Meet the amazing leaders from the Melbourne community; small  business, corporates and government

Sandy McDonald Founder of SandyMcDonald.com and charity, CreateCare Global, Sandy McDonald is an author, a TEDx speaker, and a storytelling trainer, working with business and academia to improve and enhance communication through purpose-led story.

ArtWords in started out in 1992 and Twenty two years later, it had become an award-winning marketing communication solutions destination for some of Australia’s most successful enterprises. In 2008, Sandy started her first charity Knit-a-square that led to her next career. She delivered a standing ovation TEDx talk about this extraordinary adventure in 2014. The intersection of these two experiences was to prove pivotal to the work she does now. In ArtWords, if they couldn’t get their clients clear on what they were positioning, why, and for whom, they’d failed. This became the single most important component of their work. During the formative years of Knit-a-square, they learned that online stories with a focused purpose touched lives everywhere. They helped build a worldwide community of 20,000 people in 71 countries which is still growing.

Sandy wrote the book, Get It Right Online to detail the framework for how this was achieved. The principles that informed this govern what she did then, and still does: Clarity: getting people clear on purpose, principles, people, product, and positioning Curiosity: keeping them in pursuit of their truth Coherence: helping them articulate their purpose and brand promise truthfully and consistently. In 2012, Sandy started to coach others as a clarity guide. Soon people asked for her help to tell their stories which lead to her career today.

Wendy Dawson
Throughout my career in New Zealand and Australia, my passion and focus have been working with organisations to achieve their strategic growth goals and hone their greatest competitive advantage – their people. Leveraging off my extensive background in consulting, sales and leadership development, this has predominantly been realised through the creation of high-performance cultures, coaching and executive mentoring, and always focusing on creating the best experience and outcome for the customer.

From a business leadership perspective, many of the roles I have undertaken have come as the result of being appointed to lead organisational change – even during times of volatility and uncertainty.  I have learned that to achieve significant, sustainable success and growth you must focus on the customer experience and outcome – continually delivering a better service today than yesterday.

As an executive mentor and leadership coach, I have worked with other business leaders in their personal develop as they too contend with the challenges of leadership during uncertainty and on the journey of organisational change and service excellence.

Lisa Sweeney is CEO of Business in Heels, daily she works to fast-track women on their journey. She has 4 1/2 years of small business experience and well understands the transition from corporate to business owner.

Her expertise includes strategic planning, marketing, expansion through digital marketing, she is a strategic connector.

Her background is 25 years of corporate buying experience with expertise in strategic planning, sourcing, online retail,  negotiation and she well understands the hurley burley of a corporate career.

She is passionate about making a difference for women & on a daily basis works to find solutions to levelling up the playing field. This year having launched mentoring, access to new women’s professional indemnity & superannuation solutions.

 

As an experienced cybersecurity, risk, insurance and innovation leader, Susie Jones has delivered commercial outcomes as a cybersecurity business services manager, corporate insurance broker, risk manager and now a startup co-founder and CEO. She and her co-founder are on a mission to reduce the number of small businesses who fall victim to cyber attacks across the globe by introducing them to the concept of Cyber Fitness. She leads the business side of Cynch Security, translating the world of cybersecurity and cyber risk to the company’s non-tech stakeholders, and introducing as many small business owners as possible to the opportunities that building cyber fitness can bring them. 

She is skilled at leading teams through change, inspiring others to take action, operational and contract negotiations and risk management, assessment and mitigation (general as well as cyber risk).

Having consciously managed and progressed her career at speed, Susie is a great sounding board for those looking for a new approach to overcoming hurdles and finding the career path that brings a real sense of achievement and satisfaction. 

Natalie Donohoe is the CEO of Premium Health, she leads a team of 50 professional staff (nurses, paramedics and counsellors) who are committed to creating a measurable impact on the health, safety and wellbeing of our clients’ employees.  With a background in nursing, Natalie has a passion for promoting mentally and physically healthy workplaces through high quality education and training.  Natalie has significant expertise in strategic planning, RTO compliance, tender writing and project/contract management.  Natalie often acts as an education advisor or subject matter expert at industry forums and on steering committees for accredited courses such as the new Victorian Government Course in Gender Equity.

Natalie’s qualifications include a Master of Management, Diploma of Business, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, Registered Nurse Division 2 and Fellow CEO Institute.

Lyly Greca, a Vietnamese immigrant lucky enough to arrive in Australia with my mother and older brothers at the tender age of 6. Today, I’m married to a beautiful Italian man whom I met at University whilst studying my Bachelor of Economics and Finance degree and together we’re blessed with 2 amazing children living in Australia’s most livable city Melbourne.

