Speakers 2013

We’ve worked towards a mix of topics that are relevant to Virtual Assistants and also more general topics that are relevant to anyone in business, particularly those who work from home.  You will see we have a good mix of presenters and many of the names will be well known to you. We look forward to you joining us for this great lineup of presentations.

We’re delighted to announce that Donna Toothaker, of StepItUpVA.com (VA Coach who lives in the US) will be presenting at our conference.

Move into the Value-Based Business Model and Stop Trading Hours for Dollars

If you’re tired of not getting paid for your value … If you’re frustrated that because you’re speedy and efficient, you’re paid less … If you’re not making the money you had hoped or are tired of tracking your time – – this is a must-attend presentation.



Donna’s presentation will teach you:

  • Why working in the hourly model is outdated and doesn’t benefit you
  • Information on the Value-Based Business Model
  • The differences between Support Packages and Service Packages
  • All the benefits to service providers as well as clients
  • How to create and price your packages
  • How to handle objections from prospects
  • Tips and tricks for creating your packages
  • How, when or IF to move current retainer or hourly clients into packages
  • How to avoid visitor package ‘confusion’ on your website
  • … and more!

This is an interactive and “hands on” presentation. You’ll leave the presentation with your first package(s) created, priced and ready for sale! 


Donna Toothaker is a Virtual Assistant, Author, Speaker and VA Success Coach. She is CEO, founder and coach of Step It UP VA Coaching, and the creator of the 6 Steps to 6-Figure VA Success System.

As a virtual assistant and CEO of 1st VA, Donna has been an integral ‘educator’ and ‘advocate’ of the benefits and necessity of virtual team building for small business owners and entrepreneurs to create a successful enterprise.  Donna walks the walk and has built her own team of virtual professionals who support her company.

Today Donna passes on the valuable information she learned throughout her years as a virtual assistant and business owner to others. Following her passion to “pay it forward” she opened the doors of her coaching and mentoring programs, www.stepitupva.com, to other VAs; assisting them in the exciting pathway to great success.

Donna’s expert ability to laser focus and joyfully guide others makes her the number one choice of VAs across the globe when it comes to a coach that gives the recipe for success.

Announcing our Australian speakers, and we have a great line up for you!

Robyn Henderson – The Missing Link

THE MISSING LINK– making the social media and face to face networking connection.

With 6000+ LinkedIn connections, Global Networking Specialist, Robyn Henderson believes she has cracked the code with the missing link between social media and face to face networking.

In this interactive she will share:

  • How she can track 20% of her income being generated via LinkedIn
  • Being remembered and staying connected without being pushy
  • 3 things master networkers always do

This lady probably needs little introduction. Known as Australia’s Networking Guru to many, we are very privileged to have her present for us at AVAC 2013.  Global Networking Specialist, Robyn Henderson has authored and contributed to more than 30 books on networking and business development.

She believes LinkedIn is one of the best networking tools available today. Having grown her connections from zero to 6000+ over the last two years, Robyn can track that 25% of her work comes directly from LI. She will show you how to identify and complete the missing link between LinkedIn and face to face networking. www.networkingtowin.com.au plus increase your LI results.

Pam Brossman  – Let’s Get Digital!

Pam Brossman is known for all things Digital and in this presentation Pam will share with you how to leverage digital marketing and increase your virtual profits by adding digital services to your business.

The world of entrepreneurs and small business have gone digital. In this session you will learn:

  • The best tools to market your virtual services to position you as a leader in your niche market.
  • The top 3 digital marketing services that entrepreneurs want in their business right now and how you can dominate as a VA by offering these services
  • Top 3 trending marketing tools for small business and why you need to learn them to remain competitive in 2013.
  • How to stand out in a crowded market and be the ‘go to’ VA while increasing your profits at the same time.

Pam Brossman is a leading Australian specialist in digital marketing and online communications, with an international reach. She is highly regarded for her upbeat approach to empowering women to effectively promote their careers, and their products and services through the power of digital mediums. Professionals from all walks of life seek her advice and encouragement as they broaden their skill set.

Before her roles as CEO of “She Experts,” and CEO and editor-in-chief of “Social Media Woman” magazine, Pam excelled in corporate communications for 25 years. When she gave birth to her son Hunter, Pam sought to achieve total control of her lifestyle and schedule. She left the corporate world for a new endeavor where she would not have to compromise her talents and passions for online marketing, branding and communications.

