The Big Idea is delivered by an impressive, diverse and talented group of Australian social entrepreneurs, business leaders and social enterprise professionals who give their time voluntarily.

The Big Idea finalists will have an opportunity to pitch their ‘Big Idea’ to our panel of high profile judges. The distinguished panel is made up of The Big Issue’s CEO, and an impressive list of long-time supporters of The Big Issue and proud ambassadors for social enterprise.

  • Judges
  • Thought Leaders
  • [X]

    Cheryl Kernot, Director - Social Business, Centre for Social Impact

    Cheryl is the Director of the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact and Social Business Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact.

    Her role at CSI involves the direction and design of our national post-graduate education program and leadership of our teaching team. Cheryl is also the Centre’s thought leader on social business, social enterprise and social procurement. She writes regularly on these topics, speaks at events throughout Australia and advises emerging talent and organisations.

    Cheryl has been elected Chair of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and NZ for the past four years. She served as an honorary board member of Foresters Community Finance for four years until 2011 and was on the founding committee of a UK charity that works to provide shelter and education for street children in Kampala, Uganda.

    Cheryl is one of the National Trust's 100 National Living Treasures. She was Leader of the Australian Democrats from 1993-1997 and the Member for Dickson and a Labor Shadow Minister from 1998-2001. Her political portfolios included, amongst many, Indigenous Affairs, Treasury, Employment and Women's Policy. She played a major parliamentary role in the introduction of compulsory superannuation and in the introduction of Native Title. Her policy interests have been in social justice and social structural reform and in 1994 she introduced legislation to legitimise parental leave; in 1998 she introduced trial social inclusion projects to the Labor Party's employment platform. Her work in the UK has been an extension of this pioneering policy interest. She was a member of the Council for Reconciliation from 1992-1997.

    Cheryl Kernot

    Director - Social Business, Centre for Social Impact

    View Bio
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    Kris Neill, Managing Director, Kris Neill Consulting

    Kris Neill is a leading corporate brand and reputation strategist. She is one of the few communications and brand specialists in Australia with global experience. Kris is a former Macquarie Group Executive Director and for more than a decade led Macquarie Group’s global communication team. In this role, Kris managed teams in Sydney, London, New York, Seoul and Hong Kong covering functions including media and government relations, brand and marketing, digital and internal communications.
    Before joining Macquarie Group in 2003, Kris was Director of Corporate Affairs at News Limited, Chief of Staff to the former Premier of New South Wales, the Hon. Bob Carr and advisor to the former Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Brian Howe. Kris started her career as a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.
    Kris remains a Director of the Macquarie Group Foundation and continues to chair the Macquarie Group Collection Committee. Kris is Chair of Women’s Community Shelters, pro bono advisor to Landcare NSW and a Melba Trust mentor.

    Kris Neill

    Managing Director, Kris Neill Consulting

    View Bio
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    Simon McKeon AO, Chancellor, Monash University

    Simon McKeon is the Chancellor of Monash University and was also the 2011 Australian of the Year.

    He retired from Macquarie Group in early 2014 after a 30 year career culminating in his position as Executive Chairman (Melbourne Office). He continues to be retained by Macquarie as a consultant.

    Simon is also Chairman of In2Science and the Group of Eight’s Industry and Innovation Board and is also a member of The Big Issue Advisory Board. He is also an Australia Day Ambassador for the Victorian Government.

    He previously served as Chairman of AMP and CSIRO and was Founding President of the Federal Government’s Australian Takeovers Panel, as well as its Point Nepean Community Trust.

    He served as Founding Chairman of MS Research Australia and Business for Millennium Development. He was also Chairman of the Federal Government’s Panel which in 2013 completed a Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research.

    Simon is the helmsman of Macquarie Innovation which in March 2009 became the first sailboat in the world to sustain more than 50 knots and in so doing, peaked at a speed of 100 kmh (54 knots). He is also a Founding Patron of the Australian Olympic Sailing Team which won 3 gold and a silver medal (and was the leading sailing nation) at the 2012 London Olympics.

    Simon McKeon AO

    Chancellor, Monash University

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Tracey Kennair, Partner, PwC Australia

    Tracey Kennair is a Partner in PwC’s Technology Consulting business who is passionate about helping clients maximise their return on investment and improving customer engagement through technology enabled change.

