Look What Happened at The Inaugural Sydney CDO Summit

Sydeny recap

The CDO Club held its inaugural Sydney CDO Summit, presented by Accenture Digital on 1 March, 2016 at the UTS Business School.

The CDO Summit addresses the challenges and opportunities arising from big data, the cloud, digital disruption, and social and mobile media.

The event took place at a pivotal time for digital innovation in Australia, with digital-friendly government initiatives such as an unprecedented $1.1 billion AUD ($800 million USD) innovation investment, and the launch of the first-ever Digital Transformation Office (DTO).

Paul Shetler, the DTO’s first-ever Chief Executive Officer, keynoted at the Sydney CDO Summit on “The Future of Digital Government in Australia.”

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Digital Cities Panel: Michelle Fitzgerald, Jon Cumming, Cat Matson, and Simon Want

In addition, in a historic meeting, three Australian city government Chief Digital Officers shared the stage for the first time for the “Digital Cities” panel.

According to original research by the CDO Club, the number of Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) doubled again in 2015, to 2,000 CDOs globally.

And it looks like CDO hiring trend that started in the United States and Europe is now expanding into new markets, like Australia.

The data was presented during CDO Club founder and CEO David Mathison’s keynote presentation, “Hall of Fame: CDOs Who Have Become CEO and Board Directors.”


Rebekah Horne named AU CDO of the Year 2016 by the CDO Club

Rebekah Horne, Chief Digital Officer at the National Rugby League (NRL), was named the first-ever Australian Chief Digital Officer of the Year 2016 at the event by the CDO Club.

Horne was announced as the recipient of the award after participating in the “DNA of the CDO – Reinvention or Unique?” panel moderated by executive search firm Odgers Berndtson. Paul Rush, Partner at Odgers Berndtson, moderated the panel.

Rebekah only joined NRL last month in the wake of a major new broadcast deal, but she has over 20 years’ experience in digital, telecommunications, mobile and media companies.

During her previous tenure as CDO at Network Ten, Rebekah launched the Ten Play video streaming service, generating an average of 25 million page and 13.5 million video views a month. She helped grow digital revenue at the network by 74%.


Gerd Schenkel and Paul Smith during their fireside chat at the 2016 Sydney CDO Summit

Featured speaker Gerd Schenkel, Executive Director at Telstra Digital, also caused a stir with his fireside chat session.

Not only did Schenkel discuss how he was able to provide superior digital services by openly engaging his audience, but he practiced what he preaches by including the audience at the summit.

Other than a brief presentation, the majority of the fireside chat was a dedicated interactive session moderated by Paul Smith, Technology Editor at The Australian Financial Review.

The Sydney CDO Summit was held at the UTS Business School in the iconic Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, designed by legendary Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry.

Paul Shetler and Malcolm Turnbull

DTO CEO Paul Shetler, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and UTS Vice Chancellor Attilla Brungs. Image credit office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

In August 2015, Paul Shetler and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met at the Dr Chau Chak Wing building to announce that part of the DTO’s staff would be housed on the University of Technology Sydney campus.

Dean of the UTS Business School Roy Green introduced a lunch and breakout demonstration by Bem Le Hunte, Associate Professor.

Social media engagement was tracked, analyzed, and presented on a social monitoring platform provided by MutualMind and powered by IBM Watson.

Participants competed for their place on a live leaderboard displaying the analysis of Watson’s “adaptive listening” technology.

The Sydney CDO Summit was sponsored by Accenture Digital, Odgers Berndtson, and Unico.

To read or view insights from the summit, simply join the CDO Club.

CDO Club members can watch and read about panels and keynotes not only from this event, but from every single CDO Summit since its inception.

Speakers and organizations included:

