Your work will be assessed by in-house and agency heavyweights under the guidance of Chief Judge, industry icon Jackie Crossman.





Leilani Abels - Founder and Managing Director, thrive pr + communications

Leilani founded Thrive from her Melbourne apartment in 2000, at age 25, and has since grown it to 60 staff across five offices in Australia and New Zealand - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Auckland, plus an alliance in Perth and an APAC Communications offering.  
Thrive defines itself as a ‘corp-sumer’ agency, providing clients with expertise across the full spectrum of b2b and b2c PR and communications. The agency’s clients include some of the world’s and Australasia’s biggest companies including Optus, ANZ Group, Cisco, LEGO, TikTo, GoPro, Didi, Air New Zealand, Stockland, Spotlight Group and many more.

Tamsyn Alley - General Manager and Director, Clear Skincare, Australian Pharmacuetical Industries
Tamsyn is a commercially focused senior executive with more than 20 years’ experience across national and global brands and a diverse range of industries and sectors including travel, tourism, hospitality, gaming, entertainment, property, retail, technology, FMCG and business services.
Traversing the corporate and agency worlds through-out her career, Tamsyn has worked with leading Australian and international businesses where she has led award-winning marketing communications programs and campaigns, delivered global-scale events, driven growth strategies and spearheaded them through crisis situations.  
With a passion for fast-paced retail, Tamsyn is the General Manager and a Director of Clear Skincare which has a retail footprint of more than 70 clinics across Australia and New Zealand, and as is a major growth driver of Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (API) where she sits on the Executive Committee.  Prior to this, she has held senior executive positions with Destination NSW, Clemenger BBDO (Porter Novelli), SKYCITY Entertainment Group and Flight Centre.

Shane Allison - CEO and Co-founder, Public Address

At Public Address, Shane leads a team focused on delivering cutting-edge media relations tools for PR professionals across the world. 
Previously, Shane was the Client Services Director at Sefiani Communications where he led teams delivering communications and public policy advice and specialised in supporting executive teams to manage high-stakes reputation challenges.

Shane was recognised as the Mumbrella Commscon PR Professional of the Year and Mumbrella neXt Award PR Talent for his work in the sector, and was recognised as one of the AFR's Top 100 Future Leaders while studying at MGSM

Alison Barnard FPRIA MAICD - Technical Director, Engagement, Communication & Communities, GHD

Alison is a multi-award-winning senior communications leader with 20+ years’ experience across four continents. Fellow, Public Relations Institute of Australia. She is a passionate communication and engagement leader.  

Most recently, she was Director Community & Stakeholder Engagement for the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. She led DPIE communication & engagement strategies across several department business lines. She is both a former award winning TV journalist and media affairs leader.  

Alison drives audience-centric communication and engagement and enjoys using proven communication methods coupled with sophisticated listening strategies.

Richard Brett - CEO, opr

Richard has over 20 years’ experience of marketing, brand strategy and communications agency leadership. His passions including using public relations and social media to lead integrated campaigns, outcome based measurement and using new technology to drive innovative creativity for brands. 

As CEO for opr, Richard works across the opr businesses to deliver effective campaigns for clients such as eBay, Netflix, Ford, Microsoft, Atlassian, KFC and IKEA. The agency was named Sabre’s 2019 Australasian Agency of the Year, and Richard was named CommsCon’s Leader of the Year 2019. 

Richard has been shortlisted or received over 120 awards for his work. 

Lisa Brown - Head of PR and Communications, Menulog ANZ 

Lisa is an experienced communications professional with more than 12 years’ experience spanning Marketing, PR, Corporate Communications, Public Affairs and Government Relations. Lisa currently heads up the PR and Communications team at Menulog Australia and New Zealand, prior to which she was agency-side, holding senior positions at Bite Communications, Res Publica and Porter Novelli.

Lisa has significant experience in media strategy and relations, issues and crisis planning and management in fast-paced and issues-rich environments, digital communication, creative development, sponsorships, partnerships and events. She holds a BA Communication (Public Communication) from University of Technology Sydney and a Diploma of Investor Relations from the Australasian Investor Relations Association.

Lisa’s work at Menulog won a NSW and National 2019 PRIA GTA gong and her team was recently awarded 2019 PR Team of the Year. Lisa was a finalist in B&Ts 30 Under 30 and is a former member of the PRIA New Emerging Practitioners Group. 

