Focus on female innovators at Festival of Ambitious Ideas

Ian Bushnell 16 August 2018

Tracy Ryan is the only female Google Trusted Photographer in the ACT. Her topic is ‘Bringing the world of virtual reality to Canberra, 360 degrees at a time’. Photo: Tracy Ryan Photography.

Sixteen of Canberra’s female business leaders, inventors and innovators will share their stories at an ideas fest and networking event at the Brindabella Conference Centre in Brindabella Business Park on Friday night (17 August).

A collaboration between local innovation consultancy Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre and the Canberra Airport, the Festival of Ambitious Ideas: Female Innovators will give the 16 women five minutes each to tell their story and ‘ignite’ their audience.

Lighthouse CEO Anna Pino said the festival was designed to be fast-paced, informal and fun with the opportunity to hear a range of different ideas and perspectives, and network afterwards.

“The Festival of Ambitious Ideas highlights some of the inventive businesses, projects and initiatives happening right here in Canberra and for this quarter we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of local businesswomen,” she said.

“Women often feel that what they do isn’t innovative because it doesn’t involve cutting edge technology or coding; how wrong they are.

“Coming from a range of industries and sectors including aviation, multimedia, fashion, science, retail and health; our all-female line-up will share their personal stories and professional experiences, as well as some of the challenges they have faced along the way.”

The lineup for this Festival of Ambitious Ideas: Female Innovators:

Dr Debbie Saunders, Wildlife Drones

‘Wildlife Drones: From Parrots to Payloads’

Wildlife researcher, Dr Debbie Saunders went looking for a better way to track small migratory birds across vast landscapes, and has been instrumental in developing the world’s first drone radio-tracking system.

Sylvia Tulloch, Griffin Accelerator

‘Where Technology, the Environment and Business Intersect’

A materials scientist with years of experience in the establishment and management of advanced technology businesses, Sylvia is an angel investor and director for several local start-up businesses.

Separate Together director Siobhan Mullins. Photo: Supplied.

Siobhan Mullins, Separate Together

‘An Amicable Divorce Lawyer’

Director of the online family law firm Separate Together, Siobhan Mullins specialises in making the divorce or separation process simple by combining her experience and qualifications in family law with the efficiency of artificial intelligence. Having always wanted to help people, Siobhan works closely with couples to navigate the legal process of separation with minimal stress and expense.

Mel Jamieson and Suzy Piani, Sold On Styling


The creative duo behind Sold On Styling, Mel Jamieson and Suzy Piani started their working careers in different creative industries, coming together three years ago to start their own styling business specialising in preparing homes for sale.

Lea Vesic, Women in Aviation Australia

‘Social Change for Social Good’

Commercial pilot Lea Vesic is a passionate aviator who is working hard to develop the appetite for aviation and aerospace education in Canberra.

Kristine Price, Holiday Happenings

‘Balls to Booklets’

Kristine Price and her husband Nathan took over the ultimate guide to school holiday programs, Holiday Happenings, and modernised it by moving it online.

Tracy Ryan, Tracy Ryan Photography

‘Bringing the world of virtual reality to Canberra, 360 degrees at a time’

Tracy Ryan is the only female Google Trusted Photographer in the ACT. A lover of the outdoors, she has visited and lived in many of the spectacular sites and scenes of Australia for most of her life. In 2012, she became the Northern Territory’s only Google Trusted Photographer and has expanded that to encompass all of Australia.

Katharina Senger, Little Hands OT

‘The Serendipitous Opportunist – or how I drank the water while the pessimist, optimist and realist were still debating’

After visiting Australia with her family at a young age, Katharina followed her dream to move here in 2011 after studying Occupational Therapy at one of the most renowned schools in Germany. After years working as an Occupational Therapist with Therapy ACT, Katharina has since opened her own in-home clinic, providing support services for children with special needs.

Shefali Sehgal, University of Canberra

‘To bot, or not’

Having worked at a number of prestigious aerospace, shipping, and business service firms, Shefali Sehgal is passionate about promoting women in STEM-related subjects, education within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders community, and utilising human-robot interaction in education.

Faith Kerehona. Photo: Supplied.

Faith Kerehona, Street Artist

‘Where art will take us’

Since the age of 14, Faith Kerehona has been showcasing her works of art as murals on walls throughout Canberra. From a young age Faith has been concerned with the injustices in our world and pursued art as a means to communicate, motivate and bond communities over important ideas.

(Read more about Faith and her work here)

Ingrid McCarthy, ASTRO 3D

‘ASTRO 3D – Unlocking the Universe, Inspiring the Future’

With qualifications in Science, Education and Gifted Education, Ingrid has been involved in the development of numerous STEM in-school and extracurricular education programs. As Outreach and Communications Manager, Ingrid is connecting ASTRO 3D research with the broader community.

Leila Haddad, Tharwa Valley Forge

‘Making a Difference’

Leila Haddad started making knives when she was six, and now at 15 is one of the most recognised knife makers in the country. Leila teaches young people to get their hands dirty and discover the joy of making things.

Lou Moxom & Belinda Whitney, Moxom and Whitney

‘Two Friends with a Dream’

Moxom and Whitney have brought beautiful flowers to Canberra and its surrounds in a way that enhances the natural artistry and beauty of Mother Nature.

Victoria Pearce, Endangered Heritage

‘Preserving what matters: Art and Heritage Asset Management’

Working on huge infrastructure projects right down to small individual personal items, Victoria and her team at Endangered Heritage provide conservation services and preservation supplies to the public, museums, galleries, archives, and libraries across Australia.

The Festival of Ambitious Ideas: Female Innovators will take place at the Brindabella Conference Centre in Brindabella Business Park from 5:30 pm on Friday 17 August. Tickets can be purchased from

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