About the Women in Focus 4th Annual Conference and a Preview of the Speakers

At our 4th Annual Conference, Women in Focus will once again engage in social conversation on the challenges facing us in business and life.

A line up of international and local speakers will lead the conversation on topics from crowdsourcing to creative collaboration and social disruption; to maintaining a mindset that bounces curiously forward with courage and optimism.

We will tackle topics including social media, marketing, the environment and technology; we will share in the up and down journeys of women who have been there, done that, and survived to tell the story… and we will engage in cross-generational and cross life-cycle debate on the topics which rage.

At this year's conference we will be joined by women from start-ups to corporate CEOs, from the Boardroom to not for profits, from rural Australia to San Francisco… it’s a mix of experience and industry that makes this conference special.

Victoria Ransom

Founder of Wildfire, a division of Google

Victoria has been an entrepreneur since her early twenties and has developed three companies. As co-founder & hvictoria_ransom.jpgead of Wildfire, a social media marketing technology provider recently acquired by Google, Victoria has built the company to tens of thousands of customers, nearly 400 employees, and eight offices worldwide. Clients include major brands and agencies such as Pepsi, Unilever, Sony, AT&T, Ogilvy, Publicis, and Digitas. Wildfire is a two-time winner of the fbFund; investors include Summit, Accel Partners, and the Founder's Fund. Victoria has been featured in several publications including The New York Times, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal. She is a recent Techfellow winner for the category of General Management, was named one of the '25 Women to Watch in Tech' for 2011 & 2010 and was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for New Zealand. Victoria has spoken at numerous events including Le Web, SXSW, OMMA, AlwaysOn, Ad:tech, and Web 2.0.

Claudia Batten

Co-Founder, Victors & Spoils

Claudia Batten.jpg

Claudia has over 15 years of experience in the technology sector, including four years as a corporate attorney specializing in contract and technology law. Claudia was part of the founding team of Massive, a first-of-its-kind network for video game advertising that within three short years sold to Microsoft in 2006. In late 2009 she was co-founder of Victors & Spoils, the first advertising agency built on the principles of crowsdsourcing. French holding company Havas bought a majority interest in the agency in 2012, positioning V&S for international expansion. 

Partnering with advertising agencies at a strategic level, working to solve the issues that agencies face in the current economic, technological and social environment, Claudia is single-focussed on the need to adapt to new models. She has also advised companies of every shape and size, across telecommunications, banking and biotechnology, and has expert experience in intellectual property protection, e-commerce and privacy.

Claudia sits on the board of Icehouse New Zealand, named one of the top 10 start-up incubators in the world by Forbes magazine. She is Exec Chair of the board of BigLittleBang, a rapidly accelerating 3D Virtual World for kids. She is a regular speaker on digital innovation, digital media and building businesses of the future, topics she is extremely passionate about. Working diligently to give back to her native New Zealand and young entrepreneurs worldwide; Claudia contributes to over 5 formal mentor programs and informally works with numerous companies and individuals across the globe. She is outspoken about the personal journey that accompanies the entrepreneurial path and her own “squiggly line” from law to digital media.

Claudia’s background gives her a grounding in genuine business savvy, while her appetite for new challenges, natural curiosity, unerring sense of timing and intuitive handle on the pulse of the industry guarantee that she will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

Wendy McCarthy AO

Wendy.jpgWendy McCarthy is an experienced manager and company director who began her career as a secondary school teacher.

Currently she chairs headspace - Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation, Circus Oz, McGrath Estate Agents and Pacific Friends of the Global Fund. In 2010 she joined the board of Goodstart Childcare Limited. She has held many significant leadership roles nationally and internationally including eight years as Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

She is Founder and Principal of McCarthy Mentoring which specialises in providing mentors to major corporations, the public sector and not for profit organisations.

In 2005 she completed a decade as Chancellor of the University of Canberra.