Kirsten Bruce (BA, MA, FPRIA, MRCG) - Principal & Owner, VIVA! Communications

Kirsten Bruce is Principal and Owner of the award-winning, independent, Australian health + wellness communications agency, VIVA! Communications. Her agency also acts as exclusive Australian representative and APAC Hub Lead for GLOBALHealthPR. 

Kirsten is a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Australia (FPRIA), and a member of both the InsideOut Institute (IOI) for Eating Disorders Advisory Council, University of Sydney, and the For Benefit Medicines (FBM) Foundation. 

Kirsten has over 25 years’ experience in health + wellness communications. After holding senior roles in multinational, APAC and local PR agencies and corporates, Kirsten founded VIVA! Communications in July 2002. Her agency was voted Australia's 'Best Small Consultancy of the Year' in November 2017 and 'Highly Commended Consultancy of the Year' in 2019 by PRIA. 

Kirsten is passionate about health + wellness, and enjoys counselling the international and local pharmaceutical, biotech, not-for-profit and community health and medical sectors. 

Darren Burns - President, Asia Pacfic, Golin Group 

Based in Singapore, Darren Burns recently rejoined Golin to build out its Asia Pacific operations. Prior to this, Darren spent 14 years at Weber Shandwick, most recently as Vice Chair, where he led collaborative efforts to build the next generation of the agency to help clients solve their most pressing issues by putting analytics, creative and digital thinking at the heart of the business.

Prior to this, Darren was President of Weber Shandwick China, which emerged as one of the region’s most exciting and forward thinking integrated communication agencies. His passion for nurturing creativity, driving innovation and delivering results helped the agency win eight “Agency of the Year” awards in 2018 including the Gold for Agency Culture at the annual Campaign awards.

Darren’s experience extends from launching new companies and initiatives to guiding leaders through a range of mission-critical situations, including crises and change management programs. Darren is also a leading spokesperson, media and crisis trainer.

Dan Chamberlain - Head of Communications, Amazon Web Services (AWS) Australia and New Zealand

Dan is a nationally award-winning communications professional with more than a decade of experience in the media and communications industry for organisations such as NBN Co, CSIRO, and Amazon Web Services (AWS). He has expertise reputation management, managing national and grass roots issues, and making complex information relevant for a broad range of stakeholders and audiences.

Dan currently leads the ANZ Communications team for AWS, and is responsible for managing the regional reputation of the company through PR, internal communications, and Corporate Social Responsibility. 

Lynette Elliott - Executive General Manager, Marketing, Lendlease

Lynette is a chief marketing officer who has held executive marketing roles with top 50 Australian companies Lendlease, Caltex Australia and Telstra, global technology multinationals NEC, EDS and Lucent Technologies and big four management consultancy, PwC. Her expertise includes marketing, communications, product development, business strategy and change management.

At Lendlease Lynette is responsible for all Australian marketing teams as well as brand, customer insight, digital marketing and customer digital product management. She also leads Lendlease’s global customer and marketing excellence transformation program, supporting teams in New York, London and Singapore.

Lynette’s early career began in a public relations consultancy in Wellington, New Zealand before she moved into marketing. She has a strong interest in leading change and business transformation, and has completed the AGSM post graduate change management certificate. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

During her career, Lynette’s work has been recognised through several marketing and communications excellence awards and recognition (Cannes Silver Lion, AMI, PRIA, PRINZ and IABC). 

Tiffany Farrington - Founder, Social Diary
Tiffany Farrington is the founder of Social Diary (, a subscription based resource which is warmly regarded by many as ‘the PR Bible’. Established in 2004, Social Diary enjoys an enthusiastic membership base of thousands of publicists, brands and media across Australia and New Zealand. Counting 99% of the industry as long time members, the purpose of the platform is to make the lives of anyone working in PR & Media easier and more efficient (and more fun).
The Social Diary Daily provides exclusive up to the minute content and opportunities every day at noon. The newsletter is filled with media contacts, editorial opportunities, products available, celebrity & influencer contacts, venue news and much more, allowing members to keep their finger on the pulse.

Tiffany has also been the personal publicist for much-loved Aussie Chef Curtis Stone for over a decade. 

Steve Fontanot - Managing Director, Havas Blvd (Red Agency Group)

With over 18 years in the industry, Steve has become a leading voice in the creation of insight-led marcomms, brand experience and sponsorship campaigns. He’s tasked with leading brand experience campaigns across Havas Australia.