Marianne Broeng – Working with CRMs

Marianne Broeng is a CRM Expert, CRM Trainer and CRM Consultant. She has worked with many CRM systems and helped small and large organisations for more than 20 years. She is the founder of Meliam Consulting Pty Ltd, which offers independent CRM consulting services.

She has worked in a number of consulting organisations including Oakton and KAZ Group in Australia and was previously based in Europe working in many CRM related positions. Throughout her career she has been part of the evolvement of Customer Relationship Management and is passionate about how a CRM strategy can help organisations improve their business results.

  • How you can make a simple & successful CRM strategy – including some examples so you can communicate strongly to your potential and existing clients
  • What benefits a CRM system could give you while running your business from home
  • Tips and tricks for using a successful CRM system – and what to avoid
  • Some useful considerations when choosing a CRM system

Learn and benefit from this inspirational presentation. Marianne Broeng will share her experience from working with smaller and larger organisations on CRM projects for more than 20 years and give you tips and inspiration during this presentation.

It is important to know how you could use your understanding of how your clients run their business and communicate how you can help potential clients.
There are many CRM systems on the market today so you will get advice on how to choose a good system that works for your specific needs, is not too costly and is easy to use.

Christine McKee – Intention setting for motivation, productivity and achieving glorious business outcomes

Christine McKee, a registered Psychologist and published Author, is director of BE Institute, a psychology consulting and training organisation in Brisbane, Australia. She uses a combination of eastern philosophy and modern psychological techniques with her clients in the corporate, private practice, mining, government, and not-for-profit arenas. The 4-phase BE by Design process results in personal empowerment for individuals, maximising potential of leaders and their teams to achieve business excellence and conscious parenting (pre and post conception). Christine is published author of BE by Design: How I BE Is Up to Me, an empowering “owner’s manual for the brain” which will guide you to understand your most precious asset and how, through simple and practical strategies, you can be the best you can BE.

Empower yourself in every moment to achieve all that you rewire your most powerful asset – your brain, to move beyond awesome results and instead create moment-by-moment Do you currently have moments where you may not be as tasks you put off? Have any uncertainty about how to create build your business maximally? Ever question your ability?

In this interactive, fun and experiential presentation you how to create impactful and specific intentions and gain of the outcomes your experience. Clear examples will be reuse
the tools again and again.

Specifically you will learn:

  • A brain model that shows how all of the outcomes point of focus or intention
  • To catch yourself in any old thought patterns, habits, get you the best results, and know that you can change
  • How to word questions to activate the part of the choose to focus on and therefore, what outcomes
  • That you are 100% in control of all that you intend, very powerful predictor of the successes you experience
  • That you deserve amazing business success and that can easily be rewritten in the brain.

Nick Bowditch – Facebook for Virtual Assistants

Close to broke with a young family, Nick Bowditch took the courageous step of quitting his city job and starting his own business.

He built up that business from a customer database of just four when he started (none of which have travelled since!), to more than 4,500 a year later to now more than 12,000 subscribers two years later – all without staff, a shop front, and without any mainstream advertising in print, radio or television – instead opting to promote his new business using Social Media Marketing.

In the last year, he has gone from having one online business to three, his e-books and electronic products have now been downloaded thousands of times, and he is now a sought-after keynote speaker, MC for conferences, professional blogger and author.

The story behind his success involves a lot of hard work, and a liberal use of social media.  We are privileged to have Nick speaking at our event in 2013.

Dana Skopal – Clarity in thought and clarity in action (+time to go to the gym)

With a legal and business background, Dana Skopal understands the responsibilities of running your own business. As a mother of two boys she learnt, through some highs and some lows, to effectively juggle her time between work, family and keeping fit. Dana has over 20 years experience working with organisations and empowering staff to become more effective communicators. From time to time Dana also takes herself off on 100km cycle rides.

Time management means knowing how to juggle many balls at once, including balls of different sizes. This session explores a range of time-management tools that work when running a business from home. These tools are the reason I have successfully run a home-based business and a household for over 20 years. Understanding good time-management tools will make you more productive and show you how to minimise time-wasting. And the benefits are clear – quality family time and even the time to go to the gym or take a walk. Key topics covered include understanding your thoughts, being clear in your conversations, and being clear on your goals (or are they some of those balls still in the air?).

John Toomey – Global Wellness

John Toomey is a gifted educator and communicator. His capacity to take complex information, concepts and theories, break them down and present them in clear, easy to understand modules is quite unique. It is John’s flair for effective, entertaining education that’s created the success of his Wellness Education programs across Australia.

