Who we are

a photo of Elle Meredith

Elle Meredith

Elle is a well-respected leader who has dedicated more than 15 years to the technology engineering industry. She has been writing Ruby on Rails since 2007, and prior to Blackmill, she was a Development Director at thoughtbot in New York.

She enjoys writing clean code, driven by automated tests with agile practises. She constantly works to improve her understanding of technologies, techniques, anti-patterns, and what is considered best practice. Her aim is to deliver clean, functional, maintainable, and user–friendly web applications in an appropriate time frame without wasting money or energy.

Elle believes in strong communities that embody respect, understanding and inclusiveness to drive positive culture and growth. She has a passion for helping people learn to work better.

Elle is on the Victorian Government's Industry Advisory Panel to help assess digital skills training courses for the new Digital Skills and Jobs Program.

She is also currently studying Psychology for Business and Management at Curtin University to learn new ways to help people improve how they work.

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 has delivered many talks around the world including the latest one, which was Storytelling with Git rebase workshop at Git Merge 2020 in LA.

When she is not immersed in the Ruby community, she is probably immersed in water, or lately, in bread flour.

Elle's personal site is http://aemeredith.com and you can also find her on Twitter at @aemeredith.

a photo of Lachlan Hardy

Lachlan Hardy

Lachlan has over 20 years of industry experience and knowledge as a developer, leader, and speaker.

Before Blackmill, Lachlan worked with some of the world's renowned companies including GitHub, Neo, Microsoft, Bigpond, Ninefold, Atlassian, and News Digital Media.

Throughout his career, Lachlan has held numerous leadership roles including Head of Engineering, Head of Development, Engineering Manager, Startup Lead, IPTV Lead Developer, and Front-end Development Lead. He's also been a Technical Evangelist, an Ecosystem Strategist, a startup mentor, a full-time JavaScripter, and a web standards professional.

He loves attention to detail, efficiency, and quality that only a care for your craft can produce. His work ethic, empathy, and ability to adapt to various roles has enabled him to bring big picture thinking to many of our clients' projects to deliver sustainable quality outcomes.

Lachlan has been a speaker at many conferences since 2007. His latest talks include Re-imagining the Hiring Process at the Bifrost Tech Leadership Conference in Toronto in 2018 and Developer Culture that Doesn’t Suck at ManhattanJS in 2015.

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.

If he offers you a cocktail, or a meal, expect the best he has learned to make, with a healthy dose of experimentation to keep on learning.

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

If you want to reach Lachlan, please email him at lachlan@blackmill.co

a photo of Sarah Tobin

Sarah Tobin

Sarah is a thoughtful business development professional with more than 10 years of applying sales and marketing principles to meet client needs, deliver business goals, and obtain high client satisfaction. Developing strong relationships is the foundation of everything that she does, both professionally and personally. Her aim is to deeply understand core problems, provide holistic and achievable solutions, and bridge the communication between people and organisations for mutual benefits. Her empathetic nature makes her a great listener and facilitator when it comes to promoting growth and learning. She is a believer in humility and continuous learning.

Sarah has delivered improvements at Coles Myer, Victoria University, and Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery across a range of initiatives including brand management, website and content management, social media strategy, customer prospecting, revenue benchmarking, and performance.management.

Sarah's qualifications include a Bachelors Degree in Business Marketing, a Bachelors Degree in Health Sciences, both from Victoria University, and recently completed a Mini MBA in Marketing in 2021.

When she's not working, she is either running or hiking, spending time with her family, baking, cooking, or practicing mindfulness. Sarah enjoys community work, hearing people's stories, and learning from others.

If you would like to talk to Sarah, please contact her at sarah@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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Talk to us, we're listening

Would you like to improve team effectiveness and productivity? Got a project you think we can help with? Interested in leadership coaching or engineering training? Basically, want to work with us? Get in touch: gday@blackmill.co and we will be in touch in a jiffy.

We live on, and benefit from, the colonised lands of the Arakwal and the Minjungbal peoples of the Bundjalung nation, and those of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of these lands and recognise their enduring connection to land, waters, and culture. We pay our respects to their elders, past and present.