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SPEAKERS

VUSI THEMBECKWAYO

Global Speaker | Best-Selling Author | Investor In The Future at MyGrowthFund Venture Partners

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/vusithembekwayo

Vusi is the Group Chief Executive Officer of MyGrowthFund Venture Partners, where he has led a team of institutional investors for over 9 years. MyGrowthFund Venture Partners is a leading firm that supports exceptional African founders with growth capital and expertise. Under Vusi’s leadership, the firm has been recognized as the Best Impact Investment Firm 2020 – Africa, at the Worldwide Finance Awards in London, UK.

Vusi’s mission is to build 300 sustainable businesses, create 100,000 decent jobs, and invest in 100 high-growth ventures by 2030. He holds an Executive MBA, a Corporate Finance certificate, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration, providing him with a strong academic foundation to complement his practical experience in venture capital, new business development, strategy, and customer relationship management.

Vusi is also a renowned global speaker, author, and public speaking world championship finalist. He has addressed audiences that include presidents, parliaments, CEOs, and leaders of society, sharing his insights on business leadership and innovation. Vusi has built a strong personal brand grounded in his numerous accomplishments, boasting over 1 million followers on Facebook and ranking among the top 10 most followed Africans on LinkedIn.

CHRIS YELLAND

Managing Director at EE Business Intelligence

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/chrisyelland

Chris Yelland obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Natal in 1976, and was founder and managing director at EE Publishers (Pty) Ltd, the publisher of EngineerIT, Energize, Vector and PositionIT magazines. After the closure of EE Publishers on 29 November 2019, Chris started a new company, EE Business Intelligence (Pty) Ltd, to focus on important strategic issues facing the electricity, energy and ICT sectors in South Africa and the region.

In February 2020, Chris was appointed associate consultant for leading financial services and capital markets research group, Intellidex, and energy advisor to OUTA (Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse). Chris was the winner of the 2002 South African Bureau of Standards Media Award for “exceptional contribution to increasing the awareness of standardisation and related issues through the media”.

In 2003, he won a merit award in the Energy category of the 2003 Siemens Profile Awards, “recognising journalistic contribution to excellence in the field of science and technology”.

At the 2004 ABB Excellence in Technology Reporting Awards, Chris received the ABB Technology Journalist of the Year Award for 2004.

In 2009, Chris won the South African National Energy Association (SANEA) Journalism Award for “special efforts within the field of journalism to promote greater understanding of energy and its role in sustaining human endeavours”.

In 2018, Chris was awarded the prestigious South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) President’s Award for “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the South African electrical engineering industry”.

Chris is a fellow of the SAIEE, a senior member of the IEEE (USA), and a member of the IET (UK). He is also a registered Chartered Engineer with the Engineering Council in the UK.

Marina (Nina) von Keyserlingk, PH.D.

Professor of Animal Welfare | Chairperson, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

Dr Marina (Nina) von Keyserlingk is a Professor of Animal Welfare and also a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Industrial Research Chair in Animal Welfare. Her interdisciplinary approach has focused on identifying measures and ways of improving the lives of farm animals under our care. She is also among the first in her field to combine experimental and qualitative methods when addressing farm animal welfare issues and was recently cited as one of the most highly cited animal welfare scientists in the world, having published over 300 peer reviewed publications.

She is recognized as a leader in Animal Welfare around the world and has received numerous awards, including the 2018 Hans Sigrist International Research Prize (Bern, Switzerland), for her outstanding achievements as an international leader working in the field of sustainable food animal production. She was also awarded the American Dairy Science Association Extension Award in 2018, the Award for outstanding contributions to the field of ruminant well-being by the World Buiatrics Association in 2016; American Dairy Science Association Award for Excellence in Dairy Science in 2013 and the 2012 Recipient of the Canadian Animal Industries Award in Extension and Public Service awarded by the Canadian Society of Animal Science. 

In addition to her academic accomplishments, Dr Marina von Keyserlingk is a passionate and gifted speaker who is in high demand around the world to speak on a variety of farm animal welfare topics.

She is also highly sought after to sit on animal welfare advisory boards and has contributed to numerous discussions on farm animal welfare standards in Canada, the US, South America, Australia and Europe.  

EMMA SADLEIR

Founder and CEO at The Digital Law Company

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/emma-sadleir-66651117

Emma Sadleir is South Africa’s leading expert on social media law and an award winning speaker. The company she founded in 2014, the Digital Law Company, specialises in educating and advising corporates, employees, schools, parents, teachers, and universities on the legal, disciplinary and reputational risks of social media.

