The largest ever line-up of retail leaders and CEOs
A stellar line-up of speakers has been confirmed. Stay tuned for more speakers to be announced.
Australian Retailers Association
Paul Zahra is a CEO, Non-Executive Director, Board and Company Advisor and one of Australia’s most influential diversity advocates. A leading force in the Australian Retail Industry for over 40 years, Paul’s corporate roles have included Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of former ASX listed department store, David Jones Limited as well as senior leadership roles at Target Australia and Officeworks Superstores.
Paul has been previously credited for leading the digital transformation of one of the oldest department stores in the world, achieving market-leading momentum, resulting in financial stability for the business during the worst retail conditions in 25 years and leading to its successful sale at a premium in 2014.
Paul is currently CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, a not for profit that is the country’s oldest, largest, and most diverse retail body, representing a $400bn sector which employs 1.3m Australians. The ARA has gone through a significant transformation during his leadership, welcoming the recruitment of well-known large and major retail brands since his appointment, whilst successfully retaining 95 per cent of members that are small to medium size businesses.
Starting his working career in a family small business, he has been a strong advocate for small to medium size retailers, celebrating their contribution to the intellect and diversity of the retail community.
A powerful champion for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Paul has led numerous high profile LGBTI campaigns and initiatives. He is the former Chair of PwC Diversity and Inclusion Board, Former Chair of the Pinnacle Foundation, Former Chair of Australian Institute of Music and currently an ambassador for the 30% Club Australia. He has held non-executive director roles in ASX listed companies, private equity, start-ups and not-for-profits in the education, retail and FMCG sector.
Paul is an alumnus of Stanford University, USA, and a Graduate of Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Australian Retailers Association
Nicole leads the development of Wesfarmers™ Group-wide data and digital ecosystem. This is a new role for Wesfarmers, reflecting the strategic importance and growth potential of our data and digital strategies. Prior to joining Wesfarmers, Nicole held a number of leadership roles. Most recently she was the Executive General Manager, Community; Consumer, at Australia Post.
CEO & Managing Director
Leah Weckert became CEO and Managing Director of Coles Group on 1 May 2023. Leah joined Coles in 2011 and has held several senior roles across the Coles Group. Most recently, Leah was Chief Executive, Commercial and Express leading the supermarkets business units and the Coles Express business. Before this, Leah was Chief Financial Officer and played a leadership role in the demerger from Wesfarmers in 2018. Leah has also held roles as Director Strategy, Director People & Culture, State General Manager Victoria Operations, and General Manager Merchandise, Strategy and Innovation.
Prior to joining Coles, Leah worked at McKinsey & Company, advising large private and public sector clients, and Fosters Group in Strategy and Business Development. Leah’s qualifications include a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) from Adelaide University and a Bachelor of Science from Adelaide University. She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a member of Chief Executive Women.
Mike Schneider was appointed Managing Director, Bunnings Australia & New Zealand in March 2016. Prior to this he led the store operations teams across Bunnings Australia and New Zealand, after joining Bunnings in 2005. Before joining Bunnings, he held a range of senior operational, commercial and human resource roles across regional and national markets, both in retail and financial services with The Warehouse Group and Westpac.
CEO & Chief Sustainability Officer
With over 20 years’ experience in the home furnishing retail sector, Mirja’s journey at IKEA began in 2011 in Germany.
She relocated to Asia in 2014 to take up a management opportunity with IKEA Japan, before returning to Germany as Country Deputy Retail Manager, while also leading the transformation process of Service Office corporate services for IKEA Germany.
Moving to Australia to step into the role of CEO in September 2021, with leadership experience from the biggest IKEA retail market globally, Mirja’s focus has been on accelerating the transition as an omni-channel retailer and increasing accessibility for more Australians, and now New Zealanders, to shop with IKEA, wherever and however they choose.
Mirja also leads the integration of the sustainability agenda into the core of the IKEA business in Australia and New Zealand.
Chairman & Co-Founder
Jack is the Chairman of the Chemist Warehouse Group and a Co-founder of this $5 billion retail group. Jack has a wealth of experience in retail having been involved in the growth of the business since 1972. Additionally, Jack created the largest distribution business in Pharmacy and created the iconic brands Le Specs, Le Tan, Australis and Colours of Australis.
Ian was appointed Managing Director, Kmart in February 2016 and assumed the responsibility for leading the Kmart Group division (encompassing the Kmart Australia and Target Australia businesses) in November 2018. Prior to this, Ian was Kmart’s Chief Operating Officer where he was instrumental in Kmart’s turnaround.
