The /NEW_24 speaker lineup features experts in a broad range of technology fields, representing the diverse community in Newcastle and nationally.

Our first speakers to be announced are:

Damian Brady

Senior Manager in the Developer Advocacy team at GitHub

Formerly a Cloud Advocate at Microsoft for 4 years, and prior to that a dev at Octopus Deploy and a Microsoft MVP, Damien has a 20+ year background in software development and consulting in a broad range of industries. In Australia, he co-organised the Brisbane .Net User Group, and launched the annual DDD Brisbane conference.
Find out more about Damien.

Melissa Houghton

Principal Software engineer at Mantel Group

Melissa Houghton is a Principal Software Engineer, a Microsoft MVP in Developer Technologies, an international conference speaker, and a technical community event organiser. She is a Women in Tech WA 2023 Tech [+] Award Winner and an Octopus Insider. She is a driven software engineer and excellent leader with extensive experience in end-to-end application development and delivery. She enjoys solving complex problems and is always open to learning new things, with current work focused on .NET and Azure. Outside of the tech world, Melissa lives in Australia’s South West, raising her twin baby girls. In her free time, she loves to travel and has a boutique wine business with her winemaker husband.

Michelle Mannering

Developer Advocate at GitHub

Michelle “MishManners” Mannering, is a multi-talented personality in the tech and gaming communities. As a developer advocate, she has made significant contributions to GitHub, and is known for her expertise in sharing technical knowledge. Mish is a successful entrepreneur and founder, having co-founded several companies. She has been a driving force in Melbourne’s entrepreneurial culture and sits at the forefront of the city’s science, tech, esports, and startup scenes. She has been instrumental in pioneering esports to become mainstream and has been recognised as an influential woman in the industry. Throughout her career, Mish has been a dedicated advocate for diversity, inclusion, and community building, inspiring others to pursue their passions in tech, gaming, and entrepreneurship.

Aaron Powell

Cloud Advocate for Microsoft

Aaron is a a Cloud Advocate for Microsoft based in Sydney. His area of specialty is .NET web development, focusing on the intersection of .NET and JavaScript applications.
Find out more about Aaron.

Brendan Marsh

Organisation and Product Coach at Organa

Brendan is a Product Coach at Organa, a boutique consulting agency, where he coaches product leaders and serves as a Fractional CPO for scale-ups in Australia. Previously, he was the Product Manager for Spotify’s Desktop product, responsible for one-third of their monthly active users, along with coaching teams at Spotify to utilise Product Discovery and Lean Startup methods to test innovative ideas. He’s passionate about mental health and brings his experience as a CPO for a mental health non-profit and his advocacy for wellbeing in the workplace to his coaching. Brendan is currently pursuing a Master in Psychotherapy, further deepening his commitment to mental well-being.

Rebecca Shepherd

General Manager at Alpha Echo

Beck is the General Manager and a principal consultant for Alpha Echo, a Newcastle born cyber start-up. After serving over 13 years as a full-time intelligence analyst and officer in the military, Beck started her cyber career with Alpha Echo as a Cyberworthiness consultant before becoming the General Manager of the company.  She also continues to consult on some of Alpha Echo’s major contracts within the DoD with her particular area of specialty in intelligence, operations and cyber awareness and education. She maintains an active reservist status as a military intelligence officer – and likes to think she gets the best of both worlds!
Lars Klint looks into the distance with his hand to his face as though lost in thought.

Lars Klint

Principal Magician at Arkahna

Lars is a Principal Magician with Arkahna in Australia, an author, trainer, Microsoft Azure MVP, community leader, aspiring YouTube host and part time classic car collector. He is heavily involved in the space of cloud computing services, especially Azure, and is a published author, solution architect and writer for numerous publications. He has been a part of the software development community for the past 20 years and co-organises the DDD Melbourne community conference, organises developer events with Microsoft, and also runs a part time car restoration business. He has spoken at numerous technical events around the world and is an expert in Australian Outback Internet.

Ben Dechrai

Developer Advocate at Sonar

Ben Dechrai is a software developer with a wealth of experience ranging from small MVP projects to large scale enterprise deployments. Passionate about working closely with developer and open source communities, he has been coding since the age of 7 and enjoys helping developers find the joy of experimentation.
Learn more about Ben
Julian Burr smiling at the camera

Julian Burr

Lead Developer at Vouch

Senior Developer from Germany with over 15 years of experience building web apps and leading frontend teams, currently living and working down under in Australia. Pragmatic perfectionist, always looking for opportunities to learn and grow.
Find out more about Julian.
Hayley Morgan smiling at the camera

Hayley Morgan

Insights & Analytics Business Partner at Coal LSL

Hayley is an Insights & Analytics Business Partner working for Federal Government. Her early career spans the Not-for-Profit sector, consultancy & the higher Education sector before making a move into tech & data. She is a PM by trade (aka professional cat herder) so enjoys being the jack of all trades in risk, governance, strategy, operations, finance, tech & data. Hayley has worked on digital transformation projects, product implementations & large-scale business & cultural events such as Newcastle China Week. She’s also spent time on National Advisory Panels & board appointments for the City of Newcastle Business Improvement Association. Hayley holds a BA in International Relations & Linguistics & an MBA from the University of Newcastle.
Matt Wicks smiling at the camera wearing and SSW tshirt

Matt Wicks

Solution Architect at SSW

Matt is an elite SSW Solution Architect who runs the Newcastle office. Matt stands out in the tech landscape as a certified Scrum Master, an Octopus Insider, and is GitHub accredited. From the early days when .NET 2 was still in beta, Matt has been capitalizing on the full potential of the Microsoft stack, coding his way to ingenious solutions that deliver significant business value.

