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CEO and Leader


Growing up in Strathmerton, country Victoria, Kelly Ryan developed a love of sport. Country sports clubs are the essence of community and a magnet that brings everyone together, and it was this sense of togetherness became ingrained in Kelly and built a desire to work in that space.

A 20-year career in the Australian sporting industry followed, most recently as CEO of Netball Australia. Before that, Kelly worked in the AFL in various roles, including as a foundation Executive member of the Gold Coast Suns, an executive member of the Western Bulldogs during the 2016 Premiership triumph and the formation of the club’s AFLW team, and a leader of major events and customer experience at Marvel Stadium.

Never one to seek out leadership, Kelly believes it follows you to an extent. However, nothing has ever landed in her lap; every opportunity has been a result of her persistence and diligence in reaching set goals and taking calculated risks.

Identifying 14 years ago that she wanted to be a CEO, Kelly systematically mapped out what would be needed to achieve that and set about taking on roles and honing the skills and experience she needed to build a career that progressed towards fulfilling that goal. Kelly has also attended Harvard University, completing the Authentic Leadership program due to winning a scholarship with the AFL. She derives great job and personal satisfaction in building and driving an organisation's culture and its people and seeing that flow through to all parts of the business.

Kelly believes having resilience is key to being a woman in business and sport, as is staying true to your values. She found it important to understand there is a difference between pleasing everybody and sticking to your values and integrity in decision-making.

Through her experiences, she also understands the importance of identifying and understanding your values, living your values and staying true to your inner purpose.

Talking Points

Values and Purpose Led Leadership

Being an authentic leader is more critical now than ever before. This starts with understanding your values and your purpose and leading from here.

Leading through Challenge

The path to growth is not easy. Understanding how to lead through change and challenge is integral to any leader.

Cultivating a High Performing Culture

Using real world stories from my sporting background, understand how you can build a high performing culture on and off the field.


Being a leader is hard and having resilience is a super power. Understand how resilience grows your leadership capacity.
Kelly Ryan I was in the room, and you were exceptional. On every front. Like all outstanding leaders do, you delivered your story and words correctly, and with humility and you were considerate to everyone. Most people won't understand your brevity during your time at NA, but it shone through yesterday. And the sacrifices you make when you are in a challenger situation are immense, and these are the hard parts that are never published by the media. Well done on your time at NA - you were a changemaker in every way. WeAre8
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