Summit Speakers in 2024

The Corporate PA Summit attracts a fantastic mix of inspirational speakers, celebrity speakers and leading EAs.

Photos and bios of confirmed speakers will be shown below as they become available.

Shelly Horton (Summit MC)

Shelly Horton is the personification of confidence. She’s a TV journalist, sought after MC, Women’s Health Advocate and runs her own company ShellShocked Media where she teaches media and presentation training. She runs The Confidence Course where she helps people find their inner Beyoncé.

For nearly eight years, Shelly has appeared weekly on Channel Nine delivering opinion segments. She’s the lifestyle presenter for 9Honey, the host of 9Honey’s Talking Honey, He Said/She Said with Ben Fordham and was the host of all three seasons of Married At First Sight’s spin off show Talking Married.

She has been a long-time advocate for women’s health including publicly speaking up to destigmatise topics such as a woman’s choice to be childfree, PCOS, dense breasts, depression and perimenopause and menopause. She has co-created online courses about confidence, health advocacy and menopause in the workplace.

She’s an ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Too Good, Pink Hope, HER Mental Health and a member of the International Menopause Society. Her 30-year career highlights outside of Nine include, 11 years reporting for the ABC, eight years as a presenter on Channel Seven, six years as a journalist at Fairfax and five years as the South Pacific correspondent for Entertainment Tonight USA.

Her background in live TV means she’s super comfortable in front of a crowd. She has been the MC and hosted Q&A sessions for large events including corporate events for over 2000 people, charity fundraising galas for over 1000 people, champagne lunches of 100 or beauty breakfasts for just 40.

Dr Julia Baird

Julia Baird is an award winning journalist and best selling author. She hosts The Drum on ABC TV and writes columns for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the New York Times. Her writing has appeared in a range of publications including Newsweek, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Guardian, the Good Weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun-Herald, The Monthly, Time and Harper’s Bazaar.

Her new book, Phosphorescence: On awe, wonder, and the things that sustain you when the work goes dark, is a number one best seller in Australia.

Her much lauded biography of Queen Victoria was published in several countries and made one of the New York Times’ critics best books of 2016.

Baird spent several years working in the US. In 2005, she was a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press and Public Policy at Harvard, researching the global response to American opinion in the lead-up to the Iraq War. Shortly afterwards she was appointed senior editor at Newsweek, where she was responsible for cover stories on such subjects as the hidden world of surrogacy, the history of climate science denial, the science of hate and the way gender impacts voting in American politics. She became a columnist there, as well as at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

She has had a wide-ranging career in print and broadcast journalism both in the United States and Australia. Her work has earned her four Walkley Our Watch Awards, (including the Gold) for her reporting on domestic violence, a Walkley Award for team election reporting, and two further Walkley nominations, for analysis and commentary and for Victoria: The Queen.

Baird’s history Ph.D., on female politicians and the media, formed the basis of her first book, Media Tarts: How the Australian Press Frames Female Politicians (2004). Baird has also taught history and made radio documentaries on subjects as diverse as black metal music and convent education.

Baird received both her B.A. and Ph.D. in history from Sydney University. She is a regular commentator on television and radio.

Craig Foster AM

Craig Foster is a former player with, and captain of, the Socceroos, as well as a broadcaster, Adjunct Professor of sport & social responsibility, author and human rights activist.

A highly respected media presenter, he is also a global advocate for diversity and social harmony, known for his contribution to Australian society well beyond the playing field.

In 2019, the Australian Financial Review recognised Craig as a ‘True Australian Leader’, the Sydney Morning Herald as one of the ‘People that Defined 2019′, he was the recipient of the 2020 NSW Government Humanitarian Award for his work with sport and human rights, an Australian Human Rights Commission Medal finalist, was awarded the Australian Muslim Council 2020 Abyssinian Medal and was a finalist for the NSW 2021 Australian of the Year.

In 2021, Craig became a Member of the Order Of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day Honours List which he dedicated to his refugee friends and former Manus Island detainees, Moz Azimitibar and Farhad Bandesh, and Hakeem al-Araibi as well as all refugees seeking safety around the world.

Craig holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), Master’s Degree in International Sports Management and a Postgraduate Degree in Football Management.

Somehow, Craig was nominated as one of Australia’s Best Dressed Men despite spending his life in ripped jeans and boardshorts and still plays football for the Waverley Old Boys Over 35’s in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, Australia where he tries to forget he’s now in his 50s.

Today, Craig advises on athlete activism for some of Australia’s most prominent sportspeople and is an Adjunct Professor of Sport and Social Responsibility with Torrens University, Australia.

