Think BIG!

Inspired by our exceptional students and their insights and considered visions of how to shape our future, The Academy is hosting Think BIG!, a Hackathon where you’ll have the opportunity to make an impact as a Future Thinker, an Innovative Entrepreneur, a Sustainability Advocate or a Global Citizen.

Date: Tuesday, 3 December, 2019

Time: 8:15am - 5:00pm

Location: Building EE, Auditorium, Parramatta South Campus, Corner of Victoria Road and James Ruse Drive, Rydalmere

Ignite. Innovate. Initiate.
Entrepreneurship takes many forms. Whether you are interested in social innovation, e-commerce, product development or start-ups, you’ll be inspired by our keynote speakers and learn about how they blazed their own trail and embraced uncertainty and risk to triumph.

Get ready to ignite!
Enter the Ignition Zone. An exciting series of speakers will provide you with short bursts of critical ideas, knowledge and skills aimed at empowering you.

One stage. Seven presenters. Seven minutes each.

Welcome to the Hack Zone!
Jump into your team and be guided by subject matter experts, exploring current and emerging challenges from a global and local perspective. Work together to identify what your particular challenge will be and come up with an innovative way of solving it.

It’s pitch time!
Each team will pitch their solution to a panel of judges comprising of subject matter experts from industry, government, local business and Western Sydney University staff. A production team will be on hand to capture each pitch.

The winning team’s pitch from each Challenge will then be voted on by students to then determine the ultimate winner.

Each student in the ultimate winning team will receive a guaranteed leadership conference experience valued at up to $1,000 plus be connected to a mentor in 2020.

What’s in it for you?

  • Build skills and knowledge in innovation, problem-solving, leadership and entrepreneurship
  • Collaborate and build networks with like-minded students and be a part of a community of young change-makers.
  • Expand your network of industry and business professionals
  • PLUS the chance to win your share of awesome lucky door-prizes

Register here (opens in a new window)

Keynote Speakers


Jon Dee

Jon Dee Headshot

Jon is the founder and managing director of the Australian advocacy organisation 'Do Something'. In 1991 he also co-founded Planet Ark with his good friend Pat Cash to show people and businesses how to reduce their impact on the environment. Jon has been instrumental in creating positive change in the daily habits of millions of Australians which will help to change our planet for the better. His award as NSW Australian of the Year 2010 recognised Jon as one of Australia's most influential figures on environmental issues. Together with Olivia Newton-John, Jon also founded National Tree Day, an event that has planted 16 million trees and achieved significant environmental results - food and shelter for Australia's native wildlife.

Jacob Muller

Jacob Muller

Jacob is a serial founder with an interest in building ventures that make the world better for current or future generations. He’s the co-founder of award winning startup accelerator Catalysr - an organisation helping migrants and refugees to launch startups 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 sits on the board at Catalysr while working on new high impact projects, including advising startups focused on helping people with disabilities through Remarkable Tech, and Masterly - a startup focused on helping people transition into the jobs of the future.

Ignition Zone Speakers


Christopher Brown


Christopher retired as Pro Chancellor of Western Sydney University (WSU) after eight years as a Trustee and Director, in mid-2019. He continues to serve on the boards of the WSU Academy and WSU External Affairs Committee. He is retired member of the ANZ Stadium, Moorebank Intermodal and LUCRF Super boards.
Having served on dozens of government boards over 30 years, he was a member of the Federal/State commission that chose the Badgerys Creek Airport site and then devised an advocacy campaign to secure Cabinet support. He served on the NSW Transport & Planning Blueprint Panel that first recognised Parramatta as Sydney’s second CBD and advises News Corp's 'Go West/Project Sydney' editorial campaign.
Christopher chaired the WestLine Partnership, which secured a light rail connection in the Olympic Corridor, and the Western Sydney Rail Alliance, which secured $5+ billion to build north/south rail connections to Badgerys Creek. He was founding Convenor of the Parramatta Partnership Forum and the Committee for Liverpool, and now manages the Canterbury-Bankstown Forum and Advance Blacktown civic leadership forums. He chairs the South West Sydney Local Health Advisory Board and served as an adviser to the Western Sydney Parklands.
He is a regular contributor on ABC’s The Drum program and various radio shows and a guest columnist in Fairfax and News Corp papers.  Christopher was co-founder of the Telegraph’s Bradfield Partnership & Oration and advises on its Go West editorial campaign.
Raised and educated in Parramatta, he was awarded Australian Honours for services to industry and community in 2014.