I am the 3rd child in our family of 2 older boys and a younger half-sister. My brothers and I were raised by an incredibly strong and traditional woman with amazing smarts, fantastic work ethics and greatest generosity. From a very young age, I knew what I wanted and often map out how I’d achieve those goals. Today I operate a premium flower and gift social enterprise called “Miei Fiori”. With more than 10% of Australian population living below the poverty line and just half of those are Children, Miei Fiori was created as a vehicle to combat poverty, serve our people, support our community and protect our planet.

We do that by that by:
Donating 100% profit to children’s charities within Australia
Commit to sustainable options
Complete transparency

My entrepreneurship started at about 15 years of age when I was able to make my very own first dollar at Mc Donald’s. I mapped my path to owning my first property by 18, how I’d earn 6 figures by 25 and operating a Company that is dedicated to solving some world challenges by 40. Today I’m 37 years old and couldn’t feel luckier and more grateful for everything I’ve achieved thus far with my best-friend and soul mate.

Before taking the bold step to start my own company, I had an incredible Corporate career in varying roles across many industries practicing the lessons learnt from mentors, making many mistakes along the way, solving problems and pivoted through challenges whilst having a lot of fun along the way.

Kimberly D Downes, CFRE, EMFIA, CAP Philanthropy and Fundraising Strategist

Removing fear and putting the fun back into fundraising is what motivates Kim to assist organisations in becoming financially sustainable and create their own unique culture of philanthropy. 

With over 30-years experience in fundraising and philanthropy Kim Downes is a recognised accomplished senior fundraising strategist with extensive experience in the education, religious, arts and healthcare industries. Her strength is assisting organisations to become financially sustainable and building a culture of philanthropy. 

Her expertise includes major gifts, capital campaigns, annual campaigns, prospect research, Trusts and Foundations relationships and proposals, event management, donor protocols, donor recognition, donor segmentation, public relations, publications, marketing and alumni programs, staff recruitment, and volunteer and Board training and development. 

She has done extensive study on creating a culture of philanthropy and the motivations behind women’s giving.

Kim has served on several NFP Boards and is currently a Board member of the Australian Pituitary Foundation. She is a member of the Melbourne Women’s Fund and Business in Heels.

She has a history of presenting at EducatePlus, Fundraising and Philanthropy, Philanthropy Australia and CASE Conferences. 

Sian Stephens is an experienced consultant who delivers high-impact and interactive development programmes. Sian specialises in helping managers and leaders to identity the behaviours that are blocking successful working practices, encouraging them to replace those with sustainable changes that will lead to stronger working relationships between all team members. She engages with people who may have challenges in their work environment and inspires them to try new methods. 

Sian is passionate and inspired by the SME/B global marketplace and finds it to be where innovation and creativity are at it strongest also where customer service and value for money is a priority.

Sian has travelled extensively and enjoys experiencing new cultures and embracing difference and diversity. She has worked in the UK, across Europe, in Russia, and the UAE. Sian ran her own business from 1997 – 2017, before she joined Enhanced Group to add her skills to a larger portfolio of services for SME/B’s. She has enjoyed being the first Women in Management board member for The Chartered Management Institute UK, mentoring for the Australian Human Resource Institute, and currently with the Institute of Managers and Leaders Australia/New Zealand mentoring program. 

 

Kathryn Harper brings over 20 years’ experience in executive search and consulting, building her career with boutique agencies and large international Executive Search firms.  She joined Amrop Carmichael Fisher as Partner in 2019.

Specialising in the Government sector, Kathryn has provided Executive Search services for senior level appointments including CEO, Deputy Secretary, Executive Officer, General Manager and Director mandates for various State Government departments and agencies.  Additionally, she has also managed Chair and Board appointments for several Statutory Authorities.  As a result, she brings a strong understanding of the sector and its specific requirements, including diversity, to the search and engagement of executives and non-executive directors.

Relationship management has been a major focus for Kathryn and she is passionately committed to understanding the ever-changing needs of clients and candidates, carefully assessing the capabilities of candidates to ensure a good cultural match between the two.  She has a strong understanding of the importance of building lasting relationships with clients and candidates alike.  Providing career advice and mentoring is an aspect of her role which she finds particularly enjoyable and rewarding.

Natalie Burrows is the Head of Corporate Sales at Medibank.  She is a self-motivated and driven Sales Leader with over 20 years of sales experience.  As an empathic leader, Natalie chooses to lead from the front and in doing so has had the opportunity to work in several industries managing diverse groups of people.  She is an example of how good leadership skills can be transferred from one industry to another and highlights the importance of an open mind.