    Tracey has 20 years of experience built up across multiple industries, with a focus on government, higher education, health, EUM (energy, utilities and mining), financial services and telecommunications.

    Projects have included major ERP and CRM software system implementations, process improvements, outsourcing, and agile social media and cloud solutions

    Prior to PwC, Tracey held roles at T-Mobile and VicGrain.

    Tracey Kennair

    Partner, PwC Australia

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Steven Persson, CEO, The Big Issue

    Steven Persson is a Social Entrepreneur. By age 22, Steven was CEO of a large community activities centre. When he started at the centre, only about 20 per cent of its members received an outside income; when he left five years later, 100 per cent were earning an income.

    Steven’s next role was as CEO of a network of 24 houses for disabled people in Melbourne’s western suburbs, and the next 20 years saw Steven working in the NGO sector, as CEO for a number of medium to large NFP organisations providing services such as housing, employment, personal care and case management, across a wide range of social needs. Steven also spent 5 years in the commercial sector, both managing his own businesses and as a consultant to a range of high profile Australian brands.
    Steven joined The Big Issue, Australia’s largest social enterprise, as CEO in 2005, saying “It was a happy
    hybrid between helping people but with a business solution that allowed us to be truly independent of funding.’’

    In 2010 Big Issue vendors earned more than $2m and in June 2014, The Big Issue celebrated its 18th
    Birthday. Under Steven’s leadership, The Big Issue has also developed a range of other social enterprises including the Women’s Subscription Enterprise and The Big Issue Classroom.

    Steven Persson

    CEO, The Big Issue

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Alastair McGibbon, CEO, Social Enterprise Finance Australia

    Alastair was formerly a career banker with more than 20 years experience. He spent the last 10 years at National Australia Bank where he held the position of Head of Banks and ADIs in the Financial Institutions Group. He had oversight for managing all of NAB’s relationships and transactions with bank and ADI counterparties including debt markets, securitisation, financial markets and transactional banking with responsibility for the credit exposure for all counterparty dealing. Alastair formerly worked at Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Bankers Trust Australia specialising in derivatives and debt capital markets. He previously worked in London where he was Head of Primary Markets, Europe with responsibility for working with financial, corporate, government and supranational bond issuers to develop the Australian Kangaroo bond market.

    In 2011 Alastair spent six months in the Northern Territory visiting many remote Indigenous communities whilst making the documentary ‘Northern Lights: A season with NT Thunder’ giving him a first-hand perspective into the problems facing Indigenous Australians. He has spent much of his time working with disadvantaged groups with a particular focus on the homeless.

    Alastair McGibbon

    CEO, Social Enterprise Finance Australia

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Sally Hines, Chief Operating Officer, The Big Issue & Homes for Homes

    The Big Issue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and creating work opportunities for homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people, and most well-known for The Big Issue magazine - a fortnightly, independent publication sold on the streets by vendors, who buy copies of the magazine for $3.50 and sell them for $7, keeping the difference.

    Homes for Homes is a new initiative of The Big Issue that will help raise an ongoing supply of new funding for social and affordable houses. Funds raised through Homes for Homes will be invested with experienced housing providers to increase the supply of social affordable housing. Funds invested by Homes for Homes will also create new jobs and result in billions of dollars of flow on economic benefits.

    Prior to commencing at The Big Issue, Sally worked in employment services, community development, youth mental health and health for over 10 years. She has held various strategic, service delivery and operational management positions, including experience in establishing new not-for-profit businesses across Australia in diverse communities. Sally has a Masters in Human Resource Management, as well as a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science.

    Sally Hines

    Chief Operating Officer, The Big Issue & Homes for Homes

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Clare Eilbeck, Principal Commodity Analyst - Strategy & Market Intelligence, BHP Billiton

    Clare is part of the Portfolio Strategy team at BHP, focussed on developing and executing BHP’s global strategy. She has been with the company since March 2017 and has 13 years working in the resources sector.
    Prior to joining BHP Clare was Risk Manager on aluminium plant construction sites in the Middle East, and, before then, she was a Senior Analyst for an independent metals and mining consultant in London and Singapore. Clare started her career in the steel industry on site at steel plants in the UK.
    Clare studied physics at the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. She enjoys travelling and has been fortunate that her career has enabled this.

