audio close compressed excel CS_logo_icon_solid_yellow_alt Created with Sketch. x x image insta-black menu pdf Print Share Asset 1 word


Scientist, innovator, champion of diversity, drone expert

  • Exclusive
  • Engage
Future businesses will be more about the why and less about the dollar.

Dr. Catherine Ball is an author, founder, executive director, and ethics advocate working across global projects where emerging technologies meet humanitarian, education and environmental needs. Catherine also likes to create businesses.

A sought-after voice across the start-up and tech world, Catherine works globally across a wide range of global projects from creating world leading conferences and events, to using drones to kill weeds on rocky cliff faces. Catherine is a proponent of community engagement with technology and likes to demystify emerging tech.

Catherine has been called a social architect and likes to connect people from different backgrounds across common themes. A champion of diversity and inclusion, Catherine believes we need points of difference to truly innovate and curate the changes we want to see in the world.

Current work

Catherine continues to support Australia as being the world leader in the non-military application of drone technology, also known as “drones for good”. As such, Catherine has co-created a new, global congress to be held annually in Brisbane starting in August 2017 The World of Drones Congress runs annually and is the first significant global drone conference to focus on all parts of the drone economy, and the future of the industry.

Catherine has most recently created “World of Drones Education”which is set to be the ‘Netflix’ of STEM resources for teachers, educators, corporates, and parents. It includes lesson plans on demand and a Podcast you can download from the Apple Store.

Previous experience

Education: Catherine holds a BSc Honours (Environmental Protection) and a PhD (Spatial Ecology, Descriptive and Predictive Statistics) from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the United Kingdom.

Awards: Some of the awards Catherine has won include:
• 2015 AFR’s BOSS Magazine Young Executives of the Year - Winner
• 2015 Telstra Australian Corporate and Private Award winner
• 2015 Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year
• 2015 Telstra Queensland Corporate and Private Award winner
• Innovator of Influence, 2015 at Innovation Week.?
• Courier Mail Q Magazine: Queensland 50 Best and Brightest, 2015
• Westpac 100 Women of Influence 2016 (Innovation)
• Top 25 Women in Robotics List- 2016
• 2017 Women in Leadership Awards - Finalist Innovation Category
• 2018 Global Contribution to UAV Industry award from Shenzhen UAV Industry association

Talking Points

Cybersecurity: What you need to know

Start-ups: Lessons from the Frontline

The Future is NOW: Driverless vehicles, autonomous drones, and the 4th Industrial Revolution

With the rise of the Smart City, the driverless vehicle, and the Internet of Things we are facing an exciting time of economic, social, and political change based around the advent of the 4th industrial revolution.

Would you get in a driverless vehicle? How about take a trip from the airport to the hotel in personnel transport drone? And what about getting that urgent package delivered by drone to secure a business deal? All of these things are already happening, but in an isolated fashion. Next stage is the use of telecommunications infrastructure applied across our cityscapes will create the integration of these vehicles and other devices, as we walk towards the ‘internet of things’.

Gigs and Start-Ups: The Future of Business is not the same as the Future of Work

Current desires for work/life balance, and the ongoing battle between personal wellbeing and corporate lifestyle means that in 10 years’ time, some 50% of Australians are likely to be self-employed. Does the ‘gig economy’ offer real opportunity or a type of enforced zero hours contracting?

How many hours a day do you work? Do you do unpaid overtime? How many days a week do you work? Do you commute? All of these questions are likely framing an old way of doing things. People are predicted to work less overall, work more flexibly, work from non-CBD locations, and to work fewer days in the week. What will this mean for the economy, the tax system, the way we get loans, and the way we value ourselves?

The Education Revolution and the age of the ‘never-graduate’ Student

Micro-learning, non-accredited training, virtual classrooms, immersive avatar experiences, gamified learning, and app-based teacher tracking… what ever happened to sitting and making notes in a classroom with a text book? Technology is the new teacher, and the universities never want you to graduate. The phrase “Every Day is a School Day’ is becoming literal as we constantly imbibe from new ways of learning.

And what is this all doing to our brains- can we really still have good recall when we are overwhelmed with hyperlinks? In order for our brains to develop long, stable neurons and neurological connections we still need the slow-food of education: good, old fashioned reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Future trends and how to bet on the right one

“The easiest way to predict the future is to create it” but what is currently being crafted? And which ones will become an everyday reality?

Leading you through what technologists are currently producing and VCs are investing in, with a wry look at some technologies past that didn’t quite make it into the real world.

Data and Cyber: What are you really handing over?

