The Apprentice Employment Network is pleased to confirm the following speakers for the 2019 Skills Conference 2019.

Kieren Flanagan, The Impossible Institute

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Kieran Flanagan is a Global thought Leader who helps people and organisations:
• make positive change and build positive cultures
• develop visionary leadership
• and be more creative in their problem-solving.

An expert in Commercial Creativity, Change and Thinking Differently, Kieran has:
• headed up Australia’s premier creative school
• helped some of the worlds biggest businesses, including the United Nations and Coca-Cola,
• had her thinking published in over 100 titles all around the world
• and was recently voted one of the USA”s C-suite speakers to watch.

Get ready to laugh and learn as Kieran helps us create a more courageous, connected and collaborative culture…”

The Hon Steven Joyce, Director – Joyce Advisory


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Steven has 25 years of successful leadership experience across a unique mix of senior commercial and government roles, working in governance and executive positions with boards of directors, ministers, external stakeholders and the public.

He has a strong strategic focus, working with others to create and deliver competitive plans and programmes in a range of commercial and political settings, including restructuring and reorganising entities if necessary and building momentum to achieve the required results.

He believes strongly in communicating the vision regularly to all stakeholders and taking people with him on the journey. He designs structures around achieving measurable outcomes and works constantly to remove roadblocks to enable people and teams to own and achieve the goals set for the organisation.


Chris Kenny – The Australian & Sky News


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Respected columnist and Associate Editor of The Australian Chris Kenny delivers a lively end to the weekend and a jump start on the week ahead on Sky News. He takes an unashamedly rationalist approach to national affairs. In January 2009, Kenny was the chief of staff to then-Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull.

Jason Sultana – Executive Officer, Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT 


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Jason is the Executive Officer of the Apprentice Employment Network NSW ACT since 2015. Jason has worked in the Group Training Industry for 7 years in various roles. Jason has over 18 years experience in the VET industry and is actively involved in various working parties within the VET industry.


Caralee McLiesh – Managing Director, TAFE NSW


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Caralee McLiesh is currently the Managing Director of TAFE NSW, Australia’s leading education and training provider.

Previously, Caralee was Deputy Secretary for the Fiscal and Economic Group in NSW Treasury responsible for coordinating the state Budget and state accounts, and advising on financial and economic policy.

While at Treasury Caralee participated in reforms including National Health Reforms and the NDIS, and has led the development of the NSW social impact investment policy in partnership with agencies. Prior to joining Treasury Caralee worked for eight years at the World Bank and also held positions with the International Red Cross and Boston Consulting Group.

Caralee holds a Bachelor of Economics with First Class Honours from the Australian National University and a PhD in Finance from the University of Melbourne. She has published several reports and books through the World Bank press as well as research papers in economic journals.

Jason is the Executive Officer of the Apprentice Employment Network NSW ACT since 2015. Jason has worked in the Group Training Industry for 7 years in various roles. Jason has over 18 years experience in the VET industry and is actively involved in various working parties within the VET industry.


Mark Tierney – Global Economist – Investments, AustralianSuper


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Mark has a BEc (economics and industrial relations) and MEc (international and monetary economics). Since graduating from university Mark has had 35 years experience in financial markets in Australia including roles as both a trader and analyst. This period included the float of the Australian Dollar, the 1980s boom  and crash, the Asian crisis, the technology boom and crash, the rise of China and the commodities boom, the GFC and the extraordinary changes in economic policy over the past ten years. Starting in 1983 in the money market and futures divisions of the Commonwealth Bank Mark moved to the Australian subsidiary of HSBC, HongKongBank Australia,  in 1986 as a trader in the short-term interest rate market. In 1989 Mark became the international economist for HKBA covering the major developed market economies. In 1991 Mark moved to Bankers Trust Australia as one of the first currency strategists in Australia which required both analysis of currency markets and presentations to large international investors in the US, Europe and Japan. Mark became the international economist for BT in 1998 before moving to Macquarie Group in 1999 as part of the acquisition of the BT investment bank. His initial role was international economic analyst for the asset allocation team in Macquarie Equities. The role required regular presentations to both the wholesale and retail divisions of Macquarie Equities. The role was expanded to include coverage of international economies for the fixed income and currency teams. Mark moved to the Macquarie economics team in 2005 which broadened the responsibilities to include advice to the wealth management division.  In 2012 Mark joined AustralianSuper as the economist in the asset allocation team within Investments  with coverage of the main developed economies, including Australia. The role includes forecasts of these economies and commentary on key policy/political changes that may affect the performance of asset markets. 