His ongoing mission is to create campaigns that drive engagement through memorable and authentic brand experiences. Steve speaks frequently at government and industry events and has been a judge at numerous industry awards.

Steve has created campaigns for leading brands, including Nestlé, Samsung, Toyota, Lexus, Telstra, Tigerair, Carnival Cruise Lines, UBank, Coca-Cola and eBay, to name (brag) a few.

Brett Galvin - Managing Director and Cofounder, The Mint Partners

Brett’s career in the communications space has spanned working with some of the highest profile brands in the world. His innate sense of what is right allows him to strategically partner with clients navigating brand launches through to periods of crisis, while his unique humour and empathy drives an optimum agency culture.
The Mint Partners is an insight-led, creative communications consultancy. Through a multi-channel strategy, MINT connects consumers to some of the world’s best brands.

Liane Gawne - Director, Sauce Communications

Liane is the Director of full-service public relations and events agency, Sauce Communications; winner of eight agency of the year titles, including most recently 2019 CommsCon Australian Midsize Agency of the Year. Liane has more than 20 years’ experience in the communications industry and established Sauce in 2004 after moving to the NSW Riverina town of Leeton. She has grown the agency from sole trader status to include staff and offices in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

Sauce remains proudly headquartered in the bush and specialises in working with government and commercial clients that are based in, represent or need to reach audiences in rural and regional Australia, including the SunRice Group, Australia Post, De Bortoli Wines and AgriFutures Australia.

Liane has a personal commitment to regional and rural business and the role women play in the sector. She is the NSW Government’s nominee on the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship’s Board of Directors.

Chris Hall - CEO, Primary Communication

Chris has worked in public relations in one way or another for the past 20years. After graduating from UTS with a Bachelor of Business with a sub-major in Public Relations he worked for a Federal Member of Parliament where he learned about dealing with media in a high-pressure environment. 

Chris has been a Chief of Staff to three different State Ministers over a six-year period including the Police Minister during the Lindt café siege. In 2017 he returned to become the Chief Executive at Primary Communication following a stint at the company in 2008-10.

His unique experiences across both the private sector and Government provide clients with strong insights that help guide Primary's clients on policy, stakeholder and media issues. Chris is also IAP2 qualified and has successfully guided clients through stakeholder engagement programs which have facilitated strong outcomes for clients. 

Louise Halloran - Head of Communications, APAC, Atlassian 

Louise heads up APAC communications for Atlassian, covering markets across Australia, Japan and India. Prior to joining Atlassian in May 2018, Louise worked at OPR agency for nearly five years - advising clients like eBay, Netflix, Microsoft and Atlassian on their corporate, crisis and competitor communications strategies. Louise has a BA in Public Communications from UTS. 

Brent Hill - Executive Director of Marketing, South Australian Tourism Commission

Brent joined the SATC in the summer of 2015-16, and in the time since has helped build South Australian tourism into a $8.1B industry. In Brent’s time at the SATC he has been responsible for building a digital system that now sees attract 7.5M visitors annually, and generating >1M leads to operators every year.

Brent has delivered the well known and award winning campaigns Rewards Wonder, Tell us Where, #BookThemOut and Welcome Back and helped Adelaide achieve recognition as one of the top 10 regions to visit in 2017, as well as ‘#1 Rising Destination’.

Michelle Hutton - CEO and Chief-Growth-Officer, Edelman

Michelle comes with the inside knowledge of being 11th President of the PR jury for the Cannes Lions Festival in 2019. Her insights firmly highlight that it is time for our industry to take back the craft of PR. Michelle sees PR as a craft and not a channel, and one that increasingly matters – to businesses, brands and society at large. 

Michelle previously held global leadership positions with Edelman in London as Managing Director, Global Client Strategy, COO of Europe and Chair of the agency's global consumer business.

Peter Kent - Chief Executive, Porter Novelli Australia

Peter combines more than 20 years of consulting with former lives as a print journalist and policy advisor in shaping his leadership of Porter Novelli Australia.

When it comes to communication planning, he is a strict adherent to evidence-first, and with this commitment he has delivered some of Australia’s most innovative and awarded persuasive campaigns.

Peter’s best work is managing risk and enhancing opportunity where corporate, government and community interests intersect, but he has a particular passion for the industries and people of rural and regional Australia.

