Biographies and Introduction Notes


12.30pm – Speaker 1

Bruce Needham: State Manager – Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Bruce Needham commenced as the Western Australia State Manager on Thursday 2 January 2020, prior to this role he was the South Australia State Manager for the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, a role he commenced in December 2017. Bruce was previously Director for Permanent Visa and Citizenship Program Delivery for the West and Central Regions (WA/SA/NT) with considerable experience in leading high performing teams and working with local communities and stakeholders. Bruce is a former police officer with the Western Australian State Police who joined the former Department of Immigration and Citizenship in 2006 as the Regional Manager, Community and Detention Services, WA and Indian Ocean Territories. Bruce was then the Regional Manager of WA and SA for Status Resolution and Settlement Services before moving into roles related to visa management. He is an active sports player in Masters Hockey and Cricket, and enjoys meeting people through community volunteering.

Bruce’s Presentation will focus around:

Australia and Western Australian in particular, are doing better than many other countries in terms of economic resilience, and we have seen a pick-up in employer confidence and job vacancies. In the future, for some cohorts, navigating the jobs market will be more challenging and the recovery from the impacts of the pandemic could take longer. Some significant changes in the jobs market will be experienced, however core trends and dynamics in the jobs market will continue: the largest employing industries prior to the pandemic will continue to provide the most jobs; and the trends towards higher skilled jobs will also continue.

12.50pm – Speaker 2

Lyn Bluett: Human Resources Manager – Alcoa of Australia

Lynette (Lyn) Bluett joined Alcoa as Human Resources Manager at Wagerup in July 2021. Previously Lyn has held positions in Human Resources, Community Relations, Safety, Health and Environment as well as Strategic Management within both Australia and the APAC region.

Lyn is an experienced professional manager with an extensive background in Human Resources obtained from working in a broad range of industries and sectors, including manufacturing, oil and gas, government services, mining and resources in national and multinational corporations, including green and brown fields projects.

Lyn holds the following qualifications:

  • Chartered Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute
  • Bachelor of Business with a double major in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Currently studying a Juris Doctor and is planning on specialising in Employment Law; Human Rights and Native Title Law.

Lyn’s Presentation will focus around

Alcoa’s story began with a 22-year-old inventor named Charles Martin Hall. He discovered an affordable way to make aluminium. That invention, patented more than 130 years ago, transformed the world.

It is through innovation that our workplaces will meet the needs and demands of our communities and of the future generations of employees.

Alcoa today owns 7 bauxite mines and operates 6 refineries globally. One thing we are proud of is that over 70% of the aluminium smelting business runs on renewable energy sources – once again innovation taking us forward.

Alcoa spans over 6 continents and 9 countries with 28 operating locations delivering best practice through our 13,000 valued and innovative employees.

1.10pm – Speaker 3

Gary Barbour: Director of Planning and Development Services – City of Bunbury

Gary is a proven leader in the development industry with extensive experience in management and a passion for creating better places.  With a thorough and extensive working knowledge of legislation relating to town planning, building, health and local government, Gary leads his team at the City and provides guidance and encouragement. Having started in local government over twenty years ago, Gary has worked predominantly in the fields of Health and Planning in both the private and public sector.

Having grown up in Bunbury Gary is excited to be involved in the future development of the City and enjoys working with the Council and community to achieve the vision for a strong, vibrant, regional centre.  As part of the Executive at the City of Bunbury his strong analytical skills help the City in its strategic goals, looking forward to the future and making a better Bunbury.

Gary’s Presentation will focus around – Digital City (City of Bunbury) wording to come

Australia is being transformed by a rapidly changing digital landscape that is redefining how we live and work as well as the social fabric of our communities. Countries and regions with the technological infrastructure to support automation and artificial intelligence are forging ahead at the expense of traditional practice economies.   A digital city for regional Australia creates opportunity to co-locate innovators and future services alongside those industries most prone to automation in a regional setting.   A place where the technology, need and people capability co-exist to create digital solutions.  The City of Bunbury aims to develop as the second city of Western Australia, and ensure our state is competitive in a global innovation race by scaling up high-growth industries and advanced manufacturing; commercialising more high-value products and services; fostering great talent; and tackling global challenges.