In 2000 she established Corporate Good Works as a specialist broker to bring together corporations and not-for-profits in mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships. Its initial achievement was to broker a three-year relationship between Citigroup and the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre with the objective of training the next generation of Indigenous leaders. It was the largest corporate/Indigenous partnership in Australia.

In 1995 she established her national consulting business McCarthy Mentoring which specialises in providing mentors to major corporations, the public sector and not for profit organisations. In July 2012 her daughter Sophie McCarthy bought the business and she has a new role as Founder and Principal.

In 1989 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for outstanding contributions to community affairs, women’s affairs and the Bicentennial celebrations. In 2003 she was awarded a Centenary of Federation medal for business leadership and is regularly cited in the media as one of our most influential leaders.

Andy Lark, CEO, Group Lark Outgoing CMO, Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Andy.jpgAndy is the CEO of Group Lark and outgoing Chief Marketing and Online Officer for Australia’s leading financial institution, the Commonwealth Bank. He is also a director of Number 8 Ventures – New Zealand’s leading technology venture capital firm; and invests in and advises numerous start-ups. For the past two decades, Andy Lark has worked alongside CEOs and their leadership teams to define - and then attain - digital and brand greatness for their institutions. These include Air New Zealand, Brocade, Commonwealth Bank, Coles, Dell, Emirates Team New Zealand, IBM, Simplot, Southwest Airlines, Sun, The New Zealand Government, and Visa. He has built some of the world’s most successful ecommerce sites; online communities and applications for smartphones. For Commonwealth Bank he recently launched the worlds most successful eWallet for smartphones and Facebook – and, ushered in “Can” – one of Australia’s largest brand campaigns. Today he leads Group Lark – a global consultancy driving brand and digital transformations for the world’s leading countries and enterprises. Group Lark helps great ideas flourish in a digital world – and great brands design their future there.
A native of Auckland, New Zealand, Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree from Auckland University. He is a passionate supporter of NZ and Australian entrepreneurs where his work was recognized with the NZ Government’s prestigious World class New Zealander Award -- and most recently, the Flying Kiwi Award on behalf of the NZ HiTech sector.

He has won over 100 awards for work in building brands and creating online capabilities. In the past year he was recognised as one of the most influential marketers online and most powerful influencers on Twitter and Linked-In. When he is not immersed in work, he is a competitive sailor, a very non-competitive cyclist, and writer. His Blog - thedailylark -- is in the Top 100 ranked marketing blogs globally and his book – The Connected Customer will be published shortly worldwide. He is a frequent keynote speaker at events and regular columnist for AdNews.

Darryl Lovegrove, Founder, Lovegrove Entertainment


The name ‘Darryl Lovegrove’ is synonymous with entrepreneurialism, quality and innovation. Co-creator of world-renowned corporate entertainment sensation “The Three Waiters”, Lovegrove (and former business partner) started with a simple entertainment concept that went on to revolutionise corporate entertainment around the world!

Performing to audiences of millions in over 70 countries, “The Three Waiters” earned a standing ovation from the worlds’ greatest opera singers themselves - “The Three Tenors” and was the recipient of several prestigious international industry awards. Offices were established in Sydney, LA, New York, London and Bogota Colombia. After 11 years, Lovegrove sold his financial interest in the Act and established his own Company which is well known for creating innovative corporate entertainment acts of the highest calibre.

Jane Bennett

Jane Bennett Image.jpg
Former Managing Director of Ashgrove Cheese, Jane Bennett is Chair of the Food Industry Advisory Council in Tasmania and is a Board Member of the Brand Tasmania Council.  Jane’s other directorships include the CSIRO, Australian Farm Institute, Tasmanian Ports Corporation. Jane was the 1994 Tasmanian Rural Achiever of the year and in 2010, she was named Tasmanian Telstra Business Woman of the Year.

