Global Speakers


John Alexander OAM, MP

Federal Member for Bennelong

John Alexander, known as “JA” across the nation, was elected to Parliament in 2010 as a firm believer in opportunity and individual endeavour. Combined with a strong discipline these values laid the foundations for his success as a touring professional tennis player.

JA rose to #8 in the international singles rankings, and #2 in doubles, winning 7 singles and 27 doubles titles. He represented Australia from 1968-83, including leading the victory in the 1977 Davis Cup Final in Sydney. In 1978 JA played the first ever professional tennis match in China, against Bjorn Borg in Guandong.

After retiring as a player JA worked as a television sports commentator for Channel Seven and BBC, held the positions of Chair of Player Development for Tennis Australia and Coach of the Federation Cup Team which included 2011 US Open Winner Samantha Stosur. In 1992, he received an Order of Australia Medal for his services to tennis.

A passion for public health led JA to manage a variety of sport-related small businesses and the development of multi-activity sports centres as the Managing Director of Next Generation Clubs Australia. This role included the construction of the Ryde Aquatic Centre for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The Centre provides health and recreation services to over one million visitors every year.

Since his election to Parliament as Liberal Member for Bennelong in 2010, JA has balanced his local duties with a role leading the Liberal Party Sustainable Cities Policy Taskforce and Chair of the Vision 2020 Policy Group. He also established and currently Chairs the bi-partisan Parliamentary Friends of Medicines Group and Parliamentary Friends of Rail Group which invite industry leaders to present emerging issues, research and opportunities to parliamentarians.

Since his election to Government in 2013, JA has been appointed to the following positions:

  • Chair, Parliamentary Committee on Economics
  • Chair, Coalition Policy Committee on Infrastructure & Regional Development
  • Chair, Coalition Policy Committee on Tourism
  • Chair, Australia – East Asia Parliamentary Network
  • Chair, Australia – Republic of Korea Parliamentary Group
  • Chair, Sydney Airport Community Forum

Most importantly, JA is the proud father of Emily (24), Georgia (22) and Charlie (20) who all live with him in Putney.


Philip Fagan-Schmidt

Executive Director

Housing SA

Philip Fagan-Schmidt holds the position of Executive Director, Housing SA. He has worked in both academic and government spheres. He was appointed to this role in January 2009 having served as a State Government Executive across a range of areas including health, housing, natural resource management, infrastructure and major projects. His key focus at Housing SA has been in promoting the development of affordable housing policy and practice and structural reform in the homelessness, Indigenous remote and public housing sectors.


Mark Turner


Bridge Housing

Mark has more than 30 years experience in real estate funds management in Australia, the UK and Asia. During this time, Mark has held senior executive roles including the Head of Funds Management at DEXUS Property Group, Fund and asset management roles at Lend Lease and GPT as well as Chairman of an Asian property investment company. Mark is currently an Executive Director at EG Funds Management, based in Sydney. He graduated from the university of Portsmouth UK with a Bachelor of Science in Urban Land Administration, is a member of the RICS and a licensed real estate agent in NSW.


Benjamin Kingsley


Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA)

QPIA®, Licensed Real Estate Agent (VIC, NSW & QLD), Diploma Financial Services – Mortgage Broking, Associate Diploma Business – Tourism & Travel, MFAA Member

Ben is the CEO and founder of Empower Wealth Advisory – a specialist property investment firm. He has more than 20 years’ experience in property investing, analysis, and advisory work.

Ben has been chairman of the Property Investment Professionals of Australia since July 2012 and is committed to the introduction of regulation surrounding the provision of property investment advice to protect consumers.

Ben is a highly sought-after property commentator and keynote speaker in the property, money management, and investment fields and features on Sky Business News, ABC News 24, Melbourne Property TV and Look at Property.

He is the author of many property investment, wealth management, and personal finance articles and research reports in major industry publications and is the co-host of the popular free podcast – The Property Couch. He is also the co-author of The Armchair Guide to Property Investing.

