Hunter Live Events

To find out about upcoming Hunter Live events, email

Recent events
How do exceptional Hunter leaders transform their businesses to stay competitive in the

As in other areas of Australia, the Hunter's business leaders are focused on transforming their businesses to stay globally competitive, achieve growth where possible and adapt to the "new normal" of increased economic uncertainty.

Much of the success for businesses in our region is due to dynamic, passionate and strategic leadership shown by those steering the businesses. We hope you can join our panel of local business leaders for a stimulating discussion covering themes such as innovation, the attractiveness of the Hunter and the revitalisation of Newcastle. Panel members are:

  • Brian McGuigan, Chair of Newcastle Knights NRL, Director of Australian Horticulture Management
  • Kristen Keegan, CEO of Dantia, and
  • Kyle Loades, President of NRMA, Director of Australian Automobile Association, Chair of Hunter Medical Research Institute Foundation, Director of Hunter Medical Research Institute

Hear from our panelists on their tips and strategies, challenges and pitfalls in adapting to this "new normal" and on achieving sustainable business growth in the Hunter.

Contact Kristy Wilson for more information.

Exploring strategic growth drivers from leading Hunter businesses

Sparke Helmore and PwC hosted this Hunter Live session with leaders of three established Hunter-based organisations as they discussed their business's key strategic growth factors and vision for maintaining sustainability in Newcastle and the Hunter.

Mark Fitzgibbon, CEO of nib Health Funds, Philip Gardner, CEO of The Wests Group Australia, and Geoff Crowe, CEO of Port of Newcastle, also shared their views on the strategic opportunities in the region.

Strategic growth and access to capital in the Hunter

A fascinating discussion on opportunities for Hunter businesses to realise strategic growth and increase their access to capital, the importance of strategic planning and the role it plays in unlocking capital for businesses and their principals.

In a post-GFC environment, there's no denying that achieving business growth is harder. That said, opportunities still exist for both the strategic growth of business and gaining access to capital from new and traditional channels. In this Hunter Live session we looked at the importance of strategic planning and the role it plays in unlocking capital for businesses and their principals.

Mark Hickey (partner, Sparke Helmore) and Darren Turner (partner, PwC) were joined by our panellists:

  • Jeff Phillips, CEO of Varley Group, who brought insights on the role both long- and short-term planning has played in a volatile market
  • Matt Fensom, Managing Director of Enviropacific Services, who shared his experiences in the move to accepting private equity investment into your business
  • John Murphy, Managing Director of Adexum Capital, who discussed the key drivers for private equity firms to invest in a mid-market company in the current economic environment
  • David Denny, Partner – Corporate Finance of PwC, who shared his experience around debt and equity raisings and what he is currently seeing in the market.

Chinese businesses and the Hunter: what you need to know

A stimulating panel discussion on the opportunities for Hunter businesses in China and with Chinese investors. Hosts David Reid (partner, Sparke Helmore) and Darren Turner (partner, PwC) were joined by leading executives to discuss how Chinese investors have increased their investments in the Australian market in recent years, including in the Hunter region; understanding the strategies of Chinese investors who have already invested, and some of the typical structuring and legal issues that may arise.

Guest speakers:

  • Glenn Turner, Chair — Hunter Angels Trust and Joinlox Pty Ltd
  • Joe Zhou, CEO — China Australia Mining Development Alliance
  • Rhys Palmer, Director — Confucius Institute and Strategic Institution Relations
  • David Thomas, Vice President — The Australia China Business Council

Towards 2015 - regional investment perspectives

A panel discussion on development opportunities and challenges in the Hunter in 2015. Hosts Mark Hickey (partner, Sparke Helmore) and Darren Turner (partner, PwC) joined by leading executives to discuss key initiatives impacting the region, including key infrastructure developments, Newcastle port's growth, development and future operations, Defence opportunities in the Hunter and the coal supply chain.

Guest speakers:

  • Kristen Keegan, CEO - Hunter Business Chamber
  • Michael Dowzer, Executive Manager Commercial - Port of Newcastle
  • John Quaife AM, Director - JQ Perspectives
  • Jonathan Vandervoort, Coal Industry Executive

Surviving the bottoming of the Hunter Coal cycle: Are we there yet?

A lively panel discussion held in Pokolbin, Hunter Valley, on the fitness of the coal supply chain, including insights from Darren Oliver, Group Procurement Manager of Glencore Coal, on the climate and his expectations of the coal supply chain. Richard Anicich, Partner at Sparke Helmore, and Ian England, of PwC's Corporate Advisory team, explored various commercial approaches to be fitter in business.

