Global Speakers


Karen Dwyer


Dwyer Law Ltd

Forum Chairperson

Karen’s been advising property development, infrastructure and construction businesses for over 20 years, buying property, financing, leasing, subdividing, selling — and, of course, constructing.
She’s acted for billion-dollar organizations in the past and her goal now is to level the information playing field for small to medium-sized businesses.

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Lynne Thornton



Topic: Considering Deliveries Into The Building For Sustainable BTR Communities

Ms. Thornton is a co-founder and director at Groundfloor, a smart on-premises parcel locker system for high density commercial and residential buildings. Previously, Lynne worked in the funds management industry for 15 years initially for Colonial First State in London then co-founded, global equities boutique, Aubrey Capital Management, based in Edinburgh, before successfully exiting the business in 2017.  Lynne is an active angel investor and was on the board of Scale Investors, an angel investor network, for 5 years.  Her professional career has included roles in the consumer sector, proptech, logistics and the funds management industries.

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David Hill

Director, Alternative Investments – Australia



  • Panel Discussion: Where Are The New Opportunities For BTR Development In Australia And New Zealand?
  • Investment Review And Outlook: Build-To-Rent Four Values Same But Different

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Sarah Witty

National Partnerships Manager

Homes for Homes

Topic: Innovative Funding Model To Increase The Supply Of Social And Affordable Housing

With a passion for everything property and investing, Sarah built a successful career in the property industry.

Intrigued with property investment, Sarah turned her interest to the money side of the industry upskilling her financial understanding before turning her skills to the banking industry. Time spent in the finance industry allowed her to obtain a unique understanding of how the industry works from behind the big bank doors.

After a successful career in both property and finance, Sarah looked to give back. Much to her delight, she discovered Homes for Homes.

As National Partnerships Manager, Sarah works to establish new opportunities within the Property Development and Banking industries. Sarah’s diverse experience allows her to have a unique understanding from all sides of property transactions.



Paul Savitz

Director, Operational Capital Markets

Savills Australia & New Zealand

Topic: Learning Lessons From How Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) Has Taken Off In Australia And Implications For BTR Sector

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Georgina Duckworth

Director Client Services/Marketing

Sentinel Real Estate Corporation

Topic: Case Study Of West Australia’s First BTR Apartment Community: The Element 27 BTR Project In Subiaco, WA

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Keith Lucas

Managing Director

Sentinel Real Estate Corporation

Topic: Case Study Of West Australia’s First BTR Apartment Community: The Element 27 BTR project In Subiaco, WA

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Manuel Makas

Managing Partner

Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills

Topic: Tax Planning, Legal Structuring & Funding For BTR

Manuel is the Managing Partner and Head of Real Estate at Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills. He has broad expertise in tax matters, with a focus on the real estate sector, funds management and infrastructure sectors.

Manuel joined the firm in early 2014 after working as a Partner at an international accountancy firm for over a decade. He specialises in real estate taxation and assists clients with creating managed investment trust (MIT) structures and listed property trusts. Manuel also provides advice to clients on debt and rights issues, equity raising, mergers and acquisitions, inbound and outbound investments, restructuring and IPOs.

Manuel is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and a Chartered Tax Adviser of The Tax Institute. Manuel is also a member of the Property Council of Australia’s Income Tax Committee and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a Master of Taxation.

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Chris Neil


Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills

Topic: Tax Planning, Legal Structuring & Funding For BTR

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Melita Cottrell


Finance Sydney Herbert Smith Freehills

Topic: Tax Planning, Legal Structuring & Funding For BTR

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Jane Hodder


Real Estate Melbourne Herbert Smith Freehills

Topic: Tax Planning, Legal Structuring & Funding For BTR

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Niresha Mudalige

Senior Associate

Real Estate Melbourne Herbert Smith Freehill

Topic: Tax Planning, Legal Structuring & Funding For BTR

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Nick Lane

Executive Director and Founder

Passive Place


  • Case Study: Making Affordable Housing A Reality In Cities
  • Panel Discussion: Where Are The New Opportunities For BTR Development In Australia And New Zealand?

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Matt Lanigan

Managing Director

Rent Converters


  • Affordable Build Model: Case Study On How Rent Converters Helps Make Homeownership More Accessible For More Australian
  • Panel Discussion: Where Are The New Opportunities For BTR Development In Australia And New Zealand?

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Rhys Williams




  • Build To Rent And UKO Co-Living: The Future Accommodation Model
  • Virtual Site Tour: Experience UKO Glebe

Rhys Williams and Alex Thorpe are the co-founders of UKO Co-Living which is Australia’s first Co-Living operation.

Rhys and Alex pioneered the extended stay furnished accommodation market in Sydney, Australia. They commenced trading a single apartment in 2002 and grew to a portfolio exceeding 400 keys under the Furnished Property brand with a mix of freehold and leasehold assets offering flexible furnished rental accommodation to the extended stay market. This lead to a move into the hotel market where they established a national network of hotel brands under Veriu Group including  Veriu Hotels & Suites in 2015 (384 keys) and the Punthill Apartment Hotels (804 keys) in 2018. Rhys and Alex have successfully raised capital and joint ventured with publicly listed developers and fund managers  such as Folkestone/Charter Hall where they have delivered a $50 million 144 key micro apartment hotel at Green Square in Sydney which will be marketed as Australia’s first micro apartment hotel.  They also recently completed a $15 million conversion of Wentworth House in Surry Hills into a 112 key hotel.  Rhys and Alex have now returned to their rental accommodation roots with the development of the UKO Co-living brand where they are set to carve out a significant transformation of the rental accommodation market in Australia. UKO has successfully delivered two Co-Living sites in the Sydney in 2019 and will open an additional four sites in 2020.  Rhys and Alex are firm believers that the rental market needs to change to meet the needs of the millennial renter and key worker. They believe that efficient micro apartment design with connected communal areas can improve affordability without having to compromise on lifestyle.  They also feel that rental accommodation should offer a greater sense of community providing renters with the ability to make social and professional connections in order to combat the rise of loneliness for modern renters. With their roots firmly entrenched in the rental accommodation market, complimented by their experience in hotel development, design and customer service Rhys and Alex are perfectly positioned to transition the Co-Living concept into the Australian market.