John will be presenting on:

  • Stress and Worry Prevention and Management
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight
  • Reducing Disease Risk
  • Maximising Energy

Phil O’Brien –  Active Protection Solutions – Risk Management and Threat Assessment

Phil will be presenting on Risk Management & Threat Assessment which will cover elements of self defence, awareness, planning and preparation and action plans.

Phil O’Brien is a highly experienced reality based martial art self defence instructor, having been involved in the industry for over 35 years, teaching for over 25 years.

Holding degrees in Law and Psychology Phil imparts an understanding of not only the physical components of self defence but also the psychological and legal elements. As a former member of the NSW Police Force, Phil was involved in street level policing and numerous complex operations and investigations into a wide range of crimes. More recently Phil held the position of Grievance Manager in a large government department and is also the managing Director of Active HR Solutions, a successful Human Resources consultancy.

Phil is the author of ‘Train Your Brain’, the psychological self defence audio program that seeks to develop an individual’s understanding of the non-physical and provides strategies and tactics that may be useful to avoid problems attack situations should the need arise.. ‘Train Your Brain’ also contains development program that can be utilised from the street to the boardroom. audio course of its kind in Australia and has sold worldwide.

Dr Natalie Shepard –  Universally Speaking, Words That Win, How to Communicate with Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime at Any Level.

If you are a chatter box or on the other hand someone who holds back in conversation, this mini workshop is a must for you.  Become a ‘people magnet’, the person who can talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime at any level. Find out the secrets of those few people, who when they do speak, they are captivating and enthralling.

Being a great communicator isn’t about how much you speak, it is about what you say. Choose the Words that Win.  Being a great communicator is learned skill, this mini workshop will uncover the secrets for you.

Terri Bell –  Legal Matters for Virtual Assistant Businesses

Terri Bell is the Principal of Terri Bell & Co Lawyers.

Terri has a Bachelor of Laws degree with first class honours.  She worked as a lecturer and researcher at the University of Technology, Sydney before commencing her career at a large corporate law firm in Sydney where she worked as a commercial litigation lawyer on some of Australia’s largest litigious matters.

Having recently ventured out to start her own firm, Terri has experienced first hand the benefits of using a virtual assistant.  Terri brings with her a wealth of commercial legal experience that she has offered to share with this rapidly growing sector.

Like any newly self-employed entrepreneur, the new VA might be forgiven for thinking that all they need to create a thriving profitable business is their typing prowess, their brilliant organisational skills, their computer, and an internet connection.   Unfortunately, those brave enough to venture out on their own quickly realise this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Like any new business owner, VAs need to consider a myriad of legal, tax and other business related matters to ensure they not only comply with their legal requirements but can be assured of a healthy long term business.

Terri Bell is a commercial lawyer who will navigate you through some key legal matters that all business owners need to consider when starting and operating a business, from legal structures to trading terms, and intellectual property to debt collecting.

Elissa Farrow – Project Management for VAs

There is a growing international acknowledgement that project management is a critical success factor to delivering business change. With this growing acknowledgement it is important for VA professionals to understand why even for small projects to follow an appropriately scaled project management process. Elissa Farrow will outline what is project management, what are the key tools and processes and share her learnings as to why projects succeed and why projects fail.

Elissa Farrow from About Your Transition has extensive experience in strategic organisational change, portfolio, program and project management. Elissa has managed and supported portfolios, programs and projects to successfully deliver benefits in a range of industries including transport, resources, construction, technology, legal and community services. Some of the key achievements of her career include increasing the change, program and project maturity of a Government agency of 12,000 employees through creating and leading a centre of excellence (a first of its kind in Queensland Government). Under Elissa’s leadership her team’s work was utilised in whole of Queensland Government 3P frameworks as it was recognised as best practice. Her role as a senior leader in the government context in change, portfolio, program and project management lead Elissa being requested to present a number of conference papers at state and national level.

Elissa’s most recent presentation was at the APMG Best Practice National Showcase presenting on Government and Commercial Applications of PRINCE2. Elissa has also presented at a National 2010 CC Learning Project Management Conference where she presented a paper on “Managing Disadvantaged People as Project Stakeholders”. Elissa has also facilitated over 50 workshops and presentations as part of her professional background in the last five years. She also has been a sessional academic tutoring in Project Management at the Queensland University of Technology and trains and coaches future project managers.


