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Rebuilding Trust and Reputation.


James Brown is the Chief Executive Officer of the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA), Australia’s peak body for the space economy, and serves on the Australian Space Agency’s Senior Leaders Forum.

A national security and public policy expert, he has previously held research appointments at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, United States Studies Centre, and the University of Sydney.

Current Work:

James is currently a director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and a Non-Resident Fellow at the United States Studies Centre and is Chairman of the veteran’s charity, Invictus Australia.

James is a regular media contributor on space, foreign policy and defence issues and has authored two books on Australian defence policy.

Previous Experience:

James is a former Army officer with service in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Solomon Islands. Between 2017 and 2019 James led the rebuilding and modernisation of Australia’s largest veteran’s charity, the RSL, as its youngest ever elected President. This included the turnaround of a large commercial aged-care provider and multiple charitable trusts. He helped lead the successful national campaign to establish a National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide prevention.

Talking Points

Rescuing the RSL

For two years James led the team rescuing the RSL after governance and corruption scandals brought it to the brink of failure. He speaks to the challenges of rebuilding trust with members and the public, rediscovering the much-loved national institution's purpose and mission, and the hard learned lessons along the way. He'll speak to the challenges of leading change in an ancient organisation in the midst of intense public scrutiny and inspiring RSL members to save more lives of veterans who have served Australia.

Key takeaways:
- communications are critical but you have to speak to people in their language
- with trust you can do anything, without it nothing
- to change a culture, you have to preserve the key purpose of an organisation and lead by example

Audience: corporate, associations, member organisations

Inspiring a Better Culture

Elected to lead Australia's largest veterans charity, James Brown found himself mired in criminal investigations into former leaders, a royal commission-like inquiry into fraud and governance failure, and answering to 40,000 angry veterans and a public disappointed by scandal in one of Australia's most loved institutions. In this speech he charts the two year journey to fix the culture of an organisation that had lost its way and highlights lessons which are important to any organisation looking to build a strong and healthy culture.

Australia's Place in the World

Australia's strategic environment is getting more complex and significant changes are happening in the world around us. Our traditional ally the United States is retreating from the world and focusing more inwards. The rise of China is challenging international systems, Asia is becoming more militarized and complex, and terror threat remains constant. Technology is making security threats more pervasive and immediate.

Amidst all this change, Australia is revolutionising its Defence Force and reconceptualising its place in the world. New partnerships are being formed and stronger relationships developed in our near region. James Brown is a strategic thinker and international affairs analyst regularly called upon by Australian and international media to explain strategic changes and unpack security issues.

In this talk, he charts Australia's place in the world and the trends Australians should be aware of.

Audience: Schools, associations, and corporations
James Brown was guest speaker at a client event that we held for young professionals in the legal and private equity industries. James reflected on his life and experiences in the army, his role in exposing corruption in the RSL, and the struggles faced by servicemen and women returning to professional and civic life. James was an inspiration to those in the room, stimulating discussions not only about his own experiences but also how the governance and leadership skills of ex-servicemen and women can benefit large organisations such as HSF and our clients. We feel lucky to have had James speak at our event. Herbert Smith Freehills
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