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Leading company director, author and creator of #CelebratingWomen

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Leaders with emotional intelligence will always be better leaders.

Dr Kirstin Ferguson is one of Australia’s leading company directors, an award-winning expert on corporate culture and governance, author, creator of an international social media phenomenon and sought-after commentator on leadership, diversity and inclusion.

Current Work

Kirstin is the Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a non-executive director on ASX listed and private company boards including SCA Property Group Ltd, EML Payments Ltd and Hyne Pty Ltd. She is also the Chair of the People and Remuneration Committees on each of these boards.

Kirstin has contributed to the community through numerous voluntary roles including having been a board member of Layne Beachley’s Foundation, SheStarts, Queensland Theatre Company, Queensland Rugby Union, a mentor with Science and Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM program and she was the Chair of the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.

She was the creator of the Walkley Award nominated #CelebratingWomen campaign which became a viral social media movement. She is also the author of Women Kind, a book she co-wrote with Catherine Fox about unlocking the power of women supporting women.

Kirstin is an Adjunct Professor at the QUT School of Business. She has Honours degrees in Law and also History, as well as a PhD in corporate culture, leadership and governance for which she has received industry and academic awards. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a graduate of both the Company Director Course and International Company Director Course.

Kirstin is an advocate for gender diversity and equality in the workplace, she is a member of national and international women’s organisations including Chief Executive Women, Women Corporate Directors and the Women’s Leadership Institute of Australia.

Previous Experience

Military Service: After joining the military at the age of 17, Kirstin graduated as Dux of her Air Force graduating class at the Australian Defence Force Academy. She was then posted to an F-111 Squadron, went on to study law and became admitted as a solicitor before becoming CEO of a global consulting business.

Talking Points

Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Kirstin believes the most effective leaders are those who can build and maintain trust by being emotionally intelligent and authentic. Using her own experience as a leader for more than 20 years, including leading groups of professionals from the military, lawyers and psychologists and now corporate boards, Kirstin considers more broadly how all leaders have the ability to lead with strength through authenticity and demonstrate what she calls ‘corporate courage’. In this practical presentation, Kirstin will provide ideas and suggestions for how all leaders can develop their emotional intelligence to enhance their leadership style and build and maintain trust. Kirstin will tailor the speech to the attendees and the industry she is speaking with to ensure it focuses on providing practical examples for enhancing the power of their personal leadership.

Trust and Purpose for Leaders

We often think about trust in terms of the loss of trust in an institution such as government, a company or an industry. However every institution is simply a collection of individuals. In this speech Kirstin focuses on ‘individualised trust’ and what individuals within those institutions - leaders at all levels - need to do to build and maintain trust. Kirstin will also talk about the need for purpose that is aligned with company values, particularly as leaders are increasingly expected to have a view on challenging social issues. This speech will prompt leaders at all levels to think about their own leadership style and purpose, consider ways in which social media is being used to leaders’ advantage (and peril) in promoting trust, and prompt attendees to start thinking about what they need to do to build trust amongst their employees, external stakeholders and the broader community.

Corporate culture, ethics and governance

Kirstin’s expertise in corporate culture and governance comes from sitting on Australia’s largest boards for over a decade, and through her award-winning PhD research into leadership, culture and governance. Kirstin is frequently invited to speak on panels or give keynotes on a range of corporate governance issues relating to business today including corporate culture, ethics and trust, remuneration and incentives, and safety governance.

Personal Story

Kirstin has had an incredibly diverse career that includes joining the military when she was only 17, studying law, working in professional services, and leading a global consultancy of psychologists. She has Honours Degrees in military history and law, and a PhD in leadership and culture. She is an avid social media user, creator of the Walkley nominated campaign #CelebratingWomen AND is the author of Women Kind. She is also one of Australia’s leading company directors and sits on numerous corporate boards. In this presentation, Kirstin discusses some of her career choices and lessons she has learnt along the way. The story of Kirstin’s career journey encourages and empowers others to make courageous decisions for themselves.

Future of Leadership/Intergenerational Leadership

Relevant for board members and leaders at all levels, Kirstin discusses what the future holds for leaders and prompts them to consider whether their current leadership style will be the most effective for leading future generations. Kirstin will talk about the importance of authentic, emotionally intelligent leaders, as well as ways in which leaders can build and maintain trust with employees and identify a purpose that aligns with the expectations of employees, external stakeholders and the broader community.

Diversity and Inclusion

Kirstin is a sought after commentator and speaker on diversity and inclusion issues, particularly as it relates to women in leadership and gender equality. Kirstin created the viral #CelebratingWomen social media campaign and is the author of Women Kind : Unlocking the Power of Women Supporting Women. Kirstin speaks on panels and delivers keynotes on a range of diversity and inclusion issues, including the need to focus on inclusion as the strategy from which diversity will naturally follow, the importance of role models from all walks of life, women on boards and women in leadership.

Social Media Leaders

Kirstin created a widely acclaimed social media campaign called #CelebratingWomen and is an active user of all of the major social media platforms. Kirstin can speak on panels or deliver a keynote on social media for business leaders, how CEOs are using social media to drive company purpose and trust, her experience in building a social media campaign and the benefits of using social media ‘for good’ by business.

Health and Safety

Kirstin was previously the CEO of a global health and safety consulting organisation and has a PhD focused on safety leadership for board members and senior leaders. Kirstin has also developed a model to measure safety governance maturity. Kirstin’s PhD research has been recognised through a number of industry awards and she has opened international conferences with her keynotes on health and safety leadership, mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, and the importance of effective safety governance.


  • Culture
  • Mastering Leadership
  • CEO & Company Directors
  • Trust & Ethics
  • Purpose & Vision
  • Future of Work


  • Inspiring Stories
  • Resilience

Politics & Advocacy

  • Military
  • Leadership
  • Reputation
  • Intergenerational Leadership
  • Women's Rights
Excellent - loved her! So interesting and engaging. Very influential, loved her attitude and drive. Women in Leadership Summit
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