SXSW Sydney Reveals Its First Round Of Speakers

February 8, 2023

The moment has arrived: SXSW Sydney has unveiled the first batch of speakers who will be heading to the Harbour City this October.

More than 600 speakers are set to appear across the event, with expertise ranging across the key industries of Tech & Innovation, Games, Music, Screen and Culture. Whatever your passion, you’ll find someone and something to challenge and excite you – that’s what SXSW Sydney is all about.

This first round of speakers gives you an indication of the breadth of talent that will be hitting the stage this year. SXSW Sydney will see a convergence of scientists and AI experts, leaders in evolution and reproductive technologies, designers and brand ambassadors… just to name a few.

So who are these first speakers? Great question – here’s the lowdown on what they’ll be bringing to the table.

Amy Webb – Future Today Institute | Convergence

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last few years, it’s how uncertain our future is. Thankfully, there are people like our first keynote speaker Amy Webb leading us through. Webb is an American futurist and founder of the Future Today Institute – a strategy firm that helps organisations and leaders prepare for the challenges ahead.

She teaches a course on strategic foresight at the NYU Stern School of Business, is a Fellow at numerous education institutions such as Oxford University’s Säid School of Business – and she’s also a best-selling author of three books, with her latest, The Genesis Machine, exploring the collision of biology and artificial intelligence.

Professor Andrew Pask – The University of Melbourne | Tech & Innovation

Dr Pask is an expert in mammalian evolution and development and reproductive technologies. He led a lab team that sequenced the genome of the extinct Tasmanian animal, the thylacine – and is now exploring ways to bring the animal back into existence.

Joining Co-Founder and CEO of Colossal, Ben Lamm, in the SXSW Sydney conference line-up, their passionate and disruptive work promises another can’t-miss item on the SXSW Sydney agenda.

Ben Lamm – Colossal | Tech & Innovation

Ben Lamm is a serial entrepreneur and disruptor – passionate about technology, climate action, space and defence, and how we can build businesses to change our world for the better.

Appearing with Professor Andrew Pask in SXSW Sydney’s Conference line-up, the pair bring a collision of expertise and knowledge that will contemplate the road ahead for the planet.

Guy Kawasaki – Canva | Tech & Innovation

As Chief Evangelist of Canva (and former Chief Evangelist of Apple), Guy Kawasaki is one of the world’s leading thinkers in business and technology. He’s a prolific author, having written the incredibly popular The Remarkable Mindset, Wise Guy and The Art of the Start 2.0, among many others. He’s also the host of the renowned podcast Guy Kawasaki’s The Remarkable People. When Guy speaks, people tend to listen.

Jack Reis – Baidam Solutions | Tech & Innovation

Another homegrown hero, Jack Reis is the CEO and co-founder of Baidam Solutions, a cyber security business based in Brisbane. A proud Badulaig, Zenedth Kes (Torres Strait Islander) man from Badu Island, Reis is devoted to giving First Nations people opportunities in the world of information technology.

Through the company’s Baidam Initiative, he gives back to regional and remote communities by creating employment opportunities and offering training within the sector. A celebrated businessman across the industry, Reis wants to work to move his community towards economic self-determination. Reis will bring his unique tech perspective and relentless appetite for progress to SXSW Sydney.

Kyas Hepworth – Head of Screen NSW | Screen

Head of Screen NSW, Kyas Hepworth is a Bundjalung woman who has dedicated her career to bringing unique and authentic stories to the screen, now leading the state’s film and production strategy while also advancing NSW’s position in Digital games. Currently on the Board of AusFilm, and previously NITV’s Head of Commissioning and Programming and a Board Member of the Australian International Documentary Conference, Kyas’ work has crossed documentaries, feature films, TV series, web series and more – an exceptional leading figure from the local Screen industry.

Larissa Behrendt – University of Technology Sydney | Convergence

Lawyer, writer, filmmaker and Distinguished Professor and Laureate Fellow at Jumbunna Research, University of Technology Sydney, Larissa Behrendt AO appears – also known as the host of Speaking Out on ABC Radio.

An award winning filmmaker, Behrendt has been a beacon for Indigenous storytelling. The depths of her experience and rich history is just a small reason to see her speak at SXSW Sydney 2023.

Manal al-Sharif – Women’s Rights Activist | Tech & Innovation

A fierce activist for women’s rights, in 2011 Manal al-Sharif started a campaign that would eventually tear down an archaic Saudi Arabian law which forbade women to drive. After uploading a video of her driving which went viral, Manal was thrown in prison by Saudi authorities and eventually lost her job and was forced to flee overseas. But her actions and subsequent social media campaigning started a wave and in 2018 after years of sustained pressure, Saudi Arabia finally changed the law to allow women to drive.

Now residing in Sydney, al-Sharif – who has a degree in computer science – is keenly focused on the future of social media and the threat of censorship and oppression posed by authoritarian regimes. Through her new project, the Ethical Technologists Society, she advocates for transparency and technological freedom. Manal’s is an important and steadfast voice in a rapidly changing online world – make sure you hear it.

