Accelerate Manufacturing: Western Downs Manufacturing Conference 2023


After huge success in 2022, the Accelerate Manufacturing Conference returned to the Western Downs on Wednesday, 17 May 2023. 10 expert speakers presented to over 70 members of the Manufacturing Industry and aligned value chain.

Speakers presented on conference themes including:

• The Future of Manufacturing: Productivity & Innovation

• Regional Opportunities from the Queensland Energy & Jobs Plan 

• Lean Manufacturing and Efficiency

• Manufacturing the Future Workforce

• Preparing the Industry: Carbon & Sustainability


Conference Speakers

Keynote: Michael Sharpe - "The Future of Manufacturing in Australia"

Michael-Sharpe.jpg Michael Sharpe has vast industrial experience and is recognised for his service to industry, community groups, & the arts. He is Chairman of the Sharpe Family Office and is involved with a range of organisations across engineering, infrastructure, energy, environmental sustainability, the Australian space industry and the global nuclear industry.

Michael is Chairman of the AUKUS Forum regarding the trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He served as the National Director for Industry at the Australian Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre and is a former Chairman of the HunterNet Co-operative, which is widely recognised as the most successful industry ‘cluster’ of its type nationally.

He is the Founder of the Nuclear Skills Forum; Chairman of the Australian Research Council's Micro Recycling Hub; Advisor to the National Space Industry Hub and Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Australian Government’s Sustainable Communities and Waste Hub.

linkedin.png  Michael Sharpe | LinkedIn  |  twitter.png  Twitter @MrMichaelSharpe  |  broken-link.png  Michael Sharpe - Join the conversation.

Jonathan Roberts - "Transforming industry waste through Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics"

Johnathan-Roberts.jpg Jonathan Roberts is Professor in Robotics at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). His main research interests are in the areas of Field Robotics, Design Robotics and Medical Robotics. He was a co-inventor of the UAV Challenge, an international flying robot competition. Before joining QUT, Professor Roberts was the Research Director of CSIRO’s Autonomous Systems Laboratory where he developed projects in the area of museum robotics and telepresence. Professor Roberts is a Past President of the Australian Robotics & Automation Association, was a member of the Founding Editorial Board of the IEEE Journal of Robotics and Automation Letters and served as a Senior Editor for 5 years. He is the Centre Director of the Australian Cobotics Centre which was established in August 2021 with a focus on the implementation of Collaborative Robotics (or Cobotics) within Australian manufacturing.

linkedin.png  Jonathan Roberts | LinkedIn  |  broken-link.png   ARM Hub  |  twitter.png  ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Hub |   (@ARMHubAus)

Samuel Jesuadian - "Transforming industry waste through Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics"

Samuel-Jesuadian.jpg Samuel Jesuadian serves as the Chief Operating Officer, overseeing the functions of the Business Operations, Facilities Management and Finances of the ARM Hub. Samuel has worked for Mater Research (Mater Health Services) since 2013 and has consolidated experience in Operations Process Design and Management within Clinical and Bio-Medical Research industries. Prior to this, Samuel held different research support positions within the University of Queensland; the Translational Research Institute; and Griffith University. He is an experienced operational professional who has a focus in business acumen on managing risk, driving strategic direction through systems innovation and a passion for business improvements.

linkedin.png   Samuel Jesuadian | LinkedIn  |  broken-link.png  ARM Hub  |  twitter.png  ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Hub |   (@ARMHubAus)

Julien Lacave - "Carbon Trading and Carbon Neutrality in Manufacturing"

Julien-Lacave.jpg Julien is a Senior Consultant at Pangolin Associates with experience in renewable energy technologies and sustainability services in the not-for-profit and private sectors. He has worked in both Europe and Australia in account management, strategic partnerships, and training.

Previously, Julien held the role of National Project Manager at the Smart Energy Council, where he advocated for the uptake of solar energy technologies in Australia.

He has also developed educational courses in carbon accounting and communications; conferences in clean technology; community-based sustainability events; and trained international students.

Julien holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Sorbonne University with a thesis on climate change science and sustainability in business. He also completed a Bachelor’s in International Business and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

linkedin.png Julien E. Lacave | LinkedIn  |  broken-link.png Pangolin Associates: carbon & energy management specialists.