    Clare Eilbeck

    Principal Commodity Analyst - Strategy & Market Intelligence, BHP Billiton

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Connie Sokaris , General Manager, Resources, Infrastructure and Government, Corporate and Institutional Banking National Australia Bank

    Connie is responsible for client coverage across the industry sectors, resources, infrastructure, energy and government for NAB. Previous to this role, Connie spent 10 months as the General Manager Transformation where she drove a program delivering a stronger and easier customer experience within the Corporate and Institutional business.

    Prior to this she was GM Investment Grade originations, which involved debt capital markets, loan syndications, securitisation and all origination activity across loans and bonds for investment grade clients.

    She joined National Australia Bank (NAB) in 2003 and she has more than 20 years’ experience in wholesale and institutional banking via a range of roles within NAB and other financial institutions including Deutsche Bank and UBS both here and offshore. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Economics/Finance and is a CFA charterholder.

    Connie Sokaris

    General Manager, Resources, Infrastructure and Government, Corporate and Institutional Banking National Australia Bank

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Nigel Dalton , Chief Inventor, REA Group

    Chief Inventor of REA Group, Nigel Dalton is a passionate lean and agile technology leader. Nigel has over 25 years of IT-related experience across government, multi-nationals and start-ups.

    In 2007 he joined travel publisher Lonely Planet as General Manager of Information Technology, becoming Deputy Director of Digital (web and mobile businesses) in 2010. He has been involved in several startups, most recently co-founding a consultancy, Luna Tractor, to help organisations apply systems thinking, lean and agile software development techniques to all aspects of business.

    Previously, Nigel held roles with AXA Australia, online human resource startup ePredix in the USA (now owned by SHL), as well as Silicon Systems and Mitsubishi Electric in New Zealand.

    At REA Group Nigel heads up the REALABS team. This team are responsible for ensuring REA is ahead of the curve with future technology and social trends, both in the real estate space, and beyond.

    Nigel Dalton

    Chief Inventor, REA Group

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Sam Edmonds, Principal, Buyer Services, Social Traders

    Sam currently works as the key liaison point with Social Traders 23 business and government buyer members. Sam has been integral in establishing Social Traders network of buyers and 200 certified social enterprises.
    Social Traders provides the only service of its kind in Australia, linking social enterprises with business and government buyers. Sam is responsible for opening new markets and finding supply solutions across a wide range of procurement and new business opportunities.
    Her background as leader of a rapidly growing social enterprise and previously, a small business founder, means that Sam has a first-hand understanding of the complexities of social enterprises and start-up businesses. Sam has an honours degree in Planning and Design from the University of Melbourne.

    Sam Edmonds

    Principal, Buyer Services, Social Traders

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Nick Duffy , Inventiologist, Inventium

    Nick is an innovation consultant with Inventium who works with a diverse mix of organisations to improve their growth and impact.

    Prior to joining Inventium Nick spent a decade as a management consultant, advising finance and strategy executives on areas such as growth, performance management and innovation. Across his career he’s worked with many of the world’s leading businesses and social enterprises across Australia, Asia and North America.

    Nick believes innovation can be a powerful tool for progress and seeks to stamp out the fluff associates with the word.

    In his spare time, Nick can usually be found exploring the Illawarra Escarpment on a push bike or teaching his kids where food really comes from (not the supermarket).

    Nick Duffy

    Inventiologist, Inventium

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Jeremy Blackshaw, Office Managing Partner, Head of Melbourne M&A Corporate Group

    Jeremy has an extensive corporate practice, advising in multiple jurisdictions across industry sectors such as energy, infrastructure, financial services, health and consumer brands.

    Jeremy Blackshaw

    Office Managing Partner, Head of Melbourne M&A Corporate Group

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Nathan Sowell, Manager, Impact Investing

    Nathan is on the SVA Impact Investing team. They partner with organisations that make a meaningful social impact on the lives of people in Australia. They provide flexible capital (equity and loans) and hands-on support to both for-profit and non-profit organisations. Their focus areas are education, employment, housing, First Australians, health, and disability.

