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Authentic Leadership

30 March @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

                                  “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” Brené Brown

MLC Building, 105 Miller St, North Sydney

In the highly competitive world of big business, the idea of a leader being authentic (especially if that involves vulnerability)  is unheard of. Traditionally we have put business leaders on a pedestal and given them a ‘god-like’ status where they have all the power and can seldom be wrong. And even if they do make the wrong call, they deflect responsibility to other factors.

For most traditional leaders, having control is critical so the idea of demonstrating any vulnerability would be perceived as loss of control and therefore failure as a leader, which is unacceptable in most organisations.

However, there is a new leader that is emerging. A leader who takes responsibility for his own actions and not shy to say “I was wrong or I don’t know’.

This leader leads with a strong sense of humility balancing strength and vulnerability with the team.  The authentic  leader has a high level of engagement in their team because the team sees someone like them, with similar fears and insecurities, taking on the challenge of leading by example.  Authentic  leaders build loyalty and create great business outcomes with their teams because they create an environment of trust and collaboration.

So what does authenticity  look like in the world of big business and  everyone is paranoid of how they are perceived? What does it take to be authentic  and how can we cultivate this quality? What is that fine line where vulnerability translates into strength vs. weakness? And most importantly what is the business impact of authenticity on business outcomes?

Join us for a fascinating conversation when business and thought leaders sharing perspectives on what it really looks like to lead with authenticity and how this creates better outcomes for all.

The event will be co-hosted with Elizabeth Granger from Openground and we are grateful to Andrew Gale for providing access to the venue.


9:00 – 9.10: Welcome

Muneesh Wadhwa, Founder, Humanity in Business






9.10- 9.15, Sponsor Welcome: Ush Dhanak, Collaborate HRush-dhanak




9.15 – 10.15Workshop & Case Study

Leading Authentically: Why it is fundamental to engagement and performance and how to do it right.

Michael Bunting, Director, Work Smartm bunting





natalieNatalie McNeil, HR Director, Novartis

Novartis Australia successfully transformed their culture and dramatically improved their engagement scores and staff turnover numbers. Today their culture is a strength, and their leadership team’s levels of trust and engagement from the business are at an all time high. The core of that was a Mindful Leadership process combined with an HR Director determined to model authentic leadership and hold her senior leaders accountable to the highest values. Truly self-aware leaders, however, know that values perfection is impossible. So how do we strike a balance between being an inspiration for the finest values and paradoxically acknowledging our frailties?

This workshop will lay out the path for how to get that balance right, so you can ensure the highest levels of trust and engagement in your team, just as Novartis did.



10.15 – 11.15:The Authorship of Authentic Leaders

Prof David RooneyProfessor David Rooney, Macquarie University




Dr Steven Segal, Macquarie Graduate School of ManagementSteven Segal

Leaders develop their authenticity and authorship through the way in which they respond to and overcome adversity. This is exemplified in political leaders like Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. In a corporate context leaders like Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel and Time “man of the year” in 1997 wrote extensively about the way in which he developed his authorship as a leader through emotions such as anxiety — so too did Ricardo Semler of SEMCO. Even Machiavelli writes of the significance of working with emotions to develop the power of authenticity. In all of the leaders mentioned above, their power lay in no particular technical competence but in the attitude that enabled them to actualise themselves as leaders through the way in which they responded under extreme conditions. This was more often than not with a mixture of quiet resolve,  humility, self determination and mindfulness.

In this talk we will offer you an appreciation of the process of mastery required for authenticity and development of your own voice as a leader. We will also invite you to reflect on nurturing your ways of responding to moments of adversity. There is no one way to the authorship of authenticity. You need to find the way that works for you and we will facilitate the beginnings of this.

In this discussion, we will help leaders:
– Develop the emotional intelligence of strategic vision
– Develop the yin yang of resilience and flexibility, openness but focus
– Allowing chaos to reign in order to reign chaos in
– Bringing out the best in others
– Leading in the unknown

11.15 – 11.45Morning Tea

11.45 – 12.30:

Finding the Ground For Authentic Conversations

Timothea Goddard,  Openground

Much of the actual work of leadership involves being paid to talk; not just any old talk but skilful, generous and enabling conversations.  Humans are social animals and the social landscape is complex and nuanced.  Sometimes the conversation that is going to be the most skilful or necessary is challenging to ourselves or the other party.

