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CEO of Global Tech Business me&u, Former Managing Director of Contiki

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As CEO of me&u, a global tech business transforming hospitality, and Chair of Hollard Insurance, the former MD of Contiki Katrina Barry is an expert in Gen Z and Y, digital transformation, and breaking through glass ceilings.

Katrina is sought after for her expertise in leadership and cultural change, brand and marketing, business, and strategy. From a Kiwi farm girl, to a McKinsey consultant, then launching start-ups for Richard Branson, Katrina’s personal story is interesting and inspirational. Her insights are nothing short of fascinating, and her delivery is highly engaging and entertaining.

A dynamic panellist and keynote speaker, recent engagements include the Domain Group, People’s Choice Credit Union, Millennial 20/20 conference, the Trans-Tasman Business Circle, Sky News, Today Show, Millennials Marketing Conference, International Women’s Day, ClubsNSW, and WINovation.

On Gen Y and Z, she offers her sharp wit and honesty about what it takes to engage consumers in the digital age, and teams. Her ability to gather and harness the power of market intelligence is nothing short of inspirational. Her tales of how to digitally transform traditional business are relatable.

Having worked as a lawyer, management consultant, senior executive, non-executive board member and now Chairperson across financial services, tourism, consumer services, as well as delivering start-ups for Richard Branson, a stint with the UN in Ecuador and even mining in South Africa, Katrina’s personal story is also a journey of humour, humility and honesty.

Current Work:

Katrina is the Global CEO of me&u, an Aussie-born start-up on a mission to change the way the world orders and pays and build a better future for hospitality. With a growing presence in the US and UK, me&u is the next Aussie tech unicorn, using great tech and rich data to elevate the customer experience and deliver meaningful upside to a traditional industry in a non-traditional world.

As her “side hustle”, she is the Chair of Hollard Insurance, a $3bn company, and a Non-Executive Director of Petsure, Australia’s number 1 pet insurance company.

Previous Experience:

Katrina was previously the MD of Contiki Holidays and Trafalgar Tours across Australia, NZ, and Asia and spent 8 years boldly redefining the companies and travel experiences for the digital age. She reimagined the strategy, product, and brand positioning. She only accepted the MD role after doing due diligence … by taking a Contiki tour around Europe at the age of 38. Named as the Most Powerful Woman in Travel by TravelWeekly in 2019, the next two years were spent navigating the business through brutal change during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Previously, Katrina held roles with BT Australia including Head of Digital and Direct; Head of Customer Experience; and strategy and investment roles with the Virgin Group working closely with Richard Branson. Katrina was a co-founder of Virgin Active, the gym chain. In her early career, she was a lawyer before joining McKinsey & Company as a management consultant working with Fortune 500 and ASX100 companies in retail, telecommunications, FMCG, mining, and financial services.

Talking Points

Millennials…can they be mastered?

Entitled, self-absorbed or simply misunderstood? Contiki Holidays Managing Director Katrina Barry shares her insights from leading 120 Millennials (Generation Y) over four years through a business transformation. She shares her insights on how to create environments that allow Millennials to thrive and challenges stereotypes of working attitudes. In this keynote, Katrina shares her secrets for getting enthusiasm, effort and performance from this notoriously challenging workforce segment.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Belly laughs, undercover boss stories, real consumer insights, paradigm shifts and powerful reflection exercises to challenge stereotypes.
VALUE PROPOSITION: Data briefing on the groundbreaking “Are Millennial’s f**cked series” with MTV including video content and 2M plus likes Facebook campaigns

Marketing to Gen Z

The Contiki story of how a 55-year-old brand remains world famous and relevant to every new generation is a master class in modern marketing. Katrina Barry explains the “magic fairy dust” that Contiki has used to be able to connect with its Gen Y, Z and Millennials. Katrina will detail how the Contiki brand has sold to the generations that “don’t want to be sold to”.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Detailed case studies, trends statistics on marketing to, and the difference between, Gen Z and Gen Y; content-led marketing insights; what brands need to know about these emerging generations; compelling social media content analysis
VALUE PROPOSITION: Learn about campaigns that spread like wildfire; why the direct sales approach does not work for these consumers

What gets your brand there doesn’t keep you there - Millennial brand evolution with insight

Lessons from Virgin and Contiki on how to stay ahead of the game. Katrina Barry details how iconic brands remain relevant decade after decade. She discusses her theory ‘What gets your brand there doesn’t keep you there’ and explains her strategies for keeping a brand fresh, relevant and evolving.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Breakdown of how ‘challenger’ brands like Virgin work; how the Contiki brand has evolved through its unique content marketing approach
VALUE PROPOSITION: Insights on Virgin and Contiki’s branding identity, philosophy and obsession with customer experiences.

Women in Leadership: starfish, gremlins and ignoring advice

Katrina Barry is a Managing Director who has never lost her down-to-earth, honest approach to leadership. She’s worked and lived in NZ, the UK, South Africa, Ecuador and Australia. She’s been a lawyer, a McKinsey management consultant, a head of strategy at Virgin, run digital and marketing division in a big bank, worked in recruitment, coal mining, investment banking and private equity, started and sold a gym chain, and even worked for the United Nations Development Program. In this keynote, she follows her career trajectory from high school drop out to Managing Director for a multinational superbrand and explains her unusual recipe for success.

WHAT TO EXPECT: The business case for female participation, representation and leadership. Reflection exercises on what needs to be done for championing women in leadership. Stats on, and case for closing, the gender gap as required.
VALUE PROPOSITION: Katrina’s unique recipe for personal success is outlined that involves taming gremlins and ignoring the advice!

