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speaker

Kirstin
Ferguson

Award-winning and globally recognised leadership expert

  • Engage
The real ‘art’ of modern leadership is being able to balance the leadership skills of the head and heart in the right way, at the right time
Profile

While curiosity, analysis, strategy and technical expertise will always be important; humility, insight, courage and empathy are just as vital. Leading with the head and the heart is the art of modern leadership and is an ethos Kirstin embodies, and inspires others to live by, every day.

Kirstin Ferguson is changing the way the world looks at leadership. As an award-winning and globally recognised leader, executive coach, company director, writer and speaker, she’s one of Australia’s most prominent leadership experts, derived from her 30-year executive career in addition to her PhD in leadership and culture

Current work:

Kirstin’s career includes over a decade of experience on a range of company boards, including a recent appointment by the Australian Prime Minister as Acting Chair and Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She’s also been the CEO of a global consulting company, a senior executive at a leading corporate law firm, and spent nearly 10 years as an Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force.

A passionate advocate for women, diversity and inclusion, she’s responsible for sparking a viral social media campaign called #CelebratingWomen, and is the co-author of award-winning book, Women Kind. Her next book, Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership will be published by Penguin Random House.
Kirstin is also making a global impact, with UK-based Thinkers50 naming her one of the world’s top 30 “Thinkers to Watch” in 2021. Currently, Kirstin is a sought-after executive coach and public speaker, she is working on her next leadership book, sits on multiple boards and writes for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, answering the nation’s work, leadership and culture questions in her weekly column, Got A Minute?

Previous experience:

During Kirstin’s executive career, she was the CEO of an international consulting organisation primarily comprised of psychologists. Kirstin also spent a number of years as a senior executive in a large corporate law firm and began her career as an Officer in the Air Force. Kirstin has a PhD, Honours degree in Law and also an Honours degree in History.

Kirstin has been named one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence, is a Churchill Fellow and the recipient of a number of industry and academic awards.

Expertise
Talking Points

Master of Ceremonies

Kirstin has established herself as a respected and engaging MC of multi-day industry conferences, gala dinners and other corporate events. Kirstin hosts her events with warmth, humour and professionalism and is able to keep audiences highly engaged whether they comprise more than 1000 people or are much smaller gatherings.

As an avid user of social media, Kirstin works hard to ensure event hashtags are effectively used by audiences where this is to the client. Kirstin finds she is generally able to encourage even usually reserved crowds to start tweeting, taking selfies and posting about the event.

On more than a few occasions Kirstin's enthusiasm for audiences to use social media has seen the event trending (and fortunately for all the right reasons!). As an engaging keynote speaker herself, Kirstin is often invited by clients to provide a brief keynote during proceedings she MCs or to provide commentary between speakers to help audience members link back to the themes of the event. Kirstin also always ensures the event
follows closely to time.

Kirstin has been engaged by clients to MC events over multiple days at international industry conferences as well as facilitate and MC much smaller, more intimate corporate events such as a corporate lunch.

Head and Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership

In this keynote address, Kirstin utilises personal stories, the latest research and highly practical advice to provide audiences with an inspiring and entertaining call to action for audiences to think about their own personal leadership and to becoming modern leaders - regardless of their formal position - who lead from both the head and the heart.

Kirstin believes that while curiosity, analysis, strategy and technical expertise will always be important; humility, insight, courage and empathy is just as vital.

Leading with the head and the heart is the art of modern leadership and is an ethos Kirstin embodies, and inspires others to live by, every day.

Key takeaways from this session include practical advice to help audiences:
- Understand what applying emotional intelligence, or leading with the heart, looks like as for modern leader;
- Inspire leaders to consider the legacy they leave as a leader and to understand the impact their actions are already having on others;
- Explain how to develop a leadership style which encourages people to feel able to speak up in the workplace;
- Reflect on the choices made during their own career to understand how those choices have shaped the leader they are today; and
- Be entertained, inspired and moved by stories that will resonate with a wide range of audience members.

Kirstin’s second book, Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership will be published by Penguin Random House.

A typical session will see Kirstin speak for 30 mins followed by a 25 min ‘fireside chat’ including Q&A. These timings can be varied as required.

Trust and Purpose for Modern Leaders


In this keynote address, Kirstin inspires audiences to think about the role they play as leaders - regardless of their level in an organisation - in leading a purpose-led organisation through ethical leadership.

Focusing on the skills of emotional intelligence, Kirstin uses case studies, current research and personal examples to provide audiences with ways that leaders can lead with purpose, build and maintain trust and lead in a way that ensures all members of their team are motivated to speak up.

Key takeaways from this session include practical advice to help audiences -
- Understand what emotional intelligence looks like for leaders in the workplace;
- Consider the lessons of recent corporate failures and the loss of trust by leaders to understand how to recognise those signs and prevent it in your own corporate culture;
- Understand how to lead a purpose-led organisation through the traits of ethical leadership;
- Understand the benefits for corporate culture when leaders are able to build trust and encourage an environment where people feel able to speak up; and
- Consider ways in which leading purpose is especially important when leading multigenerational
teams.

A typical session will see Kirstin speak for 30 mins followed by a 25 min ‘fireside chat’ including Q&A. These timings can be varied as required.

Diversity and Inclusion for Modern Leaders

Kirstin is has been formally recognised for her excellence in women’s leadership, is the author of Women Kind and she is a self-described ‘Accidental Activist’ after she created the widely acclaimed #CelebratingWomen campaign. Kirstin is a senior leader who can bring an incredibly unique, personal experience to any discussion of diversity and inclusion.

Drawing on her own personal experiences as a leader in gender equality as well what she learnt as the creator of the widely acclaimed #CelebratingWomen campaign, Kirstin will inspire audiences to think about the practical ways they can help drive diversity and inclusion through amplifying role models.