In this short experiential workshop we will explore some exercises and practices which can serve us to open to and be curious about the current conversations that are challenging for us as leaders and as people.   We will explore ways to examine, soften and embolden ourselves – so that we can go forth in ways that serve the context well.

12.30 – 1.15: LUNCH

1.15 -1.55 pm: The Place of Vulnerability in Creativity and Innovation.

Steve Pozel, Innovation Strategist, former CEO and Creative Director of the Australian Design Centres pozel

To be vulnerable is to be open to risk and failure, two aspects critical to achieving creative breakthroughs and innovative success. Remaining curious is at the core of creativity and questioning everything (divergent thinking) is a key tool in the innovation process. In a world where disruption is the new norm, business and industry have to re-imagine the mindset required for the generation of new ideas, services and strategies. Vulnerability is intrinsically linked to this 21st century mindset.



1.55 – 2.35pm: What if we’ve got motivation all wrong? Shaping greatness: Performance and Vulnerability

Lisa Forrest, Olympian

Somewhere along the way, we’ve traded the love and joy of the game for the language of scarcity and the unforgiving philosophies like when-the-going-gets-tough-the-tough-get-going, no-pain-no-gain. We’ve forgotten that what we used to call butterflies-in-the-tummy are a normal response to the fear of a new challenge – not a pathological condition – and if met with kindness and encouragement can be the gateway to inspired performance.  

Swapping self-criticism for self-compassion has never been more difficult but the leader who can do it will have the edge.

2.35 – 3.20pm: Case Study

Transformational Leadership in Practice

Tim Ebbeck, (ex CEO) Oracle Australia & New Zealand, in conversation with Elizabeth Grangert ebbeck

I joined Oracle when the business had been underperforming for a number of years and there was no real growth for 5 years.
Staff were at 75% of capacity with staff attrition at 35%
Very poor customer satisfaction and dysfunctional sales engagement led to very poor collaboration
There was no sense of success and a very tough and imposing top down culture
I have a love for teamwork, and have an authentic focus on people, which makes me different from other leaders. I believe people are the most important part of any business. A great idea with average people will fail, but an average idea with great people has a real chance. I build strong teams that have the energy, intelligence, and balance to make ideas shine. Together we succeed through thick and thin, always with a sense of humour and authenticity.

With this mindset I transformed the local operations of some of the world’s largest companies. From my early days as a CFO, to my time at SAP & NBN and my current role as MD of Oracle ANZ and with CPA Australia, my focus on people, teamwork, and making the right decisions at the right moment were the keys to success.

  • Returned business to +30% growth after years of stagnancy
  • Returned business to 100% staff capacity from a period of very high attrition
  • Grew cloud business 200%

3.20 – 3.40pm: Afternoon Tea

3.40-4.25pm: Case Study 

How Transparent and Authentic Leadership can Enable Business Transformation.

Mark Bilton (ex) Group MD, Gloria Jeans Coffee & MD ThoughtPatrol, in conversation with Elizabeth Grangerm bilton

Gloria Jean’s Coffees was in a word of trouble with declining sales, angry Franchisee and systemic problems.
Having over 440 franchise partners in Australia and operating in 40 Countries presented an enormous challenge for incoming Group Managing Director Mark Bilton.
The scale, complexity and urgent nature of the change required would usually necessitate a ‘command and control’ leadership response.
Mark chose to operate in his usual modus operandi as an Authentic Leader.
Leading with transparency, vulnerability, and collaboration led to a dramatic turnaround, not only for the shareholders with a $163M transaction, but also for the Franchisees seeing an average 10% growth in revenues and a 25% increase in profitability.
Seemingly ‘soft’ leadership values resulted in ‘hard’ commercial outcomes.
Come and hear Mark’s story and find out how a transparent and authentic leadership approach enabled this business transformation

4.25-5.15.pm: Leadership Panel Discussion

How can we create a culture of authenticity in the workplace?

What does authentic stakeholder engagement look like?

How do we recruit, train, educate our future leaders so they develop into authentic leaders?

How can we be more authentic in large organisations?