Natalie’s great passions are personal development, constant learning and health and fitness.  She is always looking for opportunities to learn and develop both personally as well as a leader.  Her current role merges her passions and gives her the platform to engage with organisations on how best to support their employee’s health and wellbeing.

Natalie is also an active member of her community volunteering her time when she can.  She is the President of the P&F committee at Mentone Grammar where both her boys attend, and she gives her time to help develop the school community.

 

Alicia Anderson is an experienced strategic advisor, currently supporting the medical faculty at the University of Melbourne as senior counsel.

Ms Anderson has over 23 years’ professional experience in legal practice across the corporate, public and university sectors.  Ms Anderson has specialized in corporate advisory, policy, international transactions and intellectual property as well as holding leadership roles.

Ms Anderson has led master classes and executive training on corporate responsibility themes such as ethics & fundraising, conflicts of interest and professional communications.  Ms Anderson is an active committee member, with a focus on integrity, strategy, culture, diversity and inclusion.

Ms Anderson holds a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a post-graduate qualification in public and international law and has undertaken courses at the international business schools at Oxford University and UCLA tailored to the role of women in leadership.

With a particular passion for culture, education and the arts, Ms Anderson is a long standing festival volunteer, attends cultural immersion tours and lives in Melbourne, Australia.

 

Cassandra Ashworth Senior Director – Strategic Partnerships, Services and Sales Development APJ

Cassandra is a dynamic executive with more than 25 years of experience in Global, APJ, ANZ leadership across Sales, Marketing, Channel, GM and HR, primarily in the Technology and Education sectors.

Known for her agile transformational methods, entrepreneurial, strategic, collaborative, solution-oriented leadership along with her strong coaching, networking abilities, data-driven passion and results, Cassandra doesn’t shy away from a challenge of growth and build executive roles 

She is passionate about mentoring diversity & inclusion and serves on the Business in Heels International Advisory Board.

Amanda Barker GAICD, Gender Equity Board Member Victoria, Non Executive Director and an accomplished Senior Executive Leader, Amanda has extensive experience in the finance sector, education, social impact, corporate sector.  She has worked in both the Australian and Victorian Public Service Sector.

Roles have involved the development of social impact strategies, diversity and inclusion strategy development and meaningful high-level partnership/stakeholder engagement. Her commercial acumen has led organisations to achieve success in commercial opportunities creating financial sustainability. Amanda was honoured with an Australian Day Public Service Medal Award 2012 for outstanding work in the community.

At board level, highlights include her appointment as a Non Executive Director with the Credit & Investments Ombudsman where she provided strategic guidance and governance to management and the board, to promote and further develop the Ombudsman scheme. Currently Amanda has been appointed onto the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative, established to set out a roadmap for realigning the finance sector to support greater social, environmental and economic outcomes for the country.

Ghislaine Entwisle is a Managing Director at Protiviti, a global consulting firm, and co-leads the IT Advisory practice primarily focusing on Digital Transformation, Managed Business Services, Business Transformation and Data Governance. She has over 16 years’ experience consulting across APAC, UK and Australia – applying a unique mix of strategic, operational, risk and IT skills using technology to drive optimal customer experiences.
Ghislaine is interested in connecting with people who are passionate about technology and how it can enable better outcomes for clients and society at large.

Deborah Donehue A senior retail executive, I have spent the last 20+ years developing and delivering my end to end business & leadership skills in Retail/wholesale businesses. With a love for design, and a desire to make a difference in the lives of individuals, within the business, and as customers/ communities, I have had the great privilege to have worked with some great entrepreneurs, and businesses who have absolutely made a credible difference in their world of expertise.

I am now in a privileged position to take what I love most, and provide support to individuals, business owners, entrepreneurs through mentoring, coaching and education tools that enable them to design their best lives, their best businesses, and their best pathways to success.

I have demonstrated expertise in:

General Management of a Retail/Wholesale business.

Leadership of large teams 30+

Optimising operating costs through re-evaluation and implementation of systems, processes and structures

Management of Merchandise Planning, Replenishment and Supply Chain functions

Category/ Brand Portfolio management

Management of store & DC operations

Product Design and Development

Commercial Business Management

Ecommerce Management including site design, content management, marketing

Wholesale Sales Operations

Sourcing/ Importing/ Freight Management

 

Sector experience: Big Box Discount Retailing, Stationery and Office Supplies, Fashion Apparel, Homewares, Beauty & Cosmetics.

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