Every day, Brainmates works with clients to equip and enable them to build products that their customers love through Product Management public courses, workplace training, Product consulting, Product Management contracting, Product community events and Product career development.

Adrienne Tan

Co-Founder and CEO

Adrienne Tan

Adrienne is a Product geek who is well-known for her green hair, forthright opinions and formidable Product expertise.

She has been championing Product Management since 2000, earning international recognition (and an enormous LinkedIn following) for raising the profile of the Product Management profession within Australia and the Asia Pacific. In this capacity she regularly speaks at business and Product events in Australia and around the world.

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Adrienne is a highly experienced senior product and business leader with broad expertise across various aspects of business such as business and product strategy, stakeholder management and product design and development. She specialises in product leadership and loves to manage, coach and nurture teams of product managers and tech leads.

She has worked alongside brands like Lend Lease, Foxtel, eftpos, Telstra, Xero, Core Logic, Standards Australia, eBay, Disney, NITV, and Kennards.

Adrienne spends (and replenishes) her inexhaustible energy through punishing fitness sessions and then relaxes with wine, cheese and chat.

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Nick Coster

Co-Founder and Head of Training

Nick Coster

Nick is co-founder of Brainmates and Head of Training, running dozens of public courses and workplace training across Australia and beyond, every year. Known and loved by hundreds of Product people for his ability to quickly and simply explain complex problems and concepts with or without a Lord of the Rings or Dungeons and Dragons analogy. Nick has trainined and worked with people from diverse companies and industries, including Xero, MYOB, Fairfax, News Limited, NAB and Suncorp.

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Nick has worked in Product Management in various roles, since 1997, staring his career with Telstra, Optus, Westpac and eBay, before co-founding Brainmates in 2004. His superpower is his ability to see connections between otherwise disparate or complex systems or ways of thinking; Nick loves the magical way that complex systems develop emergent properties that the individual components cannot possess alone. Nick likens this to the Product Management profession because of its unique need for an operational understanding of so many different disciplines and how they might work together.

For Nick, Product Management is the engine room of innovation, where curiosity into technology, human behaviour, economics, past and future trends all comes together into one job – to create products that change people’s lives.

In training, Nick loves posing hypothetical scenarios and seeing common themes emerge. These include people’s natural try to solve problems alone. This means that when companies build product, people instinctively describe the outcome, which frequently means that teams don’t have a shared understanding of the problem they’re solving, resulting in expensive misunderstandings.

Nick loves to take course participants through a practical method that enables people to empathise more effectively with customers while expressing the customer challenges more clearly to business stakeholders – meaning less wasted effort and more effective outcomes for both the customer and the business.

When not demonstrating to training participants how to juggle, Nick is an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction and can also be found elbow-deep in duct tape and cardboard, constructing elaborate costumes for his son Jack.

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Sarah Mitchell

Head of Community

Sarah Mitchell

Sarah is Head of Community at Brainmates. For the past 5 years Sarah has been nurturing the Product Community through her work with Product Talks, Product Women and by managing the Leading the Product Conference. Sarah has been instrumental to the evolution of the conference and has helped ensure that it has sold out every year as well as expand into Europe.

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Sarah has extensive experience in financial operations, bringing an analytical, organised-and-optimised frame-of-mind to create a great business. She also loves bringing people together to inspire, teach and support each other. Heading up Community at Brainmates is the ideal space for Sarah to bring these two strengths and passions together.

Since beginning at Brainmates in 2014, Sarah has enjoyed being surrounded by the creative, passionate, curious, adaptable, and high-energy attitudes of Product people. She’s been wooed by the supportive, close-knit community which Brainmates has helped create through events such as Leading the Product, as well as innumerable meet-ups, coffees, drinks, lunches and dinners over many years.

When not revising our systems, organising our office or championing Leading the Product, Sarah loves to go skiing. As our resident Kiwi who grew up skiing with her family at Mt Ruapehu, on the North Island, Sarah still chases the excitement of barrelling down a run at high speed, enjoying the danger and beauty of perfecting a movement. Sarah is also a DIY enthusiast, taking to YouTube to figure out how to repair things, or break something apart and put it back together again.

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Kent Weathers

Chief Product Officer

Kent Weathers

Kent is our Chief Product Officer, tasked with guiding and executing the Brainmates product strategy.

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He is a leader with 15+ years experience bringing technology products to market. He founded a tech startup in the USA and led the company as Chief Executive Officer for 14 years before an exit.