Moderator: Elizabeth Granger, Openground 147876291219647-1




Mark Bilton, ex Group MD, Gloria Jeans Coffee & MD Thought Patrol




Nick dasek

Nick Dasek, Leadership Recruiter, Atlassian




Matthew Lawrance, Chief Technology & Operations Officer (Acting), NABmatt-lawrance





Natalie McNeil, HR Director, Novartis                                                                                                                          natalie





5.15pm: Closing Remarks 

Muneesh Wadhwa, Founder Humanity in Business  



$610 +GST per attendee

$1020+ GST for 2 attendees

Humanity in Business is supporting St. Laurence House with this event by giving $10 of every ticket purchase to support homeless youth.  


Thought Leaders




147876291219647-1Elizabeth Granger is a founding co-director of Openground for Organisations Pty Ltd, which offers tailored mindfulness programs to a range of different organisations. She is also a qualified trainer in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) having taught MBSR for many years to members of the public through Openground. 

Prior to that, Elizabeth worked as a litigation lawyer for 14 years, including at partnership level during that period.

Given her corporate background, Elizabeth has been passionate about bringing mindfulness into organisations and is strongly committed to helping people maximise their full potential as well as effecting organisational cultural change.

She is also on the MEC Advisory Board of Australia21 – a not for profit public think tank which specialises in promoting new evidence based thinking about the big issues confronting Australia in a rapidly changing global environment


Prof David RooneyDavid Rooney is Professor of Management in Faculty of Business and  Economics at Macquarie University. His research focuses on understanding  the role of wisdom and knowledge in the economy, work, and leadership. He  has published a number of books including Public Policy in Knowledge-Based  Economies, the Handbook on the Knowledge Economy (Vols 1 & 2), Knowledge  Policy, and Wisdom and Management in the Knowledge Economy. David regularly  presents seminars, workshops and keynotes around the world.   

I run marathons to keep my mind awake,  do mindfulness meditation every day to help me be who I am, and I play bass  guitar to remind me that great things happen from unity.

Timothea Goddard

is recognised as a pioneer in bringing MBSR to Australia over the past 12 years and is an accredited teacher through the Center for Mindfulness, UMass Medical Center, USA. She is the founding Director of Openground – an Australia-wide network of clinicians and teachers offering MBSR and related mindfulness programs, workshops and retreats for individuals, organizations and schools.

Timothea has worked in private practice for 28 years as a psychotherapist and educator. She also works with organisations to design and implement mindfulness based programs for stress reduction, leadership and innovation. In 2013 she co-founded founded the Mindfulness Training Institute – Australasia and is involved in teacher training of mindfulness teachers in the region. She is passionate about pedagogy and is actively involved in the process of creating an international network of teacher training organisations to care for integrity and standards.

Lisa Forrest, Olympianl-forrest

Lisa is an Australian Commonwealth Games dual gold medalist in swimming. At age 16 Forrest was the captain of the team at the 1980 Summer Olympics.  She was a finalist in the Women’s 4x100-metre medley relay in swimming at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

After retiring from competitive swimming she was a sports commentator, actor, reporter, writer, and media personality

Mark Bilton (ex) Group MD, Gloria Jeans Coffee and MD Thought Patrolm bilton

Mark has an MBA from Auckland University and is a Fellow of both the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Management. Mark has led transformational change in many sectors and is internationally recognized for excellence in ‘Business Transformation’. In 2011 he was awarded the “Young Presidents Organization’s’’ prestigious “Terry Plochman Award” for global “Best of the Best”. In 2014 he received the Michael Page ‘Australian Retail Executive Award’.

m bunting

Michael Bunting is CEO of WorkSmart Australia in January 2003 with the specific intent of bringing a truly authentic, mindful and disciplined approach to leadership development. In late 2008 Michael partnered with two of the world’s most famous leadership development experts, Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner, to bring an even higher level of research, rigor and expertise to WorkSmart’s offerings.

Michael is constantly innovating in an obsessive quest to answer the question,“What does it take to sustainably and positively transform leadership, team and organisational behaviour?” This question has led Michael and his team to challenge the very paradigms of their profession.

Nathalie McNeil,  Human Resources Director Novartis Australia,natalie

Nat joined the Pharmaceutical  Industry 17 years ago. She has held a number of roles in Australia and abroad, across multiple disciplines including Medical,  Marketing, Strategy and more recently Human Resources. While her leadership career is diverse, she has consistently maintained a sharp focus on the People Strategies that drive Business Performance. With a keen interest in Leadership Development, Change Excellence and Organisational Health, her most recent
assignment as HRD for Novartis has yielded impressive outcomes for the company.