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Dr Tuan Ngo


Advanced Protective Technology of Engineering Structures (APTES) Group, University of Melbourne

A/Prof Ngo is the Director of the Advanced Protective Technology of Engineering Structures (APTES) Group at the University of Melbourne. Between 2005-2009, he was the Research Manager of the ARC Research Network for a Secure Australia (RNSA), the Australia’s most comprehensive network in the multi-disciplinary areas related to critical infrastructure protection from natural or human-caused disasters. Dr Ngo has attracted significant amounts of research funding (totalling more than $12M) from government agencies and industry.

Dr Ngo has played a key role in the PrefabAUS, a peak industry body, involving more than 180 companies in the prefabricated manufacturing of modular buildings. He has carried out significant research collaborations with industry and government agencies to perform R&D experiments of prefabricated modular components of building structures (facades, wall panels and floor slab systems). He has successfully coordinated a large Training Centre for Advanced Manufacturing of Prefabricated Housing funded by ARC and industry. The national and international research interactions have given Dr Ngo widespread recognition amongst the scientific community and industry as an expert in design and manufacturing of building components and systems using high performance materials.

This centre aims to unlock the potential growth of Australia’s prefab building industry by creating a sustainable training ecosystem between industry and Australian Universities that will prepare the next generation of engineers and scientists to apply advanced manufacturing principles to pre-fab modular buildings.

Dr Ngo has won a number of prestigious scientific awards, including the Safeguarding Australia Award (2011) for the best contribution to national security technology research and the prestigious Eureka Science Prize (2013) for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia. He has been working as an expert on many government projects related to national critical infrastructure security (airports, bridges, tunnels, ports, gas and power plants, water pipelines etc.) and the protection of Australian diplomatic posts overseas. Dr Ngo is one of the pioneers in Australia carrying out research in the emerging research area on safe and sustainable technologies for building structures and façade systems. Dr Ngo has also been leading the research and development of advanced protective materials and systems for a number of companies in the civil, defence and security industries.


Chris Johnson

Chief Executive Officer

Urban Taskforce

Chris Johnson is the CEO of Urban Taskforce Australia, an organization that represents the property industry. In this role Chris has produced research papers on the structure of local government in NSW and publications on the future of our cities. He worked closely with local government as Executive Director in the NSW Department of Planning in developing the Housing Code, plans for regional cities and urban renewal generally. Before this he was NSW Government Architect for 10 years, a member of the Central Sydney Planning Committee, the Heritage Council of NSW and many government committees. Chris has written or edited over a dozen books on urban planning, architecture and cities. He has been adjunct professor at 3 Sydney universities and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012.


Professor David Adamson, OBE

Research and Development Manager

Compass Housing Services

Dave Adamson is Research and Development Manager at Compass Housing Services, Newcastle, NSW. He arrived in Australia in 2015 and retains the title of Emeritus Professor at the University of South Wales, UK, where he worked for 30 years and held the Chair of Community and Social Policy. He has extensive experience of research, evaluation and policy development in housing, regeneration and anti-poverty related areas. He was the author of the Towards a National Housing Strategy (

His current interests include housing policy, housing-led community renewal and social housing innovation.


Amy Brown

Partner, Infrastructure Advisory


Amy Brown is an industry expert in complex government infrastructures and services projects, providing commercial, contractual and strategic advice to ensure optimal outcomes for Government, its customers and the sector. Prior to joining PwC, Amy was Director of the Infrastructure and Structured Finance Unit of NSW Treasury.

Amy has been involved in more than 20 projects in recent years, including driving the successful financial closure of the most recent wave of projects in NSW – including the Northern Beaches Hospital Project, North West Rail Link Project, Sydney Light Rail Project, NSW Health Helicopter Retrieval Network and the Darling Harbour Live Project. She also led the development of the new suite of NSW government project documents (to be released in conjunction with the revised NSW PPP Guidelines) which have an emphasis on partnership, outcomes, optimal risk allocation and streamlined contractual mechanisms.


Stephanie Hall

Urban Planner, Infrastructure and Urban Renewal


Stephanie is an experienced urban planner and architectural project manager, specializing in statutory town planning, heritage planning and strategic urban outcomes.

