Keynote SpeakersDamon Gameau
Director, Writer, Producer, Presenter
Damon Gameau is an Australian actor and director.
Dr Charles Hall
Professor and Ellison Chair International Floriculture, Texas A & M University
Dr. Charlie Hall received a B.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Tennessee in 1984, a Master's Degree in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design from the University of Tennessee in 1986, and his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University. He began his academic career at Texas A&M University in 1988, where he spent 13 years on the faculty before joining the faculty at the University of Tennessee in 2002. In August 2007, Dr. Hall returned to Texas A&M University as Professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture. Dr. Hall's expertise is in the production and marketing of green industry crops is nationally recognised in academia and among the horticultural clientele he serves.
Dr. Hall currently serves as the Chief Economist for AmericanHort and Co-Chair of the Advisory Council of Seed Your Future. He is former President and Past-President of the board of directors for America in Bloom. He received the Paul Ecke, Jr. award from the Society of American Florists for professional contributions to the floral industry and the Porter Henegar Memorial Award from the Southern Nursery Association for significant contributions to ornamental horticulture research and to the Southern Nursery Association. He is an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and has received TNLA’s Staff Award for Outstanding Service to the Industry.
Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Water & Environment
Lyn O’Connell started as Deputy Secretary in the Department of Agriculture in October 2015 where she is responsible for Australia’s biosecurity system and chairs the National Biosecurity Committee.
Lyn was previously a Deputy Secretary at the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, a position she held for seven years.
Lyn has held a number of senior executive positions in government portfolios and the private sector and holds a number of non-executive directorships.
Lyn has a Bachelor of Science degree (ANU); she is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.She was awarded a Public Service Medal in 2014.Ben Peacock
Founder, Republic of Everyone
Ben has had the pleasure of working with the nursery industry since 2013, over which time his plant life balance has improved considerably.
CEO, Hort Innovation
Matt joined Hort Innovation as CEO in September 2018. He is driven by his passion to achieve the very best for Australia’s horticulture growers and the sector as a whole.
Prior to joining Hort Innovation, Matt was CEO of NSW Farmers – Australia’s largest state farmer organisation. He held this position for nearly eight years, before which he was General Manager of Strategy and Marketing and Head of Corporate Partnerships, Marketing and Licensing at Australian Rugby Union.
Matt has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Systems) Agriculture from Hawkesbury Agricultural College and a Master’s in Business (Marketing) from Monash University.
In his spare time, Matt enjoys spending time with his family chasing waves along Sydney’s beaches.
Futurist, Author, Consultant
Gihan Perera is a futurist, author and consultant who gives you a glimpse into what’s ahead – and how you can become fit for the future, in your professional and personal life.
Since 1997, he has worked with business leaders, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and other change agents – helping them with their strategy for thriving in a fast-changing world. He has clients throughout Australia, as well as in New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the USA and Canada.
He is the author of “The Future of Leadership”, “Disruption By Design”, and 10 other books.
His formal background is in science and technology, with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Western Australia. But he’s always been interested in people and the way they communicate.
Dr Craig Challen
2019 Joint Australian of the Year, Veterinary Surgeon, Cave Diver
Craig Challen is an Australian cave explorer and member of the Wet Mules diving group.
After commencing cave diving in the 1990s he was an early adopter of closed-circuit mixed gas rebreathers. Notable explorations include the extension of Cocklebiddy Cave on the Nullarbor Plain of Australia in 2008 and the Pearse Resurgence in New Zealand over the last 10 years. He has additionally explored caves throughout Australia and New Zealand and in China, Thailand, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands. Craig also has an avid interest in shipwreck diving and has explored sites over the last 15 years in the South China Sea, Solomon Islands, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
A veterinary surgeon by profession, he founded the Vetwest (later Australian Animal Hospitals) group of veterinary practices in 1993 and ran it until selling his interest and retiring in 2017. Craig is also an enthusiastic helicopter and aeroplane pilot.
In July 2018 Craig participated in the Tham Luang cave rescue of 13 people in Thailand. He has been named as the 2019 Australian of the Year for Western Australia and the joint 2019 Australian of the Year with his dive partner Richard Harris.