Future leaders find solution to keeping bright minds in the Hunter

Future leaders find solution to keeping bright minds in the Hunter

The transition of Newcastle from a great regional city to an emerging global city is set to be the centre of attention this week as 30 young professionals present their solution on how they can arrest the brain drain and not only keep their bright minds here, but also attract talent, skills and businesses from outside the region.

These young professionals participated in this year’s HunterNet Future Leaders Program. They were formed into five multi-disciplinary teams to consider how they can stop the young people of our region taking their degrees and leaving the Hunter.

Using the skills they attained throughout the program – in which 12 leadership topics were delivered by leading academics and business leaders nationally and from the region – the challenge was set.

The teams were assigned mentors that were regarded as leaders in their own right and who guided the teams in the development of strategies to reduce the brain drain. The process involved producing a 20-page report and delivering a 30-minute presentation.

Amongst the mentors in this year’s program were Principal Consultant of Safety Works, Kerry Walker; Regional Manager NSW of Telstra Enterprise, Clayton McSeveney; Regional Executive Newcastle/Hunter Region ANZ Business Banking, Paul Cragg; Director of Cross Connections Consulting, Samantha Cross; and Manager of Environment and Community Relations at Port Waratah Coal Services, Trudie Larnach

The program encouraged the teams to think outside of the box when researching and scoping their strategies. This included presenting a detailed analysis of how each team would identify what Newcastle and the Hunter can do to arrest the brain drain.

The submissions and presentations were judged by a judging panel consisting of Managing Director of Umwelt, Barbara Crossley; CEO of HVCCC, Kirsten Molloy; Head of Engineering at BAE Services, Andrew Chapman; Hunter Business Chamber’s Geoff Crowe; and HunterNet CEO, Tony Cade.

The teams were assessed based on their solution’s merit and the winner was announced at the HunterNet Future Leaders Annual Gala Dinner on Friday. The judges chose Team Worrimi with their Ninety Degrees solution as the winner.

Tony Cade said although there was a winner, all teams made a strong contribution to a solution.

“We have received five practical and innovative submissions, all of which are able to be implemented and could help arrest the brain drain of the region,” Tony said.

“The program is very fortunate to have such a high calibre judging panel and a group of mentors that were focused and committed to the development of our region’s young leaders.”

The winning team was made up of Australian Business Lawyers’ Kate Thomson; Newcastle Airport’s Teegan Bell; Pacific National’s Tyler Plowright; Hunter Industrial Ceramics’ Jude Sneesby; Amp Control’s Amanda Murray; Amp Control’s Adam Fisher; and mentor Trudie Larnach from Port Waratah Coal Services.

IMAGE | From left to right: Amanda Murray – Amp Control, Tyler Plowright – Pacific National, Teegan Bell – Newcastle Airport, Adam Fisher – Amp Control, Tony Cade CEO HunterNet, Kate Thomson – Australian Business Laywers, Jude Sneesby- HIC Services Trudie Larnach – Team Mentor from Port Waratah Coal Services.


HunterNet help businesses grow, innovate and thrive – and believe this begins with collaboration. By sharing ideas, developing capabilities, delivering support, and stimulating opportunities, HunterNet spark industry synergy, build strong work communities, unlock business acumen and create brighter futures for all.   

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