Stephanie utilizes her strengths in, and passion for architecture, urban design and urban planning to deliver a diversity of projects across NSW, from project inception to construction. Stephanie uses her effective communication abilities to consult with various stakeholders, believing that consultation and collaboration forms a key framework for place-making practices and delivering design of high amenity. Stephanie has a passion for affordable housing, believing that every healthy society needs diverse and affordable housing of high amenity – and that this should be available to everyone.

Stephanie was previously the Director of a Sydney-based planning firm, providing advice and documentation for residential, commercial, retail, industrial and heritage projects, as well as strategic planning strategies for urban renewal and affordable housing developments. At PwC, Stephanie contributes urban planning expertise in urban renewal, housing, transport, strategic planning and infrastructure projects. Stephanie is a Member of the Planning Institute of Australia.


Dr Danika Wright


The University of Sydney

Dr Danika Wright is a Lecturer in the Discipline of Finance at the University of Sydney Business School.

Dr Wright’s expertise is in the design, investment and operations of real estate markets. Her research is published in internationally reviewed journals, has been presented at numerous global conferences and is the IP underlying the benchmark RP Data-Rismark House Price Index series. She is sought out for her knowledge on real estate prices and modelling, and is a member of the Sirca-RP Data joint research committee.

Her current research projects examine how real estate investment decisions are made and the impact of foreign investors on Australian property market dynamics, for which she was awarded funding from the Freda and Len Lansbury ECR Support Fund.

Prior to being appointed at the University of Sydney Business School Dr Wright held quantitative research positions in funds management firms, and continues to provide expert advice to a range of significant industry bodies including the Financial Services Council of Australia and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Dr Wright is an active supporter of business student organizations and promotes opportunities for young women to study finance. She has mentored student teams to success in the UBS Investment Banking Challenge and in 2014 co-developed a specialized program to train a team of University of Sydney students to compete in the prestigious Cornell International Real Estate Case Competition, the first time any Australian institution has participated.

Dr Wright is an alumna of the University of Sydney, graduating with First Class Honours in 2007 and earning her PhD in 2010.


Dr Cho Im Sik

Assistant Professor

National University Singapore

Dr Im Sik CHO is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, at the National University of Singapore where she serves as the Leader for urban studies research and teaching and as Principal Investigator for many research projects funded by the key government agencies in Singapore, including the Ministry of National Development, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, and the Housing and Development Board. She has served as a reviewer for the National Research Foundation of Singapore (2014-2017) and South Korea (2015) and has been invited as a visiting academic to ETH Zürich, Switzerland (2015). Her principal research interests are in urban space planning for sustainable high-density environments, and design for social sustainability involving community-based, participatory approaches. Her research addresses the challenges and opportunities that Asian cities face with accelerating social change, especially in the context of neighborhood planning, focusing on the social dimension of sustainable development. Her research has been published internationally, in many books and leading journals; recent publications as lead author include Re-framing Urban Space: Urban Design for Emerging Hybrid and High-Density Conditions (2016, Routledge), Community-based Urban Development: Evolving Urban Paradigms in Singapore and Seoul (2017, Springer), and Changing approaches to community participation for social sustainability: Neighbourhood planning in Singapore and Seoul in Caprotti and Yu (eds), Sustainable Cities in Asia (forthcoming, Routledge).


Alexander Symes


Big World Homes

After several formative years practicing architecture, Alexander Symes felt unsatisfied with his architectural approach to sustainability. Motivated to change this, Alex joined multi-disciplinary technical services firm Arup and in 2010 begun a process of up-skilling himself as a building physicist and facade engineer.

Over the 4 years at Arup, Alex learnt the fundamentals of environmental quantification, sustainability governance frameworks and developed his capability to detail striking facades that were also responsible. Alex established Alexander Symes Architect in 2014 and has since delivered a number of award winning projects for Austinmer beach house, butterfly house and Dresden mobile and was awarded the 2016 Sustainability Awards Best Newcomer