1.30pm – Speaker 4

Mellisa Teede: Chief Executive Officer – South West Development Commission

As the CEO of the South West Development Commission, Mellisa leads the State Government’s job-creating agenda in the South West, driving regional diversification and local content outcomes. Key initiatives being progressed under Mellisa’s leadership include the South West Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Hub (SW AMTECH) proposal. Mellisa has more than 30 years of experience in the public sector, including in senior leadership roles in education and training. She brings significant regional development experience to the role, having previously held the CEO role at the Peel Development Commission from 2012 to 2015, and also as the Managing Director of the Goldfields Institute of Technology.

Mellisa’s Presentation will focus around

The South West Development Commission is planning for the jobs of tomorrow, today. Through initiatives such as the South West Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Hub (SW AMTECH) proposal, we are laying the groundwork for the jobs of the future. Together with stakeholders, we are supporting industry to grow and strengthen its competitiveness in an increasingly globalised market. With local schools, TAFE and university on board, we can create the pipeline of talent we need to support evolving industry needs, right here in the region. By doing so, we will unlock new opportunities for rewarding careers for current South West residents and the future generations who will call our wonderful region home.

1.50pm – Speaker 5

Katherine Teh – Futurist – TEH & CO

Katherine has advised global corporations to navigate the dynamics of environmental, social and governance risk and opportunity for over thirty years. She has significant experience in enabling corporations to effectively address societal expectations as well as establish positive reputations and brands through culture, competency, systems and structure. With media, government relations and public policy expertise, she has developed and delivered sustainable development innovations that activists, public, government and industry have recognised.

Experienced in working with Ministers and Boards, the C-suite as well as with employees, investors, stakeholders, Indigenous and disadvantaged groups, she is able to engage, evolve and lead new thinking about how to create success in the next era of transparency and accountability.  Across her 23-year experience leading multi-national consultancies she has worked in the extractive, energy, retail, media and entertainment, agricultural as well as food, government, banking and finance, infrastructure, transport, chemical, pharmaceutical and technology sectors.

The methodology she developed increases the visibility of emerging issues so that proactive approaches to sustainable development are possible. Her unique methodology helps us understand when the tipping points will occur in society and from there she facilitates extrapolation about the implications for government, business, communities and the environment so that action can be taken.

Her career highlights include:

Developing the policy for the mining industry’s first transparent environment report in 1995

Participating in the steering committee that designed the first multi-sectoral engagement process that established the world’s first social and environmental standards for the mining industry in 1996

Developing the social licence strategy for a $60 billion energy project in 1998 that did not attract activism

Facilitating the world’s first non-sniffable petrol to reduce harm in Indigenous communities in 2000

Partnering with Monash University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights Law in 2001-2003 to develop the first guide for the role of business in human rights which informed the UN’s Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (known as the Ruggie Principles


4.00pm – Speaker 1

Caitlin Lomax: Director – Intr Studio

After developing her own computer game at age 13, her love of programming and technology was born. Caitlin Spent her early career as an international fashion model (Working with brands such as Chanel, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu), Caitlin continued to develop her programming skills behind the scenes, whilst building relationships across the globe. After settling in Australia, she now dedicates her time to producing XR projects and digital experiences from electronic projects and Arduino art to Augmented and Virtual Reality.

Caitlin has spent the past 4 years as a creative powerhouse and technical expert. She brings both skills to ensure projects are executed to the highest standards. She’s produced a real-time virtual presentation for SIGGRAPH Asia’s Real-Time Live! with Mod studios, and won a silver AEAF Award for the VR Nascar Pitstop she produced for Shell V Power (beating out Game of Thrones!). Caitlin has recently opened her own studio, INTR Studio in her hometown, Bunbury. INTR has gone from strength to strength in the first 6 months of opening its doors, servicing clients locally, nationally, and globally while also freelance Producing for digital agencies on large scale digital products.

She also regularly speaks and moderates panels for tech events, mentors for RMIT’s Developing an AR/VR Business Strategy course and regularly runs XR related workshops for General Assembly.

Caitlin’s Presentation will focus around

When people think of future skills, they often think of engineering and manufacturing skills. They don’t associate game development, yet game engines are driving automated trucks around giant mine sites. They are also powering sets of huge film production sets, like the Mandelorian.
This presentation using live virtual production techniques will inspire you to look at learning game development as a gateway into many different career fields. These aren’t “future skills”, they are skills with shortages right now in WA. By getting into these fields in their early stages you can set yourself up for high demand jobs in the future.

4.20pm – Speaker 2

Alister MacPherson: General Manager Technology, WesTrac CAT.

Alister MacPherson leads WesTrac’s technology business group, with responsibility for more than 200 employees working across Western Australia. He is accountable to lead and grow the WesTrac Technology team deploying and supporting Caterpillar technology solutions. The role has a heavy focus on autonomous operations with the largest fleet of autonomous haulage trucks in the world operating across 8 mines sites in WA and a growing population of autonomous dozers and drills.