Emma’s areas of expertise include managing the legal consequences of using social media including defamation, privacy, hate speech and intellectual property; cyberbullying and harassment; sexting and pornography offences; the disciplinary consequences of using social media; personal and brand reputation management on social media; health and social media and online safety.

Much of Emma’s work involves creating social media strategies and policies for corporates and schools, drafting social media agency agreements and providing training and workshops on social media law.

Emma and her team have collectively addressed hundreds of blue-chip corporate clients, professional organisations, conferences and over 800,000 learners around the world – through educational talks and presentations. She also teaches media law to journalists and lawyers and lectures personal reputation management on various MBA programmes.

Emma is the co-author of two bestselling books and of the social media section of the legal textbook, “Communications Law”. 
Emma has appeared as an expert witness in countless disciplinary hearings, CCMA hearings, employment law cases, civil and criminal trials in the Magistrates Court, High Court and Equality Court.

Emma co-authored The Social Media Charter for the South African Human Rights’ Commission.

 

SIMON GEAR

Environmental Scientist, ESG Specialist and Science Communicator

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/simon-gear-89286632

Simon is a distinguished broadcaster, writer, and environmental scientist with over two decades of experience. His career in broadcasting began in November 1999, and since then, he has been a familiar face on South African television and radio, appearing on all domestic channels and numerous local radio stations. Simon is renowned for his expertise, serving as the daily science and weather correspondent for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He has also been a frequent guest on international stations such as the BBC, Canada’s CBC, and China’s CGTN.

In addition to his broadcasting work, Simon is a prolific writer and author. His book, ‘Going Green’ (Penguin, 2008), is a testament to his commitment to environmental conservation. He has also contributed to a wide range of magazines, textbooks, and website blogs, sharing his knowledge and insights on environmental impact assessments, air quality, and climate change.

Simon is deeply involved in environmental activism and consultancy. He is the founder of Kijani, a specialized consultancy focusing on assessing and modeling the air pollution and greenhouse gas impacts of various industries and infrastructures. His passion for conservation is further evidenced by his work with BirdLife South Africa and VulPro, where he volunteered in vulture conservation.

In September 2018, Simon made waves in the broadcasting world by launching South Africa’s first dedicated sports commentary station, 1World Sports Radio (1WSR.com). He also owns Research News Africa, a science communication site aimed at disseminating scientific knowledge to the public.

Simon’s expertise, coupled with his engaging and humorous style, makes him a sought-after speaker. He has lectured extensively at business schools, universities, and industry events, captivating audiences with his profound knowledge and passion for science and the environment. Currently, Simon serves as a science advisor on the environmental show, 50|50, where he continues to inspire others to care for the planet.

GRAEME WARD

Retired Agricultural Consultant and Researcher, South-West Victoria, Australia

After completing his undergraduate and post graduate studies at the University of Melbourne, Graeme joined the Victorian State Department of Agriculture in 1981.  He worked as a Pasture Specialist Extension Officer for the first 12 years, predominantly in the dairy industry of South-West Victoria.

Graeme then moved into research, helping establish the south-west Dairy Research Unit based in the Warrnambool District Office. During his 22 years with the Unit, he conducted a range of on-farm, applied research projects in forage production and utilisation, and in soil-water-nutrient dairy industry programs.  He conducted a number of projects aimed at improving the irrigation management practices and the water use efficiency of irrigation schemes on dairy farms in the region. 

Upon leaving the Department he became a Consultant for Dairy Australia in natural resource management and soil-water-nutrient programs.  This included managing the south-west Victorian component of the National “Smarter Irrigation for Profit 2” program. 

GILLES LARBANEIX

Selector

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/gilles-larbaneix-351751134

Gelles is a forage breeder for Barenburg France, with more than 10 years of experience in various species.

Barenbrug France is part of the Royal Barenbrug Group, a globally active seed company headquartered in the Netherlands. The Barenbrug Group is an independent family business. After more than 100 years of experience, the company’s international reputation is still based on their fundamental values ​​of innovation, quality, marketing and partnership.

Research and development in all major climate zones across the world, as well as continued innovation, have resulted in a unique range of high-quality specialty products. The company develops long-term partnerships with its customers and seed producers and participates in research agreements with major universities and institutes. Unique know-how is the basis of our wide range of products.

The Barenburg brand is synonymous with superior quality!

RON RUTLAND

Working Adventurer – What I Learnt Cycling Through Every Country in Africa.