He chairs Porter Novelli Australia, is a director of Clemenger Group Ltd and Community Philanthropy Australia, is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a mentor with Leadership Victoria and a pro bono advisor to a number of social benefit organisations.

Fergus Kibble - Founder & Managind Director, FORWARD Agency

Fergus is the Founder & Managing Director of FORWARD Agency, one of Australia’s leading Consumer PR, Content and Influence Marketing agencies.  His career spans marketing, advertising and communications on both client-side and agency-side having worked across many categories and with major brands such as Kellogg, Optus, Yahoo!, Canon, Tourism New Zealand, Dare Iced Coffee, Nivea, and Uncle Tobys.  

While he was Marketing Director Beauty at Unilever Australasia, Fergus launched the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty in 2005. This campaign started his lifetime passion for public relations and developed his understanding of how authentic brand purpose can be powerful in connecting with consumers and building substantial long-term brand equity.

Elissa King - General Manager, Horticulture Brand Management Australia (HBMA)

Elisa is a smart solutions focused professional with strong business acumen consistently delivering results in a challenging environment. With demonstrated change management skills and exceptional work ethic, always leading by example and collaborating to drive results through outstanding stakeholder management.

Previous to HBMA Miss King was Head of Marketing at Horticulture Innovation Australia leading a large diverse team responsible for over 20 individual marketing programs, and multi-million-dollar budgets consistently delivering positive outcomes for industry.

Miss King formerly spent over 20 years in the entertainment industry working as the Advertising Manager at Warner Music and Marketing Manager at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 

Her passion has led her to build successful brands and products through marketing, research and understanding consumer preferences.

Pamela Kliofis - CEO, Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW) Australia and New Zealand

As CEO of Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW) in Australia and New Zealand, Pamela Klioufis is a trusted communications advisor to some of the world’s leading brands and corporations.

In 2019, BCW Australia merged with sister agency PPR AUNZ to become BCW Australia & New Zealand, with Pamela appointed head of the combined entity across Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Auckland. 

Having worked in high level international business and political environments, Pamela combines big-picture thinking with research and trend driven insights, to inform and create innovative and effective communications strategies that manage brand reputations and deliver on business objectives.

Prior to joining Burson-Marsteller, Pamela managed her own public relations consulting firm, Estoria Communications, providing high level strategic counsel and crisis management to clients across the Asia Pacific region.

Skye Lambley - Group Managing Director, Herd MSL

Skye is a results-driven, commercially astute, communications professional, with extensive experience driving programs that impact business. With 20 years of corporate communications experience representing brands in Australia and across Asia Pacific. Skye joined the Herd business in November 2018, where she now leads the three brands under the Herd MSL banner.

Previous to Herd, Skye was a senior leader at OPR where she lead Corporate, B2B and Technology team and spent years leading the Microsoft, Telstra and Intel Asia Pacific agency teams. Skye also led the Social, Digital and Content team at OPR, helping clients take advantage of new and emerging technologies and platforms to engage stakeholders (employees, customers, partners, investors, etc). 

Vanessa Liell FPRIA MBA - Executive Director, Commtract

Vanessa is an entrepreneur and strategic communications professional with over 25 years' experience in communications and business leadership roles.

As co-founder and former CEO, Vanessa led the growth of Herd MSL, one of Australia's largest and most awarded independent public relations agencies that includes N2N Communications, Fuel Communications and Touch Creative.

Vanessa is the winner of B&T's Women in Media PR Leadership Award. She is an inaugural Walkley Foundation Women in Media mentor. Industry recognition for her agency includes multiple Cannes PR Lions for Creativity, Australian Agency of the Year awards and 30+ campaign awards.

Amanda Little - Principal, Intermedia Consulting 

Former Australian MD of H+K Strategies and Edelman PR, Amanda has more than 20 years’ experience in consulting, senior client facing, management and business development roles.  In 2010 Amanda founded Intermedia Consulting to offer expert training programs to PR and communications agencies.  
Amanda holds a Bachelor of Arts (Communications) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from University of Technology Sydney.  She is a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Australia (FPRIA) and a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD). Amanda has been the recipient of several PRIA National Golden Target Awards.

Kirsten Lodge - Communications and Patient Advocacy Lead for Neuroscience and Cardio-metabolic, Novartis

Kirsten has almost 20 years of communications experience, having worked on a number of consumer health, beauty and medical device brands, and other health related communications and public affairs projects.