Michael Biercuk – Q-CTRL | Tech & Innovation

CEO and Founder of quantum technology company Q-CTRL, Michael J. Biercuk is a SXSW and TEDx speaking alumnus, plus a multi-time Australian Museum Eureka Prize nominee and winner. Biercuk holds a Masters and PhD from Harvard University, and as Professor of Quantum Physics and Quantum Technology at the University of Sydney where he leads a research team exploring the role of control engineering in quantum-coherent systems. Previously, he has helped steer government investments in quantum information and advanced computer architectures.

Per Sundin – Pophouse Entertainment | Music

Swedish CEO of Pophouse Entertainment, Per Sundin has worked with some of the greatest-selling Nordic artists, including Avicii, ABBA, Tove Lo, Swedish House Mafia, alongside playing a pivotal role in the rise of Spotify. A role has influenced music so deeply that Netflix developed a series called The Playlist to acknowledge his work.

If music is your vice or future then we encourage you to join Sundin at SXSW Sydney as imparts his invaluable knowledge and experience in the industry.

Que Minh Luu – Netflix | Screen

As Director of Content at Netflix, Que Minh Luu has a hand in bringing shows like Heartbreak High, Irreverent and Byron Baes to life. Luu also brings previous experience as an executive producer at the ABC, a master in scripted drama, comedy and digital content alongside time spent as a film editor.

If your ambition is to navigate a career within film and screen then Luu is a must see at SXSW Sydney.

Robyn Denholm – Tesla & Blackbird Ventures | Tech & Innovation

Robyn Denholm is one of Australia’s biggest business success stories. She’s currently the Chair of ground-breaking company Tesla and Operating Partner of venture capital firm Blackbird Ventures.

Denholm is a passionate advocate for technology and innovation and how it can change people’s lives, as well as a fierce advocate for diversity within the industry. She’s currently Chair of the Australian Tech Council, and is working to bring as many Australians as she can into the tech industry.

Denholm’s formidable experience and relentless drive make her one of the most significant business figures  working today. You’ll be able to absorb her wealth of knowledge when she lands at SXSW Sydney.

Rohit Bhargava – The Non-Obvious Company | Convergence

Rohit Bhargava is an entrepreneur, best selling author and founder of The Non-Obvious Company, dedicated to helping leaders, organisations and curators to see what others might miss, and become more creative and innovative in preparing for the future in their industries.

Sam Barlow – Half Mermaid Productions | Games

Sam Barlow is a BAFTA Games Award-winning game designer, and founder of Half Mermaid Productions. Sam is best known for his work as a writer and director of games that push the boundaries of interactive narrative, such as Her Story, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Telling Lies, his most ambitious recent project, IMMORTALITY – a horror story about 20th Century filmmaking, art and death.

Sung Eun YOUN – Film Critic | Screen

Youn Sung-Eun is one of Korea’s most important film critics, an author, a member of the executive committee of the Korean Association of Film Critics, and a respected university lecturer with a PhD in film studies. Having recently established new film commentary programs on both KT olleh TV and CBS radio, Sung-Eun is recognised for her work in putting Koren film on the map.

Dr Sheila Nguyen – FIFA Women’s World Cup | Convergence

Dr Sheila Nguyen is a leading sustainability and design expert who has worked with some of the biggest sports organisations and clubs on environmental issues within the industry. She’s currently Head of Sustainability AUS & NZ for the upcoming Women’s World Cup, and has just recently helped to create the Australian Olympic Committee’s Climate Action Plan.

In 2019 she was named as one of Australian Financial Review’s Top 100 Women of Influence for her tireless work in driving the sports industry to protect and respect the natural environment. Sheila is a true pioneer in her field, combining the once distant worlds of sport and environmental science, and at SXSW Sydney she’ll discuss the way forward for one of the biggest and most beloved industries on the planet.

Tom Verrilli – Twitch | Tech & Innovation

Tom Verrilli is the Chief Product Officer at Twitch, one of the most innovative and exciting games companies in the world today. As the CPO, he leads the product, engineering, and applied science teams that are responsible for the streaming tools, community engagement and safety.

A University of Sydney alumnus, there is perhaps no sharper mind in the world of games technology than Tom, and his appearance at SXSW Sydney will be essential for anyone interested in the convergence of games and live video.

Yoomin Yang – WOW POINT | Screen

Yang Yoo Min is a co-founder, CEO and executive producer at Korean production company, WOW POINT, where she oversees their extensive TV and film development and production slate including recently announced Netflix Series, Parasyte: The Grey. Yoo Min’s other recent achievements include producing a Korean adaptation of Netflix’s Money Heist, among other projects.

Yiying Lu – Adobe Global Creative Ambassador | Convergence

One of the world’s most gifted artists and designers, you might recognise Yiying Lu’s work from Twitter – where she created the beloved Fail Whale – or from Disney Shanghai, where she crafted the stunning Chinese Paper-cut style artworks. Or perhaps from the phone in your hand right now: she created the iconic dumpling emoji, among others.

Born in Shanghai and raised in Sydney and London, now residing in the US, she is passionate about driving cross-cultural creativity and innovation. Named as one Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Yiying Lu’s work collides east and west in arresting fashion and carves a path forward for design.

There’s So Much More To Come

Phew, that was a lot – and this is just the start! This first round of speakers is a glimpse of the incredible talent and expertise that SXSW Sydney will offer. Whatever industry you’re from, whatever your interests are, there’s going to be so much for you to sink your teeth into.

So what are you waiting for?  Badges are on sale now, so snap up yours right over here.