Keynote speakers

We have a fantastic line-up of invited speakers for our plenary and mini-plenary sessions. More speakers will be announced shortly!

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Holly Ransom 

Globally renowned content curator, speaker and master interviewer

Holly Ransom is a globally renowned content curator, powerful speaker and master questioner with the belief that if you walk past it, you tell the world it’s okay. Named one of Australia’s 100 Most Influential Women by the Australian Financial Review, she has delivered a Peace Charter to the Dalai Lama, was Sir Richard Branson’s nominee for Wired Magazine’s ‘Smart List’ of Future Game Changers to watch and was awarded the US Embassy’s Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Leadership Excellence in 2019. Having interviewed the likes of Barack Obama, Malcolm Gladwell, Richard Branson, Billie Jean-King, Condoleezza Rice, Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and the world’s first humanoid robot Sophia, Holly fights complexity with curiosity, apathy with empowerment and fear with fact.  

As a Fulbright scholar and Harvard Kennedy School Class of ’21 fellow, Holly is a recipient of the prestigious Anne Wexler Public Policy Scholarship, allowing her to action social and economic inclusion by connecting people with the decisions that affect their lives. Holly helps people harness their own potential to lead by asking better questions, thinking beyond biased answers, and building collective momentum for change. In The Leading Edge, Holly brings the real-world leadership lessons of so many diverse thinkers and pioneers she’s met to the fore.

Named one of Australia’s “100 Most Influential Women” in 2012 and Co-Chair of the G20 Youth Summit in 2014, Holly has since compressed a power-packed career into a decade, spanning the corporate, non-profit and public sectors.


Fatima Bhutto

Political writer, author and poet 

Fatima Bhutto is the author of the novels The Runaways (Viking, 2019), praised as “astute and searing” by Kirkus Reviews, and The Shadow of the Crescent Moon (Penguin Books, 2015), longlisted for Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her most recent nonfiction book is New Kings of the World: Dispatches from Bollywood, Dizi, and K-Pop (Columbia Global Reports, 2019), which argues that the West’s cultural influence is diminishing across the globe. Her first book is Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir (Nation Books, 2010), which deals with her father’s murder and the Bhutto family's history in Pakistani politics. Her father Murtaza Bhutto, son of Pakistan's former President and Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and an elected member of parliament, was killed by the police in 1996 in Karachi during the premiership of his sister, Benazir Bhutto. The Guardian wrote, “In clear and unpretentious prose it gives a vivid impression of the brutal and corrupt world of Pakistani power politics, which has resulted in the violent deaths of four members of the Bhutto dynasty in the past 31 years.” Bhutto’s journalism and essays have appeared in New Statesman, The Daily Beast, The Guardian, The Nation, Literary Hub and elsewhere.  

Bhutto was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and grew up between Syria and Pakistan. She graduated from Columbia University in 2004, majoring in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures and from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London in 2005 with a Masters in South Asian Government and Politics. 


Solli Raphael

Author, poet and Founder of Earth Enablers

Crowned youngest ever Australian Poetry Slam champion at only 12-years-old and having successfully published his first book ‘Limelight’, Solli Raphael is a budding humanitarian and environmental conservationist who uses original work to instigate conversations about issues that affect future generations. He has performed as a slam poet and keynote speaker at national and international conferences, corporate, lifestyle and charity events, literary festivals, in countless schools as well as on TV shows such as The Project, Q&A, Studio10 and ABC Breakfast News. Solli has found himself receiving accolades for his inspirational input into the lives of youth and adults alike. From breaking stereotypes, fighting for equality, to relatable experiences and environmental pro-activism, Solli creatively tackles compelling topics. Solli’s goal is to generate compassion and inspiration across issues that inevitably affect each and every member of his audience as well as the wider community. You will be in awe of this resolute, humble and kind teen who inspirationally speaks words of wisdom beyond his years.


