Keynote Speakers


Martha Lawrence

Senior Railway Specialist
Leader, Railways Community of Practice
World Bank, USA



Martha Lawrence is the Leader of the Railways Community of Practice at the World Bank and involved in the Bank’s technical assistance and lending programs in China and India. She has over 30 years of experience in the railway sector, with extensive knowledge in railway restructuring, railway finance and transport regulation and lead the development of the World Bank’s resource on railway reform: “Railway Reform: A Toolkit for Improving Rail Sector Performance”.

Before joining the World Bank, Martha was Managing Director of Harral Winner Thompson Sharp Lawrence, Inc., where she prepared business, restructuring and financing plans for railways worldwide and advised private sector investors on over US$8 billion in structured lease financing of transit rolling stock and infrastructure.  She worked for ten years on regulatory and antitrust issues, during a period of deregulation and commercialisation in the US rail industry  and has developed costing and pricing systems for railways in the US, Tunisia, Zimbabwe and Brazil and financial models/business plans for railways worldwide.

Martha holds a B.A. in Economics from Northwestern University and and M.B.A in Finance and Transportation Management from Northwestern University.



Lara Poloni

Chief Executive Australia New Zealand



As AECOM Chief Executive, Australia New Zealand, Lara Poloni now leads a team of more than 3,000 designers, engineers, planners, scientists, economists and project managers across 25 CBD, regional and project offices. She is a member of the global AECOM Executive Committee as well as a member of the AECOM Asia-Pacific leadership team.

Over a career spanning more than two decades, Lara has had experience in the planning, assessment and development of major infrastructure in the transport, energy and telecommunications sectors, managing major projects from initial business case development and feasibility through to operations. 
She has held several leadership positions since joining the AECOM team in 1994, in recent years including Managing Director – Environment Australia-New Zealand and Managing Director Southern Region (NSW, VIC and SA).

As Chief Executive, Lara has overall responsibility for AECOM’s Australia New Zealand operations and she has a particular interest in growth initiatives aligned to AECOM’s vision of being the world’s premier fully integrated infrastructure firm. She is also passionate about AECOM’s leadership development and the firm’s client service excellence initiative. 

Lara is one of 78 CEOs across Australia that have pledged their support to become one of the Workplace Gender Equity Authority’s Equal Pay Ambassadors. She is also an active mentor for the Committee for Melbourne’s Future Focus Group Leadership Program, The Roads Australia Leaders of the Future program and the National Association of Women in Construction’s Shadow a CEO program.  Lara previously developed the successful AECOM Women in Infrastructure network operating in Melbourne and Sydney, and is a member of AECOM’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Committee.


Adrian Shooter CBE

Chairman, Vivarail Ltd
Chairman, SLC Rail Ltd
Chairman, Global Travel Ventures Ltd
Former Chairman and Managing Director, Chiltern Railway Co

Adrian Shooter CBE has spent the past 45 years leading change in railway.  His career commenced in 1970 as an Engineering Management Trainee with British Railways and worked his way into a number of roles including Engineering Manager at various train maintenance depots with career highlights including the launch of the Inter City 125 Train and the UK’s first Driver Only Passenger line.

Throughout his career Adrian has led and grown organisations that compete with multinational companies.  He was the Managing Director of Red Star Parcel’s British Rail’s Courier division competing head on with TNT and FedEx. 

He led a management buyout for Chiltern Railways which is a London Commuter railway and, also now has a main line from London to Birmingham competing directly with Virgin.  During his time at Chiltern Railways, Adrian grew the business from a £15M per year to £150M including being recignised as the most punctual line with best public perception.

Won a concession, with MTR Hong Kong, to run metro lines for the Mayor of

Adrian now chairs three small, potentially disruptive companies in the railway supply chain.


Keith Suter





Since moving to Australia from London in 1973 at the age of 25, Dr Keith Suter has achieved three doctorates. The first of these was about the international law of guerrilla warfare (University of Sydney), and the second about the social and economic consequences of the arms race (Deakin University) and a third doctorate on scenario planning (Sydney University).

He has been appointed to many prestigious roles throughout his career, including Chairperson of the International Humanitarian Law Committee of Australian Red Cross (NSW), Chairperson of the International Commission of Jurists (NSW), Director of Studies at the International Law Association (Australian Branch) and Managing Director of the Global Directions think tank.

He has also been a member of the prestigious Club of Rome since 1993. The Club is “an informal association of independent leading personalities from politics, business and science, men and women who are long-term thinkers interested in contributing in a systemic interdisciplinary and holistic manner to a better world. The Club of Rome members share a common concern for the future of humanity and the planet.” The club has only 100 members, with Mikhail Gorbachev amongst them.

In 1999, Keith was made a Life Member of the United Nations Association of Australia in recognition of his service. At various times from 1978 to 1999, he served as the national president of the organisation and took on the roles of the WA and NSW state president.
Keith was the President of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (1991-1998) at the University of Sydney, and was a Consultant on Social Policy with the Wesley Mission’s for 17 years. In addition, he served as a consultant for a number of other organisations, with a focus on local and international issues.

He is also an active member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and his activities include conducting monthly webcasts with business leaders. He frequently appears on radio and television discussing politics and international affairs.

Amongst Keith’s many books are "All about Terrorism: Everything you were afraid to ask" and “Global Order and Global Disorder: Globalization and the Nation-State” and “50 Things You Want to Know About World Issues... But Were Too Afraid to Ask”











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