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Hanna Ebeling

Chief Executive Officer


Panel Discussion: Where Are The New Opportunities For BTR Development In Australia And New Zealand?

From traditional banking with HSBC to impact investment in the Philippines, Hanna brings a global practice lens to Sefa as Chief Executive Officer. She is on the board of Woodville Alliance, and works with the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership to improve collaboration between government, private sector, and philanthropy. At home you’ll find her preparing dehydrated meals for her next bushwalk or studying for her Australian citizenship test.

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Natasha Sarkar


CBRE | Structured Transactions & Advisory Services

Topic: New Zealand’s Residential Market’s Immaturity. A Problem Yes, But A Development Opportunity Too, Including Build To Rent

Natasha Sarkar re-joined CBRE New Zealand in 2020 as Director of Structured Transactions & Advisory Services after a period in the UK specialising in Build-to-Rent (BTR) where she valued and consulted on major projects as the asset class grew to be one of the most dynamic areas of the property industry. With the goal to facilitate major BTR development as a lever to improving housing supply in New Zealand, Natasha is passionate about championing BTR as a viable and competitive asset class. Determined to overcome the barriers to its acceleration – she is now seen as an invaluable partner to clients on their BTR journey. Natasha leads CBRE’s BTR valuation and strategic advisory capability in New Zealand and has direct experience in value add on BTR developments from inception through to a stabilised investment position, having valued market leading schemes across the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

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Chris Efthimiou

Commercial Director

Erin Living

Topic: How Technology Can Influence BTR Projects

I am a technology sales professional with 10+ years of experience who has lived through a lot of the common pain points in apartment living, both internationally and locally. I’ve been with Erin Living since inception and my role at Erin is to drive the new business strategy, primarily by educating the market on the importance of high quality resident technology in apartment living and why it will be a crucial element of the way we live moving forward.

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Rebecca Shackleton

Director, Relationships & Marketing


Topic: Innovative Build-To-Rent-To-Own Model: Why Assemble’s Housing Model Is A Game Changer

Rebecca is a highly respected property marketing and sales professional. She brings to Assemble more than 15 years’ of industry experience from a number of high profile residential, high and medium density and mixed-use property developments spanning across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT.

As Director, Relationships & Marketing, Rebecca oversees the sales and marketing campaigns on behalf of each Assemble development including those offered under our innovative Assemble Futures housing model, also known as ‘rent-with-the-option-to-buy’ that offers a genuine pathway to home ownership, and our future Build to Rent affordable housing portfolio.

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Victoria Tavendale

General Manager, Real Estate Operations


Topic: Mirvac Strategic Case Study: Creating Australia’s First Institutional Build-To-Rent Investment Platform

As General Manager of Real Estate Operations at Mirvac, Victoria Tavendale is responsible for the oversight of Mirvac’s Portfolio Management, Investment teams, on site operations, business solutions and marketing operations across the entire investment portfolio of Retail, Office, Industrial and Build-to-Rent portfolio, which includes many of Australia’s leading commercial towers and office developments.

With over 20 years experience in the property industry, Victoria has worked across all asset classes for both institutional owners and occupiers. Prior to joining Mirvac, she held the position of Global Head of Portfolio Management for Campus Living Funds Management and has also worked as General Manager at Investa office.

Areas of expertise include:

  • Asset and Facility Management
  • Operations, and people and culture
  • Asset investment
  • User experience and customer service
  • Managing workplace technology
  • Implementing sustainable initiatives for tenants



Melissa Neighbour

Principal Planner

SKY Town Planning

Topic: Panel Discussion: Where Are The New Opportunities For BTR Development In Australia And New Zealand?

Melissa is an environmental town planner, community builder and sustainability specialist. She is the Managing Director of Sky Town Planning a purpose-driven town planning consultancy based in Sydney. She has developed and implemented award-winning sustainable development projects across Australia, and is on a mission to activate sustainable forms of living in urban spaces. She is a tutor at Sydney University where she teaches emerging leaders the essential skills needed for ‘building a sustainable world’.

 Melissa regularly consults to companies and councils, and presents at major fora including TEDx, on the innovations, trends and forces that are shaping urbanism and defining our communities. She believes in a 21st century that works for every one, and every thing, and that cities will be at the heart of that revolution.

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Jonathan Fordham


Capital Edge Pty Ltd

Topic: Rentvesting – 7 Principles For Building To Rent In Australia

Jonathan Fordham is the director/founder of Capital Edge. With decades of experience in the Australian property market, Jono developed a property selection process using “rentvesting” to achieve the best results for his clients. After completing secondary education,  Jono spent 4 years in Commercial and Industrial real estate in SE Melbourne. After completing a Bachelor of Business, he worked at several major multinational companies including Lion Nathan, TNT and Fonterra, before returning to his true passion of real estate. Jono has been actively involved in the residential property market for the last 15 years across all states of Australia, living in Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane. He has a full Licence and diploma in real estate, primarily managing investment properties for owners across Australia. Capital Edge was formed with the focus on the client, not the sale, using a proven process to ensure the best combination of rent return and growth.

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