Danielle Di-Masi

Digital expert in communications, engagement and behaviour, university lecturer and keynote speaker

Danielle Di-Masi is a multiple award-winning international keynote speaker, author and university lecturer that shows her audiences how to make their best impact online in this very noisy and transactional lead business landscape. Danielle has worked with the likes of Google, 3M, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, American Express, Uber, Mastercard, Cisco, Microsoft, Zendesk and Federal Governments. She has also been featured in Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, LA Times, GQ, Psychology Today, Business Insider and for many years was the resident expert on tech, business and social behaviours for TV network Channel Ten, with her own segment on national television each week. Danielle concentrates on our digital presence and shows how anyone can make just as good impression online as we do face-to-face. In this current world, sometimes we never meet the people we know and work with in person, so we need to learn to be just as effective on and offline. Danielle specialises in digital communications and marketing, focusing on the psychology and fascinating sciences behind how we truly connect and build relationships in this modern world; regardless of the platform online.


Dee Madigan

Expert in advertising, politics, brands and social media

Dee Madigan is an Executive Creative Director with over 25 years experience in the advertising industry, including campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands. Dee runs her own advertising agency, Campaign Edge, with offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Darwin, specialising in political, progressive and behavioural change campaigns. She is a panellist on Gruen (ABC) and appears weekly on The Latest and Sunrise (Ch 7). Dee also appears regularly on The Drum (ABC) and The Project (Ch 10). She is the author of The Hard Sell (MUP 2014), as well as a contributing author on Mothermorphosis (MUP 2015) and Perspectives on Change (ANU 2015).

Bernard Salt AM

Futurist, trend-spotter, columnist, advisor and Australia’s best known demographer

Bernard Salt is widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading social commentators by business, the media and the broader community.

Bernard heads The Demographics Group which provides advice on demographic, consumer and social trends for business. Prior to that Bernard founded KPMG Demographics. 

He writes two weekly columns for The Australian newspaper and was an adjunct professor at Curtin University Business School between 2010 and 2020.

He is well known to the wider community for his penchant for identifying and tagging new tribes and social behaviours such as the ‘Seachange Shift’, the ‘Man Drought’, ‘PUMCINS’ (pronounced pumkins) and the ‘Goats Cheese Curtain’. He is perhaps best known for popularising the phrase “smashed avocado” globally. 

Bernard was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2017 Australia Day honours.

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Ciara Lancaster

Expert in change fatigue and resilience, and best-selling author of ‘Reimagine Change’

Australia's female keynote speaker and bestselling author dedicated to helping you transform your team from change fatigued to change fearless. 

Ciara Lancaster's thought-provoking, keynote speaking content explores the connections between resilience building, change management and self-leadership success strategies. 

Human skills are THE competitive advantage in the decade of disruption, the post-pandemic world and the future of work. 

Ciara Lancaster, a former Change Manager at Deloitte Australia, combines stories, science and simple strategies from the stage to inspire a future-ready mindset reset. 

Most importantly, in a world dominated by celebrity, Ciara brings authenticity, vulnerability and relatedness that the audience comments on time and time again. 

View program online  Watch Ciara's Welcome Message

Dr Greg Barton

Expert in global Islamic Politics, civil society, democratization and countering violent extremism

Dr Greg Barton is Research Professor in Global Islamic Politics in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University, where since August 2015 he has led research on Islam and civil society, democratisation and countering violent extremism. From 2007 to 2015 he was the Herb Feith Professor at Monash University where he led research on radicalisation in the Global Terrorism Research Centre. Over the past 30 years he has undertaken extensive research on Indonesian politics and society, especially the role of Islam as both a constructive and a disruptive force. He has been active in inter-faith dialogue initiatives and has a deep commitment to building understanding of Islam and Muslim society. The central axis of his research interests is the way in which religious thought, individual believers and religious communities respond to modernity and to the modern nation state.

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Plenary speakers at #aiec2021