Kirsten has developed social and traditional media campaigns that have delivered strong business results and helped businesses effectively navigate through a crisis. Her PR campaigns have won local and regional awards, with her ‘Pollen Couture’ campaign a finalist in the Cannes Lion healthcare category.

Kirsten is passionate about kindness, health and fitness, and in her spare time, participates in triathlon and Ironman races. 

Amiria MacKinnon - Senior APAC PR and Brand Awareness Manager, HubSpot

Amiria currently works with HubSpot, a leading growth platform, where she looks after PR and brand awareness across the APAC region for HubSpot, working closely with teams in Australia and Singapore. 

Prior to her role with HubSpot, Amiria spent eight years in house with one of Australia’s leading aged care organisations, Whiddon. First, as their PR and Communications Manager, and then as General Manager of Marketing, Communications and Sales. There, she led the shift for the organisation to grow from an unknown to highly respected and recognised brand, delivered communications campaigns with huge national reach, created and launched a new national day, Aged Care Employee Day, and developed initiatives to begin to change perceptions of aged care amidst some of the industry’s toughest years.

Amiria’s background is in marketing, communications and public relations. She holds a Bachelor of Political Studies from The University of Auckland and a Master of Organisational Communication from Charles Sturt University.

Lisa Maguire - Director Communications & Patient Relations, AbbVie

Lisa has over 20 years’ experience in Corporate Communications in a broad range of industry sectors including pharmaceuticals (6 years), FMCG, innovation, agriculture, emergency services and media (both television and radio).  Lisa’s is currently the Director of Communications at AbbVie, a global research-driven biopharmaceutical company. She has a degree in Agricultural Science and a Master’s Degree in Communications.

Lisa has a wide skill set across all facets of communications, including traditional media, social media; stakeholders, government and employee relations. She enjoys leading a team and supporting each individual to personally develop and reach their own goals.

She also has extensive experience in Marketing/Communications, including product (launch and mature) brand strategies as well as building overall company brand equity. Lisa has conducted broad reaching consumer campaigns to impact broad public opinion and policy for large scale change.

Lisa is also a very experienced crisis and issues manager, leading organisations through challenging times including consumer level product recalls, court proceedings, senate enquiries, acquisitions, mergers and industrial relations.

Leigh McClusky MPRIA - Managing Director, McCo Group and National President, PRIA

Leigh launched the McCo Group as McClusky & Co in 2008 following a 30 year career in print, radio and television journalism across Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Her company works across South Australia and Victoria with a broad range of clients.

Leigh has previously held the role of SA State President and the SA head of the Registered Consultancies Group.

Oona Nielssen - Senior strategic communication and engagement professional

Oona Nielssen is a senior strategic communication and engagement professional with experience across government, corporations, not for profits and communication agencies. Oona has managed creative campaigns and teams dealing with complex and contested spaces and delights in finding great stories to tell. Her expertise has spanned large complex organisations such as CSIRO, Lend Lease and the ABC, with broad geographic and political demands,  as well as working in startup businesses which just need to work out and tell their unique story.  Her approach is to use data and evidence, listen to audiences, and build authentic relationships. 

Martin Palin - Founder & Managing Director, Palin Communications

Palin Communications has been a member of the PRIA RCG for many years and has operated in the health/medical/ lifestyle space for more than two decades. Martin was previously a health promotion professional working on various state and federal health campaigns.

Well known for its promotion of blogs and commentaries on topical health issues, Palin Communications has now grown to be one of the most professional, respected, independently owned health-focused PR agencies in Australia. It has clients in the pharmaceutical, biotech, health service, natural therapies and not-for-profit sectors.

The agency has won many PRIA Awards and industry prizes for its work in media relations, disease awareness, issues management, corporate social responsibility, investor relations, social media and content marketing.

Antonia Sanda - Head of Communications, Facebook

Antonia has been telling stories about technology for over 20 years. She has been lucky enough to work as a communications partner to some of the world's most exciting companies and extraordinary minds. Witnessing first-hand the transformative good of technology and its challenges. 

Antonia joined Facebook in 2013. She is responsible for driving public relations and brand communications for FACEBOOK, its suite of apps and hardware products in Australia and New Zealand. Prior to FACEBOOK, Antonia worked at NineMSN and also at global technology agencies Text 100 and Bite, in APAC and the UK.

