GVw 2020 Virtual Seminar Speaker Biographies
Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria
On 1 July 2015, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC was sworn in as Victoria’s 29th Governor, the first female in the role.
Governor Dessau has served as a Magistrate in in the Children’s Court, Coroners Court and Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. The Governor also served as Judge of the Family Court of Australia for 18 years.
Immediately before her appointment as Governor, she was President of the Melbourne Festival, Chair of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Victorian Regional Committee and a national Board member of the Trust, a Commissioner of the Australian Football League, a Trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria, a Board member and former Chair of AFL Sportsready and Artsready, a Board member of the Unicorn Foundation, and a Patron of Sports Connect.
In 2010 the Governor was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to family law, and the community. In 2017 the Governor was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the people of Victoria through leadership roles in the judiciary, to the advancement of economic ties and business relationships, and as a supporter of charitable, sporting and arts organisations.
Hon Jaala Pulford MLC, Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Minister for Small Business
Jaala was appointed Minister for Employment; Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy; and Minister for Small Business in June 2020. Prior to this Jaala served as Minister for Roads, Road Safety and the TAC; and Minister for Fishing and Boating from December 2018. In the Andrews Government’s first term she was Victoria’s first female Minister for Agriculture, as well as Minister for Regional Development and Deputy Leader in the Legislative Council.
Gönül Serbest, Chief Executive Officer, Global Victoria
Gönül is the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of Global Victoria responsible for leading the Victorian Government’s global engagement efforts. She manages the State’s international network of 23 trade and investment offices; leads a team that drives economic growth in Victoria by facilitating exports and promotes the State’s world class industry capabilities and education sector to international audiences.
In March 2018, Gönül made Smart Company’s Honour Roll for the Top 100 Australian female business leaders and in August 2018, was awarded in the Top 50 Victorian Women in the Public Service. She has a passion for international engagement and supporting platforms and initiatives that empower young leaders and women to actively engage in areas of trade and culture.
Michelle Wade, Commissioner for Victoria to South Asia
Michelle Wade is a highly experienced international trade official and has held senior diplomatic postings for the Australian government in Italy, Malaysia and Spain.
Michelle commenced her role as Commissioner to South Asia for the Victorian government based in Bangalore in September 2017. Immediately prior to this, Michelle managed the global network of offices and the Business and Skilled Migration program for the State Government of Queensland, Australia.
Michelle's trade and investment career highlights have been around international investment in infrastructure and renewable energy, and growing and deepening Australia's education relationship in Spain, Italy and ASEAN region.
Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, Founder and Chair, Gekko Systems
Elizabeth Lewis-Gray is Co-Founder and Chair of Gekko Systems. She has had long serving roles on the Board of Austmine (including Chair), CSIRO’s Mineral Advisory Board and the Federal Government’s Innovation Australia Board and is the Founder and Patron of CEEC International Ltd (a not-for-profit focusing on reducing energy consumption in mining).
Her business, Gekko Systems, is a world leader in gold and silver processing technology, consulting, and energy efficient modular processing solutions.
The company has recently diversified its operations into renewable energy and medical technology, utilizing its world class innovation, technical, logistics, manufacturing and operating systems. These three businesses operate as Gekko Medical, Gekko Systems, and Gaia EnviroTech.
Elizabeth is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Federation University for services to mining and a recipient of Australian 100 Women of Influence Awards and the Warren Engineering Innovation Heroes Award.
Jo Horgan, Founder and Co-CEO, MECCA Brands
Recently named Ernst and Young’s Australian Entrepreneur of the Year, Jo Horgan, MECCA Brands Founder and Co-CEO, redefined the Australian beauty landscape, championing retail innovation and delivering the ultimate beauty experience to her customers.
Since opening her first store in 1997, today MECCA Brands has over 4000 employees, over 100 stores in Australia and New Zealand, online stores for Australia, New Zealand and a flagship online store Hong Kong. MECCA Brands is also consistently ranked in the top five of BRW’s Great Places to Work study.
In 2018 Jo was awarded the Founder’s Award at Women’s Wear Daily Beauty Inc Awards and was named as one of the top 50 most influential people in the global beauty business in 2014.
Julie Hirsch, Co-Founder and COO, Eloments Natural Vitamin Tea
As the Co-Founder and COO of Eloments Natural Vitamin Tea, Julie Hirsch has seen her enterprise, a world-first 100% natural vitamin tea, secure shelf space in 2000 stores across the globe in just over a year.
Julie’s background in the NGO sector led her to recognise that business, and in particular startups, have the opportunity to create impact with every decision they make.
Not only has Julie been named Telstra’s Victorian Business Woman of the Year and listed in Forbes 30 Under 30, she has an exciting vision for the future: of ethical business practice through innovation. It is her passion and her mission to realise that vision by building companies with innovation, disruption, and fair trade at their core.
Rebecca Hall, Commissioner for Victoria to Southeast Asia
Rebecca Hall is the newly appointed Commissioner for Victoria to Southeast Asia. She re-joins the Victorian Government after 4 years leading international education strategy and programs with Austrade and the Queensland Government.
Rebecca is known for her collaborative leadership style, focus on achieving outcomes and deep knowledge of international relations. She held various senior role with local government, state government, federal government, and with universities and peak bodies.
Over the past decade, her not-for-profit board experience includes appointments to International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) Queensland Branch, Queensland Overseas Foundation (QOF) and AFS Intercultural Programs Australia.
Lin Lin Jacobs, CEO and Co-Chair, China International Beauty Expo
Lin Lin is the co-chair CEO of China International Beauty Expo (CIBE), responsible for the organization's six beauty & wellness shows per year, in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen.
Previously a designer and anthropologist, Lin Lin has an impressive track record as a serial entrepreneur and creative.