Craig James, Chief Economist, CommSec

craigjames.jpgCraig James is the Chief Economist at CommSec. You may recognise Craig James from his regular appearances on television, radio and in newspaper interviews or have read one of his economic commentaries.

Craig’s role as Chief Economist, CommSec, includes interpreting ‘big picture’ economic and financial trends for customers, clients and staff. He was previously Chief Economist at Colonial, has worked at the Australian Financial Review as a senior writer and been in banking, finance and journalism for over 30 years.

Craig regularly provides commentaries on economic and financial trends, contributing to CommSec’s position as one of the most quoted institutions in Australian media.

Catriona Wallace, Owner and CEO, Fifth Quadrant, ACA Research, Flamingo and Avoclean Services

Catriona Wallace.JPG.jpgCatriona is also the founder of three not-for-profit businesses, Indigo Express Fund, Kids In Philanthropy and Out & Up Employment program. Catriona has a Bachelors Degree, Masters Degree and PhD in Organisational Behaviour (AGSM). Catriona was a finalist in the Telstra Business Women's Awards in 2008.

Catriona is an internationally recognised Customer Experience Futurist, speaking across the globe and also a high profile speaker in Philanthropy and Women's Advocacy.

In addition to being a CEO Catriona is actively engaged in the philanthropic sector working in partnership with the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence; Sydney Community Foundation, Sydney Women's Fund and the Asylum Seekers Centre.

Catriona is a mother of 5 children - two step sons and three of her own. All amazing kids who are also involved in community work. She also coach a girls’ soccer team and mentors pro-bono about 6 women, 3 indigenous women, including Senate candidate Nova Peris, and 3 non-indigenous women and she runs a webinar series titled RAWomen for women.

Naomi Simson, Founding Director, RedBalloon

Naomi Simson.JPG.jpgImagine running a business based on happiness – that’s what Naomi Simson decided to try when she left a serious corporate career to set up online experience retailer RedBalloon in 2001. Since then redballoon.com.au has sold 1.8 million experiences and has been named a BRW Great Place to Work four times running. Naomi received the 2008 National Telstra Business Women's Awards for Innovation and the 2011 Ernst and Young Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She shares her insights at naomisimson.com – in Australia’s top 15 Best Business Blogs – and is a LinkedIn Influencer, dispensing knowledge with an audience of 200 million members.

Ronni Kahn, Founder, OzHarvest

Ronnia.JPG.jpgOzHarvest was founded in November 2004 when event’s organiser, Ronni Kahn wanted to make a significant contribution to society. Stunned by the amount of food wasted by the hospitality industry, she decided to do something about it.

Ronni was instrumental in changing the existing legislation across four states that had prevented food donors from supplying excess food. Now companies and registered businesses around Australia are protected from any liability when donating quality excess food to OzHarvest.

Since its inception, over 17 million meals have been delivered to women, children and men in need while also having rescued over 5,000 tonnes of food from ending up as landfill and waste.

Kim McKay AO, Managing Director, Momentum

Kim.JPG.jpgKim McKay’s international career in media, social & sustainability marketing and communications spans over 25 years and every continent.  A highly skilled communicator and entrepreneurial marketer, Kim has created and managed many visionary and large scale international projects.  The social innovation projects she has helped create cover a range of areas from the environment to population genetics and technology, adventure and futures research. In June 2008 Kim was recognized by the Australian government for distinguished service to the environment and the community and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), one of Australia’s highest civilian honours.

She is currently managing director of Momentum2, a social & sustainability marketing and communications agency she founded in 2005 and has worked on local and global projects for National Geographic Society, Qantas and Harpo Productions among other clients. www.momentum2.com.au

Amantha Imber, Head Inventiologist, Inventium

Inventium172 clean.JPG.jpgDr Amantha Imber is an innovation psychologist, best-selling author, and founder of innovation consultancy Inventium. Inventium was recently awarded the BRW Client Choice Award for Best Management Consultancy in Australia. Amantha has a PhD in organisational psychology and has helped companies such as Coca-Cola, LEGO, Red Bull, Deloitte, McDonalds, Qantas, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and many others innovate more successfully. She has spoken in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the United States, Africa and Europe helping turn people into innovation dynamos.

