Australia their new home. Take this rare opportunity to gain valuable insights into the experiences of a refugee by asking your pressing questions on the obstacles they faced and overcame in order to start their new lives here.
Arash is originally from Shiraz in Iran and fled with his mother and brother when he was 16 years old after persecution at the hands of the Iranian government made it too unsafe to stay. He sought refuge in Malaysia where he lived for six years. During this time, he was prohibited from studying because he was considered an ‘illegal migrant’. In 2014 he arrived in Australia and after a few knockbacks, he found his way to Western Sydney University via The College and graduated his Engineering (honours) degree in 2019.
Born in a Ugandan settlement camp to Rwandan refugee parents, Alfred was an orphan by the time he was 12. He managed to win an aid-funded scholarship from the Rwandan Government that would allow him to study in Australia. In 2016 he was awarded his PhD from Western Sydney University - ‘Educational resilience and experiences of African students with a refugee background in Australian tertiary education’, which focuses on narratives around the strength and resilience that African refugees bring to the country, their studies and their lives.
Anyier’s family fled to Kenya in 1992 when violence forced them out of their South Sudanese home and Anyier was born in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp. By the age of 2 she had lost both of her parents. In 2003 she was granted a visa and moved to Australia when she was just ten years old. She completed her first degree in 2016 and her Masters in 2018. Her greatest achievement is being the Founder and CEO of the social enterprise Miss Sahara Pageant and Anyier Model Management which aim to build social cohesion within our African communities and the wider Australian communities.
Maryam grew up in Kabul under Taliban rule and was forced to leave at the age of 15. She lived in Pakistan for five years before coming to Australia. She and her siblings came here without any family. Arriving in Australia at the age of 20, she persuaded the local school in her area to take her in – even though she was well above the average age. As a woman in a war torn country, she wasn’t allowed to go to school so she was determined to change that. She completed her HSC then studied social work and community services. She works as a domestic violence officer in Blacktown and also runs Afghan Women on the Move.
Working for multinationals:
Why it’s not just for business students
A Conversation with Theo Psychogios (Deloitte), Kristy Benstead (Google), Frances Agius (Optus) and Sajit Gurubacharya (PwC)
Is the corporate world really just for business students? The future of work is dynamic and the need for interdisciplinary collaborations and transferable skill sets are paramount to an organisation’s success.
Hear from speakers from Deloitte, Google, Optus and PwC on the value and importance of all professions in contributing to multinational organisations.
Learn about the vast scope of a multinational’s business functions and how you can make an impactful contribution, no matter what your discipline is.
Theo Psychogios (Deloitte)
Theo is a Partner with Deloitte’s Financial Advisory practice and focuses on providing services to the State, Local and Federal governments, government agencies and private sector organisations they interact with. Theo has been a lead advocate for the economic and social development of Western Sydney, starting with the ground breaking Shaping Future Cities - Designing Western Sydney report which provided an economic blueprint for the region sustainable and equitable growth. Theo’s path to Deloitte has been broad and varied including time in the music industry, telecommunications, IT, government, major events management, construction and consulting. The lessons and skills he has gained through these diverse experiences coupled with his VET and University study have armed him with the tool kit to be responsive and effective in the modern business environment.
Kristy Benstead (Google)
Kristy Benstead has been an Agency Lead at Google Australia since 2014. She currently leads the engagement strategy for Performance Agencies across the AU & NZ markets with a focus on Google Search, Measurement and Shopping products. Whilst in the role, she has pioneered the development and launch of Australia’s most prestigious Search Agency recognition program - Google Honours and works to develop partnerships with an extensive network of Performance Specialists both Globally and Locally. Prior to focussing on Performance products, Kristy led the Google partnership with Dentsu Aegis Network, designing a program of work to deliver value for shared clients - which was the largest portfolio of in Australia at the time. Before joining Google, Kristy was part of the Group Marketing team at ANZ. As a Global Brand Manager she was responsible for the contracting and ongoing management of creative and media agencies and APAC wide execution of all ANZ master brand programs. Her passion for marketing stems back to her time spent up in Sydney at Toyota. Kristy joined Toyota in 2008 to deliver Retail Marketing for the largest Automotive manufacturer in the country and oversaw the local strategy for all 297 dealerships. She then shifted focus and moved into a Brand Manager role for 3 years where she led the rebrand of the company. A new master brand strategy and a fresh new look combined with that same Toyota feeling - “Oh what a feeling!” saw Toyota recognized as Australia’s most trusted brand during that time. Kristy’s additional experience includes time spent on the agency side at a number of different boutique agencies and a short stint at Renault managing Passenger Vehicles and Renault Sport. Kristy Benstead was educated at Swinburne University, Melbourne (Bachelor of Engineering), Monash University, Melbourne (Bachelor of Business) and Chisholm Institute, Melbourne (Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design).