    Nathan Sowell

    Manager, Impact Investing

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Shannon Jaquith Crisp , Executive Marketing & Corporate Responsibility Director, The Body Shop

    Shannon Jaquith Crisp

    Executive Marketing & Corporate Responsibility Director, The Body Shop

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Jeremy King , Partner & Chairman, Pro Bono & Community, Corrs Chambers Westgarth

    As an experienced practitioner in project & infrastructure finance, structured asset & trade finance, corporate & acquisition finance and restructuring & workouts, Jeremy has established a reputation for providing commercially astute solutions and delivering timely results for clients such as ANZ, NAB, CBA, Macquarie Bank, GE Capital, BTMU, ING Bank, the CEFC, and Ambac Assurance Corp. He also acts for sponsors bidding for, or developing, major infrastructure projects in the power, renewable energy, water, resources and health care sectors and has a strong corporate client base (including SEEK, REA, Linfox, BP Australia, Dutch Infrastructure Fund, Amex Resources, Zijin Mining Group, Yankuang Group, Orora and nbn co).

    His keen ability to add insight beyond the immediate legal issues has made Jeremy an integral asset on major deals.

    Jeremy is also the Chairman of Corrs' Pro Bono & Community program. He actively advises not-for-profits, government and social enterprises in areas of social finance and impact investment (including social benefit bonds). He is an outspoken advocate for innovation to address problems such as mental health issues, recidivism, and homelessness.

    Jeremy King

    Partner & Chairman, Pro Bono & Community, Corrs Chambers Westgarth

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Sean Barrett, Head of Foundation, Origin Foundation

    Sean Barrett is a campaigner who has worked in the public and private sectors. He has campaigned on health issues such as tobacco and HIV AIDS, human rights and the environment. He has worked for national and international NGOs.

    He is currently the head of The Origin Foundation.

    Sean Barrett

    Head of Foundation, Origin Foundation

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Andrea Pearman, General Manager, Community, Brand & Reputation, Corporate Affairs & People, Australia Post

    Andrea Pearman is a senior corporate responsibility and marketing executive with a diverse background and extensive experience in strategy development, marketing planning and execution and community development in complex, large scale organisations.

    For the past two and a half years, Andrea has held the position of General Manager, Community Relations at Australia Post. She is responsible for the organisation’s corporate responsibility, community and commercial sponsorship and event programs.

    Some of the highlights of her time at Australia Post are the development and implementation of a new community strategy which includes the establishment of a Australia Post Foundation and the identification of new partnerships.

    Andrea Pearman

    General Manager, Community, Brand & Reputation, Corporate Affairs & People, Australia Post

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Jacqui McKenzie, Director, Nous Group

    Jacqui is an experienced public health practitioner and project manager with over 17 years’ experience leading projects and teams to improve organisations’ performance. She has extensive experience in stakeholder engagement, collaboration and project management facilitation in areas spanning acute to primary care and prevention. Jacqui has developed, implemented and evaluated projects and programs in areas including integrated health care, general practice in rural communities, refugee health, Aboriginal health and chronic disease.

    Jacqui McKenzie

    Director, Nous Group

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Alex Oppes, Director - Impact Investing, Social Ventures Australia

    Alex joined SVA’s Impact Investing team in 2013 and is responsible for investing SVA’s $9m Social Impact Fund and the $30m HESTA/SVA Social Impact Investment Trust. His responsibilities include deal origination, assessment and execution, portfolio management from investment through to exit and investor relations. Alex is also a founding director of Vanguard Laundry, a social enterprise commercial laundry based in Toowoomba.

    Prior to SVA, Alex worked as a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Co. across Australia, Asia and Europe, specialising in due diligence for major mergers and acquisitions. Alex has also established a small retail business and consulted extensively in the not-for-profit sector. Alex holds a dual BA/LLB (Hons) from the University of Melbourne, where he studied as a National Scholarship holder. Alex is currently a CFA Level III candidate.

    Alex Oppes

    Director - Impact Investing, Social Ventures Australia

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Hannah Miller , Capacity Building Program Manager, SEFA

    With a bachelors of International Studies in Globalisation, Hannah has spent the last 5+ years building partnerships across the entertainment, media, government, NFP, commercial and social enterprise sectors, and is fascinated by the ways in which communities evolve to best support themselves and each other. Interested in how cross sector engagement and learning can create change, Hannah’s role is to explore and deliver capacity projects which support sustainable social impact.

    Hannah once spent 2 weeks as a shepherd in the Italian Alps – she discovered she does NOT like sheep.

