About us

Industry practitioners

We have decades of combined experience in software engineering and leading teams in renowned organisations including Atlassian, Culture Amp, Envato, Fairfax Media, Fastmail, GitHub, LookSmart, Microsoft, News Limited, Ninefold, Sausage Software, Sydney University, and thoughtbot.

As industry practitioners and leaders, we have lived the challenges that technology companies and leaders face at a deeper level.

Technology focused

We work exclusively with technology companies, startups, and scale-ups to develop processes and practices that allow them to excel. You will be able to apply skills and tools learnt with us immediately to your day to day work situations. We know what is required to succeed in a fast-paced industry that requires constant iteration and collaboration.

a photo of Elle Meredith

Elle Meredith

Elle is a back-end engineer with more than 15 years of consulting experience, leading projects and teams for many technology organisations. Elle recently completed a post-grad certificate in Psychology for Business and Management at Curtin University, learning new ways to help people improve how they work. She was part of the Victorian Government's Industry Advisory Panel to help assess digital skills training courses for the new Digital Skills and Jobs Program. Elle ran two 6-month apprenticeship engineering academies for Qantas Hotels and Disco Labs. At Blackmill, she advises executives and engineers in effective management practices so that they become engaging, thoughtful and inclusive leaders.

In 2014, Elle organised Rails Girls events in Sydney, RubyConfAU 2014, and was a member of the Ruby Australia committee. In 2015, she co-organised Gotham Ruby Conference (GORUCO) in New York City, and started a monthly work jelly for women in tech. In 2016, she co-organised Rails Camp USA East Coast in the Catskills, NY with Lachlan, and once again co-organised GORUCO X. In 2018, she was an advisor to the last GORUCO conference.

Elle's personal site is http://aemeredith.com. You can also find her on Mastodon at @elle@tinnies.club or connect with her on LinkedIn.

a photo of Lachlan Hardy

Lachlan Hardy

Lachlan is a front-end engineer with more than 20 years of experience; leading teams and orgs for companies such as GitHub, Microsoft, Atlassian, BigPond TV, News Digital Media, and others. Throughout his career, Lachlan has led teams across multiple countries and timezones in numerous leadership roles, including executive levels. At Blackmill, he advises executives and technology leaders how to scale and start shipping again.

Lachlan has been a speaker at many conferences since 2007. His latest solo talks include Effective One:Ones at Sydney Tech Leaders in 2023, and Re-imagining the Hiring Process at the Bifrost Tech Leadership Conference in Toronto in 2018. He also spoke with Elle on Learn to delegate; like a boss at Ruby Conf Thailand 2023, and on Confronting Difficult Conversations at Web Directions Code Leaders in 2023.

He went to Sydney’s first Ruby on Rails meet up in 2006 and has been an active member of the Australian Ruby community ever since. He is also a habitual starter of community events, such as the long defunct industry demo night, Webjam; Australia's longest running startup meetup (probably), Silicon Beach Australia; and the only Sydney web industry social event held in a tequila bar, Friday at 4 (or most likely at 5).

He also founded and ran a coworking space called The Workbench in Sydney and helped organise the Sydney JS meetups. While living in New York City, he co-organised Rails Camp USA East Coast 2016 with Elle.

Lachlan's personal site is http://lachstock.com.au and you can find his Mastodon account at @lachlanhardy@tinnies.cub.

If you want to reach Lachlan, connect on LinkedIn or email him at lachlan@blackmill.co

a photo of Nicola Nye

Nicola Nye

Nicola is a seasoned technology executive, serving on the board of the Whitehorse Manningham Regional Library Advisory Board Chair of Kaleida. and the RMIT Industry Advisory Committee for the School of Computing Technologies. Before Blackmill, she was Chief of Staff at Fastmail. With over 30 years of experience in startups and scaleups, Nicola has joined, led, built and managed teams, including those spanning multiple timezones and multiple functions.

As someone with lived experience of autism and ADHD, Nicola is no stranger to the additional career challenges this can add. She enjoys working with people who are looking for additional support to develop strategies around the challenges that neurodiversity can bring. She also delights in helping people uncover their strengths that neurodiversity also brings.

Nicola enjoys supporting leaders and executives to find their purpose, focus on what matters, inspire others, and build out teams who are aligned and feel great about their work every day.

You can connect with Nicola on LinkedIn or reach her via email at nicola@blackmill.co

a photo of Sebastian von Conrad

Sebastian von Conrad

Sebastian is an experienced engineering leader with over 15 years in the industry. As an alumni of Australian start-up and scale-up successes Culture Amp and Envato, as well as other companies, he has led teams small and large. Most recently as VP of Engineering at Culture Amp, he was responsible for a 150-person engineering organisation and was involved in cross-cutting organisational initiatives and acquisitions.

While Sebastian has broad knowledge of and interest in product and technical strategy, software architecture, and business processes, he always comes back to people leadership as his foundation. He believes that culture, feedback, and communication are the root causes—and solutions!—to most organisational issues. He loves working with people, and applies his curiosity and experience in helping others help themselves.

Sebastian was a founding committee member of Ruby Australia, where he has tenures as President and Treasurer. He organised RubyConfAU 2015, and Railscamp 10 in Adelaide, SA and 21 in Darwin, NT. He was a director of the Founder Institute's Melbourne chapter, and continues to advise start-ups on a broad range of issues.

On the speaking circuit, Sebastian has travelled internationally and all over Australia to give talks on organisational culture, software architecture, as well as engineering practices and processes. In particular, he's known for giving long (but somewhat entertaining) presentations about Event Sourcing, including this often-linked-to talk in Singapore.

Outside of work, Sebastian enjoys ice hockey, video games, collecting and cataloguing wine, and doting on his two cats. Ask him about his cats. He has a lot of pictures of his cats.

A Swede by birth and upbringing, Sebastian now lives in Melbourne, Australia. It was about the last place he ever thought he'd visit, yet alone live, but he found himself moving here in 2009. He has no plans to leave—at least not until he actually sees a snake.

You can connect with Sebastian on LinkedIn or reach him via email at sebastian@blackmill.co

The story of a name

Choosing the right name for a company is always hard. And then people ask for the story. Here is ours:

In Sydney, at the western end of what is now known as the Anzac Bridge sits what looks like a huge abandoned factory. Due to the flat terrain of the waterfront and parklands, and the sweep of the bridge, its silhouette dominates the horizon as you approach the area. A literal black mill.

Lachlan has always been fascinated by it and began to dream about how he might be able to re-purpose the building and grounds as a modern technology and community space.

The building is actually the White Bay Power Station which ceased operation in 1983. The NSW government has also had ideas about a technology precinct on the site, but is having difficulties making progress.

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