Conference Speakers in 2021

The Corporate PA Summit attracts a fantastic mix of inspirational speakers, celebrity speakers and leading EAs. This Corporate PA Summit will build upon this tradition in 2021, with an agenda packed full of exceptional presentations.

Photos and bios of confirmed speakers can be found below.

Would you like to be considered as a speaker at future ThinkTank events? You can submit an application here.

Dr Fiona Wood AM, FRCS, FRACS

Fiona Wood has been a burns surgeon and researcher for over 30 years and is Director of the Burns Service of Western Australia (BSWA). She is a Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Fiona Stanley Hospital and Perth Children’s Hospital; co-founder of the first skin cell laboratory in WA; Winthrop Professor in the School of Surgery at The University of Western Australia; and co-founder of the Fiona Wood Foundation (formerly The McComb Foundation).

Professor Wood’s greatest contribution and enduring legacy is her work with co-inventor Marie Stoner, pioneering the innovative ‘spray-on skin’ technique (Recell), where today the technique is used worldwide.
In October 2002, Fiona was propelled into the media spotlight when the largest proportion of survivors from the 2002 Bali bombings arrived in Perth where Fiona led the medical team at Royal Perth Hospital to save many lives.

Fiona was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2003. In 2004 she was awarded the Western Australia Citizen of the Year award for her contribution to Medicine in the field of burns research. Fiona was then named Australian of the Year for 2005. She is an Australian Living Treasure. Fiona is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science.

Fiona is married to fellow surgeon Tony Kierath and is mother to four boys and two girls.

Alicia Curtis

Alicia Curtis is one of Australia’s most inspiring social and business entrepreneurs as a personal leadership expert and change maker.

Clearly with a knack for inspiring crowds and empowering people to discover their own potential to be leaders, Alicia established her leadership development company in 2001. Her face to face and online leadership programs have always been at the cutting edge of increasing diversity in leadership, challenging the stereotypes of who can be leaders and the difference they can make. In 2016, Alicia co-authored the book, Difference Makers: A Leader’s Guide to Championing Diversity on Boards. Alicia is passionately driven by her purpose to ignite leaders to transform the world for the better – whether than be in the workplace or broader community.

Alicia continues pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. In 2014, she co-founded 100 Women, a collective giving circle which inspires everyday people to become powerful philanthropists. Over that time, 100 Women has granted $720,000 and impacted over 10,500 women and girls in over six different countries.

Alicia has a masters in business leadership and has numerous awards to her name including being inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame in 2020, top 4 in the 2019 Business News 40under40 List, 2018 EY Social Entrepreneur of the Year in the western region, Westpac’s 200 Businesses of Tomorrow in 2017 and the Westpac & Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence List in 2014.

Alicia’s leadership journey started at just 12 years old, attending the first International Children’s Conference organised by the United Nations and then co-founding a children’s conference in Perth – since then, she’s never stopped!

Tracy Vo

Tracy, who has been part of the Nine News team since 2007, is the weekend news presenter for Nine News Perth. She is also a senior reporter in the newsroom.

While completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at Curtin University, her journalism career began in radio in Sydney on 2SM in 2004. Tracy spent two years at the station as breakfast editor, newsreader and reporter. She soon moved to television, taking up a producing and reporting position at Sky News Australia before joining the Nine News Sydney team and the Nine News Network in Sydney in 2007.

In 2010, Tracy was offered the role of political reporter in Nine’s Canberra bureau. She immediately grabbed the opportunity to work with veteran political editor Laurie Oakes. After a busy year in politics, Tracy returned to Sydney as a general reporter.

By the end of 2011, Tracy also took on the medical round. She covered a range of stories and roles, from field producing chief presenter Peter Overton during the Black Saturday bushfires, travelling across the country for the 2010 election campaign, trekking through the jungles of Borneo and walking with lions in South Africa.

After almost 10 years in Sydney, it was time to head home to Perth, where she continued to cover stories overseas. They include the death of Nelson Mandela, Schappelle Corby’s release, the mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and abandoned baby Gammy in Thailand.