Alister developed the vision for an autonomous training facility in WA, and led the development of a world class facility and training capability in 2020 located in Collie. This has played a key role in enabling the development of a new workforce to support the autonomous technology in WA with a threefold growth in technical roles over the last three years.

In nearly 17 years working with WesTrac over two periods he has previously served as Technology Innovations Manager, Mining Business Manager, WA Regional Operations Manager, Customer Support Manager and a variety of Branch Manager roles.

Alister worked for Rio Tinto and BHP in Asset Management leadership positions where he led the recruitment and development of teams of asset management professionals that provided asset management governance and support to mine and port operations. He has consulted in Asset Management with experience in the preparation, management and implementation of asset management strategies for internal and client organisations covering mine, port and rail assets. This included the development of mining fleet strategies for life of mine (up to 100 truck operations) and negotiating with mining equipment suppliers for supply contracts worth in excess of $1B.

He has also worked as a management consultant and has a strong record of developing and leading high performing, diverse teams and transforming business performance through an agile approach, influencing

and mentoring others by supporting the individual and promoting positive change and growth.

Alister holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering obtained with first class honours from Curtin University and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Alister’s Presentation will focus around

Three key trends are merging and causing significant change and disruption in our industry – digitisation, automation and electrification. How should industry be responding to these trends? What skills and roles will be needed to operate and support the people, processes and technology resulting from this change? How can the South West prepare for and capitalise on the opportunities these changes present?

Alister will provide an overview of the technologies and trends that are driving change in the mining and heavy equipment industry and how these changes will impact roles of the future, including what skills are likely to be required.

4.50pm – Speaker 3

Colin La Galia: holds the position of Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director for Epichem and Epichem OHD and is on the Leadership Team for PharmAust Pty Ltd

Colin was previously the Regional Business Director and Commercial Head of Asia Pacific, China and Japan and India for Abbott Rapid Diagnostics in Toxicology and he has previously held senior executive roles over 20 years at Alere Inc, Origin Healthcare, Hollywood Fertility Centre, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck Sharpe & Dohme and AMRAD Pharmaceuticals

He is an accomplished business and people leader with a strong track record of driving commercial success and revenue growth. He has over 25 years of cross-functional experience in a variety of leadership roles in Business Development & Market Creation, Sales & Marketing, Commercial Strategy, Process Improvement, Operational Excellence and Coaching and Leadership Development.

Colin has a passion for driving performance and developing people and is very proud to lead a team of dedicated professionals focused on achieving client centric outcomes in state of the art facilities using proven systems and formulas in partnership with our customers and stakeholders.

Colin has qualifications in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, Business Management, Human Resources, and Project Management.

Colin’s Presentation will reveal how…

An estimated 67 million tonnes of waste is generated by Australians alone every year.

  • We are wasting finite resources by burying them as landfill
  • As the population grows, so does the waste problem
  • Current solutions to waste recycling are costly & labour-intensive
  • In fact, only 12% of our waste in Australia is recycled
  • We have a smart solution that supports the ideal of a circular waste economy – so not only waste management, but reuse, recycling and responsible manufacture.

We have a local solution to a global problem. Epichem’s innovative, novel and disruptive waste conversion and re-purposing technology has a excellent opportunity to capitalise on the global focus in waste recycling and landfill management, turn liabilities into assets, generate revenue, promote sustainable business practices by helping organisations manage their environmental legacy and create jobs

5.00pm – Speaker 4

John Kirkman: Managing Director – Enterprise Transformation Partners ERDi TestLab

After several years as a telecommunications technician with the Australian Regular Army including a tour of East Timor, John’s work history has seen him take on various roles across health, police, oil and gas and mining before establishing two start-up companies (consultancy and software companies) and most recently the UWA ERDi i4.0 TestLab with Western Australia’s Scientist of the Year 2021 – Eric May. John has been integral in leading teams to develop international i4.0 interoperability and automation standards which underpin how mining, oil and gas and manufacturing companies will operate in the future.  John’s current focus is establishing an education and research and development capability that will enable the existing and future Western Australian workforce to not only be leaders in the adoption of new ways of working locally but create a workforce that is the envy of industry globally.

John will talk about how…

You don’t need to be a software developer to thrive in the workforce of the future. A mindset for thriving in a workforce that will experience frequent, incremental change.


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