Craig has been named the 2023 NSW Australian of the Year.

Michelle Cowan

Combining her two passions of being a mother and AFL coach, Michelle’s amazing story is a tribute to what all of us can achieve with enough guts, grit and determination. With over 18 years of coaching experience in the WAFL, AFL and AFLW a long and successful career that has contributed to the game’s exciting evolution.

At 21 Michelle became Australia’s first female WAFL assistant coach and put West Perth through its paces. Her role at West Perth was followed by a three year stint at South Fremantle Football Club as midfield coach. Michelle later took on a dual role at Melbourne Football Club as the Senior Coach of their Women’s Team and Development Coach for the Men’s team before being appointed by Fremantle Football Club (Dockers) to be the inaugural coach of their AFLW side 2016-2018. In early 2019 Michelle was appointed as Assistant Coach of the West Coast Eagle’s AFLW team and in 2021 was offered the opportunity to become Head of Operations & Player Wellbeing for the team.

Michelle was awarded the AFL Football Woman of the Year in 2013.and in 2014 was announced as AFL DSR Coach of the Year. Her achievements have made it clearer for the next generation of women in football proving that when it comes to football or business, gender is no barrier to kicking goals.

Cassie Roma

Cassie Roma has been dubbed a “hidden weapon” of business, TV, podcasting, journalism, storytelling and public speaking. Born in San Diego, California, Cassie has called New Zealand home-base for nearly 20 years while working across the globe. She has recently returned home to the USA to be nearer to family.

Over her time abroad, Cassie built an awarded & globally recognised reputation as the go-to expert for all things business, innovation, creativity, and multi-disciplinary storytelling.

In 2021 Cassie’s successful advertising and media corporate career pivoted from that of being a well-known businesswoman & entrepreneur to a TV personality when she was cast as the world’s first queer woman to act as an advisor on The Apprentice Aotearoa where she quickly became a beloved household name as the Kindness Warrior.

Beyond TV, Cassie is an author, podcaster, documentarian, sought after inspirational speaker, Life/Career Coach, & TEDx alumni.

From Auckland to Sydney to LA to Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee, Cassie is beloved for her talent in helping artists, executives, and projects shine.

Whether she is behind or in front of the camera, she always finds a story worth telling to capture an audience’s attention. And, their heart.

Gihan Perera

Has disruption – from COVID-19, employee burnout, global uncertainty, and more – shaken up your world? Do you want to be more confident in chaos and uncertainty?

Gihan Perera is a business futurist, conference speaker, and author who shows you how to be fit for the future in a fast-changing world.

For more than 25 years, he has worked with organisations and leaders throughout Australia, as well as in New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, and North America – helping them to thrive in a fast-changing world. Since the pandemic, he has helped people lead in uncertainty and act with clarity and confidence. 

 He is the author of DisruptedDisruption By DesignThe Future of Leadership, and ten other books.

He has always taken the lead in embracing emerging technologies and trends, from his university thesis in AI more than 30 years ago, to leading a software development team building the infrastructure for the early Internet, founding one of Australia’s first Web development companies in 1996, teaching thought leaders how to create e-learning platforms, and helping business leaders with scenario planning to lead their teams into the future.

Through his keynote presentations, masterclasses, and in-depth programs, he shares future trends and thought-provoking insights – delivered with interaction, engagement, and humour – that leave people feeling positive, empowered, and optimistic about their future.

“Engaging, funny and witty, with an insightful global view of business” – Procurement Australia

“Funny and entertaining while at the same time gave us the inspiration to think ahead” – Pearson Education

“Engaging, funny, insightful and inspiring, delivered with intelligence and charm” – Builders Coach

“Gihan kept the audience riveted for 45 minutes straight over Zoom!” – Regional Development Australia

“Every event manager’s dream speaker: professional, communicative and relevant – delivering thoughtful and insightful content to our audience.” – Cornerstone Events

“Delivered with thought, humour and energy, Gihan shared challenging insights about the pace of change in a disrupted world” – TAL

Forbes magazine rated him the #5 social media influencer in the world – and #1 in Australia – in his area of expertise.

Rachael Bonetti

Rachael is a former career executive assistant who has supported a high profile billionaire, thought leaders, CEOs and Chairs internationally for 27 years.

Today she’s a passionate advocate for the assistant community and loves creating and delivering the development opportunities she wishes existed as she moved through her own career. Rachael is a corporate trainer, podcast host, Forbes Australia contributor and the founder of The Elite EA Academy. She is also a certified wellbeing practitioner and loves helping people navigate high performance without the burnout.