Darren Coppin, Director & Head of Research, ReadyTech/Esher House Pty Ltd


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Darren’s PhD thesis (completed December 2018) addressed human behavioural change in education and employment.  His application of engagement and retention strategies have delivered world-leading improvements in outcomes for various government initiatives and education institutions, leading to keynotes at conferences covering behavioural economics, youth engagement, education, positive psychology, wellbeing and employment. Over 100,000 Australians have now been through his programmes with academically-evidenced findings that frequently debunk conventional wisdom.

Keiran Mott, CEO, Veritec

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Keiran Mott is the CEO at Veritec Pty Ltd. With an IT career spanning over 18 years, Keiran loves leading teams to achieve great business
outcomes for our clients.
Keiran was appointed as CEO for Veritec in August 2017 and prior to that he held a Senior Executive position at Veritec since its inception in 2013.
Keiran has also been a member for the Veritec Board of Directors for the last 2 years and has played an integral role in its growth and development. He is a promoter of Canberra SME’s and likes to share his learnings with other local innovators.
Keiran started his career as a Software Developer and moved into Business Analysis and into IT Strategy and

Josephine Andersen, Executive Branch Manager, Skills Canberra


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Josephine Andersen is the recently appointed Executive Branch Manager of Skills Canberra, Economic Development Division in the ACT Government’s Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate (CMTEDD). Skills Canberra is the State Training Authority, which administers the Vocational Education and Training system (including Australian Apprenticeships) in the ACT. Skills Canberra also manages the Territory’s adult community education and skilled migration programs. Josephine’s career spans school education in the private and public sectors, and senior leadership positions across a range of portfolios in ACT Government

Peter Canavan, Senior Policy Officer, Ai Group

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Peter Canavan is a senior policy officer at Ai Group, contributing to education and training policy and managing projects including the Industry 4.0 Higher Apprenticeship project. He has previously managed national projects relating to apprenticeships. Peter has over 25 years experience in the vocational training sector, and has also managed projects for the Victorian Government, including apprenticeship projects and projects supporting workers retrenched from the automotive manufacturing sector.

Peter Nolan, CEO, PEER

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Peter joined PEER in June 2016 as the CEO, having had over 20 years’ of involvement with GTO’s and RTO’s. With extensive experience in construction and mining, he has also led organisations in the hospitality and property sectors. Peter has a strong commitment to the health, safety and pastoral care of apprentices and trainees and creating an innovative, high performance culture.

PEER is a non-profit industry-based organisation, a Group Training Organisation (GTO) and an award winning Registered Training Organisation (RTO), delivering nationally accredited training to meet South Australia’s skill development needs. The PEER Academy ensures students are trained, coached, mentored and supported to be their best – as trade professionals and as individuals. PEER supports the whole-of-person development for our learners, which provides them with opportunities and pathways to become a skilled professional within the Building and Construction industry. PEER – this year named the South Australian Training Provider of the Year and the Australian Small Training Provider of the Year – has invested in a significant upgrade of its training facilities to ensure it continues to deliver the best private trade training experience and outcomes for South Australians.

Gail Silman, Manager Industry Projects, Training Services NSW

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Gail Silman is Manager Industry Projects, Department of Industry. She manages the Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program (ISLP). The ISLP embeds targets for employment and skills development into NSW Government procurement for major infrastructure projects and includes targets for apprentices, trainees, learning workers, young people, women in non-traditional trades, and Aboriginal participation.

Prior to this, Gail was a Senior Adviser with Australian Industry Group and held senior management roles in the Commonwealth Government – all focussing on employment, education and training.

Louise Selles – Director VET in Secondary Schools, ACT Education Directorate

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Louise is the Director for VET in Secondary Schools with the ACT Education Directorate. Louise is a passionate VET practitioner with over 19 years’ experience in a variety of RTOs and government organisations, as well as a classroom teacher in NSW and ACT. Louise has worked with ACT Government stakeholders to increase VET opportunities for students at school, while also providing opportunities for Australian School-based Apprenticeships with ACT and Federal Government Departments. Louise is also a Captain in the Australian Army Reserve Royal Education Corps, where she brings her wealth of experience in all aspects of educational practice to increase capability of Army units to deliver training and educational solutions.

Peta Skujins, Director, AATIS

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Peta is a Director at the Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service (AATIS). She started in the role in 2017 after moving from NCVER where she worked as a Research Officer.

Having a background in working with young people interests include youth transitions between compulsory education and the labour market, pathways through the education system and career advice.