Topaz Conway, Case Manager, Commercialisation Australia

Topaz Conway.JPG.jpgTopaz has over 20 years’ experience working in and around early-stage companies across a number of industries, including starting and selling two companies herself. Her career has traversed hi-tech, biotech, and even starting an internet wine company. She currently specialises in the biotech arena, guiding companies through investment, development, FDA, manufacturing, product launch and exit, in the US and Australian markets. Strategy, funding and partnerships are her strengths and her company, Biothoughts, is dedicated to these services.

After her first small company in the US sold in late 1989, Topaz moved to Australia to become GM at the NSW Chamber of Commerce, followed by GM at the Garvan Institute in Sydney. In 2000 she returned to the US to work in hi-tech, watched it crash, so stepped into the biotech arena first via a Venture Capital firm, Pacific Horizon Ventures, then CEO of Cytopeia, a bio-engineering startup, where she led the company through product launch, capital raising, and finally setting up the trade sale to their two competitors.  Her wine business sold in 2007 and she returned to Australia.

  Topaz now wears several hats – she is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and currently sits on the Boards of PafTec Pty Ltd (Chair) and Springboard Enterprises Australia. She is also a Case Manager for Commercialisation Australia.

Teresa McDowell, Founder, Hemp Hemp Hooray

Teresa McDowell.JPG.jpgTeresa McDowell has taken to the steps of State Parliament and formed the Industrial Hemp Association of South Australia to fulfil her business vision for hemp products.   In these times of environmental awareness and the eco conscious consumer, the pursuit of her passion to gain legitimacy for industrial hemp as a beneficial product (including a food item) is even stronger now than ever.

Teresa’s Mount Barker based business creates 11 skin care products made with Australian-grown Organic hemp seed oil, a source of essential fatty acids and protein, plus vitamins and minerals. Products sell via local health food outlets and globally online largely due to a social media push, which has helped to attract a global market.

One of the most challenging aspects of Teresa’s business has always been the gross misinterpretation of Industrial Hemp. While many people recognise the value of this wonderful natural resource there is still confusion over its status.  Thus, educating consumers and decision makers that industrial hemp is not marijuana and has no hallucinogenic side effects is paramount.

While many people recognise the value of this wonderful natural resource there is still confusion over its status.  Thus, educating consumers and decision makers that industrial hemp is not marijuana and has no hallucinogenic side effects is paramount. Her wine business sold in 2007 and she returned to Australia. 

Joe Paul, Transaction Banking Specialist, CommBank

Joe Paul.jpgJoe's current expertise covers the entire cash flow process including (but not limited to) business accounts, set off arrangements, investment account options, corporate charge cards, premium online banking, in-house and outsourced payables and receivables solutions, online merchant facilities, eftpos, and cash solutions. His role as a Transaction Banking Specialist is to deliver solutions that help boost customer's bottom line through structuring banking to improve cash flow, streamline processes, and eliminate unnecessary costs. Joe worked in banking and financial services for five years where he has managed a portfolio of e-Commerce products and worked in roles associated with customer experience, analytics and marketing.

Debra Cerasa, CEO, MS Australia

Debra Cerasa.jpgDebra Cerasa is an experienced and qualified senior executive, in the health sector, with a diverse resume of experience. Having held various management positions including Chief Executive Officer with RCNA from 2008 to 2012 and previously with International SOS in Indonesia as Country Clinic Manager followed by the Director of Clinical Services positions with Latrobe Regional Hospital in Victoria. Following her general nurse training at Deniliquin NSW, Debra has since gained a variety of clinical experience as well as certificates in intensive care and midwifery. She has worked in education roles in a number of Melbourne hospitals; has also worked extensively in midwifery in a variety of settings, including her own private practice; and has worked in pre-hospital emergency sector managing and teaching paramedic programs for the Victorian Ambulance Service. Debra spent a number of years in education and training before progressing into management and leadership roles. Debra’s belief that health care is a right for all and not a privilege is what motivates her in whatever role she undertakes.