InfoSec is the new buzzword for a larger area of concern around the safety and security of our data. How many cyber-attacks happen every day and how many have you nearly triggered? The crux of good cyber security is found in human psychology (don’t click that dodgy link); and also in good counter attack systems and approaches.

When signing up to apps and websites do you read the Ts ans Cs? What could you possibly be sharing that you don’t know about? Would you tell that to someone on the street with a clipboard? What have the latest data breaches and social media platforms done for our sense of privacy- is there still such a thing as privacy at all?

Beauty and The Beast: How Artificial Intelligence (AI) will allow us to be more human

The Singularity: When we create an artificial intelligence of the same power as a human brain. Is this smoke and mirrors- can we truly recreate the magic of the mind? How would teach such a thing? How do we ensure that there is diversity in this being? Who are the people creating AI? And what on earth is #AIForGood all about.

Robots, like people with English accents, are very often the baddies in the movies. AI going mad and killing all the humans is something many famous Sci-Fi movies are based on. But, in reality AI, (or IA: Intelligence Augmentation as some now refer to is) is the only way we, as humans, are going to be able to cope with an increasingly digitised world. Some 90% of the current data that exists in the world was created in just the last two years. Big Data and AI go together like strawberries and cream- and we need AI to help us separate the signal from the noise.

With AI and robotics doing the boring, repetitive tasks there will be more time for us to smell the roses, talk to a neighbour, hang out with the family, and/or tackle some of the hard challenges we face today such as climate change, and world peace.

The Wonderfully Weird and Wired World of Drones

A drone to deliver your pizza? Sure. How about a window cleaning drone? Or one with a flame-thrower attached? All already exist. What would you use a drone for? Would you get in one for your daily commute? How about drones that dry your hair or 3D print your jewellery to order? How about nano-drones that fight cancer, or drones to walk your dog? The wonderful, weird, wired, and hilarious world of drones is here to stay, and we may as well have some fun with it while we can.

Global geospatial innovation and geo-ethics: where the magic happens

You can’t find treasure without a map, and you can’t solve some of the world’s most difficult problems without geospatial data.

Working across a global portfolio of research, education, training, and competitions such as the XPrize has led me to some amazing places and to meet some inspirational game changers.

In this presentation you will be challenged to think of ways that your knowledge and skills can be used to help improve lives and save the planet. From using reconnaissance drones to search for endangered turtle rookeries, to engaging global digital humanitarians following cyclones or natural disasters; the digital world allows us all to assist with our time and skills when we can.

Local projects and community awareness can be augmented using new and emerging tech. And a diverse portfolio of jobs and opportunities are now presenting themselves as we explore the merging skills sets from spatial data and exponential technologies.
  • Mastering Leadership
  • Entrepreneurship & Entrepreneurs
  • Sustainability
  • Future of Work
  • Creativity
  • Futurists
  • Science & Technology
  • Robotics
  • Cyber Security
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Drones
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Resilience
  • Disability
  • Environment & Climate Change
Many thanks for your valuable contribution to our GHD Executive Forum yesterday afternoon. We thought the forum was a great success and were delighted with not only your direct contribution, but also your valuable interaction with Virginia Trioli and all the other panellists. GHD

Securing Dr Catherine Ball as guest speaker at a recent forum proved a highly valuable investment. During her presentation, the room was captivated by her presentation which ticked all the boxes; informative, engaging and thought provoking. It was off the stage where Catherine totally exceeded our expectations. With her dynamic personality, approachable nature and generous character, Catherine enthusiastically interacted with organisers, exhibitors and attendees whilst happily responding to media requests promoting the event.

Western Downs Regional Council

Our invited speaker Catherine Ball was amazing. She spoke for 45 minutes with 15 minutes for question time. She got the audience involved by asking random delegates to stand up and introduce themselves to the wider group, as well as asking others what their “super power” was. She encouraged collaboration between the different sites and encouraged “round tables” where everyone’s opinion is of equal value. She was very captivating and we got excellent feedback from the delegates. She was definitely a breath of fresh air and set the scene for the day. It was a privilege to hear her speak - very inspiring!

Australian Institute of Radiography (AIR)

A very big thank you for presenting at our Women in Leadership breakfast this morning. We have had rave reviews about your speech and cannot thank you enough for coming along and adding such a great energy and mood to the event. I saw our guests laughing with you at one moment and then shedding a tear the next. You left our audience with inspiring messages and I am sure they all left today feeling positive.

Australia Property Institute

Catherine is fantastic. So pleased we had her involved in the event. Her energy lifted the room and her thoughts and perspectives were referred to again and again throughout the rest of the conference.

Criterion Conferences
Let us know

and we'll send all the latest Saxton updates and news direct to your inbox
Thanks, you have been subscribed
View Shortlist