On the 30th of June 2013, after selling everything he owned, 20kg overweight, alone, and unaided, and with no adventure experience, then 38yr old Ron Rutland left Cape Town Stadium on his bicycle to fulfill a lifelong dream and embark on a world first…a single continuous journey through every country on mainland Africa.

42,000km, 841 days and 75 countries later, Ron arrived in Brighton, England on the 17th of September 2015, just in time to watch Japan beat the Springboks in their opening game of the Rugby World Cup…an historic end to an historic journey!

The trip would forever change Ron’s life, as well as in many ways those who have heard and shared in his stories. The incredible humanity and kindness – the best of the human spirit that Ron encountered across such a diverse range of countries and cultures across Africa and Europe – flies in the face of ‘conventional wisdom’ and preconceived ideas and perceptions about so much of the world today.

This journey kickstarted an 11-year career that that has seen Ron cycle some 100,000km through 120 countries on all 6 continents, all while raising millions of rand for charity.

In his uniquely self-deprecating and humorous manner, Ron has inspired and motivated audiences around the world with tales from the road, and what it took for the most ordinary and unlikely person to achieve something quite extraordinary.

At the end of 2023, Ron hung up his pedals, and finally returned home to KZN to take up a role as Director of The Michaelhouse Old Boys’ Club.

STEVE COLENBRANDER

Steve was born in Nongoma in Zululand in 1960 and his parents were farmers in northern Zululand near Pongola.

Steve attended school at Maritzburg College in Pietermaritzburg where he matriculated in 1978.

After completing his 2 years National Service, Steve studied Agricultural Economics and Accountancy and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1990. Steve is the founder and chairman of Colenbrander Inc., a diversified financial services group which employs over 150 staff. The business is based in Hilton and services clients mostly in the KZN Midlands.

Steve is married to Jenny. They have 4 children.

Dawn Dalley

Flexible milking regimes and milking efficiency in grazed dairy systems

Dawn Dalley is a senior scientist in the Farm Systems research team at DairyNZ, based in the South Island, New Zealand. Having been raised on a dairy farm in Canterbury and with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons 1) and PhD in Animal Nutrition from Lincoln University Dawn has strong practical and technical farming knowledge. Having spent 8 years in the Feedbase and Nutrition team in Victoria, Australia and 23 years as a farm systems researcher in NZ, Dawn has a good understanding of grazed dairy systems.

As a farm systems specialist Dawn has interests in profitable and sustainable dairy farm systems; dairy systems redesign to improve productivity and reduce environmental impact; improved crop-based wintering; alternative feeding options for grazed dairy cows; alternative milking frequencies and animal health and welfare. Dawn currently leads a large scale (740 cow) multi-year farm systems comparison at the Southern Dairy Hub aimed at reducing nitrogen losses by at least 30%.  

Dawn’s presentation will focus on recent New Zealand research investigating alternative milking frequencies – once a day, three milkings in two days and 10 milkings in seven days, on milk production, labour efficiency and energy use. The presentation will also look at the impact of fixed time cluster removal, cupping technique and automation on milking efficiency.

BILLY TOM

President of Isuzu Motors South Africa

Appointed President of Isuzu Motors South Africa in June 2020, Billy Tom carries the overall responsibility for the company’s manufacturing, distribution and sales operations in South Africa as well as its exports into Sub-Saharan Africa markets. In July 2021 Tom was also appointed Chairman of Isuzu-owned KANU Commercial Body Construction.

In addition to his current role at Isuzu Motors South Africa, Tom is also serving as the President of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (naamsa), the Automotive Business Council.

Tom has over 27 years of experience in the automotive, banking and FMCG sectors and has held executive positions at Distell, SABMiller, Standard Bank, General Motors and Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa/Abi. His experience has afforded valuable insights into the development of brands and distribution of products across large geographical territories including Africa, Asia and Australasia.

Billy’s previous involvement in the automotive industry came prior to his 12-year stint at Coca-Cola, when he was integral to the development of General Motors’ premium vehicle channel and the introduction of the Cadillac and HUMMER brands in South Africa.

Billy has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree (Rhodes University) and a Master of Business Leadership Degree (UNISA).

Georgie Muller

Georgie has worked in the SA dairy industry for 18 years and is the part owner manager of Dairy Junction, a herd performance data analytics and consulting company run in conjunction with ACS consulting and Waikato SA. She heads up a team of five herd performance consultants and Afi software specialists who work with over 100 pasture herds throughout the S and E Cape and KZN. Dairy Junction provides monthly analysis, bi-annual industry benchmarking data and advice in the areas of production efficiency, health, longevity and fertility. She has also recently moved into a business consulting role in addition to her DJ work. She lives in George, S Cape and has two children, two horses and a dachshund.