Kent is passionate about product management. He loves thinking about where a product should be in the future and then working out how to turn that product vision into a product roadmap that delivers real business value. He is motivated by scaling growth stage companies.

When he’s not talking about, working in, or training people on all things Product, he is a keen sailor. After exiting his tech startup he loaded his family aboard his yacht and then captained it 9,337 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean to Australia, with stops in 41 ports and 9 different countries.

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Sandeep Gondekar

Head of Consulting

Sandeep Gondekar

Sandeep is our resident Product consultant hero, who we nickname ‘Sandeep the Great’ or ‘Sandeep the Grey’ depending on whether or not he’s shaved. Sandeep has been in Product Management since 2003, working with some of the world’s leading brands such as eBay, Fairfax and eftpos, and from various industries such as e-commerce, media and payments.

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Sandeep is an expert in product vision and strategy – skills which he brought to the fore when working with a client in the payments industry that was facing significant business challenges. Technology and consumer behaviour were rapidly changing and this organisation was unable to compete and stay relevant. Sandeep helped the client to formulate a multi-pronged strategy so that they could close the gap on competitors while also creating a robust vision to regain its leadership position. But strategy was only one part of the change the organisation required. It was absolutely critical for them to move from a waterfall methodology to agile – to build products their customers genuinely needed. Brainmates, headed by Sandeep, helped them become an agile organisation, driving business outcomes with speed, surety and also progress on multiple strategic initiatives simultaneously. Formulating a robust strategy which considers all aspects of business, including key customer needs and commercial viability, keeps Sandeep happy.

Sandeep is passionate about Product Management because it’s one role that truly enables you to positively influence the future of a business or a product and make them world class. When not brainstorming strategies or cultivating Product culture, Sandeep is busy coaching his nine-year-old son to become as big of a cricket tragic as he is, or traversing Australia with his family on extended road trip adventures.

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Sonny Lydra

Finance Manager

Sonny Lydra

Sonny is the finance and compliance heartbeat at Brainmates.

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He is a finance professional with 14+ years’ experience working in the Technology and Digital space, coupled with a successful background in the hospitality business.

He has worked for several digital and tech company of varying sizes from start up to ASX listed. His recent experience was managing the finance operation of a tech start up that went through a hypergrowth phase, quadrupled its revenue and workforce, and expanded operation to USA and UK. He scaled up its finance team, processes, and system. He also had experience running his own restaurant business and sold it as a going concern in 2007.

He is hands-on and enjoys working with people and turning complex financial strategies into simple, actionable plans.

In his spare time, he is passionate in helping his two boys becoming better at badminton and riding his bike exploring new paths.

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Nat

Senior Consultant

Natalie Yan-Chatonsky

Nat is our resident dreamer, who loves to wax lyrical on better ways of creating companies, culture and award-winning products. Nat has been working in Product since 1999, across various stages of the product lifecycle, including new product development and growing existing products and services. She worked at IBM and Yahoo! in the early days of digital, and has worked alongside numerous brands, including Cochlear, Fairfax Digital, and News Ltd. More recently she worked on the rollout of the New Payments Platform (NPP) and applies product management practices to her startup.

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Nat is expert at gathering customer insights and facilitating teams to generate product ideas from those customer insights. She loves helping build things that links the unmet needs of customers with design and business capability to create value, and make a positive difference in the world. When not consulting with clients, Nat loves rolling out her yoga mat or rolling on the Brazilian Jiujitsu mats.

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Yi Jing Liu

Senior Consultant

Yi Jing Liu

Jing is a problem solver with over 25 years of business and operations experience in small, medium and large corporations. A Chemical Engineer with an MBA from Babson College, Jing has led teams and worked on business transformation initiatives including system implementations and acquisition integrations focused on delivering operational efficiencies and enabling businesses to scale.

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Jing joined Brainmates in 2020 and has worked with brands like eftpos, Cuscal and Mercer. Prior to venturing down under, she worked in the USA for Dell and EMC (acquired by Dell in 2016) and earlier in her career in Brazil.

Results driven, Jing employs her operational expertise (and common sense) to help businesses design the backstage processes and capabilities that will support and deliver to the customer problems the business aims to solve.

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Lisa Simons

Senior Business Analyst

Lisa Simons

Lisa is our deep thinker and asker of questions. A business analyst who’s been working for Brainmates since 2009, Lisa has worked with brands such as Fairfax, the NSW Government, Cuscal, Think Education, Telstra, Austar, and Macquarie University.