Frances Agius (Optus)
Frances is an experienced Talent Acquisition Specialist that is passionate about helping people find their dream job. Frances has recruited at a variety of large, multinational organisations such as CommBank, EY, Macquarie Group and Optus. She has recruited roles ranging from interns through to niche, highly technical senior positions. In her current role at Optus, Frances is focused on recruiting positions within the Digital space, with a focus on UX, transformation and data analytics roles. Previously, Frances was a Sourcing Specialist for Macquarie Group, where she was responsible for recruiting investment bankers and technical specialist roles. She was involved in recruiting for Australia’s first waste to energy facility in Perth along with roles for a proposed waste to energy facility in Western Sydney. Notably, Frances has also worked as a Campus Recruitment Senior Consultant at EY where she was solely focused on identifying and hiring the best talent from Universities, particularly STEM students, for intern and graduate roles. Frances is a proud alumnus of Western Sydney University, having graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Business and Commerce (Human Resources and Industrial Relations).
Sajit Gurubacharya (PwC)
Sajit is currently a graduate consultant at PwC Australia. He holds a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from Western Sydney University, graduating recently in 2020. During his time at university he worked as a PASS Facilitator and an Ask Us Assistant for two years. He was the founder and president of Western Association of Computing and Mathematics (WACM) and has held leadership positions in Western Sydney International Student Association, 180 Degrees Consulting WSU and Nepali Student Association. He was also a member of the Vice Chancellor’s International Student Advisory Committee and has been a member of The Academy at WSU since 2017.
Celebrating Indigenous Culture
A Conversation with Chris Tobin
The lifelong journey of cultural competence starts with getting to know yourself, your cultural values and world view. This is a candid conversation with proud Darug man, Chris Tobin, celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Deepen your understanding and be prepared to un-learn and re-learn.
Chris Tobin is a Darug man who works as an artist/educator throughout Western Sydney, the Hawkesbury and in to the Blue Mountains. Currently employed as an Aboriginal Education Officer with Blue Mountains National Parks and Wildlife Service, Chris regularly speaks with schools and visitors to the country and enjoys sharing important stories on local Aboriginal history and heritage. He has served on a number of boards and committees over the past 20 years and is often invited to participate in assisting in community ceremonies and public engagements. Chris is also a practicing artist and hosts an art camp in the bush each month for people wishing to connect with Aboriginal people, art and country.
Looking forward: Discover the ideas, trends and technologies shaping our future
A Conversation with David Harding (ARUP), Andrew Loveridge (National Australia Bank) and Katie Walker (Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue)
The world as we know it will be vastly different in 10 years’ time to what it is today. How do we best prepare to ensure that we are all ready for the changes ahead? In this ‘Conversation’ we will be joined by ARUP’s Business Leader, David Harding; National Australia Bank’s Customer Executive in Emerging Markets, Andrew Loveridge and Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue’s Policy Officer Katie Walker.
In this Conversation with The Academy we discuss the drivers of change and how you as young leaders can best prepare for a rapidly changing world. Learn about social and economic trends, emerging technologies and how this all affects our environment and the wider community. As Global Citizens, we all have a duty of care for the world around us. Find out what we need to know and understand to be best equipped to make the world a better place through the ideas, trends and innovations shaping our future.
David Harding - NSW & ACT Business Leader Principal at ARUP
David has over 20 years’ experience in leadership appointments across many aspects of the built environment, including major project direction and business leadership.
David leads Arup’s business in the NSW and ACT, working closely with government and private partners to instigate, plan, develop and deliver better outcomes within our cities and regions.
David also leads Arup’s Transport Developments team to instigate consortia, fund and deliver next generation infrastructure in Australia. This has included leading the design and advisory for Metro Martin Place from inception. Several other similar large Transport Development proposals are at various stages of design, deal development and delivery.
David heads Arup’s strategic approach to Greater Western Sydney with oversight of strategic partners, clients, key influencers and government advocacy and approaches.
David has a passion for developing sustainable opportunities and supporting Indigenous communities and the socially disadvantaged.
He is Charity Secretary for Engineering Aid Australia, as well as working closely with other charities and agencies in this space. He is a leadership mentor to a number of emerging leaders across the private and public sectors. He sits on several trade and industry groups, boards and taskforces ranging across international and sector boundaries
Andrew Loveridge - Customer Executive, Emerging Sectors Business and Private Banking at National Australia Bank (NAB)
Andrew is responsible for identifying emerging business models and growth industries that will lead to new business opportunities for NAB. In this role, he is responsible for developing appropriate strategies that reflects the needs of customers and NAB’s approach to market for these new segments.