An avid sailor, swimmer and lover of all things ocean, when she's not chasing waves, she is found playing with her wonderful four year old, cooking up barely edible food with the husband and trying to find a spare moment to read anything that gets the grey cells firing. 

Chris Savage - Business Growth Specialist, The Savage Company

Currently chairman of six creative communications agencies, including three PR specialty firms, Savage is a former Asia Pacific chairman of Burson-Marsteller, co-founder of a top three financial relations PR firm, and the architect and first employee of what became and remains today the largest PR group in Australia, OPR.

Savage also served for almost a decade as chief operating officer of STW Group (now WPP aunz), where he was responsible for $300 million of revenue from PR, design, activation and other non-advertising companies in the group.

Robyn Sefiani - CEO & Reputation Counsel, Sefiani Communications Group

Robyn established Sefiani Communications Group in 1999 to provide corporate leaders with highly effective communications counsel and services through a dedicated, personal approach. With over three decades’ experience, Robyn has advised some of Australia’s and the world’s leading companies in strategic communications and issues and crisis management.

Prior to establishing Sefiani, Robyn was Co-President of Edelman Asia-Pacific and spent 12 years with the firm where she was also a director on the global Edelman Board.

Robyn graduated with Distinction from Charles Sturt University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Communication). She is a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Australia and the Australian Institute of Company Directors and served for many years on the Board of Special Olympics Australia

Emma Sturgiss - Global Manager, Public Relations, Tourism Australia

Emma is a public relations and communications professional with more than 20 years experience in developing and implementing global PR and communication strategies.

In her current role Emma is responsible for the strategic development, management and operation of the global PR function within Tourism Australia. This includes developing and implementing the PR and communications strategies for global marketing campaigns, leading the organisation’s global press office and the global media and broadcast hosting programs and providing strategic advice and support to Tourism Australia’s regional PR teams in 15 international offices to assist them develop and roll-out their own public relations activities.

Sarah Trombetta - Chief Executive Officer, Red Havas Australia

With almost 20 years PR & Advertising industry experience in Asia, Europe and Australia, Sarah leverages award-winning credentials and diverse communication experience building global brands – including P&G, HSBC, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Facebook, Ford and GSK – to continually innovate and integrate Red Havas’ specialist services at scale, including its Social and BLVD divisions with content and technology offerings.

Before joining Red Havas, Sarah was CEO at WPP’s advertising agency Grey Group Hong Kong. It was awarded Creative Agency of the Year under her leadership and innovated its end-to-end marketing services solutions for Greater China’s largest clients. Bringing social commerce, advertising, PR, retail and activation specialists together with data at its core, the agency earned industry recognition for winning an unfair share of cultural conversation and conversion to grow brands and white space launches.

With a firm eye on innovating for the future, Sarah is active within the local and international business community. Her relentless commitment to developing the next generation of leaders and creative ambition to collaborate with clients that push culture forward have shaped her contributions as Executive Committee Member of The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s Hong Kong), Executive Committee Member at Hong Kong Baptist University (Graduate Career Board) and member of The Marketing Society APAC.

Dena Vassallo - Founder and Managing Director, SOCIETY

Dena has 20 years of international marketing communications and commercial operational experience. She has worked with household brands such as Woolworths, Kraft Heinz, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive, to government agencies and departments such as City of Melbourne, South Australian Tourism Commission, Department for Innovation and Skills, Department of Education, Department of Trade and Investment, as well as federal government growth centre METS Ignited, and Australia Post.

From building consumer love for brands, to protecting large enterprises, to various stakeholder campaigns for government departments, Dena is an experienced industry professional and has worked across large agency networks and global independents both in the United States and Australia.

Dena is the Founder and Managing Director of SOCIETY, awarded the Telstra Business Winner for Emerging and Energised in South Australia for 2019. SOCIETY has an enviable client roster, and a talented team with offices in Sydney and Adelaide. Ms Vassallo is also a 2020 Small Business finalist for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

Vuki Vujasinovic - Founder, Sling & Stone

Vuki started Sling & Stone in a Sydney sharehouse, growing it to become an award-winning agency that remains one of the fastest-growing in the country.

He has been named in the Forbes 30 under 30, B&T 30 under 30, and StartupDaily Top 50 Emerging Leaders.