Charly Leetham – Getting Started with a Great Looking Website

Charly Leetham’s goal is to assist small business owners realise the power of the Internet as a channel to market their organisations in an appropriate and cost-effective manner. She helps solopreneurs and small businesses map their business processes and plan their web presence.Charly has a passion for IT and helping people overcome their technology challenges.

Charly has more than 24 years experience in the IT industry, ranging from hands-on technical, to high-level business management. She has installed and configured computing equipment and has managed business contracts in excess of $26 million dollars.This experience in IT and running a successful business from home is what attracted the Women’s Ecommerce Association International Board of Advisors to invite Charly to be an adviser for Women in Ecommerce. Charly has also won the MCEI Women in Business Marketing Award 2010, been shortlisted for the Telstra Business Woman of the Year awards, named as one of Women In ECommerce’s women to watch, awarded a Stevies Women In Business award, as well as Women In ECommerce 2012, Golden Mouse Award for Web development.

Charly will share her experience in developing websites with or audience, with a particular focus on blogging and how to get found.  This presentation will focus primarily on creating Blogs and Websites using WordPress, and Charly will explain why WordPress, it will also cover some of the most asked questions about getting started, some ways to ensure your website is professional, easy to maintain and secure.  Finally she also share of her top SEO tips to help you get found.

During her time with you, you will learn:

  • Why blogging?
  • Why WordPress
  • What themes and plugins are and how they can help you
  • Business continuity tips in relation to your website
  • How to deter hackers
  • Getting started – and what NOT to do when first starting out
  • Getting found…
  • Charly’s fave plugins for a hassle free experience

This presentation it’s aimed at those VAs who want to build and maintain their own websites. Although, if you already build sites for clients, you will definitely find the content of interest.

Rosie Shilo – The Mindset of Outsourcing

In this session, Rosie will facilitate a discussion around outsourcing both in Australia and offshore, covering the following:

  1. The concept of abundance (there is enough for everyone)
  2. The target client for offshore VAs versus our target clients
  3. How we can work together to encourage Australian business owners to see us as a valued option
  4. The mindset of outsourcing – if you haven’t done it, do you really know how it feels for the business owner, and are you leading by example?

This won’t be a ‘stand up and lecture’ session – Rosie wants to encourage brain storming and new ways of thinking …


Since creating a thriving and ever growing network for Virtual Assistants, Rosie Shilo is has become one dedicated business woman. Currently Rosie owns and runs ‘Virtually Yours’, a network for over 100 Australian Virtual Assistants which she founded in 2004. With a real passion for her industry, Rosie is also the co-owner of the Australian Virtual Business Network (AVBN) and its training arm, the Virtual Business Development Hub (VBDH). Since she commenced in this role, she has seen the implementation of a government funded RTA approved Certificate course for new VAs.

As if running a Virtual Assistant network wasn’t enough, Rosie is also the co-owner of Webtastic Designs. This business matches her other ventures perfectly, being able to offer these addition services to her VA network. Webtastic Designs offers web development and hosting. With the assistance of her husband (co-owner), they design, implement, host, problem solve and provide a very competitive service in this tough market.

On a personal note, Rosie is a dedicated mother to a toddler. Ruby certainly keeps Rosie on her toes with her adventurous mind and entertaining ways. Rosie is thankful that she is able to run her businesses from home in order to be there for her family. She also has 2 gorgeous ‘fur babies’, who like to share her office chair or lay at her feet as she works.

This passionate woman who has been described many times as ‘awesome’ is a true asset to the Virtual Assistant industry and her desire to see the industry grow and develop shines through in everything she does.

And finally, our MC for this year will be…

Mariette Rups-Donnelly – Moderator Bio – She Inspires

Mariette knows what it is like to stand up in front of an audience. During her career as an actor she played lead roles in Evita, A Chorus Line, Annie, Big River, Company, The Seagull, Hamlet, Emerald City, Away, and appeared on television and in film. Concurrently she taught at some of Australia’s leading acting schools including Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, the Actors’ Centre, and NIDA

Mariette has taken this experience as a leading actor and teacher and combined it with an astute business understanding to create programs that go to the core of personal presence, presentation skills and engagement.

Her company, Powerhouse Presentation devises one on one programs and customised workshops for senior executives, corporations, business owners and professional speakers.

She brings elite performance experience, professionalism, fun and real audience engagement to the platform.

“From the moment you appeared, with your high energy, upbeat approach and engagingly individual style, I knew that the evening would be successful and memorable…

Isabel Deeble, President of the National Speakers Association of Australia (NSW Chapter)