Phil Nash

Developer Advocate for Sonar

Phil is a developer advocate for Sonar and Google Developer Expert living in Melbourne, Australia. He loves working with JavaScript, TypeScript or Ruby to build web applications and tools to help developers. He once helped build a website that captured the world’s favourite sandwich fillings. He has too many GitHub repositories.
Away from the keyboard, Phil listens to ska punk, hangs out with his miniature dachshund (also called Ruby), and is on a mission to discover the world’s best beers.
Phil tweets at @philnash and you can find him elsewhere online at
Baidy leans against the wall smiling at the camera

Baidy Barton

Commercialisation Director at The Melt

Baidy helps mission-driven B2B and enterprise startups become successful companies through growth and scale. She supports Australia’s climate tech and advanced manufacturing hardware ventures to rapidly commercialise, grow and scale at The Melt and Melt Ventures; and helps B2B software companies grow and scale. Before that, she built and scaled growth engines, customer success and revenue for B2B/ enterprise tech companies and consulting firms – as Chief Revenue Officer of a high growth tech company, Yellow Canary and Partner at PKF, a top 10 professional services firm.

Chris Gilbert

Consulting Director at SixPivot

Chris is a software consultant with more years at places like Readify and SixPivot than he cares to admit. In that time he’s become extremely passionate about how different projects run, how different people tick, and how there’s always six different ways to solve any technical problem.

As a speaker, Chris has presented at user groups and conferences across Australia on a range of technical and non-technical topics. He loves sharing war stories and giving people something tangible to take home from every session.

Chris is the Consulting Director at SixPivot. In his spare time he co-organises DDD Brisbane, a not-for-profit community event run by developers for developers.

Aiden Price

CTO at Arrowtail Precision

Aiden Price is the CTO of Arrowtail Precision, a local company building an application to manage operational data for blasting companies. Not considering digital transformation at a single company to be a big enough challenge, Aiden with his business partners and team mates are transforming an entire industry in one big uplift. He was/sort of still is/slightly one of the organisers of the Hunter Analytics meetup, now sort of fading into the background like Obiwan Kenobi. All this on top of a few decades knocking around the mining, energy and data industries.

Elena Scifleet

Cyber Education Lead at Alpha Echo

Elena Scifleet is a Cyber Education Lead at Alpha Echo, a cybersecurity company in Newcastle. Her role involves creating engaging cyber training to upskill the workforce and make a positive cyberculture change for her clients.

Elena has been a part of the IT professional industry and educator for the last 20 years and has been securing environments even before cybersecurity was a hot topic. With various technical and non-technical roles under her belt, Elena has been a key contributor to the curriculum of CyberCX Academy, an industry-led initiative that has achieved major success in growing over 160+ new cybersecurity professionals.

Elena is very passionate about cyber security and works hard to demystify the concepts and make them accessible to all. Through her work and volunteering, she is striving to increase diversity in the cybersecurity field. Elena is also a firm believer in lifelong learning, a critical skill in a fast-paced industry like cybersecurity and has just graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Master’s in Cyber Security with a postgraduate medal.

Bryden Oliver

Solution Architect at SSW

Bryden is a Solution Architect with over 25 years professional experience. He has a wealth of knowledge from a diverse range of areas but with particular focus on database, web services, Microsoft Azure and SaaS based solutions. He has an enormous amount of experience working with developers on database performance. He’s had dealings with customers ranging from the world’s largest companies right through to small business. He has a strong understanding of how software will deliver business value to his customers.

Hrvoje Tutman

Lead Software Engineer at Skript

Born in Dubrovnik, Croatia, I hold a degree in theoretical nuclear physics from the University of Zagreb, Croatia. My journey in software development began at a young age, during high school, when I actively participated in significant digital transformation projects within Croatian Telecom.

My career in the Telecom industry included roles in software development, senior software engineer, solution architect, and head of OSS (Operation Support Systems) engineering. I specialised in technical order management, network inventory, and network discovery.

Transitioning from OSS, my focus shifted to BSS (Business Support Systems), specifically Salesforce CRM. While still involved in the telecom industry, my emphasis broadened to the media industry. I built an integration platform linking Salesforce with external systems. This platform enabled integration with ad servers in the media industry and served as the foundation for a headless e-commerce API-based B2C service seamlessly integrated with Salesforce. Six years ago, I relocated to Australia, extending my mission to establish an R&D office in Newcastle.

Another transition happened about two years ago when I became a part of Skript, a fintech startup, as the lead software engineer. My primary responsibility involves building a scalable API-based platform providing Open Banking data.

My main areas of expertise lie in designing and building robust APIs, designing effective software architectures, managing enterprise-level integrations, and leading technical teams.

Sam Connelly

Test/Data Engineer (mobile) at Woolworths Group

Hi, I’m Sam and I’m a Software Engineer in Test on a mobile app team in Sydney. I speak at tech conferences, play board games and live code on twitch. I’m a developer evangelist for YOW! Conference and active in the tech community. I’m building a wearable app to track your poo, it’s called BogLogger. You can also check out my YouTube channel. I’m also studying a graduate diploma in financial advice.

Sheena Peeters

General Manager Product and Technology at SiSU Health GroupSiSU