Dr Roger Dawkins

Dr Roger Dawkins

Roger teaches in the area of creative industries and coordinates courses about podcasting, media law and ethics, Big Data, media theory and digital marketing. His research interests include the impact of technology on communication and learning, semiotics and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Roger has worked in the digital media industry as a content strategist, copywriter, blogger and web editor.

John Greig

John Greig

John has been with Western Sydney University for the past 5 years as a Lecturer in Advertising for the School of Humanities and Communication Arts. Prior to WSU, John worked in the communications industry for close to thirty years. He started out as a junior art director with Saatchi & Saatchi back in the 80’s and went on to work for some of the worlds best-known advertising agencies like DDB, McCanns, Mojo Publicis and M&C Saatchi to name a few. All of which, have in turn given him the opportunity to work on a vast array of blue chip accounts like Commonwealth Bank, Qantas, Toyota, Lexus, Woolworths, Bank Mandiri (Indonesia’s largest retail bank), Coca-Cola Asia, Mt Blue Cow Ski Resort and NSW Teachers Federation.

Dr Karen Hutchings

Dr Karen Hutchings

Dr Karen Hutchings is a Research Development Officer at MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development assisting researchers in applying for competitive grant funding including Australian Research Council (ARC), National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and other schemes.  Her role involves helping researchers to create a research plan, identify appropriate schemes to apply to, and mentoring them on crafting a pitch/value statement to funding bodies, creating a budget and structuring their writing.  Karen has a PhD in Australian women’s history and more than a decade’s experience as a Senior Commissioning Editor in educational publishing, successfully contracting, designing and developing market leading print and digital content for the tertiary academic sector in Business and Humanities Disciplines at Pearson Australia.

Tom Nance


Tom is Manager of Policy and Programs at Western Sydney Community Forum. He leads major projects and teams to deliver on priorities that benefit the community and services industry across Greater Western Sydney.
As part of this role, Tom developed and delivers the Generation CommunitY, a leadership incubater for aspiring leaders in the not-for-profit sector. He also specialises in leading and facilitating adaptive change in a variety of contexts.  
Tom is a Western Sydney alumni, holding a Social Work (Honours) degree. He was also selected to undertake the Social Leadership Australia program in 2016.

Vanessa Campbell

Vanessa Campbell is the Principal Consultant of a boutique public relations and events management company that specialises in community development and engagement. She has worked in the industry for over two decades and has worked with big multinationals through to government and not for profits.    
As well as balancing life as a business owner and mum she also teachings in Communication here at WSU. She is been proud to have been a Sessional Academic with WSU for over 10 years. Since graduating from UWS with a Bachelor of Communication Studies, Vanessa went on to successfully complete a Master of Communication with Distinction. Being awarded two Executive Dean’s Awards for her research into social media engagement was a career highlight.

Inu Rana

Dr Roger Dawkins
Inu’s work portfolio ranges from managing businesses, supporting businesses, advising startups and working with manufacturing industry. Inu served on the panel of National Productivity Council, India, for several years before moving to Australia permanently. Inu has a practical, no-fuss approach to consulting focusing on business models, innovation, strategy and entrepreneurship.
Her ability to connect strategy to real life business stories helps her engage her audience at a highly individual level. She has worked across the South Asian region with top corporates and industries. Inu has a strong interest in ‘Innovation’, hopes to contribute further to the wider development and advancement of the manufacturing business sector in Western Sydney and is currently pursuing her PhD in this area.

Hack Zone Speakers


Dr Louise Crabtree

Louise is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Society and Culture. Louise's research focuses on the social, ecological and economic sustainability of community-driven housing developments in Australia; on the uptake of housing innovation in practice and policy; on complex adaptive systems theory in urban contexts; and, on the interfaces between sustainability, property rights, institutional design and democracy. Her work is underpinning the emergence of forms of permanently affordable and community-led housing in Australia, such as housing cooperatives and community land trusts, on which she is Australia's leading expert.

Jen Dollin

Jen is the Senior Manager, Sustainable Futures, Office of Sustainability

Rob Khamas


Rob is well-known in Australia as the CEO and founder of REND Tech Associates, a leading provider of Healthcare IT that today offers a nationwide solution to healthcare professionals, specialists and government organisations. Rob has also contributed articles to a wide range of publications in a bid to inform healthcare professionals on the ways technolog can benefit their business.

Dr David Walton

David is a Senior Lecturer in Asian Studies and International Relations.

Contact us

Email The Academy Team on theacademy@westernsydney.edu.au