She works with companies and assistants all over the world on all things career success, mindset and wellbeing.

Amy Scott

Amy is an authentic speaker. Speaking from the heart, Amy takes her audience on a journey as they uncover practical exercises to overcome self-doubt, build resilience & become their best selves.

Her experience as a family lawyer, an experienced dots facilitator, and world class speaker shines through as her audience rides an emotional roller coaster consisting of empathy, compassion and humour.

Julie De Maria

Julie is a passionate, driven professional, with a varied and versatile skill set incorporating C-Suite Executive Assistance, Office Management, Event Management, Sales & Marketing and Business Owner.

Julie believes versatility and a transferable skillset over the years from working within disciples such as banking, the beauty industry, Advertising, Media and Logistics Property has enabled her to stand out from her peers.

Julie’s career spans over 30 years.   Primarily as an Executive Assistant. 

Julie’s career commenced within one of the 4 top banks, honing in on her negotiation, attention to detail, eye for creativity and approachable manner saw her quickly rise from a Collections officer role, repossessing motor vehicles to a highly regarded EA / Event Manager.  Managing, curating and overseeing domestic and international events from 20 clients to over 200 staff & clients over a 15 year journey. 

Julie has been working with LOGOS, an Asia Pacific logistics property specialist, since June 2022.  Supporting the Head of Australia and New Zealand, Julie has developed a strong partnership based on trust and communication to support her manager in delivering in a fast-paced environment, a key factor in a role as an EA.

Julie De Maria enjoys and thrives on building strong internal and external relationships and is committed to fostering a positive, inclusive, and collaborative workplace environment.

In Julie’s spare-time, she enjoys spending time with her 3 grandchildren, her 2 ragdoll cats Sly & Kiki and of course travelling to experience various cultures, languages, food and wine all over the world.

Darren Searle

Darren is the Head of Australia & New Zealand at LOGOS Property. He joined LOGOS in 2018 and has helped to grow the ANZ portfolio to A$16.3 billion of Assets under Management today. Darren’s responsibilities include the delivery of Australia’s largest intermodal logistics facility, the A$4.2 billion Moorebank Logistics Park in Sydney, which on completion will provide 850,000sqm of high-quality industrial property and infrastructure.

With over 26 years’ experience in the logistics, industrial and infrastructure sectors, Darren brings a wealth of knowledge to customers and investors having worked for leading international companies including Toll, ING Real Estate, Port of Melbourne and CSR. At Toll, Darren oversaw the development of Rail, Port and logistics facilities across Australia and New Zealand.

Darren has a focused approach to growing strategic regional relationships with valued customers from across Asia Pacific and North America regions, delivering bespoke solutions, whilst ensuring significant returns to capital partners.

Darren has a BA of Business (Property Valuations) from RMIT.

Amanda Rose (Masterclass facilitator)

Amanda Rose (#BossLady) is an advocate for women in business, a media commentator, keynote speaker and an entrepreneur. Appearing weekly on Sunrise and SkyNews and contributing regularly to the Australian Financial Review, the Daily Telegraph and SmartCompany, Amanda applies compassionate critical thinking to disseminate complex issues affecting everyday Australians.

Amanda is the Founder and CEO of Entrepreneurial & Small Business Women Australia (ESBWA) and the Founder and CEO of Western Sydney Women. She founded and sold Business Women Media, the first platform of its kind to advocate for small business women. As a mentor and advisor to women in executive roles and SMEs, Amanda is known for her strategic, practical approach to leadership and business.

A passionate keynote speaker, professional development trainer and workshop facilitator, Amanda Rose has worked with the Australian Defence Force, CPA Australia, Law Institute, UTS, UBER, ANZ, Deloitte, Local Government and the Royal Australian Navy in the areas of confident leadership, conflict resolution and relationship building.

Working with John Holland, Laing O’Rourke, Downer, EG Funds and local councils on policy consulting and stakeholder engagement, Amanda has been described as the “glue connecting communities, government and business” on critical infrastructure and social impact initiatives.

Amanda is a member of the External Committee for Western Sydney University’s creative leadership degree and a small business mentor for the Australian Government’s Boosting Female Founders initiative. Her qualifications include a BBA (Mktg & Psych) from Macquarie University, a Masters CommMgmt from UTS, and a GradCert Educational Leadership from Macquarie University. She is currently studying a Masters Business Law at Sydney University.

Really insightful. All of the speakers were wonderful. I would be interested in attending again. Each speaker gave lots of great tips and information that will be really useful for work and general life.
Scotch College

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