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The OBM Great Debate

The Great OBM Debate

‘Are millennials the best generation in the workforce?’

Australian entrepreneur and investor Steve Baxter and social demographer Claire Madden will team up with Territory FM host and comedian Mel Little and other Territorians to explore the future world of work. Our experienced panel have broad, first‑hand knowledge in interpreting social trends and the implications of generational change on jobs of the future.

Moderated by business author and TEDx presenter Bernadette Schwerdt, this lively debate will get you thinking.

Millennials have copped their fair share of criticism over the years, with some using words like entitled, lazy, selfish, smashed avocado devotees to describe them. However, some of today’s most influential people are millennials. Would you describe Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as lazy? Airbnb’s Brian Chesky as entitled? In fact, many young professionals of today are hardworking people who only need the benefit of time and experience.

Suitable for all generations, this event will give you a better understanding of multigenerational workforces and the challenges and opportunities across all industries and sectors as part of the fourth industrial revolution; Industry 4.0.

Which side will you be on? Weigh in on the conversation - this is sure to be a dynamic, surprising and informative event.

#obmdebate #millenials #noovernightsuccess #smashedavo #boundlesspossible

Register for The OBM Great Debate in Alice Springs

Register for The OBM Great Debate in Darwin

For the motion

Claire Madden

Claire Madden presentingClaire Madden is a social researcher, keynote speaker and media commentator interpreting social trends and implications of generational change. Claire is the author of Hello Gen Z: Engaging the Generation of Post-Millennials.

As a social researcher and demographer, Claire is widely regarded as a leading voice on multi-generational engagement and emerging social trends by corporations, the media and the wider community. Claire is commissioned by some of the nation’s largest companies and leading brands to interpret the changing landscape and communicate the implications for business and society.

Claire is regularly interviewed on prominent television programs including The Drum, The Project, The Today Show, SkyNews, Sunrise and The Morning Show, as well as on the radio and in print media. Claire is on the board for a financial services company and on the advisory board of UTS Business School. Claire is also the founder and director of the research based strategy and communications agency, Hello Clarity.

Elena Madden

Elena Madden at workElena was born in Katherine and has spent most of her life in the Territory, including in Tennant Creek and Alice Springs. She has strong local networks and a good understanding of the Territory’s unique issues.

Elena has extensive experience in corporate communication, and media and community relations, with a background in mining and major projects.

Elena took over Michels Warren Munday in 2015 as owner and managing director and oversaw the rebranding to True North Strategic Communication. Elena enjoys developing communication strategies, leading community and stakeholder engagement projects and providing strategic advice to a diverse range of clients.

Elena is passionate about advocating for the Territory through good relationships and quality communication and engagement.

Elena is one of our Territory business success story this year for OBM and will be on the ‘for’ panel at the Alice Springs Great Debate.

Tom Curtain

Tim and Annabel Curtain with their horse and dogsThe story of how Katherine Outback Experience came to be is one of devastation and resilience. It was the product of the crash of the pastoral industry following the 2011 beef live export ban.

Tom trained horses for cattle stations for 15 years, but work fell off after the live cattle export ban was imposed.

He started singing three nights a week at Katherine Holiday Park where he would share stories about life on the land. It was here the idea for Katherine Outback Experience was conceived.

In July 2013, Katherine Outback Experience was officially launched. Tom and his wife Annabel, have gone on to build a passionate and enthusiastic team who share a love for the outback and working with animals.

In 2018 Katherine Outback Experience won Tourism NT's Best Tourist Attraction and Best Visitor Experience Awards before winning bronze at the National Tourism Awards.

Tom Curtain will be on the ‘for’ panel at the Darwin Great Debate.

Michael Sullesta

Portrait shot of Michael SullestaMichael is a scholarship recipient from the Philippines, studying Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at the International College of Advanced Education in Darwin. He is also currently one of the StudyNT ambassadors from the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation promoting the Northern Territory as a place of boundless possibilities at different events and functions throughout this year.

Michael has represented Northern Territory at the Council of International Students Australia national conference in Perth advocating for vocational education and training students.

Michael Sullesta will be on the ‘for’ panel at the Alice Springs Great Debate.

Gracie Bui

Portrait shot of Gracie BuiGrace Bui is currently a StudyNT ambassador. While pursuing her teaching degree, Grace is also representing Vietnamese Student Association at Charles Darwin University. She is an authentic and enthusiastic individual who loves being involved in volunteering and community services.

Grace sees herself as a representation of the millennial generation as she has stepped into the workforce, and overcame challenges to earn the job she wanted when she was still doing her degree.

Grace Bui will be on the ‘for’ panel at the Darwin Great Debate.

Against the motion

Steve Baxter

Portrait shot of Steve BaxterTech start‑up investor Steve Baxter is a proud Queenslander, born in the remote town of Cloncurry and raised in Emerald in the state’s central highlands.

In 1994, at the age of 23, Steve put his life savings of $11,000 on the line to launch his first start up, the pioneering internet service provider SE Net, from the spare room of his Adelaide home. Servicing more than 35,000 customers, SE Net was eventually acquired by Ozemail.

In 2001, Steve teamed with a schoolmate to launch his second start up, PIPE Networks, a provider of wholesale telecoms infrastructure that was listed on the ASX in 2005. Eight years later they sold it to the TPG Group for $373 million.

Since 2010 he has become an early stage investor in start‑ups through his investment company, Transition Level Investments. This led to the founding of Brisbane tech start‑up hub River City Labs and the creation of Startup Catalyst and RiverPitch programs.

He has been a shark on Channel 10’s Shark Tank Australia for the past four seasons.

Mary Linnell

Portrait shot of Mary LinnellMary Linnell is best described as brave, raw and authentic. She is a multi-award winner, a dedicated single mother, a successful entrepreneur, a captivating motivational speaker, a valuable team player, and a passionate business woman.

Mary is the founder, and Managing Director of Easy Glass Services, a glass and glazing company in Darwin, and Power Stance an entertainment company.

Mary is the 2015 Telstra NT Business Woman, and Entrepreneur of the Year.

Katrina Fong Lim

Portrait shot of Katrina Fong LimKatrina Fong Lim is an inspirational speaker who will share both technical skill with home truths. She has extensive experience in management, governance and leadership. 

From 2012 to 2017 Katrina Fong Lim served as Lord Mayor of City of Darwin. An honour she shares with her father, Alec Fong Lim.

Katrina is currently the General Manager of Variety the Children’s Charity NT and lives by the motto ‘no regrets’.


Bernadette Schwerdt

Bernadette SchwerdtBernadette Schwerdt is one of Australia’s most accomplished marketers, communication experts and business commentators. She’s also one of the country’s most compelling and entertaining public speakers and presenters.

Bernadette is the host of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald’s online video show Secrets of Aussie Online Entrepreneurs, and the author of the book by the same name. She is in a unique position to reveal the inner‑most secrets behind how these outstanding business owners have risen to the top of their fields and shaken their industries to the core.

Bernadette's most current book released in 2018, How to Build an Online Business, hit the bestseller list in its first week of release.