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Leadership Speakers for International Women's Day (IWD) Events

Dhiyana Varsani
01 Feb. 2022

International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on 8 March offering an opportunity to reflect on progress made, to call for change, and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

Saxton Speakers has a range of IWD leadership speakers who inspire both personal and business leadership to help build successful individuals and companies.

Engage one of our top business leadership speakers for your next conference or business event, and join the movement to #BreakTheBias

Find the best leadership keynote speakers for your school, business event, or conference via the links below!

Former Vice-President at Nike & Founder of Inspired Companies

Lisa MacCallum is an internationally recognised business and thought leader specialising in how to build resilient, distinctive, purpose-driven companies. Author of the widely celebrated book Inspired INC: Become a company the world will get behind, Lisa's powerful message, leadership presence, approachable personality and business experience combines powerfully to leave any audience inspired and motivated to lead at the next level.

Acting Group Executive, Governance & External Affairs, APA

Shirley Chowdary is an internationally experienced executive leader who has built a diverse set of credentials across law, financial services, funds management, journalism, Indigenous education and the NFP sector.

She is a passionate advocate for Indigenous empowerment and diversity and inclusion, and has invested throughout her career to address these issues. This work was most recently recognized when she was selected as a 2019 Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence.

Award-Winning Leadership Strategist & Global Peak Performance Consultant to Fortune 500s

Shadé Zahrai is an Award-Winning Leadership Strategist, Harvard-trained coach and member of the esteemed Forbes Coaches Council and a specialist in building a success mindset, self-belief and self-mastery for business professionals, and enhancing people-centric cultures.

She has the superhuman ability to translate neuroscience and psychology research into practical, actionable strategies to accelerate success. She is renowned for infusing motivation, science and storytelling with practical strategies and solutions to shift mindsets and drive positive action in audiences. Shadé’s keynotes are characterised by authenticity, practicality and empathy, and create lasting impact.

Engineer, social entrepreneur, leader in diversity

Felicity Furey is an award winning inspirational speaker, entrepreneur and engineer passionate about diversity. As a founder of two social enterprises, Felicity has shifted the perception of engineering with thousands of young people and companies. Felicity was named as a Superstar of STEM, one of the Financial Review BOSS Magazine’s Young Executives of the Year in 2016 and named as one of Australia’s ‘100 Women of Influence’ at just 26 years old. Felicity has been featured on ABC News, Sky News, the Australian Financial Review and the Australian.

Former Senator and the first Aboriginal Australian to win Olympic gold

Nova Peris OAM OLY MAICD was Australia's first Aboriginal woman elected to Federal Parliament and the first Aboriginal Australian and Northern Territorian to win an Olympic Gold Medal.

Nova is a tireless advocate for Indigenous Rights and recognition and works hard at changing attitudes throughout the Australian community. In her role as a treaty ambassador for the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), she travelled around the country, campaigning for a treaty between Black and white Australians so that a fundamental understanding between the two groups can be forged. Peris has also served as International Indigenous Human Rights Ambassador and National Ambassador for Reconciliation Australia.

Retired Naval Officer, Expert on Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion

Capt Shindy is the third woman to serve on an Australian warship, is one of just 100 Muslims in the Australian Defence Force. Her 32 year Royal Australian Navy career saw her serve on a number of the nation’s most technologically advanced warships which took her to all corners of the world. She saw active service at the commencement of the IRAQ conflict in 2003. Utilising her extensive array of leadership, technical, change management and business competencies she has led many organisations through significant business and cultural reforms. Her career achievements as well as her considerable community service activities were recognised when she was named the 2015 National Telstra Business Woman of the Year. She has recently commenced a new career chapter as a strategic leadership and management consultant, author, international keynote speaker and mentor.

Brave by Design

Emma Husar is most famously known for her role as a former member of the Australian House of Representatives for the Division of Lindsay for the Australian Labor Party (ALP) which she represented from 2016-2019. In 2018 Emma faced unfounded allegations by former staff of sexual harassment and bullying. These untested allegations were leaked to the media forcing Emma to launch a high profile defamation case against BuzzFeed which was settled outside of court in her favour. During this period she was unfairly forced by the ALP to resign.

In May 2021 Emma commenced legal action against the ALP for sexual harassment, as a result of her former staff for making misleading claims that jeopardised her reputation, and her career aspirations as a woman of political influence. This action represents Emma’s desire to be a voice for all marginalised women in leadership roles.