She holds a practical, down-to-earth approach to research, education and quality improvement which she believes will position her well in representing MS Australia.

Debra is also regarded by many as an innovative change agent who believes that progress in health and well-being can be inspired by the everyday stories of real people.

Alexx Stuart, Writer, alexxstuart.com

Alexx Stuart.jpgLuxury cosmetics, hospitality, training, consulting, starting and selling a boutique syrup range, a boutique events business… Alexx has been busy. She saw where she could truly help, where it is so very much needed today in the world. Never having studied natural therapies nor nutrition formally, she had been passionate about holistic health for some time, with big health issues in her teens and 20s and having found the natural ways of healing eventually, after many a well-meaning doctor or specialist failed. She began to write 2 years ago at alexxstuart.com and share her ‘wellth’ philosophy and recipes for delicious low allergen dishes that build strong bodies, amazing skin and hair and reverse disease. She believes it's a critical point in health right now. Alarming rates of allergy and autism in kids and adrenal, autoimmune issues through the roof in adults, especially women. We joke far too much about self-care. "Me time? What's that LOL". How Alexx qualified to help? She figures you don't need any qualifications to be a concerned citizen.  Armed with enthusiasm for making a difference, and a thirst for knowledge and justice, Alexx is doing what feels right to help people be 'wellthy' and in the process, heal our planet through those choices we make on the journey.

Sue Morphet, Chair, Manufacturing Australia

Sue Morphet.jpgSue is the former CEO and Board Director of Pacific Brands. During her time there Sue managed the public company through an insolvency crisis; rationalized brands; radically reduced cost base, re-engineered supply chain, raised equity and renegotiated loans to restore balance sheet, sold off non core divisions, ramped up retail footprint, launched online business, solidified key accounts.

Sue has an extensive background in the retail sector but something you may not know about her is that in the 80s she developed a bread making brand and co-wrote a best-selling bread book.


How exciting, last year was fantastic and can't wait to do it all again!  Thanks so much for giving us this amazing opportunity.

I literally have goose bumps at the thought of being able to join you again. Last years conference was amazing. It lifted me enormously and opened so many doors, not only personally through personal growth and connections but also for my business. Well done Women in Focus for such an amazing initiative to create such a great learning environment for women entrepreneurs.

Last year was truly amazing and inspiring and look at the round up of speakers this year! Always doing such a great job WIF team!

last years wif conference was a pivotal change in my life both personally and professionally. it is amazing how capable we can become with a supportive community.

I'm so delighted to be going as I couldn't make last year due to a stint in hospital.  I'm looking forward to be such a supportive community to grow my business and privileged I've been asked.

Counting down the days till the 3rd Women in Focus conference I've attended.  I have the privilege of heading up an incredible community of businesswomen in Sydney and I'm inspired and energised regularly but I feel this time is for ME! Time to be with my peers having my own lightbulb moments.  Can't wait to connect with you all.

Last year was an amazing experience for me. I came back rejuvenated and with even more entrepreneurial spirit and fire. I learnt, I asked, I questioned, I listened and made wonderful connections. I'm ready to do this again ! Can't wait to be part of the #WIF convention 2013 #WomenCan

This is my first WIF conference and I can't wait to be inspired and to meet so many amazing people. Counting down the days until next Tuesday and looking forward to meeting everyone.

Amazing line up of speakers, bound to be as inspiring and motivating as last year! Congratulations to the team on organising such a valuable conference and opportunity for so many.

Looks like a great line-up.  I'm just curious ... when is it?  I haven't been able to find date, venue, or registration information.