Andrew has over 30 years banking experience, predominantly in relationship management roles across Institutional, Corporate, Business and Retail banking platforms.
Prior to this role he ran a national team responsible for managing relationships across the Government, Education & Community sectors within Specialised Banking and recently added the Bank’s Franchise business to his responsibilities. Andrew spent over 14 years in the Institutional Bank running the Telco, Media and Internet Industry Team.
Andrew comes to work to make a difference and truly believes in his people and our customers. He loves a challenge, having a laugh, sharing a story and being annoyingly inquisitive!
Outside of work Andrew is actively involved with a number of community and school groups and enjoys spending time on the weekend running up and down the sidelines. He has four children and one of his proudest moments was the graduation of his daughter from University to become a teacher.
Andrew holds a Bachelor of Business majoring in Finance & Economics from UTS and is a qualified CPA.
Katie Walker - Policy Officer at Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue
Katie Walker is a Law and Communications Graduate from Western Sydney University who has recently completed her Honours dissertation on Indigenous Juvenile overincarceration and alternative sentencing frameworks. She has received scholarships to study in South Africa through The Western Sydney University Academy and was a recipient of Australia’s New Colombo Plan Grant giving her the opportunity to study comparative law in China. Now working as a policy officer at Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, she has been focusing on social and affordable housing in Greater Western Sydney, convening a Housing Reference Group and writing submissions for the NSW Housing Strategy 2020. Katie is also undergoing her studies at The College of Law to be admitted to practice in the near future. Katie strives to promote social justice and wants to make real change for Western Sydney’s young people, leading the Generation West youth advisory committee. Growing up in Western Sydney Katie proudly attended her local public primary and high schools. She is highly aware of the issues, change and promise Greater Western Sydney holds.
Navigating the Start-Up Space
A Conversation with Camilla Clarke (Give a Grad a Go), Jenny Li (Vidico) and Jacob Muller (Catalysr)
Start-ups are a fast-learning, exciting and fluid place to work, and contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be an entrepreneur to work at one. Join us as we explore the start up space including the differences and advantages of working at a start-up, emerging industries, and the different types of roles you could work in. We’ll also uncover what start-ups are looking for in employees and how to best interview for start-up specific opportunities!
We are joined by Camilla Clarke from Give a Grad A Go, Vidico's Business Development Manager, Jenny Li and Jacob Muller, a graduate of The Academy and our inaugural Alumni winner in the Annual Academy Awards of Excellence and founder of Catalysr, an award winning start-up pre-accelerator for migrant and refugee entrepreneurs.
Camilla Clarke - Give a Grad a Go
Camilla is passionate about creating more job opportunities for graduates and helping start-ups attract, hire & retain junior talent.
She has worked in graduate recruitment for over 7 years within the UK's leading graduate specialist agency, Give a Grad a Go (opens in a new window), helping to launch over 350 careers across 100 businesses and moved to Australia pre-pandemic in 2020 to launch their operations here.
Camilla is dedicated to educating the graduate market across Australia on the innovative start-up space and connecting emerging talent to growing teams in a role they will love.
Jenny Li - Business Development, Vidico
Jenny is a creative and enthusiastic sales leader, passionate about solving business complexity with powerful story-telling through video. She is currently working with Vidico (opens in a new window), a video production agency in Melbourne for innovative tech startups, that works with the likes of Spotify, Square, and Uber to name a few. She is in their sales and business development working on things like building strong relationships, early project engagement and finding the right creative direction for new projects.
Jenny is multifaceted, and comes with an additional asset of having a strong marketing and entrepreneurial background with over 6 years of experiences working with both B2C and B2B clients across industries such as film and TV, hospitality, tech and retail.
Jacob Muller - Co-Founder and Director Catalysr; Local Founder and Country Lead, INCO Academy
Jacob Muller, a graduate of The Academy and our inaugural Alumni winner in the Annual Academy Awards of Excellence, completed a B Business and Commerce (ABL).
Jacob has made a career out of building and supporting ventures that use business and tech for good. He’s the co-founder of award winning start-up accelerator Catalysr (opens in a new window) - an organisation helping migrants and refugees to launch start-ups at the frontier of Australia 2.0. His work has received awards including a medal from the Governor General of Australia, the Foundation for Young Australians’ Vanguard Award, and has been funded by Australian tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes.
Nowadays, Jacob is the Founder and Head of INCO Academy Australia (opens in a new window), a training organisation providing equitable access to the knowledge, skills, and habits necessary to secure in-demand jobs in tech & startups. Since launching in 2020 they have trained 400 tech professionals and partnered with over 80 tech companies.
Along with founding companies, Jacob has guided dozens of startups as an Entrepreneur in Residence at UTS Startups, Catalysr, and disability tech accelerator Remarkable Tech.