Craig Randazzo, CEO, Skillset

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Craig has worked for over 30 years in the vocational education, apprenticeship, disability, secondary education and employment services industries, the last 20 of which has been in the Central West and Western Regions of NSW. Craig brought his experience to Skillset in 2013 as CEO, and in 2015 his passion for the life-changing power of education and skills development was instrumental in the opening of the first Skillset Senior College campus in Bathurst, and the re-invention of the Skillset GTO as an end to end employment and skills service now branded Skillset Workforce. Craig is degree qualified from the University of Sydney with majors in Education and Psychology. He also has an Advanced Diploma of Management, is a Fellow of the Institute of Managers and Leaders, and Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

John Wills, Assistant Principal, Catholic Trade Training Centres, Diocese of Parramatta  

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John has worked in Catholic Education in the Diocese of Parramatta for almost twenty years starting as an Industrial Arts teacher before focusing on VET pathways for students. After leading VET across four high schools in Sydney’s west, John has spent the last seven years as Assistant Principal of McCarthy Catholic Trade Training Centre, which allows students to attain School Based Apprenticeships/Traineeships across nine vocational areas with a specialised HSC curriculum that consists of no HSC examinations and ensures a minimum of 35% of time is available to their SBA/T employers. Currently John is also working on the amalgamation of Loyola and McCarthy CTTCs to offer an expanded program to students in western Sydney.

Sonja Malcolm, Senior Manager Workforce Development, Sydney Metro

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Sonja Malcolm, Senior Manager Workforce Development for Sydney Metro has 25 years’ experience within organisational learning and the vocational education and training sector. Sonja is passionate about ensuring opportunities provided by major projects are accessible to the wider community through industry led programs and initiatives. Sonja’s expertise is in developing collaborative relationships to drive workforce development and industry participation strategy and implementation.

Pi-Shen Seet, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Business and Law at Edith Cowan University

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Pi-Shen is the Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Business and Law at Edith Cowan University, ECU. He is currently conducting research and supervising research students in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, international business, and human resource management.

Pi-Shen joined the School of Business and Law at ECU in July 2016.

Pi-Shen, together with collaborators from Flinders University, was a lead researcher and author of a recently released research paper – “The fourth industrial revolution – technological disruption implications for Australian VET” through  National Centre for Vocational Education Research

Research areas and interests

  • Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Culture
  • International business and business in Asia
  • Organisation behaviour and human resource management
  • Managerial decision-making

Mark Easson – Chief Financial Officer – TAFE NSW

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Mark joined TAFE NSW as the Chief Financial Officer in 2016. He brings 30 years’ financial governance experience from a diverse range of industries, including higher education, telecommunications, rural and logistics, and professional services. Coming with 9 years’ experience at the University of Sydney, Mark is one of the most experienced finance leaders in the education sector. Mark’s focus is on improving TAFE NSW’s commercial viability and ability to generate in a contestable market, but implementing it in a way that recognises TAFE’s important commitment to the broader community and to developing the workforce of NSW.


Dianne Dayhew, National Executive Officer, National Apprentice Employment Network

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Dianne Dayhew is the National Executive Officer of the National Apprentice Employment Network, the member body representing the network of group training organisations that employ some 25,000 apprentices and trainees around Australia.

Originally an educator in primary and tertiary education, Dianne also has a professional background in the arts and creative industries.

Dianne worked with the Construction and Property Services Industry Skills Council for more than six years, initially running their NSW ITAB contract for construction and property services, and later as General Manager of Policy.

She established and managed three group training operations in both the arts and property services industries, and later worked with high profile organisations including SOCOG, SPOC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation where she was a Senior Executive in the Human Resources Division.

Dr. Geethani Nair, Head of SkillsPoint, Technology and Business Services –  TAFE NSW

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Dr. Geethani Nair is the Head of SkillsPoint, Technology and Business Services at TAFE NSW. As part of this role, she leads a team that intersects with technology and business services industry, business and employers to design and develop education and training products to create a pipeline of workers with the skills that are needed for jobs of today and the careers of the future.

She has over twenty five years of experience in the VET sector and has worked across a number of TAFE institutes and Universities. She is a researcher and has presented papers at many conferences including AVETRA and NCVER conferences.

Toni Jones –  Group Sales Director – News Corp Australia

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Toni has enjoyed a diverse 30 year plus media career working with News Corp and APN (Australian Regional Media) across Australia. Born and raised in regional country Queensland, Toni has seen first-hand the significant differences in the impact of the changing job market in regional and rural areas, compared to the inner city urban belt. As the daughter of skilled tradesman, Toni is acutely aware of the vital role that an appropriately skilled workforce plays in the health of a vibrant, successful national economy.


Andrea Poletti – Head of SkillsPoint Tourism and Experience Services, TAFE NSW

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Andrea Poletti is the Head of SkillsPoint, Tourism & Experience Services at TAFE NSW. As part of this role, she leads a team that works in close partnership with tourism, hospitality, events, hair & beauty business and employers to design and develop education and training products to create a steady supply of qualified workers with industry relevant skills that address the growing skills needs of these industries.

For over twenty five years she has specialised in skills development in the both the Tourism and Hospitality industry and VET sector and has held various senior leadership roles across TAFENSW.

We would like to thank the following 2019 Sponsors and Exhibitors:

TAFE NSW Enterprise

Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

Skills Canberra