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Inspiration, Current thinking, and Future Trends

Our Plenary Sessions (morning sessions), bring together all attendees for an opportunity to hear from thought leaders offering insight, inspiration, current thinking, and future trends on a range of areas that affect Vocational Education and Training, and Talent Development.

Javier Amaro

Javier is the director and founder of Insources, a privately owned Australian training and consulting organisation. He has more than 17 years experience in the vocational and technical education world and has contributed to the Australian VET sector by designing and delivering more than 500 training programs to training managers, supervisors, facilitators, trainers and assessors.

jamaro custom

Sara Caplan

Sara is CEO of PwC's Skills for Australia Skills Service Organisation and leads PwC Consulting's work on skills, vocational education and employment. Over 25 years' experience in Vocational Education, training and skills. Her recent work has focused on supporting government in delivering policy outcomes: designing and implementing innovative solutions to government priorities, including transforming skills systems, creating new vocational routes to professional careers and creating an environment for economic growth.

Sara Caplan


Andrew Church

Referred to as the 60 million dollar man, Andrew is an expert in getting businesses over the line when it comes to achieving tangible financial success and learning outcomes.

Having more than thirty years’ experience in business management and twenty years’ experience training people throughout Australia on Continuous Improvement and Lean Thinking has helped Andrew to formulate a clear and concise blueprint for success.

Andrew’s wealth of experience in problem solving and blueprint for success is sought after by Australia’s largest companies - including WH Williams, Hamilton Island Enterprises, Masterfoods, Nudie Juice, Sandvik Australia and CBC Bearings.

Andrew is the author of seven books, including How To Solve Your Problems Without A Super Hero and Architect Of Change, Becoming a 21st Century Change Manager. Two best sellers.

Andrew Church

Dr Gail Crossley-Craven

Dr Gail Crossley-Craven has seen the empowering effect knowledge and preparation has on the human ability to succeed. She has spent a lifetime learning and re-learning the valuable education/people principles she believes are truly keys to success.

Dr Crossley-Craven is not only an astute business person, she is also a keen communicator. She has instructed and inspired people through writing, the classroom, college and university lectures and training, business seminars, conference speaker, consulting to small business, personal counselling and educating clients in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria as well as Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Middle East. Dr CC, as she is often called, has published an educational based children’s picture book to assist parents and teachers and provide enjoyment for children.

Dr Gail Crossley-Craven has a rich background both experientially and educationally speaking, with qualifications in education, business, psychology and natural therapies. She brings an eclectic wealth of expertise from the educational, counselling and business arenas.


Her Excellency Mrs Menna Rawlings CMG - British High Commissioner

Menna joined the FCO in 1989 and has served in a wide range of Diplomatic Service roles. She was mostly recently a member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Management Board as HR Director. This followed postings to Washington DC, Ghana, Israel, Kenya and Brussels. In London, she has served as Private Secretary to the Permanent Under Secretary as well as in Press Office and the Africa and EU Directorates.

Menna Rawlings

Yasmin King

Yasmin is CEO of SkillsIQ. During the VET reform process which began in 2014 she led the successful proposal to establish SkillsIQ, a Skills Service Organisation responsible for supporting training product development as identified by national Industry Reference Committees (IRCs). SkillsIQ is responsible for 17 IRCs which in total represent some 90 diverse service-related and ‘people-facing’ industry sectors, collectively responsible for the skills needs of almost 50 per cent of the Australian workforce. Yasmin was also responsible for the development of innovative new approaches to piloting new and emerging qualification needs in the Retail sector through the New Retail Series.

An experienced negotiator and mediator, she has led major commercial and corporate negotiations as a negotiation consultant and coach. She is adjunct to the Australian Graduate School of Management, lecturing in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in the Women’s Leadership Program. Combined with her previous experience as the inaugural NSW Small Business Commissioner and the first Associate Commissioner for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission with responsibility for small business, Yasmin has a deep understanding of the challenges that face stakeholders in the various sectors supported by SkillsIQ.

Yasmin is a former Director of Le Cordon Bleu, Australia. She is currently a member of the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Master of Business Administration Advisory Board and a Board member of Micro-X, an innovative publicly listed medical device company.

Yasmin holds a Masters of Business Administration and an Honours degree in Economics. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Fellow Certified Practicing Accountant and member of the Resolution Institute.


The Hon Michael Lavarch - ASQA’s Commissioner

The Hon Michael Lavarch AO has extensive experience in Higher Education and the public policy process. He is a former Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and a former Secretary-General of the Law Council of Australia. From 1987 to 1996, Mr Lavarch was a Member of the Australian Parliament and he served as Attorney-General from 1993 to 1996. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2012 for his contribution to the law, education and human rights.
Mr Lavarch holds a Bachelor of Laws from QUT and was appointed Professor of Law in 2004. In 2012, he was awarded the title Emeritus Professor from QUT. Mr Lavarch was appointed Commissioner in February 2012 for a period of five years. He commenced as a Commissioner of ASQA on 16 April 2012.
The Commissioner has oversight of the industry engagement process, which builds relationships and gathers intelligence from industry, regulators and peak bodies. ASQA’s legal and regulatory support functions also report to the Commissioner.

Michael Lavarch

Dr. Palan

Dr Palan is a human resources specialist with several outstanding mentors and institutions. He completed his Ph.D. in Management from California Coast University. An alumnus of the Harvard Business School, he pursued and completed his human resources and management studies there. He is currently a Fellow with the Federation University (formerly University of Ballarat, Australia) pursuing his second Ph.D. in Education with a focus on TVET (Technical Vocational Education Training).

As an entrepreneur he took his startup company public by listing SMRT Holdings Berhad on Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad, Malaysia. The company has offices in Malaysia, Bahrain, and partners in Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and the United States of America.

An author of over 15 books and several articles on Learning, Human Resources and Management subjects, he is the recipient of the Certified Speaking Professional award, the highest earned award from the National Speakers Association of the United States of America. He authored the book The Magic of Making Training FUN! and Competency Management: a practitioners guide to set the best practices in developing people.


Paul Rasmussen

Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector.
He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it.
He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

Paul Rasmussen


Nic Thomas

Nic Thomas is an experienced project manager, working across many industries including: Business, Information Technology, Construction and Education. Nic holds a masters in Project Management and the Certified Practicing Project Director status from the Australian Institute of Project Management.

Nic commenced his career as an analytical chemist, before changing fields to work in marketing. From there Nic has held many senior roles prior to finding his passion in Project Management and subsequently education. Nic has worked as a consultant at TAFE, a lecturer at University and is now working for Scope Training, a West Australian RTO who was last year's winner of the small training provider of the year.
Some of Nic's recent work at Scope Training include the implementation of continuous improvement projects in the areas of information technology, marketing and compliance.

Nic Thomas

This conference is a pre-approved professional development opportunity offering 25 Right Way Professional Development Points.