Nyiko Ubisi

Nyiko Ubisi has eleven years of on-field experience and highly knowledgeable, expertise in animal production. He is currently employed at Just Milk & No2 Piggeries – Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape as their Dairy Farm Manager, where his day-to-day running of the dairy farm and staff management includes: Pasture allocation, people management, dry cows and transition cows periods as well as vaccination and breeding program management.

Stephen Hughes

Stephen Hughes obtained his BVSc in 2001, University of Pretoria. After four years in mixed-practice, he returned to University of Pretoria, became a lecturer in the Section of Reproduction and obtained a masters in veterinary medicine – reproduction (MMedVet – Repro). He is a board certified diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists, and registered with the SAVC as a specialist in veterinary reproduction. Stephen is currently a member of the Howick Veterinary Clinic: Large Animal Division. His focus is on herd health and reproduction, and bull breeding management. Stephen has two sons, Ben and Joshua, with his wife Daniela Steckler, who is also a specialist in veterinary reproduction. Their interests are camping, hiking, trail running, bird watching and just spending time in wild places.

Sigrun Ammann

Sigrun is a Pasture Scientist with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture based at Outeniqua Research Farm near George in the Southern Cape.

Having grown up on a dairy farm in the KZN Midlands, pastures and veld have always been my interest. I completed a BScAgric Grassland Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and later an MSc Agric. Before moving to George, I worked at the ARC at Cedara for 19 years as a pasture plant breeder and ran the pasture evaluation trials, including the national trials. Then followed two years with the KZN Department of Agriculture as the pasture scientist, before moving to George nine years ago.

The main focus of my research at Outeniqua Research Farm is variety evaluation of various species including alternative species such as tall fescue, cocksfoot, red clover, plantain and chicory. Additionally, the evaluation of species in mixtures and the associated forage quality with a focus on finding pasture varieties and mixtures that best fit the needs of the dairy systems in the Southern Cape, especially in terms of resilience.

Tall fescue is one of the species that is being evaluated as part of the quest for greater resilience in pasture systems. Important aspects for tall fescue are seasonal growth, forage quality and composition of mixtures.

Jonathan Miles

Managing Director and specialist nutritionist at Nutroteq

Jonathan grew up on a sheep & beef farm near Adelaide in the Eastern Cape. He completed a BSc Animal Science and a BSc (Hons) Animal Science after which he completed his studies with a Master’s degree in Animal Nutrition with application in rumen fermentation dynamics all from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Jonathan is an active member of the commercial and scientific industry pertaining to animal nutrition and animal feed manufacturing. He specialises in vitamin and mineral applications and premix manufacturing.

Jonathan serves on the board of directors of 5 companies all of which operate in the Agricultural Sector and acts as an advisor to more than 50 large scale farming operations throughout the African continent.

Jonathan’s special academic interests are the relationship between vitamin & mineral nutrition, nutritional management, and health attributes in ruminants where he has authored and/or co-authored numerous publications on various topics.

Neil Bisseker

Neil Bisseker – MC Large Herds 2024

Neil Bisseker is the Marketing Manager at Northfield Engineering in Nelson Mandela Bay. 

He is 57 years old and married his wife Carol-Anne in 1995. They will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary next year.  They have a 20-year-old daughter Gemma who is studying musical theatre in Cape Town.

Neil joined Northfield Engineering in March of 2023 and is responsible for all the marketing efforts of the business.

Neil comes from a family of journalists and did part time sports reporting for the Weekend Post during his high school years at Grey High School – where he matriculated in 1984.

After graduating with a National Diploma in Public Relations from PE Technikon in 1988, Neil completed his National Service before joining the SABC as a radio journalist in 1990.

Neil spent 7 years at the Public Broadcaster before joining the newsroom at then Radio Algoa in March of 1997.

He spent the next 25 years at Nelson Mandela Bay’s no 1 commercial radio station where he performed dual roles in the news room as Sports Editor and Assistant News Editor.

A natural progression from his on-air commitments, saw Neil develop his skills as an MC. To date, he l has officiated at countless golf days, mountain bike races and trail runs – including the Addo and Longmore 100 milers.

Neil is a passionate golfer and in 2005 was named the Telkom Golf Writer of the year by the Sunshine Tour.

He is an honorary member at Port Elizabeth’s iconic Humewood Golf Club, the only true links on the African continent.

Neil is also an avid mountain biker with questionable descending skills – as he has the scars to prove it.