Through using personal stories, case studies and the latest research, Kirstin engages and encourages audience members of men and women to consider the role they can play in creating an inclusive workforce and why this is so important for modern leaders of purpose led organisations.

Key takeaways from this session include practical advice to help audiences -
- Understand why inclusion must be the strategy for diversity initiatives to work;
- Inspire audiences to consider the variety of diverse role models we have around us and why amplifying their stories enhances our workplaces;
- Consider why diverse workplaces are so important for organisations and why all leaders have a role to play;
- Understand what emotional intelligence looks like for leaders in the workplace and why this is relevant for helping drive diversity and inclusion; and
- Consider the ways in which developing a diverse workplace can also help enhance trust.

A typical session will see Kirstin speak for 30 mins followed by a 25 min ‘fireside chat’ including Q&A. These timings can be varied as required.

Lessons of Leadership: From the parade ground to the boardroom

Dr Ferguson was one of only a small percentage of women who went through the Australian Defence Force Academy in the early 1990s, a period which has come under broad criticism for its treatment of female cadets at the time. Yet Dr Ferguson was able to succeed in that challenging environment and went on to be awarded the highest prize on graduation of her Air Force class before serving as an Officer in the Air Force at an F-111 Squadron.

In this presentation, Dr Ferguson draws on her experience in those early years in the military to discuss how it can be applied in a corporate context. Dr Ferguson is uniquely positioned as one of only a handful of senior Australian business leaders who started their careers in the military and have gone on to have highly successful careers in the corporate world.

In this presentation, Dr Ferguson shows how she has spent her career leading with the head and the heart and the leadership lessons she has learnt along the way. Dr Ferguson inspires those in the audience to consider how they might look back on the advice they would have given themselves at the start of their careers and prompts them to think about the advice they hope to have listened to from themselves in the future.

Through using personal stories, case studies and the latest research, Kirstin engages and encourages audience members of men and women to consider the role they can play in creating an inclusive workforce and why this is so important for modern leaders of purpose led organisations.

Key takeaways from this session include practical advice to help audiences:
- Understand what applying emotional intelligence, or leading with the heart, looks like as for modern leader;
- Inspire leaders to think about their own leadership legacy;
- Reflect on the choices made during their own career to understand how those choices have shaped the leader they are today; and
- Be entertained, inspired, and moved by stories that will resonate with a wide range of audience members.

A typical session will see Kirstin speak for 30 mins followed by a 25 min ‘fireside chat’ including Q&A. These timings can be varied as required.
Media
Audio
Feedback
I've just landed back in Sydney and still feel inspired by our lunch - thanks so much for your wonderful insights and refreshing candour, it set the scene for an open, engaged gathering where people shared and learnt from each other - that's a special kind of magic! Australian Industry Group

Out of all the presenters she was by far the best in regard to content, presentation and relevance to business. It is very pleasing to here that in her role as a Company Director that health and safety sits at the top of the agenda.

Safeguard New Zealand Conference

Thank you for taking the time to speak at the 2017 Campbell Institute Symposium. It was a great opportunity to hear about engaging Board of Directors with environment, health and safety. I look forward to identifying opportunities to make our world safer with you in the future.

National Safety Council USA

I found it interesting and thought provoking. The contrast of your examples got me thinking about the underlying premise of we believe we should invest heavily in seeking to have safer workplaces. I'm sure I'll ponder that all weekend and I wouldn't have started think about that issue, were it not for your presentation. You've had an impact. You've also given me a greater understanding of what an "integrated" (if I can use your word) business looks. All up well worth attending and you are an enjoyable presenter to listen to.

Women in Safety

Dr Kirstin Ferguson has emerged into the speaking circuit as one of our nation’s most engaging and inspiring speakers. When Dr Ferguson addresses a room, her energy and passionate commitment to the cause of diversity and inclusiveness is infectious. People really listen and believe every word she says. Her approach is endearing, her connection to people is truly authentic and her leadership is undeniable. Like the most inspiring speakers and leaders, you will hang on every word she says and never forget how great she makes you feel

DibbsBaker

It was tremendous yesterday listening to Dr Kirstin Ferguson at the lexvoco legal ops masterclass. A very down to earth, authentic person with an extraordinary resume and story.

Lexvoco

It was my great honour to host Dr Kirstin Ferguson on behalf of the EML Group today and learn, cheer and lean in to her experience of authenticity, intellect, emotional intelligence and instinct in leadership. We have all benefited from her global movement of #CelebratingWomen and today from her generosity.

CEO of EMLife

Your manner and style as our MC simply exuded positive inspiration and professionalism. Your involvement with Ozwater so helped set the tone for the conference’s Evolution, Revolution theme and perfectly reflected the professionalism of the overall delivery of the event. Having an MC with your communication skills and direct experience in the water sector gave the conference a special polish not often seen at such events. Thank you so much for your work - it was truly appreciated by all of us at the Association and importantly by our delegates

Australian Water Association

Your capture of what is needed to build trust today and the traits of strong leaders powerfully set the tone for the Congress program. I received an amazing amount of positive feedback on your presentation and you were rated in our top five speakers in our post delegate survey! Many thanks again for the insights and experiences shared. It was a very memorable and moving address.

Property Council of Australia

Thank you so much for facilitating this in such a natural, authentic and inspiring manner. The combination of your knowledge and experience in the world of work and Adam Grant’s insights made for an amazing experience. We had thousands of people from 24 countries logged in and the feedback we have already received has been amazing. Thanks for representing us and welcome to the Growth Faculty team.

The Growth Faculty

Thank you for presenting at the navy leadership conference in Cairns the other day. I found it very interesting, and your keynote address was incredibly motivating.

Navy Emerging Leaders
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