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Leading company director, author and creator of #CelebratingWomen

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.

Honours and Awards:

Some of Dr Kirstin Ferguson’s awards include:
2018 - Queensland Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership by Women & Leadership Australia

2017 - Finalist in the Walkley Foundation Our Watch Awards for Best Use of Social Media for #CelebratingWomen

2014 - Named by the Australian Financial Review as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence (Board & Management Category)

2015 - Awarded Dr Eric Wigglesworth Medal by Safety Institute of Australia

2012 - Awarded QUT Colin Brain Corporate Governance Fellowship

2012 - Awarded Australian Institute of Company Directors Talbot Foundation Scholarship

2005 - Awarded Brisbane Young Manager of the Year by Australian Institute of Management

2003 - Awarded Sir Winston Churchill Fellowship

1998 - Received the Australian Defence Medal

1993 - Awarded Chief of Defence Force Air Force prize as top
graduating RAAF cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy

Talking Points

Lessons of Leadership: From the parade ground to the boardroom

Dr Kirstin Ferguson has had an incredibly diverse career after joining the military when she was only 17, then studying law and working in professional services, before leading a global consultancy of psychologists. She has honours degrees in military history and law and a PhD in leadership and culture, is an avid user of social media, is the author of Women Kind and the creator of a Walkley nominated social media campaign. She is also one of Australia’s leading company directors on a range of corporate boards. In this presentation, Kirstin discusses some of her career choices and lessons she has learnt along the way. Attendees at events where Kirstin has spoken of her career journey to date routinely provide feedback about her inspirational leadership and feel empowered after she speaks to make courageous decisions for themselves.

Authentic Leadership: Leading with strength from within

Dr Ferguson has always advocated the importance for all leaders, regardless of their seniority, to lead authentically. There is no weakness in being prepared to admit where you may need assistance as a leader, and in fact being able to ask for advice and help from those you lead can generate a strong culture of feedback and mutual respect. Using her experience as a leader for over 20 years, including of groups of professionals from diverse cultures such as the military, lawyers and psychologists, in this presentation Dr Ferguson discusses the strengths she has found as a leader in being able to lead authentically. In this practical presentation, Dr Ferguson will provide ideas and suggestions for how all leaders can start to incorporate authenticity into their leadership style.

Future of Leadership

Just as the Future of Work will reshape how our workplaces operate, leaders of the future will need to readily adapt to this changing environment making it an exciting time for those leaders willing to embrace the opportunity. The Future of Leadership will require leaders to seamlessly combine the ‘hard skills’ that business leaders will always need (analysing financials, driving strategy, assessing risk) with a deep sense of understanding and willingness to embrace the ‘soft skills’ of leadership (emotional intelligence, actively seeking diversity in the boardroom, ensuring inclusive corporate cultures etc). A leader of the future will have both in equal measures ultimately leading to better outcomes and more sustainable, successful organisations In this presentation, Dr Ferguson will combine her experience as a CEO and leading company director with her award winning academic research in leadership to discuss the skills that every leader of the future will need to enhance and focus on the opportunities that arise for leaders and organisations alike.

Creating an inclusive and diverse corporate culture

It is not enough for any organisation to simply state ‘we want diversity’. Much harder is to create a truly inclusive culture that ensures diverse employees are truly included once they arrive. Diversity also needs to be considered through all its visible forms (age, gender, ethnicity, physical ability) and invisible forms (experience, educational background, skill sets, tenure). In this presentation, Dr Ferguson argues that inclusion must be the strategy, and from that diversity will follow. She will prompt attendees to consider their own conscious and unconscious biases and provide strategies to overcome these for the future. She will also discuss the importance of setting a vision for your corporate culture and the important role that leaders play in ensuring that vision becomes more than simply words on a page.

The Accidental Activist - An awakening towards understanding diversity and inclusion

In this speech, Dr Kirstin Ferguson will discuss her journey of developing an increasing awareness around issues of gender equality which ultimately led her to become what she has described as being an “Accidental Activist”. Having avoided ‘women’s events’ for much of her career, Kirstin eventually became a leading advocate for diversity and inclusion and created the global #CelebratingWomen campaign. In this presentation Dr Ferguson explains her motivations and the subsequent impact the campaign has had, including in as a corporate leader. Dr Ferguson uses her own leadership experience to show how we can each demonstrate leadership online and will provide examples and tools for how all leaders can use social media effectively.


  • Culture
  • Mastering Leadership
  • CEO & Company Directors
  • Trust & Ethics


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Politics & Advocacy

  • Military
  • Leadership
  • Intergenerational Leadership
Last night, I attended the ceremony where you delivered the key note address. I wanted to reach out and say how much I enjoyed your speech - in particular your sense of humour and humility when talking about the "sliding doors" moments that led you to where you are today. Thank you for generously sharing your story. QUT Law Faculty
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