Helen Bates - "Manufacturing Opportunities in the Western Downs"

Helen-Bates.jpg Helen has recently joined the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water in August 2022 after a career in the private sector. She is an experienced solution focused professional, with a career demonstrating leadership, expertise and performance in contract and project management, strategic planning and corporate governance within the manufacturing, agricultural and construction sectors. Helen is passionate about working with manufacturers in the region and helping organisations achieve their vision and optimise performance, productivity, and ultimately sustainable value, in both global and local dimensions of business development, and helping to create long-term value for the manufacturing sector in Southwest Queensland.

linkedin.png Helen Bates | LinkedIn

Tamara Hurst - "Manufacturing Hubs – the Network in Qld"

Tamara has recently joined Manufacturing Skills Queensland as the Industry Workforce Advisor which is a fully funded program from the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training. She has over 20 years experience in both the private and government sectors of Vocational Education and Training, focusing on tailor made training solutions to suit specific business requirements. Tamara is passionate about supporting and strengthening manufacturing businesses through workforce planning that encourages a sustainable and diverse workforce. 

linkedin.png Manufacturing Skills Queensland: About | LinkedIn

Jennifer Rix - "The Future of Workforce in Manufacturing"

Jennifer-Rix.jpg Jennifer holds Graduate and Post Graduate qualifications in organisational psychology, change management, HR, and IR.  She has 12 years of senior management experience in the Banking sector as a People and Culture Business Partner and in the front-line, as a senior manager, leading large teams.  She also holds Executive Coaching qualifications. 

Jennifer brings a keen business acumen and a values-based, purpose-driven approach to organisational culture and change. Understanding, influencing and growing people, and building sustainable future-orientated business is central to her purpose.  She has led several organisational transformation projects within the finance sector.

She is currently the Director for Regional Development Australia – Darling Downs and South West.  Chair of the Toowoomba Jobs Committee and co-chair of the local Trade investment QLD Committee.  She is also a Toowoomba Chamber Board Member. 

She has consulted to aviation businesses and owns her own small business, Bonjour Toowoomba - International Language Centre, which aims to connect and cultivate cultural curiosity.  She sits on many Darling Downs industry based associations including the Darling Down Manufacturing Industry Action Group. 

Born and bred in Kingaroy, she was raised on a peanut, beef and watermelon farm near Kingaroy. Jennifer has followed her career up and down the Eastern seaboard of Australia, living in cities and regional locations.  For the last 6 years, she has been proud to call the Darling Downs her home.   

Most of her friends call her ‘Jenny’, so please feel free to also do so. 

linkedin.png Jennifer RIX | LinkedIn | broken-link.png  Regional Development Australia - Darling Downs and South West Inc

Peter Nolan - "Next Generation Connection - Training & skills for the future"

Peter-Nolan.jpg A politically astute executive with over 20 years’ experience in strategy, corporate governance and business transformation, Peter has brought a wealth of commercial experience to Ai Group. Peter has delivered effective business turnaround and improvement strategies in a variety of industry sectors. Peter has a diverse range of skills but enjoys specialising in strategic planning, organisational development and cultural change initiatives.

Peter joined Ai Group in April 2022 as the Head of the Apprentice and Training Centre. Peter has extensive experience in the Vocational Education and Training sector, in Group Training Organisations and in Registered Training Organisations. With experience in construction and mining, he has also led organisations in the hospitality and property sectors. Peter has a strong commitment to the health, safety, pastoral care and development of apprentices and trainees.

linkedin.png Peter Nolan | LinkedIn 

Roger Crothers - "LEAN Manufacturing and Whole of Business Improvement Initiatives"


Roger was introduced to Lean/6 sigma & TOC back in 1996 when he supported an extensive turnaround of a Aluminium extrusion company under threat from Chinese imports. The focus was running Kaizen events which then moved into a more sustainable deployment of CI across the entire business. Roger has had a diverse career and held roles in Production, Engineering, Safety, Logistics, Operation, Mergers & Acquisitions, Innovation & CI. Roger has always used CI as the base framework & has continually extended his CI knowledge with training & mentoring by world leading Lean/6 sigma experts in Japan, US & Australia. Roger is able to combine a deep CI understanding with a wealth of practical leadership experience.

Roger has led CI deployments with a number of businesses such as Shell Brunei, QGC, GrainCorp Australia & North America, Great Southern Rail, Kingstone Estate wines, Duratray, Aletek, MCP Health & many more.

linkedin.png Roger Crothers | LinkedIn

Tara Gardiner - "Opportunities of the QLD Energy and Jobs Plan"

Tara-Gardiner.jpg Tara Gardiner is the Executive Director, Energy Supply and Storage at the Department of Energy and Public Works.  She leads a team with policy responsibility for electricity generation and storage, including development of new long-duration pumped hydro projects and utility scale batteries.  Tara has responsibility for shareholder representation and oversight of Queensland’s five government owned energy businesses.  She is leading work to strengthen supply chains and local procurement to enable Queensland’s energy transformation.

Tara has a breadth of experience across the Commonwealth and Queensland public service and in the private sector, including developing Queensland’s COVID Economic Response and establishing the Infrastructure Strategy and Innovation function within the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning. 

broken-link.png Department of Energy and Public Works