CEO of ExO Works & Leading Authority in Corporate Transformation

Emilie Sydney-Smith is CEO of ExO Works, a corporate transformation consultancy which helps large organizations like Visa, HP, BHP and Procter & Gamble; protect themselves against disruption, incorporate the attributes shared by the world’s fastest growing companies; and build new business lines that could grow exponentially.

Award-winning and globally recognised leadership expert

Kirstin Ferguson is one of Australia’s most prominent leadership experts and has a 30-year executive career as company director, CEO, senior executive and Air Force officer.
She was named one of the world’s 30 “Thinkers to Watch” and shortlisted for the Distinguished Award in Leadership in 2021 by London based Thinkers50. Kirstin also has an award-winning PhD in
leadership and culture and is an experienced company director on leading corporate boards.

Kirstin was appointed by the Prime Minister to be Acting Chair and Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and created the viral, Walkley Award nominated social media campaign #CelebratingWomen.

She co-authored the award-winning book, Women Kind and writes a weekly column for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on leadership and work.

Global strategist on inter-generational leadership

Holly Ransom is an emerging leader par excellence. She is a social entrepreneur with passion for, and a track record of, driving innovative change in both the corporate and not-for-profit arena. She was the outstanding young individual selected to chair the G20 Youth Summit resulting in the first summit to secure its policy demands from G20 Leaders. Holly’s inspiring story outlines how she achieved success as an emerging leader and used her voice to influence and address the G20 and win over the respect of global leaders.

Collaboration, Connection and Influential Leadership

Janine Garner is a global thought leader on powerful networking, collaboration and unleashing leadership brilliance. She is passionate about building high performing leaders and teams and bringing brilliant people together to achieve remarkable results.

Janine spent 20 years working her way across the world putting together award-winning marketing campaigns and strategies for high-profile brands like Ralph Lauren, Oroton, Jaeger, Sainsbury’s Homebase and Citizen Watches. It was whilst working as a senior leader that she learnt about the power of connection and what it takes to unlock the brilliance in teams and leaders.

A life of passionate advocacy

Kate Swaffer is the 2017 Australian of the Year (South Australia), Author and advocate for living beyond dementia. Kate's goal is to change the post diagnostic experience of dementia to include a human rights based approach, and proactive disability support.

Australian media icon

Ita Buttrose AC, OBE is one of the most powerful voices for women across Australia. A legendary media trailblazer, businesswoman, best-selling author, committed community and welfare contributor and former Australian of the Year.

In 2019 Ita became a Companion of the Order of Australia for her service to the community through leadership in the media, the arts, the health sector and as a role model.

Author, Business Leader, former Federal Member of Parliament | Lawyer

Julia Banks is a former Federal Member of the Australian Parliament and a corporate lawyer with impeccable credentials. Julia held senior positions as General Counsel, Executive Director and Company Secretary and was Head of Risk and Compliance in some of the world’s most successful blue chip companies including Kraft, Glaxo Smith Kline and George Weston Foods working across Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific.

27th Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon. Julia Gillard AC was sworn in as the 27th Prime Minister of Australia on 24 June 2010 and served in that office until June 2013.

As Prime Minister and in her previous role as Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Gillard was central to the successful management of Australia’s economy, the 12th biggest in the world, during the Global Financial Crisis and as Australia positioned to seize the benefits of Asia’s rise.

Former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix

Patty McCord served as chief talent officer of Netflix for fourteen years and helped create the Netflix Culture Deck. Since it was first posted on the web, the Culture Deck has been viewed more than 15 million times, and Sheryl Sandberg has said that it "may be the most important document ever to come out of Silicon Valley."

Her background includes staffing, diversity, communications, and international human resources positions.

Leading Business & Sustainability Advisor

Sam Mostyn has enjoyed a diverse career across business, politics, science and the arts, international development, not-for-profit sector, indigenous reconciliation and sport. Sam now serves as a non-executive director on the boards of Virgin Australia, Transurban, Mirvac, and chairs Citibank Australia. She is Deputy Chair of the Diversity Council of Australia and for the past 4 years, Sam has been the President of the Australian Council for International Development. In 2005, Sam became the AFL’s first ever female Commissioner. Sam talks about the key pillar for driving change, the role of sport in society and breaking free from ‘binary’ world views. She is an expert in the area of corporate governance. Her corporate roles have encompassed human resources and culture change, corporate and government affairs, community engagement and corporate sustainability.

Australian Parliamentarian, role-model for women

Natasha Stott Despoja is globally recognised as a tireless advocate for women and girls around the world, and is currently leading the national organisation, Our Watch, to prevent violence against women and their children. Natasha has also supported the World Health Organisation High Level Working Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents, and was Australia’s former Ambassador for Women and Girls.

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