The COBA 2021 Convention on Tuesday 30 November is proud to feature the following speakers.

  • Bernie Lloyd

    Chair, Bank First

  • Bill Cheney

    President and CEO, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

  • Darren Isenberg

    Master of Ceremonies

  • Dave Hughes


  • Dave O’Neil


  • Dr Louise Mahler

    Director, The Art of Business

  • Gus Balbontin

    Former executive director and CTO of Lonely Planet

  • Mark Sievewright

    Founder & CEO, Sievewright & Associates

  • Paul Lewis

    CEO, Great Southern Bank

  • Rowena Meredith

    Olympic Bronze Medalist

  • Sharanjit Paddam

    Principal, Finity

Bernie Lloyd

Chair, Bank First

Bernie Lloyd represents Bank First. She serves on that board as a non-executive Director after a career in secondary school education. Bernie adapted her school governance expertise to corporate governance as she moved into the financial sector as first, a Director (2011) and, now, the Chair of the Board of Bank First – previously Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank – since May 2015. Bernie is also a Director with Youthrive, a rural foundation which supports, through scholarships and wrap around care, young people who make the move from country to city with a view to build long term capacity in future rural leaders. Bernie has extensive leadership experience, and is a very experienced program facilitator and project manager with an emphasis on empowerment and inclusion. As well she has significant coaching training and competency; she collaborates with whole teams as well as providing one on one support.


Bill Cheney

President and CEO, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

Bill Cheney is the president and CEO of SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union in California and the fifth largest in the nation, with almost 1.2 million Members and $26 billion in assets.

Bill has worked in the credit union movement for more than 34 years. He joined SchoolsFirst FCU in 2014 as CEO after working in credit unions in Texas and California as well as serving as the CEO of credit union trade associations at the state and national level. He is a recognized leader in the cooperative movement and serves on the boards of the Consumer Federation of America, Worldwide Credit Union Foundation, the Filene Research Institute and the Western CUNA Management School Board of Trustees. In addition to his work with cooperatives, Bill serves on the Board of Trustees of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the Cal State Fullerton Philanthropic Foundation Board of Governors and the UCI Chief Executive Roundtable.

Bill is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, completed the CUES Directors’ Leadership Institute at the London Business School and the Advanced Leadership Institute at Harvard Business School.

Bill and his wife, Crissy, live in Orange County, California. They have two adult children and three young grandchildren.

Darren Isenberg

Master of Ceremonies

Darren Isenberg will be the MC for the day – bringing his wit and skill as one of Australia’s most experienced conference MC’s to the event. Past COBA Convention delegates and exhibitors will remember Darren from his work in the exhibition – ensuring delegates know what is being featured on the various stands.

Dave Hughes


Natural and unmistakably Australian, Hughesy’s laconic style thinly disguises one of this country’s fastest comedic minds. Turning everyday foibles into rich and hilarious routines has made Hughesy the biggest name in Australian comedy.
Dave’s television show Hughesy We Have a Problem, where Australians can have their problems solved by Hughesy and his expert panel of problem solvers,
premiered on Network Ten in early 2018 to rave reviews and big audiences. Its first season was extended by the network not long after its debut due to popular demand and is now in its fourth season.
Dave is one of the judges for Network Ten’s smash hit, The Masked Singer, alongside Urzila Carlson, Dannii Minogue and Jackie O, where this crack unit of musical detectives watch 12 celebrities take the stage beneath bizarre disguises and try to unearth who is behind the mask.


Dave O’Neil


Dave O’Neil has been in the business of comedy for over 20 years and is one of Australia’s most recognisable stand-up comics, having performed at 16 Melbourne International Comedy Festivals and at dozens of comedy clubs nationally.
On screen you will have seen Dave appear as a guest on Hughesy, We Have A Problem, The Yearly with Charlie Pickering, as Team Captain in the ABC TV
comedy quiz show Tractor Monkeys, dishing out life advice in The Agony of the Mind, The Agony of Life, The Agony of Modern Manners, Can of Worms, plus
messing about on Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight and Good News Week. He is probably most well-known for the honour of being the guest with the most
appearances (over 50) on ABC TV’s ever-popular Spicks & Specks.
He has written several books, including his The Summer of ’82, and Everything Tastes Better Crumbed… and other BIG Statements. Dave has written and acted in films (including starring alongside Eric Bana in The Nugget) and contributed to numerous sketch comedy shows.
Dave’s observational humour and genuine humility have also made him a much sought-after MC and corporate entertainer.


Dr Louise Mahler

Director, The Art of Business

Louise is a global thought leader in confident leadership communication. Passionate about staying human in a virtual world, Louise helps leaders and teams bring their best through body-language, voice and divulges the algorithms of engagement in high-stake engagement.

While her tools and techniques are useful, practical and highly relevant, her impersonations of world leaders and in-the-moment audience analyses are hilarious while being tangible and highly informative.

She is the author of Resonate – For those who need to be heard and believes that, today, more than ever we need to be confident to engage, inspire and build trust in those we lead.