In 2014, Tracy became a published author, telling her family’s story in Small Bamboo. In 1978, following a dramatic escape from war torn Vietnam, Tracy’s parents boarded a leaky boat, exchanged wedding rings en route to Malaysia, and
then sold them and their scant possessions to feed themselves and their relatives on the journey. They had no idea of what their future would hold or whether they would live.

In 2016, Tracy took on the role of presenter for Today Perth News, before moving to the Nine Live Perth chair at 4pm in 2018. She is also a familiar voice on Radio 6PR. 2020 saw her move back to Sydney to take on the TODAY newsreader role, before returning home to Perth later in the year due to COVID-19.

Tracy is an inspiring and motivating speaker whose presentation encompasses the wonderful life she and her family has now.

Sam Gash

Nothing can stop Samantha Gash armed with the philosophy, if you want something you’ve never had – you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.

An accomplished lawyer working for the largest international law firm in the world, Samantha traded in her heels for running shoes and went out to change the world through highly collaborative social impact campaigns. With true grit, unrelenting focus and the willingness to create the next best plan in the face of chaos and change, she has created lasting impact. She has raised $1.5 million dollars for charities such as World Vision, Save the Children and the Australian Red Cross.

A trailblazer in the endurance world, Samantha was the first woman and the youngest person at the time, to complete the Four Deserts Grand Slam – one of the world’s toughest endurance competitions that spans 1000kms across the hottest, coldest, driest and windiest deserts on earth.

With over 25,000kms under her feet and years of pushing her mental and physical boundaries, she now uses running as a vehicle for social change through advocacy; peer to peer fundraising and integrated digital campaigns. In March 2020, she launched the Sam Gash Podcast – a peak performing podcast that hosts adventurers, innovators, entrepreneurs, athletes and artists.

As a highly regarded international speaker, Sam uses authentic storytelling and dramatic documentary footage to share her journey. She is an inspiring change leader and will guide you through managing industry disruption and learning to become comfortable in the discomfort in an engaging and memorable way.

Mark Wales

Mark Wales grew up in the red dirt of West Australian mining towns in the Pilbara. After deciding he wanted to join the SAS in high school, Mark embarked on a career in the Australian military that would eventually lead him to the battlefields of Afghanistan. As a Troop Commander in charge of 30 elite soldiers, Mark’s role was to lead combat missions against senior enemy commanders, deep behind enemy lines. Through this unique and harsh environment, Mark developed his skills in leadership, teamwork and high performance.

Like many in his situation, Mark battled depression and stress disorders after warfighting in Afghanistan. He tackled recovery with the same intensity he applied to Special Ops training. He rigorously researched the fundamentals of neurobiological science and the benefit of skill development. This approach underpinned a strong recovery, and drove personal growth far beyond his previous abilities.

Mark’s successful recovery and growth led him to embark on a high profile career in business. With four attempts of the GMAT, he was accepted into an Ivy League college in the U.S.A, and after graduation he joined McKinsey & Company, a respected consulting outfit also known as ‘The Firm’. He founded a fashion startup Kill_Kaptur, a tough-luxury ecommerce brand. He was a competitor in Australian Survivor 2017, the world’s #1 reality TV show.

An avid surfer, boxer, and cook, Mark stays active and keeps his experiences as varied as possible. He believes that past experience should never be a limitation to embarking and excelling in something new.

Mark loves to reveal the common threads that run through human competition in all arenas, and the importance of a growth-mindset to overcoming mental illness and drive success in future endeavours.

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.

Samantha Garrett (masterclass facilitator)

Samantha is a highly experienced and respected technology trainer who works with education, business and government clients across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. She specialises in helping organisations make the most of their cloud collaboration platforms, including Google Workspace (G Suite) and (Microsoft) Office 365.

She is deeply passionate about helping people become more efficient, productive and organised. Samantha is well known for her signature training style – delivering practical, relevant and easy-to-understand content with energy, enthusiasm and joy. You won’t get bored or lost in her training sessions!

So what does all this mean in practice? That Samantha LOVES helping people clean up their inboxes, organise their files, get in control of their task list and generally become more efficient in using their everyday tools.