Nick dasekNick Dasek is a Technical Leadership Recruiter for Atlassian. He is passionate about solving critical hiring needs for progressive organizations. Prior to Atlassian, he spent six years at Google driving the diversity leadership hiring program and recruiting software engineers.
Nick believes in working hard, trying new things, and taking chances even if the outcome is unclear.

s pozel

Steve Pozel is former CEO of Australian Design Centre and has worked with hundreds of the world’s leading creatives exploring ideas and disciplines that are driving the world forward. Over the last thirty years, in both Canada and Australia, Steve’s research and work in design thinking, creativity and innovation has been the catalyst to consult to a broad range of industries – from banking and telecommunications to engineering and property development, and from cultural and community organisations to State and Federal Governments.

Steve thrives on being able to visit great museums and galleries around the world. When not traveling or working in Sydney, he spends as much time as he can at his home in the Blue Mountains. Steve is also exceptionally bad at karaoke and does not have a discerning wine palate.

Steven SegalDr Steven Segal is a Senior Lecturer in Management at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management and a registered psychologist. Through his range of teaching, research and publications he creates the space for students, researchers and practicing managers to bring out the best in themselves, to develop their own theories of practice as a basis for developing practical wisdom and making a contribution to knowledge. Creating unexpected futures through research and teaching underpins his educational process.

Steven’s work is informed by both his personal and professional experience. His own lived experience of anxiety and depression has challenged him to think “outside of his cave,” opening up unexpected, surprising and exciting possibilities for himself and others. He has coined the term “anxietment” to describe the way in which working through the uncertainty of anxiety creates the space for previously unimagined futures.

Tim Ebbeck, (ex)MD, Oracle Australiat ebbeck

Tim has over 30 years’ experience in business in a range of industries and roles.
He is a thought leader and was awarded a LinkedIn Power Profile in 2015.
Tim is presently a director of ASX listed Nvoi Limited, a director of CPA Australia, and a trustee of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in NSW. He is also the principal of his own consultancy focused on Transformation, Innovation and Growth.
Previously, Tim was Managing Director of Oracle in Australia and New Zealand where he lead a significant transformation of the business and returned the business to material growth with a shift from traditional on-premise operations to a vibrant, diversified organisation leading in the cloud

Mattthew Lawrance,
 Chief Technology & Operations Officer (Acting), NABmatt-lawrance

Authentic leadership to me is about integrity, honesty, respect and consistency…. in everything you do….and how you behave as a leader

Matt was appointed to the role of Chief Technology and Operations Officer (Acting) in September 2016.
Prior to this Matt held the role of Executive General Manager NAB Wealth Operations & Transformation. His responsibilities included Customer Servicing and Transactions, Digital, Contact Centres, Management Assurance, Business Management, Technology and Transformation for the NAB Wealth business.
Matt has been with NAB since 2005, and during this time has occupied senior roles leading large operational and transformational teams across the Wealth, Finance and the Australian Bank businesses.

Prior to NAB, Matt occupied senior roles at Woolworths (2002-2005) and Qantas (1996-2001).

At Woolworths Matt was Chief Financial Officer -Supply Chain & Logistics. At Qantas Matt held the position of GM Profit Enhancement & Operations Performance, including CFO for Qantas’ Operations Division


Openground– Principal Partneropenground

Openground engages with individuals and organisations to promote the practice of mindfulness as a transformational process in health, education, industry and community development.

We are particularly interested in the possibilities that arise when people engage in a regular sustained practice of mindfulness rather than using it as a one-off technique for self-improvement. Openground maintain close professional links with the Centre for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre (USA).

Collaborate HR – Sponsor Partnercollaborate-hr-logo

Collaborate HR manages all facets of the HR space in your business. We offer a tailored on site solution which will provide Support, Structure and Strategy for your business. Collaborate HR will assist to ensure that not only is your business functioning well from the usual HR strategies, it will work with you and your people to build EQ. As Warren Bennis said “Emotional Intelligence is much more powerful than building IQ, in determining who emerges as a leader. IQ is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn’t make you a star. Emotional Intelligence can”.

Inside HR – Media PartnerINSIDEHR_liz_logo



Registrations are closed for this event


30 March
8:00 am - 5:00 pm