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Lisa loves working with Product Managers to help define what they are building and how it will benefit the customer. She provides each project with a workable structure, a clear set of priorities and a common language.

Lisa is driven by the goal of helping people to be more effective by bringing together all the necessary information in one spot. Her deep experience in product development means she can quickly provide Product teams with insight into gaps and risks.

Being highly pragmatic, Lisa’s focus is on providing Product people with the information they need, when they need it, in order to get the job done.

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Petra Symond

UX/UI Designer

Petra Symond

Petra is our UX/UI Designer, who has a passion for creating beautiful digital experiences based on research and insights. A talented brand specialist and natural storyteller, Petra has worked in senior design roles across advertising, marketing, government and healthcare agencies. Her most recent role as Head of Design for a sports streaming service has seen her expand her brand work to include UX/UI.

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Petra has a keen interest in Human Centred Design and in particular Inclusive Design which allows her to design for a wider audience. In addition to authoring the UX for Brainmates, Petra is developing the brand identity and visual assets for the business.

Out of the office, you’ll find Petra either hanging with her family, attempting reformer pilates, walking her toy poodle or checking out local food offerings.

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Philipp

Senior Consultant and Trainer

Philipp Laufenberg

Philipp is a Brainmates course trainer and senior consultant with a passion for education and collaboration. Philipp is currently Chief Product Officer at Practera and has spent nearly a decade in Product Management. He has worked with brands including the University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, University of NSW, Melbourne University, Deloitte, Westpac, the Smith Family, the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and various state governments. Phil’s specialty is education technology, especially for adult and lifelong learning.

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Phil particularly enjoyed working with the University of Sydney business school careers team to increase the employability outcomes of their international students. He helped redesign the learning journey and deployed the Practera learning platform to enable the effective delivery of the ‘Job Smart’ program at scale. Job Smart has since been regularly presented at leading industry conferences as industry best-practice – to date, it has helped thousands of international students to develop their employability skills, find work placements, and volunteer for more than 20,000 hours in not-for-profit organizations.

Phil is especially passionate about tackling high-value challenges of today’s society. He wants to change the world by letting bright minds do the right thing more often.

Phil is an avid beach volleyball player on Bondi Beach as well as a board game enthusiast – always up for a round of Catan.

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Trainer

Laura Cardinal

Laura has been part of the extended Brainmates family for over 7 years, and is Chief Product Officer at Compass Education.

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With over 18 years’ experience in leadership and technology, Laura has led large (200+) innovative teams of product managers, product marketers and engineers to build and launch software used and loved by customers all over the world – Most recently building and leading Xero’s product development functionality in Australia.

Laura is passionate about growing leaders and building cultures in the product and tech world and believes that amazing things happen when you align different types of people to a common purpose. She wants to live in a world where vulnerability is celebrated and is passionate about building cultures and environments that encourage everybody to bring their whole-selves to the table.

With Laura’s zest, creativity and curiosity, we are very excited to have her as part of the growing Brainmates Product Management Training team.

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Trainer

Jason Prowd

Jason Prowd is Director, Product at Morningstar where he leads the digital experience for Morningstar Investment Management across Australia, India, UK and South Africa.

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He loves understanding and solving complex investor and financial adviser problems in simple, useful and delightful ways, and is passionate about building and developing high-performance product teams.

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Kirsten Mann

Trainer

Kirsten Mann

Kirsten has built and led global teams and helped organizations become customer and people-focused by creating award winning product and service experiences which meet real needs and achieve commercial outcomes.

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Kirsten has spent more than 25 years in the tech industry, focusing on the disciplines of product management, user experience and product development. She’s experienced in SaaS, scaling startups and has extensive experience working with legacy products and consolidating acquired products. Throughout this time, she’s collaborated with executive teams to drive business and people-centered processes through organisations. Kirsten firmly believes teams need to understand problems before jumping into solution mode and goals, metrics, and questions need to be clearly articulated to ensure a shared vision.

Specialties: Building and managing high performing teams. Product Management, UX Thought Leadership, Experience and Customer Journey Maps, UX Design, User Research, Mobile, Web and Desktop Application Development; Interaction Design; Usability Testing, Usage Testing, Management, Web Metrics, Strategic Planning, Product Innovation, Online Training, Online Support.

Regular keynote speaker and panelist at industry events.

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Product Management Training