A great line up of speakers at the 2018 Higher Education Finance Conference will address the issues facing professionals working in the areas of finance in universities and private education providers in Australia and New Zealand. 

Michelle Brooke

Michelle is a senior member of the Pilbara Group team with over 25 years of experience in the military, public, and consulting sectors.  Michelle coordinates and delivers the Higher Education consultancy services within Pilbara Group and has spent nearly 20 years building, implementing and maintaining cost models for a range of clients both here in Australia and in the United States. 

Michelle has recently finished a series of consultations with a number of VCs, DVCs, Deans and CFOs regarding the use of transparent data in the academic decision making process.  Based on their feedback, she will look at ‘Shared Data=Shared Governance: A Better Way to Manage’ and go through some of the latest innovative techniques that can empower academics with the data (and knowledge) they need to ensure their financial sustainability today, tomorrow and into the future.

John Buchanan

John Buchanan became the Australian cricket team coach in 1999 and in 2007 finished a very successful campaign, coaching the team to a world record 16 straight Test Matches wins, 21 consecutive One Day International victories and set an unprecedented World Cup record with 2 World Cups and 24 games undefeated. Coaching, leadership and winning is what John is about and his speech will reflect his understanding of how that works

Mr Mark Davis

Mark is Managing Director and Regional Head of Australia and New Zealand, based in Sydney. He is a member of the Payments Global Executive Committee and the Asia Pacific Leadership Team, and Chair of the Australia and New Zealand Management Team.  He is also a Director on the Board of WU Business Australia and New Zealand.  In his role, Mark has P&L responsibility for the Australia and New Zealand business, with a strong focus on Payments, Foreign Exchange Services, Risk and Cash Management, Technology, and Product Development.

The company remains focused on being a leader in cross border, cross currency money movement, on enabling and connecting businesses and people globally, and facilitating global trade and the growth of businesses internationally.  

Mark has over 20 years domestic and international business experience and has led the growth, development and transformation of businesses across Payments, Cash Management, Global Transaction Banking, and Global Markets including Equities, Foreign Exchange, Fixed Income and Derivatives. Prior to Western Union, Mark worked with Deutsche Bank for ten years; as Managing Director and Asia Pacific Regional Business Head in Hong Kong for seven years, and as Managing Director in Japan for three years prior. Mark was a member of the Senior Management Group, and was a Board Director for three years at Deutsche Securities Asia. 

Prior to Deutsche Bank, Mark worked with JP Morgan in Tokyo and Sydney, spent four years with Citibank in Australia and the UK and commenced his career with Bankers Trust in Australia.

Mark has an Executive Masters in Organisational Psychology and Change Management from INSEAD, a B.A Mathematics and Economics from Sydney University, and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  He is married and has four children, and his passions include all sports, traveling, photography, and spending time with family and friends.

Rob Edwards

A business leader for 20 years, Rob asserts that the well-being of people is a fundamental consideration for an organisation to perform at its best. His ‘Live well – it’s all about you’ keynote presentation will provide a meaningful and memorable experience leaving you focused on looking after you most important asset, yourself.

Steve Marsh

Business Improvement Manager, Western Sydney University

Steve has substantial senior executive management experience in domestic and international education, the not for profit sector, local government, and service management. Steve is a proven leader providing direction, guidance, and focus to companies and large public organisations in the areas of good governance, compliance, quality, strategic, financial and operational planning, people and organisational development, and organisational change.

Steve is a change management practitioner and recently supported delivery of the University’s 'Shared Services' program His present role sees him driving a range of organisation wide business and improvement projects, including an enterprise wide service management solution.

Michelle Di Fabio & Matthew McAdam

Michelle Di Fabio

Michelle Di Fabio is the Managing Director of Strategic Global Advisory, a strategy and impact advisory firm. Michelle is a specialist in strategy, impact and higher education. She is a strategic thinker, problem solver and collaborator and works with organisations on delivering education, strategic advisory and partnerships for sectors including superannuation, financial services and not-for-profit on shared value creation, social impact and impact investing.

