Forty under 40

The future is networked

Photograph: Margaret Zhang

We asked style queen and social media maven Margaret Zhang to nominate her three top Sydneysiders under 40. Then we asked them to nominate their three. And their three. The result? A snapshot of the connections that will define Sydney for years to come...

Click here to read Time Out's interview with Margaret Zhang

Jack Manning Bancroft

Margaret Zhang says: “I think Jack’s work is incredibly honourable. He’s found the most positive way to address an issue most people choose to gloss over.”

Ollie Henderson

Margaret Zhang says: “She’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. And she lives it through everything she does.”


Dion Lee

Margaret Zhang says: “I admire the way Dion Lee has grown his business, with such generosity and ethic. He’s truly original, which is rare in the fashion industry.”


Tom Tilley's nominations

Jemma Birrell

Tom Tilley says: “What she’s created is enormous, it’s a monster. She’s done it so well and still brings a personal touch.”

Christiaan Van Vuuren

Tom Tilley says: “Christiaan is a genius. If I think back to things that have really stood out in Australian TV comedy over the last few decades – Full Frontal, Fast Forward, Chris Lilley – he is right up there.”


Oscar McMahon

Tom Tilley says: “I think it’s cool someone as hilarious, charismatic and sometimes loose as Oscar has channelled his energy and creativity into this company that’s going to be one of the big beer brands of the future.” 

Tai Hara's nominations

Alec Snow

Tai Hara says: “He’s pop culture today – his music, his acting, his storytelling – he’s what a lot of kids look up to.”

Matt Okine

Tai Hara says: “Matt’s a really inspiring dude – I think his platforms of comedy and radio allow him to get people thinking.”


Ruby Rose Bancroft

Tai Hara says: “Ruby’s only 16 years old – her art really represents a generation of thinking ahead of her time. She has the capabilities to be a great influencer and create some great change as well.” 

Lachlan Harris's nominations

Anne-Louise Sarks

Lachlan Harris says: “Anne- Louise is forcing [us] to think about who we are and where we came from. I think in the future she’ll have a big influence on the way we think about our own identity and who we are as Australians. She can help us reconcile with our past which is the only way we’ll truly be at home here in Australia.”

Chris Minns

Lachlan Harris says: “Chris has a sense of the big picture – he has a real sense of what leadership is and he understands how intellectual and ambitious you have to be.”


Tom Malone

Lachlan Harris says: “Tom understands the medium of mass communication through visual outlets. The shape of the media is going to change a lot but it’s still going to be one of the most powerful cultural forces in the world – Tom is one of those guys who is able to reinvent himself in those new delivery modes of communication no matter what they are.” 

Sally Rugg's nominations

April Holcombe

Sally Rugg says: “I really admire her solidarity with a bunch of causes and the nuance she brings to a lot of debates.”

Miriam Lyons

Sally Rugg says: “She recently co-wrote a comprehensive blueprint for how to completely transition to 100 per cent renewable power by 2030, and has the tenacity and verve to make it happen.”


Sampa the Great

Sally Rugg says: “She’s really talented and will probably make it really big and become one of Sydney’s claims to fame.” 

Jess Scully's nominations

Dr Nikki Stamp

Jess Scully says: “Nikki is a key part of the campaign called ‘I Look Like a Surgeon’ which is in line with the ‘I Look Like a Scientist’ campaign that was launched internationally a few months ago. She’s trying to counter the preconceptions that we might have about who engages in that kind of work.”

Kelly Tagalan

Jess Scully says: “Kelly is one of the women whom I think is really making strides in gaining access for women and kids in the technology industry.”


Dr John McGhee

Jess Scully says: “John’s work takes virtual reality and rather than taking us into outer space or fantasy realms, he takes us on a journey within the cell. John’s a pioneer in this field.” 

Amrita Hepi's nominations

Abdul Adbullah

Amrita Hepi says: “He puts people at ease. He’s really dignified and when you see his paintings you realise he’s so bloody talented.”

Bhenji Rah

Amrita Hepi says: “He’s got the kind of presence that affects people when they see him perform – it’s like they walk away wanting to be a little more graceful in life.”


Nakkiah Lui

Amrita Hepi says: “She’s bold in all the ways I wish I could be, and she doesn’t put up with bullshit.” 

Sarah Gittoes' nominations

Gracie Otto

Sarah Gittoes says: “Gracie is just amazing. She’s such a talented filmmaker and actor. It’s really exciting to see a young Australian receive international acclaim.”

Henry Wilson

Sarah Gittoes says: “I love his design philosophy and aesthetic. It’s really great to see he’s being stocked internationally with stores in New York and London.”


Sarah Gibson's nominations

Chris The

Sarah Gibson says: “He’s innovative in a very traditional arena like baking.”

Dana Tomic Hughes

Sarah Gibson says: “She’s a great person in the interior design community. She gives the Australian design aesthetic a lot of influence internationally.”


Felicity Stewart

Sarah Gibson says: “Early on in her career Stewart’s firm (which she co-owns with Matthias Hollenstein) were given the Green Square Library. It was a very large project for someone so young, and architecture can be quite an ageist industry.”

Kit Webster's nominations

Eamon Flack

Kit Webster says: “Eamon Flack is taking the theatre landscape in a new direction.”

Kale Brock

Kit Webster says: “I’m interested in nutrition at the moment and Kale’s someone I’ve been listening to.”


Rachel Bajada

Kit Webster says: “Rachel is combining food and nutrition with entrepreneurialism – she’s raising awareness about health and in particular, sugar.”