We need leaders who simply bring their best to everything they do and move with the times to know what works both themselves and their audience.  This requires critical analysis, practice and personal transformation, which demands better-informed thinking, a bold approach and resilience.

Louise believes everyone has a voice, so let’s get heard.

Professional Speakers Association ‘Speaker of the Year’
Stevie Award Winner for the Lifetime Contribution to Women in Business
Voted top 30 Global Guru in both Body language and Communication

Gus Balbontin

Former executive director and CTO of Lonely Planet

Born and bred in wild Patagonia, Gus Balbontin never allowed his small town and humble beginnings get in the way of his big dreams. A healthy disrespect for authority and a severe case of fomo (fear of missing out) landed him in Australia at the young age of 17.

By the age of 22 he had dropped out of uni, hitchhiked South America, set up his first business and landed his dream job at Lonely Planet. Fast forward a few more years and he was leading the company globally, working with companies such as Google X, Nokia and Amazon on the latest technology, creative cultures and high performing teams.

Seeking a change from corporate life, he hung up his boots as the Executive Director and CTO of Lonely Planet and decided to move back to his entrepreneurial roots, becoming an investor, founder and mentor across the start-up ecosystem in Melbourne. He loves sharing a story, he loves even more, knowing those stories make a difference to people,
helping them in their own business and life.

Over the last 3 years Gus has presented to audiences of 10 across regional Australia and New Zealand, to audiences of 10,000 across North America, Europe, South America and Asia. To him there’s no difference. Small, large, private, public, board room to mail room, his lessons hit a chord, his simplicity disarms you, his energy infects you and his counterintuitive way of looking at the world will motivate you to do things different.

Often thought as futurist, not because he predicts the future, but instead because he helps you focus on what you can control to deal with any future. Still want to talk trends? Sure! He loves as much as the next person trying to imagine a world run by AI, but he warns that getting too distracted with future guesses will only take time away from you and your
company to actually do something about the future.

Mark Sievewright

Founder & CEO, Sievewright & Associates

With more than 30 years of financial services experience, Mark is a highly respected industry thought-leader and industry advisor who has held senior leadership positions at HSBC, MasterCard International, Payment Systems Inc. (where he served as CEO), TowerGroup (where he served as CEO), and Fiserv (where he served as president of the company’s Credit Union Solutions division). While at Fiserv, Mark and his team of 1,500 associates supported the technology needs of more than 2,000 credit unions in North America. In 2010, Mark was merited the Ambassador Award by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) for his service to credit unions. Mark launched his new research and consulting venture, Sievewright & Associates, in April 2017 and is focused on providing credit unions with strategic insights and trusted advice about how to achieve their business and technology goals.

Paul Lewis

CEO, Great Southern Bank

Paul commenced in the role of CEO on 1 November 2019 and is also a Director on the Board. He first joined Great Southern Bank (formerly CUA) in February 2018 as Chief Sales Officer.

With over 20 years’ experience in leadership positions, Paul has held a variety of banking executive roles in Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.

Prior to joining Great Southern Bank, Paul was Senior Head of Strategy at Westpac, where he was responsible for the Consumer Bank strategy across Westpac and it’s regional brands. Paul has also held a variety of senior executive roles within ANZ in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, including three years as General Manager of the ANZ Australian Retail Branch Network. In this role, Paul was responsible for leading more than 800 branches and 7,000 employees before being seconded to Malaysia for two years as the Managing Director, Retail Banking for AmBank. Paul’s professional qualifications include an MBA and BA from Massey University, New Zealand. He is an alumnus of the London Business School’s Senior Executive Programme.

He is Chairman of Credicorp Finance Pty Ltd, Credicorp Insurance Pty Ltd and CUA Management Pty Ltd. Paul is also a Director of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM).

Rowena Meredith

Olympic Bronze Medalist

Ever wondered what it takes to get on the Olympic podium? Tokyo 2020 Olympic rowing bronze medalist Rowena Meredith and her crew rose from unimaginable odds to acheive their dream goal.

At just 26 years old Rowena has spent the past 12 years training and preparing to get to row at the Olympics. Despite the glory of a medal there were times when it felt impossible. True resilience, grit and perseverance were drawn on to see this crew be a part of “The Hour of Power” in Tokyo and plant themselves a place in Australia’s sporting history.


Sharanjit Paddam

Principal, Finity

Sharanjit is a Principal at Finity based in Sydney.  He is an actuary with over 27 years’ experience in actuarial consulting and as a senior executive at general insurers in London and Sydney. He is a leading adviser to insurers, banks, investors and government on non-financial risk management, strategy and reporting, with a focus on climate risk.

Sharanjit initiated and lead the Climate Measurement Standards Initiative, a collaboration between Australia’s largest banks, insurers and asset owners with regulators and leading climate scientists to develop guidance on climate risk scenario analysis.

He was awarded Risk Manager of the Year in 2020 by the Climate Alliance, and received the Actuaries Institute’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his service on the institute’s Climate Change Working Group.