Michelle is an award winning consultant recognised for her leadership and contribution to the superannuation industry, as a vehicle driving significant policy and social outcomes. Michelle is a Chartered Accountant and former Head of Strategy for Hostplus Superannuation. Michelle is passionate about driving impact and studied the Impact Investing programme at SAID Business School.

Michelle is a board member including former inaugural Alumni Deputy Chair at The University of Melbourne, where she also delivered an occasional address to graduating students. 

Matthew McAdam joined the PRI in 2012 and is responsible for managing the Australia and New Zealand Networks.

He previously led the PRI’s global Communications and Events teams in London and prior to this worked at Standard & Poor’s managing communications and media relations across S&P’s credit ratings, indices, equity and fund research businesses across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He was previously a finance journalist at The Australian Financial Review in Sydney. Matthew has a Masters in Sustainability Leadership from the University of Cambridge, a Bachelor of Communications from Griffith University and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance and Investment from Australia’s Finsia and the UK Investment Management Certificate.

Robert Griew

Robert Griew brings deep experience at senior executive levels in health, education, Indigenous policy and in public administration generally. He has worked in federal, state and territory public services; in the community sector and has run his own consulting business. Prior to joining Nous, Robert was associate secretary in the Australian Department of Education and Training; responsible for higher education, research and international education and Secretary of the Norther Territory Department of Health and Community Services.

Dr Natalia Nikolova

Dr Natalia Nikolova is the Director of UTS new Advanced MBA program. She has led and contributed to the development of several innovative learning experiences and courses at UTS that aim to prepare students for the changing nature of work. Natalia’s research seeks to provide students, the business community and the public with a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with the future of work and focuses on strategy, leadership and innovation. Her contributions to the development of innovative educational experiences has been recognized through an Australian Government Learning & Teaching Citation, a UTS Learning & Teaching Award and a UTS Learning & Teaching Citation.

Jason Potts

Jason Potts is Professor of Economics in the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing at RMIT University, and Director of the Blockchain Innovation Hub, the first social science research institute on Blockchain in the world. Dr Potts is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia and is one of Australia’s top economists, specialising in economic growth, innovation and institutions, as well as the theory of economic evolution and complexity. His work has been applied to the economics of creative industries, intellectual property, and cities, and common pool resources. He received the Australian Research Council's Future Fellowship, and won the International Joseph A. Schumpeter Prize. He has written five books and published over 80 articles on these themes, and is a regular media commentator. He is currently the Vice-President of the International Joseph A. Schumpeter Society, an Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, editor of the Cambridge Elements series on Evolutionary Economics, and editor of the Journal of Institutional Economics.

Melanie Reimann & Stuart McDowell


Melanie is an experienced Finance leader, with experience in a number of executive and Board Committee roles. In her current role, as Director of Financial Reporting & Budgets for USQ, she manages the financial reporting function, corporate budgeting process, the management accounting function and the financial systems functional team, including providing timely and strategic advice to the executive for decision making. Mel is also an independent member / advisor in both the public and banking sectors.

Stuart is a management consultant with over 18 years of commercial experience, particularly in the education and public sector. He has a strong track record of providing objective advice to clients, taking a consultative approach to solving complex problems. In his current role, as a Director in the Consulting division of Grant Thornton Australia, Stuart leads a team to deliver projects that help his clients respond to their challenges, helping them to grow. Stuart is also the Treasurer for a community legal service in Brisbane.

Kean Selway

Kean has been the chief operating Officer for Deakin University since 2010 and a member of the universities executive since 2002.

Kean has strategic and leadership responsibiltiy for the services, resources and faciltiies at Deakin. His portfolio includes: Student Services, HR, Equity and Diversity, Campus Services, Infrastucre and Residentail Services.

Kean currently serves as Chair of the Boards of Deakin Residential Services, Unilink Limited and the Bowater Trust, as Deputy Chair of Barwon Regional Partnerships and as a member of the Finance and Business Affairs Committee of Deakin University Council.  He is also a member of The Geelong College Council and Chair of its Planning Committee. He was past Chair of the Boards of Callista Software Services, the Australian Masters Games, the Australian Human Resources Institute and the Geelong Business Excellence Awards, and member of the Board of the Committee for Geelong.