  • Adam Freier: Head of Digital and Wallabies Media at Australian Rugby Union Ltd.
  • Andrew Reid: General Manager, Data Analytics and Insights at Ticketek Australia (TEG)
  • Bem Le Hunte: Associate Professor at UTS: University of Technology, Sydney
  • Bronwyn van der Merwe: Group Director and Managing Director at Fjord Australia
  • Cat Matson: Chief Digital Officer, City of Brisbane at Brisbane Marketing
  • Chris Gross: Head of Marketing, Brand and Social at FOX SPORTS Australia
  • Christian Bowman: Head of Marketing & Digital at SmartClinics
  • Ciarán Norris: Director, Marketing & Business Insights at American Express
  • Danny Bass: CEO at IPG Mediabrands Australia
  • Dave Maunsell: Managing Director, Accenture Digital ANZ at Accenture Australia
  • David Mathison: Curator of CDO Summit and Founder of CDO Club
  • David Swan: Technology Reporter at The Australian
  • Gary Wheelhouse: Chief Digital Officer at Harvey Norman
  • George Lawson: Head of Emerging Products and Innovation at Visa
  • Gerd Schenkel: Executive Director at Telstra Digital
  • Greg Stone: Head of Digital Services – Australasia at ARUP PTY LIMITED
  • John Miskelly: Chief Digital Officer at GroupM
  • Jon Cumming: Chief Digital Officer at ACT Government
  • Kane Washington: Digital Product and Program Manager at Cricket Australia
  • Kate Burleigh: Managing Director at Intel ANZ
  • Kevin Wordon: Head of Digital at Flight Centre Travel Group
  • Laura Campbell: Chief Information Officer at Allianz Global Assistance Australia
  • Lee Hickin: Commercial Lead for Internet of Things at Microsoft
  • Melissa Steward: Chief Digital Officer at Westpac New Zealand Limited
  • Michael Buckley: Accenture Interactive Lead, Australia & New Zealand at Accenture
  • Michelle Fitzgerald: Chief Digital Officer at City of Melbourne
  • Paul Rush: Partner at Odgers Berndtson
  • Paul Shetler: CEO at Australia’s Digital Transformation Office
  • Rebekah Horne: Chief Digital Officer at National Rugby League
  • Renee Gamble: Country Manager ANZ at Google for Work
  • Rob Hudson: Managing Director – Brisbane at Young & Rubicam
  • Rod van Onselen: General Manager Online at SportsBet
  • Roy Green: Dean of Dean of the UTS Business School
  • Sarah Pike: CMO at Salmat
  • Scott Dinsdale: CMO at Salmat
  • Simon Want: Adviser at Unico
  • Tom Quinn: Former CIO/CTO at News Corp


If you are tasked with understanding what digital leaders must do in order to succeed in almost any industry, the best place to learn more is at the CDO Summit.

Register today for the 4th annual CDO Summit New York City on April 27, 2016


Want to know what to expect at CDO Summit events?
Watch this quick video to find out:


The CDO Summit is the “must-attend” digital event of the year. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 CDO Summits received stellar endorsements from dozens of speakers and attendees alike:

“Sometimes a conference comes along that hits the trifecta – hot topic, high-caliber attendees, and stellar location. The first Chief Digital Officer Summit reached that mark with ease, and I look forward to attending the next one.”

Eric Hellweg
Managing Director, Digital Strategy/Editorial Director
Harvard Business Review

“Congratulations and thanks to David Mathison for spotting the need for community and collaboration in the growing Chief Digital Officer space, and for having the wherewithal, network, and organizational talent to put together such a top-notch event in its inaugural year. Next year’s summit should be even more of a must-do for anyone working digital at senior levels in all kinds of businesses.”

Teddy Goff
Digital Director
President Barack Obama 2008 and 2012

“David, here’s a handy C^3 test for conference value: Did I learn at least three new perspectives? Check. Did I meet at least three interesting people? Check. Did I take back at least three relevant pieces of news I can use? Check. Flying colors for the Chief Digital Officer Summit 2013! Thank you so much, and yes, I’d be very pleased to participate next year!”

Perry Hewitt
Chief Digital Officer
Harvard University

“Congratulations to David Mathison and his team on the simply amazing job they did on the inaugural Chief Digital Officer Summit. Probably the most informative, insightful, on target, entertaining, collaborative, thought provoking, and inspiring conferences I have ever attended. I learned more about my business and what I do in the past 12 hours than I have from any research white paper, articles or blogs over the past 12 months. The range of topics and speakers assembled were incredibly diverse, informative, collaborative, and most of all, inspiring. It has invigorated me to be the best possible professional CDO I can be. David Mathison’s skills as a moderator were impeccable, bringing out the best of the speakers and keeping the conversation flowing. His intimate and insightful knowledge of this space is only out-shined by his humility and graciousness. Kudos to David and his organizing team.”

Mark Keys
Vice President, Client Solutions
Moving Interactive

More Endorsements

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