Since joining CIBE in 2015, her contributions to innovation and sustainability efforts have brought international awareness to the Chinese beauty industry and she is an active representative for the Chinese beauty industry at global conferences.
Lin Lin's work has been published in various leading global media outlets including Shanghai Daily, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. In 2017 she was awarded the Beauty & Wellness Cultural Ambassador by the China-Australia Chamber of Commerce.
Amy Zheng, CEO and Co-Founder, Amazin’ Graze
Amy was born in Shanghai, grew up in Melbourne, and is an integrated resident of Kuala Lumpur after living in the city for nearly 10 years.
Having spent half of her career working for the public sector & NGOs and the other half as a corporate warrior, Amy felt that it was time to do something big – and Amazin’ Graze was born.
Today, the company has grown to a home pantry brand across the region, with a strong social mission. Amy's passionate about building a world-class consumer brand in Asia, helping people live healthier and more meaningful lives and building the next generation of young female leaders.
Thủy Nguyễn, Deputy CEO – Commercial - Vincommerce JSC (Masan Group)
Thuy has more than 17 years in both offline and online retail and currently leads on global procurement for Vietnam's largest supermarket chain – Masan Group. In this role, she is responsible for the procurement of international food and beverage products in Masan supermarkets and outlets, which includes many products from Victoria.
Thuy is acknowledged as one of Vietnam's most senior women leaders in the retail sector and has led efforts within Masan Group to respond to both supply and consumer issues, as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Natalia Gorroño, Victoria's Acting Head of Post, Latin America
Based in Santiago, Natalia leads Victoria’s trade, investment and education activities across Latin America. An Australian trained lawyer raised in the heart of the Chilean Patagonia, Natalia has extensive experience advising and supporting businesses entering and operating in Latin America. Before joining the Victorian Government in 2017, she worked for Austrade at the Australian Embassy in Chile.
Prior to Austrade Natalia was the Director of Southern Gateway, a strategic advisory consultancy in Chile. Previously, she worked with a boutique law firm advising Australian companies entering and operating in Chile and Latin America.
She is currently a director of the Chile Australia Chamber of Commerce.
Tanya Moss, Founder & Creative Director, TANYA MOSS Jewelry
Tanya Moss is one of Mexico’s most coveted jewelry designers. Tanya’s exquisite designs combine modern sophistication with her culture rich heritage to create her unique collection of finely wrought silver and gold jewelry, belts, leather handbags and silk scarves. The iconic “Tanya Moss Butterfly” is present in most of her designs, symbolizing freedom, individuality and evolution. In her work she conveys Mexican culture with contemporary Mexico. Tanya received the 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year award and is one of the “50 most influential women in Mexico”.
The Tanya Moss brand is sold in over 100 locations throughout Mexico, Japan, the Caribbean, and the United States.
Denni Francisco, Founder, Ngali Australia
Denni Francisco is a proud Wiradjuri woman and fashion entrepreneur with over 25 years’ experience in the industry. Having worked in design and directorship roles for fashion houses in Australia and the USA, she created her first venture Billiecart Clothing in the late 90s and founded Ngali in 2018.
Ngali aims to bring the artwork of talented Indigenous Australians to the world through premium-quality clothing and collectibles. She works with remote artists to expand their reach and help promote understanding between First Nations’ communities and others.
Through the medium of fashion, Ngali gives more people access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander culture by taking the stories of incredible artwork beyond wall display and onto garments to walk the streets and show up in a myriad of places around the world.
Jeanette Cheah, Founder & CEO, Hacker Exchange
Jeanette Cheah is the Hawaiian-born, Melbourne-based founder and CEO of Hacker Exchange, an EdTech company supercharging the next generation of graduates and helping them build a powerful, global community.
Passionate about startup community building and diversity in tech, Jeanette has been listed as a woman of influence in Smart Company, a Finalist in the Telstra Business Women's Awards, and won the 2019 ‘Women in Tech - Global Ally” award in Portugal. Before co-founding Hacker Exchange, Jeanette’s corporate career involved building digital products, innovation and marketing.
Jeanette has also represented Australia at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance in Argentina and SXSW in Austin, Texas.
Del Irani, Journalist and TV Anchor
Del Irani is a US-based, award-winning journalist & TV anchor who’s hosted shows on BBC World News, ABC News (Australia) and NHK World-Japan. She serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for World Vision Australia.
She currently anchors “Deeper Look from New York” on NHK World-Japan and is a host on “Escape From The City” on ABC TV in Australia. Previously, Del was one of the main anchors on Australia’s “ABC News Breakfast”, a creator and anchor of the award-winning talk show, “#TalkAboutIt.”; and Fact Check Anchor for RMIT ABC News in 2017 and 2018.
A former BBC World News anchor and correspondent, Del was appointed Mumbai correspondent for BBC World News in 2009 and became the anchor of “India Business Report”.
Del has been a regular moderator for the United Nations, hosting regional conferences for the International Labour Organization.
Andrea Clarke, Author, Future Fit
Andrea is the author of 'Future Fit: How to Stay Relevant and Competitive in the Future of Work' - which was a finalist in the Australian Career Book Award 2019, winner of the Australian Business Book of the Year 2019 and finalist in the UK Business Book Awards 2020. A recovering television news reporter and Washington D.C. correspondent, Andrea covered major news events for Al Jazeera English, the Pentagon Channel and Thomson Reuters before working on humanitarian aid programs to re-build Iraq and Afghanistan. Andrea then led the communication campaign for the Save Darfur advocacy movement to stop the genocide in Sudan.
With an obsession for growing careers, Andrea founded FutureFit in 2012. Her business trains 1000 people a year to be future fit for the 2020's, by accelerating skills around adaptive leadership, communication, reputation capital & resilience.