Kean was Chief Executive Officer of DeakinPrime – the University’s corporate education arm – from 2002 to 2010. During this period, he also led a number of areas of the University’s operations through roles such as Acting Vice-President Administration in 2005/06 and as Pro Vice-Chancellor Engagement in 2008/10.

Prior to joining Deakin, Kean was Managing Director of the Synergy Management Group, a company he founded in 1995. During this time he built and led successful ventures in business consultancy, software development and contract management services.  Kean’s early career was in the hospitality industry, working for national hotel groups in business development and general management roles.

He has a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from Monash University's David Syme Business School and a Graduate Diploma of Management from Victoria University. He has completed the Senior Executive Programme at the London Business School, the Executive Certificate of Global Strategy and Innovation at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Cranlana Programme Executive Colloquium. He has been a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD) since 2003.

Chris Riley

Chris Riley is the Pro Vice-Chancellor, International at Australian Catholic University. He joined Australian Catholic University (ACU) in October 2010 as Executive Director, International.

Chris has institutional responsibility for developing and implementing ACU’s internationalisation Strategy and programs including: international partnerships; student exchange and international mobility programs; international student recruitment, admission and support; and management of the university’s Centre for Languages.

Chris represents ACU on Universities Australia’s Deputy Vice Chancellor International Committee and is a member of the Committee’s Executive.   He is also Chair of the NSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor/ Pro Vice- Chancellor International Committee. He is a member of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) and the European Association for International Education (EAIE).

Prior to joining ACU, he held a number of senior position with the University of Sydney, including Deputy Director, International and General Manager of the Faculty of Economics and Business. Chris  holds  a  Bachelor  of  Arts  from  the  Australian  National  University  and  a  Master  of  Business Administration from the University of New England.

Jonathan Sheridan

Head of Private Client Solutions, FIIG, The Fixed Income Experts

Danielle Stein Fairhurst

Danielle Stein Fairhurst is the Principal of Plum Solutions, a Sydney-based consultancy specialising in financial modelling and analysis.  She is the author of “Financial Modeling in Excel for Dummies” published by Wiley in 2017 and “Using Excel for Business Analysis; a Fundamental Approach to Financial Modelling”, Revised Edition published by Wiley Finance 2015.  With over fourteen years’ experience as a financial analyst, she helps her clients create meaningful financial models in the form of business cases, pricing models and management reports.  She has hands-on experience in a number of industry sectors, including telecoms, information systems, manufacturing and financial services.

Danielle has regular engagements around Australia and globally as a speaker, course facilitator, financial modelling consultant and analyst, was a guest on Excel TV and has been interviewed for several industry podcasts. She founded the Financial Modellers’ Meetup groups which now has over 5,000 members in seven countries as well as a LinkedIn forum with over 40,000 members.  She holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM), and has taught management accounting subjects at Sydney University.

Dr Stephen Weller

Dr. Stephen Weller has more than 20 years’ experience in tertiary education across six universities in three states. He holds a PhD in Organisational Justice from Victoria University; a Master of Business Administration from the University of Technology, Sydney; a Master of Commerce, Employment Relations from the University of Western Sydney; and a Bachelor of Arts, Government and Public Administration from the University of Sydney.

As the Chief Operating Officer & Deputy Vice-Chancellor at ACU, Stephen is a member of the Senior Executive Group at Australian Catholic University. In this role Dr Weller leads the Corporate Services Portfolio which is critical to the achievement of the strategic and operational priorities of the University. The Portfolio includes infrastructure; information technology; properties and facilities; marketing and external relations; academic registrar and student administration; human resources; finance; planning & strategic management; and governance and general counsel. Dr Weller is also responsible for providing effective corporate governance through the University Senate and Company in his role as Company Secretary.

Stephen's presentation will be entitled 'Staying Afloat in Stormy Seas - The Forecast for 2018-2020'.