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Culture Change Expert & Author, Former Head of Culture at NAB.

Culture is the rules of belonging. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

Fiona Robertson is a culture and leadership expert, speaker, author, educator, facilitator and executive advisor who holds an MBA from London Business School and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

She is the former Head of Culture for the National Australia Bank, where she spent twelve years in senior executive positions.

Current Work:

In her 35-year career she has worked in and consulted to dozens of blue-chip organisations domestically and internationally, with all levels of government in Australia and coached numerous senior executives in large and small organisations.

Clients in Australia have included Monash University, Slater + Gordon, RMIT Online, AusGrid, Australian Catholic University, Australian Retail Credit Association, ANZ Bank, Australian Institute of Sport, CoreNet, La Trobe University, Multiplex, National Australia Bank, RedZed, ISPT, Lendlease, Monash College, Praemium and the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM).

Her book Rules of Belonging - change your organisational culture, delight your people and turbo-charge your results is published by Major Street Publishing.

Previous Experience:

In her early career Fiona spent eight years with Ogilvy Public Relations in London where she specialised in complex multi-country communications campaigns for clients like IBM (35 countries), The Nasdaq Stock Market (8 countries), Oracle (10 countries) and McKinsey & Company (globally).

Talking Points

The key to culture change? It's the rules of belonging.

Organisational culture doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

Once your leaders know what to look for, they can identify the current culture of any group and decide what they want it to be.

The world has changed fundamentally in the last ten years and dramatically in the last two. Organisational culture has become an essential focus for senior executives, middle managers and people leaders of all kinds. If we can’t get our people aligned and passionate, we’re simply not going to be able to compete.

Spoiler alert: Maslow was wrong. Belonging is more important to humans than food, water or shelter - with profound implications for changing organisational culture. Your people need to belong so much they’re willing to do almost anything to ensure they do. When joining a new team, they quickly figure out what is successful behaviour in their new group and start to adopt that behaviour as their own. Make sure your leaders encourage your people to adopt the behaviours that will accelerate the execution of your strategy.

If you want to change your culture, you need to change the rules of belonging.

What does your culture need from you?

Your employee culture will give you anything you want, as long as you give it what it needs first.

Though it might not be obvious, there are actually two cultures in your organisation. An employee culture and a management culture. No matter how well-loved, respected or trusted your leaders are, they're not part of the employee culture.

Your employee culture has two priorities, survival and psychological safety. If leaders give it what it needs to achieve them, it will give them anything they ask. If they don’t, it will spend all its time trying to earn them and your people will focus on how to please their bosses instead of how to delight your customers. Without psychological safety, the employee culture won’t come up with the innovative ideas that are critical to future-proofing your organisation. And no amount of kick-offs, roll-outs or town hall inspiration sessions will change that.

Masterclass: Curious about Culture

You know you need to do something about culture but don't know where to start.

Start here!

This unique 90-minute live online masterclass is for leaders and teams who want to understand what culture is and isn’t, get some shared language and learn how it really works in a safe, supportive learning environment.

Culture is one of the most widely discussed and widely misunderstood concepts in business today. It’s impossible to have a sensible conversation about it without a shared understanding of what you’re discussing. Shared language is essential to make any progress at all.

If you’re living inside the Matrix, and you don’t know it, you won’t see anything. Once you understand how culture really works, you see it everywhere and begin to understand the pervasive impact it has on every aspect of organisational life.

Culture change isn’t easy, but it can be simple. One of the reasons so many organisations fail to make progress on culture is because it has been vastly overcomplicated, which often relegates it to the ‘too hard’ basket. If you’re looking for clarity, you’ll find it here.

This is the place to dip your toe in the water of culture before you decide whether to jump in.

Master of Ceremonies - Mine the Golden Threads

Your master of ceremonies should be a master of content as well as process, helping your audience mine the golden threads woven through the ideas, opinions and key messages of your event.

The consummate professional, Fiona will create an atmosphere of warm authority, encouraging your speakers, panellists and guests to be their most authentic selves, then synthesise the complex information they share and ask the incisive questions to create profound learning moments.

Adept at thinking on her feet, she will guide your event with grace and dignity, ensure it is tailored meticulously to your audience’s needs and send them away feeling inspired and challenged.
It was excellent to join Fiona to moderate the panel after her keynote address at the recent Women in Water Directors Network event. She brought a fresh perspective and gave us a new way to think about culture. We’ve had an enormous amount of positive feedback from attendees about how valuable and interesting they found the session. Melbourne Water

Fiona is a fantastic, energetic, and professional speaker, using her extensive knowledge to involve her audience to creative a lively presentation. Fiona’s genuine approach and passion really shines through her understanding of her audience, leaving them with practical knowledge they can implement into their businesses and personal lives.

Institute of Public Accountants

Fiona’s culture keynote at our executive team strategy off-site was extremely thought-provoking and exactly the kind of prompt we needed to further examine the intersection between strategy and culture in our planning process. All the feedback we’ve received was extremely positive.


Fiona’s keynote presentation at the CEO Institute was one of the best I’ve seen in many years. I took copious notes and would recommend her as a speaker to anyone who is interested in learning more about the way culture really works in organisations. You won’t be sorry.

Pilbeam Living

It was great to see Fiona’s keynote at the VPA annual conference. She got the whole room singing and laughing as well as giving us some really valuable insights into how culture works and how we can change it. I would recommend her for anyone looking for a speaker who can deliver a combination of meaning and fun.

Australian Primary Principals Association

Fiona did a fantastic job of engaging my team. If you’re looking for a knowledgeable and professional guide for a team event, Fiona is just what you need. I have received glowing reports from team members from the session, with everyone commenting how much they enjoyed it.

Swinburne University of Technology

Fiona is a really great presence. She is able to command attention and hold an audience, but with a relaxed manner.

CMP Consulting Engineering Group
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