Guest speakers:

  • Darren Oliver, Group Procurement Manager - Glencore Coal
  • Ian England, Corporate Advisory - PwC
  • Richard Anicich, Partner - Sparke Helmore

Preparing Hunter business for a successful IPO

Three leading guest speakers led a lively discussion on successful IPOs. The panel session hosted by Sparke Helmore's Mark Hickey and PwC's Darren Turner considered the IPO climate in the Australian market, the IPO experience for businesses and owners, and what this means for Hunter businesses.

Guest speakers:

  • Rob Douglas, Director - Morgans Financial Limited
  • Paul Brenton, Chief Financial Officer - Hughes Drilling Limited
  • Scott Farrell, Managing Director - SubZero Group Limited

Hosts: Mark Hickey, Partner, Corporate & Property - Sparke Helmore, and Darren Turner, Partner - PwC

Converting business dreams into reality - tips and challenges from successful business leaders

Three high-profile guest speakers on how business dreams can be converted into reality. The Q&A forum chaired by Sparke Helmore's Mark Hickey provided an opportunity to hear from a panel of successful business leaders about their stories, highlighting tips and challenges in successful business exits and realising business potential. This event was of interest to those considering a venture or exiting an existing venture, or those who just want to hear from these inspirational business leaders.

Guest speakers:

  • Don Nicol, CEO and MD - PromaxTPO
  • Ian Burford, former CEO - Bluetongue Brewery
  • John Murphy, MD - MP Equity Limited
  • Chair: Mark Hickey, Partner, Corporate & Property, Sparke Helmore

How digital innovation can increase your business value

Three key business leaders led an interesting panel discussion about the role digital innovation plays in creating business value. They discussed some of the digital businesses being created in the Hunter region and the issues they face.

Guest speakers:

  • Trent Bagnall, founder - Slingshot
  • Tony Deegan, partner, IP & Technology, Sparke Helmore
  • Duncan Stone, senior manager, Open Innovation, Economics and Policy, PwC

Chairs: Mark Hickey, Partner, Corporate & Property, Sparke Helmore, and Darren Turner, Partner, PwC

Succession planning and business transition

The question of who will own the business after the owner moves on is rarely a simple one. Business owners invest significant time, money, energy and passion to get to where they are, often over many years. Regardless of whether the business is passed down within the family, transferred to employees or sold to an outside purchaser, there are myriad questions and options to consider. A lively panel discussion featuring business owners who have been through the succession planning process and leading experts in the field explored the various issues involved in business transition.

Guest speakers:

  • Peter Burgess, Non-Executive Chairman, Forgacs Group
  • Eric Melman, Founder, BEAM Corp
  • Patrick Slattery, Managing Director and Senior Auctioneer and Valuer, Slattery Auctions
  • Paddy Slattery, General Manager, Slattery Auctions
  • Greg Guest, Partner, Insurance, Sparke Helmore

Exploring opportunities for Hunter business to expand our USA networks

A roundtable lunch and discussion with a small group of industry stakeholders. This forum aimed to better understand USA networking being established by our Hunter business community and pursue further ways to build US opportunity networks in technology, engineering and manufacturing.

A vision for 2014, the year ahead

A lively session celebrating the end of 2013 and what we're looking forward to in 2014. Key presentations from the Lord Mayor of Newcastle sharing Council's direction for the city; from the Liberal Member for Newcastle outlining the status of key state infrastructure programs in the region, and from the CEO of Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator providing insights into the achievements of and plans for the coal chain.

Guest speakers:

  • Jeff McCloy, Lord Mayor of Newcastle
  • Tim Owen AM MP, Liberal Member for Newcastle
  • Kirsten Molloy, CEO - Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator

Increasing agility in the coal supply chain - are you a viable option?

Held in Pokolbin, Hunter Valley, this panel discussion explored considerations of what it means to be different. The panellists shared insights on the expectations of suppliers under the new Glencore era and presented different technology innovations in the mining industry.

Guest speakers:

  • Darren Oliver, Group Manager Procurement - Glencore Coal Assets Australia
  • Trent Bagnall, former CEO of Qmastor and co-founder of Singshot


Mark Hickey
Mark Hickey
Chairman & Partner
t: +61 2 4924 7689+61 2 4924 7689
m: +61 412 298 858+61 412 298 858
o: Newcastle
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Darren Turner
Darren Turner
t: 61 2 4924 114761 2 4924 1147
m: 61 407 261 99861 407 261 998
o: Newcastle
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Angela Higgins
Angela Higgins
t: 61 2 4925 112961 2 4925 1129
m: 61 403 391 70261 403 391 702
o: Newcastle
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