Vuki works on growing the agency’s service offering and geographic footprint, while maintaining a relentless focus on the types of clients Sling & Stone partners with. He believes it’s possible to build a modern agency with the latest technology, that does things differently, with a fantastic company culture, all the while remaining selective about the clients Sling & Stone represents.

Yatu Widders Hunt - Director, Cox Inall Ridgeway 
Yatu is a descendant of the Dunghutti and Anaiwan peoples of the Northern Tablelands of NSW. She is currently a Director at Indigenous social change agency, Cox Inall Ridgeway (CIR) which is part of the BWM Dentsu Group. 
At CIR, Yatu leads major communications, creative, research and community engagement projects which are aimed at driving real social outcomes with Indigenous Australians. She has worked on projects for the Referendum Council, NSW Police, Country Road Group, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Mental Health Commission.
Yatu has a background in Government communications and worked in a number of Federal Departments in Canberra, including to a Minister. She has also been a journalist and media consultant at National Indigenous Television, the National Rugby League and the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence.  
Yatu is also a key advocate for the Indigenous fashion sector and is the founder and curator of the high profile @ausindigenousfashion online communities. She regularly speaks on issues of Indigenous design and is a member of the NSW Government Architect’s ‘Connecting with Country- Expert Advisory Panel.’ 

Rebecca Wilson - Executive Vice President Australia & Singapore, WE Communications

With a passion for consulting, Rebecca brings more than two decades of experience in high level, complex stakeholder engagement working with executive management teams and Boards on investor relations, corporate & public affairs, and issues & crisis management across multiple sectors – healthcare, financial services, aged care, technology, consumer brands, and professional services.

Rebecca has a deep knowledge and experience of corporate governance having worked almost exclusively with ASX companies, governments, and multi-national corporations over the last two decades.   Her role as a trusted adviser has led to involvement in some of Australia’s most prominent issues and crisis management projects, and major transactions including M&A and Initial Public Offers.

Rebecca is an Executive Director of WE Australia, and current Executive Vice President Australia and Singapore for WE Communications. She was CEO of WE Buchan for 6 years.  She is also a Non-Executive Chairman for ASX-listed health informatics business, Alcidion, and Advisory Board member of Gillian Fox Leadership. She has as BA (Journalism) and Post Graduate Certificate in Applied Finance and Investment (FINSIA).

Vanessa Wolczak - Head of Marketing, Product & PR, Pacific, Avis Budget Group

With over 20 years’ experience in marketing and brand management across the retail, consumer goods, FMCG and automotive industries, Vanessa brings enthusiastic leadership, outstanding brand management and high-level strategic, analytical and innovative marketing competencies to her team and the Avis Budget Group brands.

Beginning her career as a Category Manager at Breville Australia, Vanessa progressed within a decade to  leadership roles at Bonds Women’s Underwear, Bras N Things and then Sheridan, where she was Global Head of Product in charge of product development. In 2014, Vanessa moved to Mosaic Brands, where she led brand marketing, PR, visual merchandising and eCommerce for fashion brand Rockmans. 

Vanessa joined Avis Budget Group in 2018. As Head of Marketing, Product & PR, Pacific, she oversees brand marketing for the Avis, Budget and Apex brands as well as the management of CRM, nine websites, four mobile applications, SEO, SEM, PR and product development. 

James Wright FPRIA - Group CEO, Red Havas & Global Chairman, Havas PR

James is Global CEO of Red Havas and the Global Chairman for Havas PR Collective, roles he took on in mid-2018. Originally James joined Havas in 2011 where he led their PR operations across APAC based in Sydney, in addition to being the COO for the Havas Australia Group.

James is a multi-award-winning consultant having advised some of the world’s biggest brands on the global stage. Before joining Havas he was Managing Director at international agency Grayling based in London where he led a number of their international accounts, including BT, HSBC, Sony, Jaguar and Land Rover.

James is also a crisis management expert and is currently leading the response to the Takata air bag for Toyota, which is the world’s biggest ever product recall and representing clients involved in the very high profile Banking Royal Commission in Australia, which is looking at financial institutions and their inappropriate lending and credit behaviour. The Royal Commission is the highest form of government investigation.

In 2020 he was highly commended at PRWeek’s Global Awards for Global PR Professional. Whilst based in Australia, James led Red Agency (before it became Red Havas) to become the most awarded PR team in APAC, which has included sixteen Agency of the Year accolades, ten Cannes Lions and two D&AD Black Pencils.