Actions Panel

"Fighting — and winning — the war for tech talent"

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The Playground Room at The Hub Sydney 101 William Street Darlinghurst, NSW 2010 Australia

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The tech talent gap in Australia is growing and businesses of all sizes are seeking actionable solutions for closing it. From developers to digital marketers to product managers, the shortage of tech talent in Australia is higher than ever. Compounding this is the fact that the digital skillset of the Australian workforce is lagging behind demand. With entire industries refocusing on digital work, employees are forced to rethink their careers and the skills they demand.

This panel will focus on how startups in particular are competing in the tech talent war, examine how some are hiring a “bench” of on-demand freelancers, and also discuss how job-seekers are looking to acquire in-demand digital skills.

Follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #techtalent


Benjamin Chong (@benjaminchong) Founder and Internet VC, The Founder Institue & Right Click Capital

Benjamin is co-director of the Founder Institute in Sydney and a partner at Right Click Capital an investment firm that specialises in early stage Internet businesses. Benjamin has invested in and helped build successful businesses for the last fifteen years. These include Online Agility, an incubator and developer of online businesses, and Jetabroad, one of Australia's leading online travel companies. He began his career as an ecommerce strategy, online marketing and technology consultant for clients including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Volvo, Sony and Toyota. Benjamin is a member of the Entrepreneurs' Organisation, the Australia Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, and Sydney Angels.


Nicole Kersh (@4Cabling) Managing Director, 4Cabling

When she was six years old, Nicole's grandfather gave her a packet of watches to sell in the school playground, telling her she should keep the profits. She says this early experience not only gave her an appreciation for sales it also taught her that if you don't believe in what you do, it's impossible to sell with conviction. Fast forward to 2006, at the age of 21, she taught herself HTML coding, read a few business books, and setup an e-commerce website, 4Cabling is Australia's leading direct-to-market retailer, wholesaler, manufacturer and distributor of cabling and IT peripherals. Just over seven years from launch, it is now one of the fastest growing businesses in Australia, and is on track to turnover $11M this financial year.

Kate Kendall (@thefetchSYD, @katekendall) Founder & CEO, The Fetch

Kate is the founder and CEO of The Fetch, a guide where professionals share what's happening in their city. Created in Melbourne in mid-2011, and officially launching in the U.S. in 2013, The Fetch is in 10 cities around the globe and growing. Kate was born in England, moved to Australia aged 10, and now lives in New York. Before following her entrepreneurial drive, she started out as a business journalist. Familiar with the Asia Pacific, European and U.S. markets, Kate has an inimitable, deep knowledge of city-level startup and tech initiatives.

Matt Cooper (@Matt_Cooper, @oDesk) Vice President of International, oDesk

Matt circles the globe speaking to companies and professionals on talent management and the future of work. Currently the Vice President of International and Business Development at oDesk, he provides counsel to businesses on how to leverage online work and also shares his thoughts in Inc. Prior to oDesk, as a member of the executive team at Accolo, Inc -- a recruiting services and technology firm -- Matt grew the business from one employee into one of the top 50 companies on the Inc. 500 list. He also co-founded a boutique strategic consulting firm for ramping early-stage companies, and started his career in investment banking at JPMorgan Securities.

Steve Sammartino (@sammartino), Startup Blogger

Steve had his first startup before the age of 10, running an organic egg farm in the 1970s before the word organic or startup had been invented. When he became a grown up he went into marketing, working in exec roles in consumer goods companies and ad agencies. He escaped his cubicle for the first time in 2005 to found -- a peer to peer renting portal built entirely via outsourcing. After exiting more than 3 years ago he embarked projects including putting a Lego space shuttle into actual orbit, building a jet powered bicycle, joining the board of Tomcar Australia and founding the Super Awesome Micro Project. His startup blog has over 50,000 readers a month and he travels the world helping companies transition from Industrial Era thinking into the Digital Age. He specialises in connecting with people from developing nations to build amazing world-changing projects.

Bart Macdonald (@bartmacdonald, @GA), General Assembly Admissions Producer

Bart is a serial entrepreneur, startup advisor, and co-working champion. He is currently the Lead Admissions Producer at General Assembly and has worked for and founded a number of tech start-ups. To satisfy his penchant for world travel, Bart latest side project has been co-founding, a travel guide and booking aggregator with recommendations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He recently founded the Silicon Beach House co-working space, and is passionate about disrupting archaic business models. Bart is the APAC Director of the World Technology Society, a nearly formed non-profit committed to boosting the technology ecosystems of emerging markets.