Ian’s experience, both national and international, covers a number of industries including retail, professional services, consulting, technology and healthcare in positions that include general management, sales, business development and project management.
Ian holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and has completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.
Executive General Manager Retail
Catriona joined Australia Post in January 2022 and has led significant growth and major restructures at some of Australia’s largest organisations. Considered a true champion of the customer and a leader who strives to be a positive catalyst for change, Catriona has a track record in all areas of business operations, combining strategic thinking with a commitment to high performance and a highly disciplined ‘get it done’ approach to execution. Her ability to challenge traditional thinking and innovate core processes has delivered significant business performance and cultural improvements across the banking sector and in fast-moving consumer goods.
CEO & Co-Founder
Retail Prodigy Group
Steve is the Co-Founder and CEO of Retail Prodigy Group which holds the master retail franchise for NIKE stores across Australia and NZ with the distribution rights for TOMS and Timbuk2. Steve joined NIKE Australia as Retail Director and then to NIKE HQ to head up the retail division for North America. Steve has also held leadership roles at Jeanswest, Myer and Luxottica.
Angus is the Chief Executive Officer at Barbeques Galore, a retailer of Barbeques and Outdoor products with a network of 90 stores across Australia. Since joining Barbeques Galore in 2019, Angus has led the development of new store formats, acceleration of new product development, and investment in brand and omnichannel capability. During this time, Barbeques Galore has been recognised as one of Inside Retail’s 20 coolest retailers in 2020, Gold and Silver winner at the 2021 Sydney Design Awards, and winner in the 2022 Australian Retail Innovators Awards.
Prior to joining Barbeques Galore, Angus was a senior executive at ASX-listed Super Retail Group, and was included on Internet Retailing’s 2018 list of the top 50 people in ecommerce. Angus is also a member of the Advisory Board for the National Online Retail Association, Chair of the Retail Doctor Group Advisory Board, holds a Master of Business Administration, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Group Owner Consumer & Digitisation
Full biography coming soon.
Blooms the Chemist
Full biography coming soon.
Prior to joining Officeworks, Sarah worked across many areas of the Coles Group in positions including Financial Controller, State General Manager Victoria, General Manager Workplace Strategy and most recently Demerger Program Director, overseeing Coles™ implementation of the proposed demerger from Wesfarmers.
Kieron was appointed as CEO of Fantastic Furniture in September 2018, a leading omni channel retailer with 87 owner-operator stores and vertically integrated manufacturing producing an Aussie-made sofa every 60 seconds. The team at Fantastic believe all Australians deserve great furniture they can truly afford and continue to challenge the status quo of traditional furniture retailers to get customers the look they want for less.
Kieron also serves as Chairperson of Dignity, a highly respected and fast-growing homeless services charity. Dignity was named 2019 Telstra Business of the Year, the first not-for-profit organisation to receive this prestigious gong in the 30-year history of the Awards.
Kieron started his career in 1990 as an insolvency accountant with Crowe Horwath in Sydney, developing an early specialisation in the hotel industry. Relocating to London with the firm’s hotel management consulting arm Horwath HTL in 1995, he worked on hotel feasibility and brand strategy assignments across Europe and the Middle East. He returned home to Australia in the lead up to the Sydney Olympic Games to work on corporate finance deals, real estate development and tourism advisory engagements with Andersen and PwC.
In 2002, Kieron moved to Hong Kong to lead Asia Pacific development for Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts, achieving significant network growth and China market entry. He later joined IHG PLC based in Shanghai to launch the Holiday Inn Express brand in Greater China and secured the first franchisor’s license ever issued to an international hotel group in mainland China. Returning to Australia in 2008 with IHG, Kieron turned his focus to multi-site operations as Vice President of Operations ANZSP.
He joined Yum! Brands in 2010 and became COO of KFC in South Pacific before moving to Transport for NSW as a founding director of NSW Trains, establishing it as an independent rail and bus entity. Immediately prior to joining Fantastic Furniture, Kieron was an Executive Director at Compass Group in Australia responsible for the turnaround of the core business portfolio spanning over 400 sites.
Kieron holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce (Accounting) from the University of Wollongong, a Master of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Business and is a Graduate of Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Karen is a senior retail and consumer executive who has worked in some of Australia’s most iconic retail brands: Woolworths, BIG W, Caltex (now Ampol) and Rebel Sport. Karen has been a CFO, COO, GM of Strategy, Transformation and Replenishment and is now the Group CEO of Australia’s largest born and bred quick service restaurant group, Craveable Brands, who operate around 600 Red Rooster, Oporto, Chicken Treat and Chargrill Charlie’s restaurants. Karen is a CEW and ARA member, and is passionate about retail, people and diversity.