    Hannah Miller

    Capacity Building Program Manager, SEFA

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Zoe Aitken , Inventiologist, Inventium

    Zoe has a Bachelor of Business in Marketing and her passion is in understanding and connecting with consumers to identify consumer-centric innovations and strategies that drive business growth. Prior to joining Inventium, Zoe worked for a multi-national corporation in Strategy and Consumer Insights roles where she gained experience working across Asia Pacific as well as Europe, Latin America and Africa. She understands first-hand, the challenges and realities that many organisations face operating in both local and international markets. Zoe has significant experience working in the FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) industry as well as Government, Not-For-Profit, Utilities, Automotive, Entertainment and Financial Services.

    Zoe Aitken

    Inventiologist, Inventium

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Patrick Lyons , Partner – Social Research, Synergistiq

    Patrick has provided evaluation and strategic advice to a range of Commonwealth and State Government departments and agencies, as well as several Community Based and Philanthropic Organisations.
    Patrick has a particular interest in designing and reviewing interventions focused on building human capital, including programs that aim to influence behaviour and culture through education and information. Patrick also has a passion and deep experience working with programs that impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
    Patrick also draws on significant experience in both the Commonwealth and Victorian public sectors. In these roles he has provided leadership on strategic and business planning, budget and financial management, resource allocation, performance measurement, social policy, and inter-governmental relations.

    Patrick Lyons

    Partner – Social Research, Synergistiq

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Sally Hines, Chief Operating Officer, The Big Issue & Homes for Homes

    Sally Hines joined The Big Issue in 2011 as the National Manager and is responsible for four social enterprises - The Big Issue Street Magazine Enterprise, Women’s Subscription Enterprise, The Big Issue Classroom and The Big Idea, as well as the Community Street Soccer Program. Prior to commencing at The Big Issue, Sally worked in employment services, community development, youth mental health and health for over 10 years. She has held various strategic, service delivery and operational management positions, including experience in establishing new not-for-profit businesses across Australia in diverse communities. Sally has a Masters in Human Resource Management, as well as a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science.

    Sally Hines

    Chief Operating Officer, The Big Issue & Homes for Homes

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Amy Hetherington, Editor, The Big Issue

    Amy Hetherington is editor of The Big Issue. She is an experienced editor and journalist, who has spent two decades in magazine publishing and content licensing. She has held senior editorial roles across several women’s magazines at Bauer Media and Pacific Publications, working as an editor, sub-editor, reporter, photo editor and columnist. She was most recently the editorial and business development director at content agency Snapper Media, where she promoted sales growth in Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia and established the company's Beijing office.

    Amy Hetherington

    Editor, The Big Issue

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Jeremy Urquhart, National Operations Manager, The Big Issue

    Jeremy Urquhart is the National Operations Manager for The Big Issue. Jeremy is responsible for all of TBI State offices, which are the sites around the country which run The Big Issue’s Street Magazine Enterprise, the Women’s Subscription Enterprise and Community Street Soccer Programs. With a background in a range of community-based initiatives, Jeremy has worked for The Big Issue for more than a decade. He is now more energised than ever by the potential of social enterprise to change lives and change the world.

    Jeremy Urquhart

    National Operations Manager, The Big Issue

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Louise Gray , National Marketing and Partnerships Manager, The Big Issue & Homes for Homes

    As National Marketing and Partnerships Manager of The Big Issue, Louise is responsible for the development and implementation of marketing strategies, which involve media, advertising, promotions and events for The Big Issue’s enterprises and programs.

    Louise is also responsible for fostering and managing the organisations key stakeholders including corporate and government partners.

    Louise Gray

    National Marketing and Partnerships Manager, The Big Issue & Homes for Homes

    View Bio
  • [X]

    Jon Whitehead, Chief Financial Officer

    Jon has over 17 years of financial and accounting experience working for Commonwealth and State Governments, Industry, Financial Services and Not for Profit.

    Jon Whitehead

    Chief Financial Officer

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  • [X]

    Karina Jenkin , Manager - Education Enterprises

    Karina Jenkin has been at The Big Issue since 2017. Her role as Manager – Education Enterprises involves oversight of The Big Issue Classroom’s school and corporate programs, as well as project management of The Big Idea – a social enterprise planning competition for university students.

    Karina Jenkin

    Manager - Education Enterprises

    View Bio