The 10 things I learnt from working for Richard Branson

Across the seven years Katrina Barry worked for the Virgin Group, she did a lot more than building businesses for him - including having organise to have one of Richard Branson’s yachts cleaned and arranging, and even being in, headline grabbing press stunts. Katrina was a co-founder of the start-ups Virgin Money and Virgin Active that grew to 300 staff and looked after numerous other interests for billionaire Richard Branson in Australia. In her candid keynote, Katrina shares 10 lessons from one of the most powerful brands in the world that are relevant for every business.

WHAT TO EXPECT: How to challenge the ‘rules’ of business; learning in the deep end; how to seize opportunities and secrets of the Virgin HR strategy.
VALUE PROPOSITION: Case studies, learn about the mindset require to build billion-dollar businesses in different sectors; Virgin Group team-building, staff retention and delegation tactics.

A good strategy is hard to find

Throughout Katrina Barry’s career, she has discovered that businesses with a simple, clear and effective strategy and plan are as hard to find as a good man in Sydney. She outlines her tried and tested methods for developing and implementing business strategies developed from her experience at the world’s leading Management Consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

WHAT TO EXPECT: A step-by-step guide to how Katrina works with her teams annually to develop 12-month strategic plans; mapping annual plans against longer-term strategic plans.
VALUE PROPOSITION: Details of processes to ensure that businesses have absolute clarity and all levels of the organsisation around strategic planning; ensuring plans remain relevant and set up for success.

You can learn everything you need to know for your career from Farming

Katrina Barry is a senior executive who has travelled all over the world for some of the biggest brand and businesses. In this keynote she will explain why, at the end of the day, she is still just a farm girl. Katrina claims that one of her greatest mentors is her father, a farmer who has worked the land for 45 years and has never earned more than $17 an hour.

WHAT TO EXPECT: In-depth lessons and how they apply to business environments.
VALUE PROPOSITION: Fundamentals of farming and their application to growing businesses, teams and yourself. In particular HR, investment and work/life balance.

Gen Z: what to know about the next wave of consumers and staff

Whilst most brands are still focused on mastering millennials, those in the know are starting to think consumers and staff under the age of 23… - call them Gen Z, the iGen, Zellinials or MEME Gen, 20-somethings born in the mid-1990s to the early-2000s have come to the fore over the past 12 months as brands have shifted their focus from “Millennial first” to their younger generational peers. Whilst there are similarities to their millennial mates, they are a very different generation. Businesses and leaders need to know what they think, feel and care about , their unique language and how to engage with this soon to be huge economic force in the right way.

Innovation, customer service brilliance and marketing cut-through; what you can learn from irreverent brands like Virgin and Contiki

In this presentation Katrina shares stories and insights from 14 years working for two iconic, innovative and irreverent brands.
Katrina's ability to connect with the audience is unparalleled, she managed to keep everyone engaged throughout the session with great, interactive content. We're still hearing a lot of positive feedback days after the event, and most clients thought Katrina's talk on millennials was the highlight of the day. Not only was she able to exude a dynamic stage presence, she kept the audience hooked with data and questions on the topic, keeping them hungry for more information till the end. Highly recommend! Domain Group

Katrina Barry is a pleasure to work with and was a great addition to the line-up of keynote speakers for our 2018 Annual Conference. Katrina’s content provided delegates with simple yet strategically important, practical ways to ensure that your brand can remain relevant long into the future by simply asking the ‘why?’


We had 18 speakers at our last two events and Katrina was rated the top presenter of the day at both the events. I would highly recommend Katrina to any company who is looking for a professional, engaging speaker who can deliver a powerful message and can add the right amount of humour in her delivery. Her teachings have continued to have a dramatic ripple effect throughout the industry following the last event.

International Women’s Day Event for JITO

Katrina spoke at our Millennial 20/20 Australia Summit, and her session titled, ‘What gets your brand there doesn’t keep you there - Millennial brand evolution with insight’, was a highlight. Katrina gave a presentation full of insight using engaging examples of the work done at Contiki to reach a rapidly changing market. As a speaker, Katrina was dynamic, knowledgeable, fun, and most importantly, clearly passionate about the presentation content and her work. It was obvious that Katrina knew the content well and was excited to share it with our audience. She communicated her enthusiasm so effectively that a delegate made the point to find me after the session to tell me she felt it was one of the best presentations she’d seen. Additionally, when I needed a panellist at the last minute for a session on “The Future of Work”, Katrina was happy to step-up and assist. With minimal time to prepare, she spoke knowledgeably on the topic, was funny, and was an excellent addition to the session. I would highly recommend Katrina as a speaker.

Millennial 20/20 Sydney

Katrina was an absolute pleasure to work with for our recent Millennials Marketing Conference. From our initial planning conversations all the way through to the execution of her talk, she was a total professional. The content of the talk was an excellent standard. Katrina was also rated as one of our most engaging speakers in our feedback survey post event.

Millennials Market Conference and GROWTHTANK

The ever-luminescent Katrina Barry (MD Contiki) took care of the business side of the evening, launching Contiki’s new initiatives on stage with her trademark blend of sass and sharp humour that had the festival-esque crowd yelling and screaming in delight.

Leedham Creative and L3 Studios

Katrina was an excellent addition to our annual business conference. Her personal business insights and the ones drawn from her years working Virgin were thought provoking and engaging. I would highly recommend her.

Growth Potential

Katrina Barry was amazing and such a great choice as the guest speaker for the evening.

DLA Piper

Let's talk, enquire with Carol now

Carol Pedersen

Senior Consultant - Saxton Speakers

Let's talk, enquire with Carol now

Carol Pedersen

Senior Consultant - Saxton Speakers

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