WORDS | Mia Kwok

It is hard to imagine a more appropriate Director and Co-Curator for the TEDx brand than Lucas Berullier. He is immediately charming and friendly. Once he gets talking about TEDxMacquarieUniversity, though, his whole demeanour changes. He is at once a proud parent and child on Christmas morning. “It’s like a baby,” he says of the project. TEDx is certainly a demanding one. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and is probably most commonly recognised outside of Macquarie University for the TED Talks that have seen speakers like Steve Jobs, Malcolm Gladwell, and Stephen Hawking, to name a few. The annual conference has been going since 1990, which is damn impressive considering most of our readers haven’t been alive that long.

Lucas, can you tell us a little bit about the man behind TEDx Macquarie University 2014?

I came here four years ago, studying a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and International Business. I straight away got involved with TEDx, which made my experience at university way more interesting and diverse, and a bit more fun, really.

I joined as an Event Producer in the first year, and then as a Director. This is the second consecutive year that I’m directing the event.

What does that involve?

It involves creating a team, giving them different positions, defining the positions, and inspiring them to work towards the same goal, while all being volunteers and juggling their current degree and other activities. The second role is a Curator, which means, looking out for all the speakers. Thanks to the TEDx brand, it’s been very exciting to approach people. They feel privileged to be asked to speak, so convincing them to speak hasn’t been too hard. [The challenge] is more the briefing and walking them through the journey of presenting their ideas to a larger audience. This year is probably the most exciting line up of speakers, having some national and local heroes.

2014 is looking to be a really good year then. Can you tell us a little bit about this year’s theme – ‘Breaking New Ground’?

Breaking New Ground, basically, is changing people’s ideas, and perceptions about a concept and idea or a topic. So, it is really aligning with the TED spirit of ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’, which is letting the audience sitting down in the auditorium listen to a talk that will completely change their mind on some topic. [For example] “recycling is really not good, and this is what you should do”, so I guess we want to constantly challenge the existing understanding of wealth, our humanity, or of people. This is what inspired us with Breaking New Ground.

It’s not narrowed down to a single topic. It is still very broad. We have a wide range of possibilities with their topics.

Who are the speakers that you’ve lined up for us this year?

Every year we don’t start by looking for people, we start by looking for ideas. So, we’re divided into ten different sections. There is architecture, astronomer, scientist, medical science, social change, heroes, adventurers, and leaders in the fields of innovation and entrepreneurialism. So we look at these industries, these types of people, and then we look at who is existing in these fields. We look at the winners, for example, the best rising architect in Australia.

Shaun Carter is a young architect that came up with The Grid, a house that can be used in disaster zones, like during earthquakes or war, they can be built in three and a half hours. It is made very simply, so it is easy to build and it is made for short to long term use, so people can actually live inside this house for a couple of years, in a healthy and sustainable way. Then there is Turia Pitt, she’s the NSW Woman of the Year, she is a burn survivor and an adventurer. She is going to come and challenge our understanding of beauty. There is Lucy Turnbull, the first female Mayor of Sydney in 2003-2004, and she’s going to talk about how we would go about designing the city of the future, for women. We have a PhD student who has been working the past four and a half years on this thesis about gender selection. Dr Joanna McMillan is a nutritionist who works with Channel 9. She is trying to fight obesity around Australia. We have two kids who are 14 years old who are looking at inventing the world’s smallest projector, they have already started a business that provides people with portable chargers for your phone that looks like lipstick. It’s fashionable, it looks good, and you can pick the colour you want while you charge your phone from your handbag. We wanted to ensure that we have a great diversity of people. We looked at males and females, young and old, with a variety of backgrounds.

Anything else to keep an eye out for?

We have a total of 20 speakers and performers on the day. The lunch is being designed by nutritionist, Dr Joanna McMillan, and it’s being sourced by Oooby. org. It’s all organic and locally produced.