Full biography coming soon.
Chief Industry Affairs Officer
Australian Retailers Association
Fleur leads the Industry Affairs portfolio for the Australian Retailers Association. With an entrepreneurial background, Fleur was founder of Launch Group and the Nine Network’s Entrepreneurs TV and Founding team for TEDxSydney. Fleur is the author of The Business of Being YOU – Personal Brand Secrets of Celebrities and CEO’s.
Best & Less Group
Full biography coming soon.
Prof Gary Mortimer
Consumer Behaviour Researcher
QUT Business School
Gary Mortimer is a Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour at the QUT Business School. Prior to joining QUT, Professor Mortimer spent over 25 years working with some of Australia’s largest general merchandise and food retailers.
In 2020, he was appointed as the Chair of the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) Consumer Research Advisory Committee and to the Expert Advisory Group for the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Employment Zones Reform. Professor Mortimer also sits on the editorial boards or the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services and International Journal of Bank Marketing. Widely recognised as Australia’s leading retail expert, industry keynote speaker and media commentator. He works closely with Australian television, print, online and radio media to engage broadly with audiences, outside of academia.
With over 30 years’ experience as a researcher, Michele has been responsible for thousands of surveys, including many of the largest research projects ever undertaken in Australia, many of which continue to play a critically important part in shaping our society today.
Prof Jana Bowden
Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour
Macquarie Business School
Jana is an experienced marketer and consumer psychologist at the Macquarie University Business School with a significant background in market research consultancy and brand management. With over a decade of experience as an educator, Jana teaches consumer behaviour, services marketing and marketing fundamentals to both undergraduate and postgraduate learners.
As a market researcher, Jana’s work focuses on examining how consumers engage, disengage and negatively engage with brands. Stanford University placed Jana on the world Top 2% Scientists Citations ranking list in 2022/2021. She is ranked within the top 2% of researchers globally in the marketing discipline and also across all research disciplines. Jana is also an Associate Editor for the European Journal of Marketing.
For twenty years, David has worked within client, agency and consultancy organisations to define and deliver consumer and marketing strategy across FSI, Government, Retail and Consumer Products locally and globally. Before joining Deloitte, he ran strategy and media at McCann where he was consistently celebrated as one of the top marketing strategists within the region.
At Deloitte, David leads the CMO agenda and the Marketing, Data and Technology Melbourne team. He has helped some of Australia’s biggest marketing organisations build the marketing function of the future by through marketing operations, capability and technology integration.
Dr Manisha Amin
Centre for Inclusive Design
Dr Manisha Amin is an innovation leader and a cultural and social change champion, focused on helping organisations harness the power of thinking from the edge. She is CEO of the Centre for Inclusive Design, a social enterprise which helps companies to build and design products, services and policies that are inclusive, valuable and usable for as many people as possible.
Prior to joining CFID, Manisha worked in innovation, design, environmental advocacy and non-profits including Barnardos, Cancer Council, Guide Dogs Australia. She is passionate about social justice and business growth, and believes that when we combine the two we get gold.
She has a PhD in Arts and Social Science, a Masters in Professional Writing, and a Bachelor of Business (Marketing), from the University of Technology, Sydney. Manisha is also on the Board of ADHD Australia and is a published novelist.
Consumer Sector at MST Marquee
Craig Woolford began at MST Marquee in June 2021 and was most recently the Head of Research for Citi Australia/NZ. He led a team of more than 50 staff responsible for analysing stocks, interest rates and the economy. Craig was also the lead Consumer Analyst at Citi, leading the team that ranked top three with clients in both Retail and Food & Beverages.
Craig was at Citi for 16 years and prior to that was at CommSec as a lead analyst on the Consumer sector for four years. He is regularly cited in industry journals and the media for his insights about the state of Australian retailing and performance of the major companies across the retail and food and beverages sectors. Craig also has experience in funds management and debt capital markets.
Craig Woolford is appointed as an authorised representative of Retail Mosaic Pty Ltd, who is an authorised representative of MST Financial.
Dr Kellie Nuttall
Deloitte – AI Institute
Dr. Kellie Nuttall leads Australia’s Strategy and Business Design practice, and directs the Australian Deloitte AI Institute, roles that see her helping some of Australia’s most iconic brands transform into AI-fuelled businesses. Kellie is also a faculty member of Singularity University and is focused on harnessing exponential technologies to address global grand challenges. Kellie holds a PhD in consumer decision making and nudge psychology, which allows her to readily apply its theory to decision making in a professional setting.
Many more speakers to be announced.
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