Conference Speakers in 2021

The Corporate PA Summit attracts a fantastic mix of inspirational speakers, celebrity speakers and leading EAs. The 2021 Summit will build upon this tradition, with an agenda packed full of exceptional presentations.

Photos and bios of confirmed speakers are available below.

Would you like to be considered as a speaker at future ThinkTank events? You can submit an application here.

Sacha Coburn

Sacha Coburn is a Waikato based leadership consultant who combines her love of coaching other leaders to leadership mastery with active involvement in her own family-held company, Coffee Culture. Sacha has also worked closely for over 20 years with the Les Mills International group, coaching and developing teams all over the world. Her obsession with unlocking the latent potential within everyone has transformed the way thousands of people turn up to work.

Sacha’s side-hustle with Tonia Cawood, The Company You Keep, offers two day immersive programmes that accelerate leadership development and growth as well as bespoke executive coaching. Working with senior and emerging leaders, the focus is on getting right to the heart of what matters most for high performance. Coffee Culture is a New Zealand group of boutique coffee shops with 300 staff in 20 locations. Sacha is the C.O.O and walks her talk every day delivering messages that matter, and leading her team with humanity and humour. A former lawyer with a masters degree in education, Sacha is uniquely qualified to talk about the challenges of leading from the inside-out.

A recent recipient of a Prime Minister’s Business Scholarship, Sacha is currently enrolled at Harvard Business School and is passionate about sharing what’s she’s learnt.

Jacqui Maguire

Clinical Psychologist Jacqui Maguire is one of New Zealand’s key science communicators, providing authentic and relatable thought leadership on global mental health and wellbeing issues. Bringing her scientific knowledge of wellbeing to life, Jacqui translates the evidence into practical strategies that support people to optimise their wellbeing, work and relationships. Her entrepreneurial history and business acumen make her a keynote favourite, and she is known for engaging a diverse range of people, including those who may be sceptical of the benefits of psychological interventions.

Jacqui is TVNZ’s go-to psychologist and a regular contributor to Stuff, NZ Herald, Radio New Zealand and Newstalk ZB. She is also the founder of the #1 ranking Mind Brew podcast, where she has interviewed some of the world’s leading psychologists.

Her career has been anchored in corporate wellbeing. Jacqui works closely with clients to understand the unique needs of their organisation and develop tailored programmes to best fit. She draws on both her psychological and business expertise in this process, making sure her services are both effective and delivered to a high standard; lifting organisational performance by developing the resilience and wellbeing of employees.

For personal interest, Jacqui sits on the Board of Life Squared Trust. A trust dedicated to improving mental health in the legal profession. She is also a marriage celebrant, proud to utilise her communication, rapport and writing skills to support people on their special day.

Claire Turnbull (Summit MC)

Claire is a qualified nutritionist who has been working in the health and wellness industry for over 15 years.

Claire is the Nutritionist for Healthy Food Guide magazine, TVNZ Breakfast and Newstalk ZB as well as featuring in three prime time TV shows. Claire is also the owner and director of the private nutrition practice and corporate wellness company Mission Nutrition.

Claire’s passion is to help make it easier for others to eat well and live happy, balanced lives. Her approach is real, practical and very down to earth. She balances her work with two young children (aged five and one) so she really knows what it is like to juggle and have to find solutions that work in the real world.

As well as being a sought after conference keynote speaker, and a highly engaging Master of Ceremonies, Claire has published two best sellers with penguin random house: Lose Weight for Life and Feel Good for Life and she has also released a wellness diary called ‘It’s a beautiful day’.

Alicia McKay

Alicia McKay is New Zealand’s leading voice in strategy, change and leadership. Former strategy consultant and facilitator, Alicia has led critical conversations with New Zealand and Australia’s most senior leaders in government, business and community.

Alicia helps people level up their lives, work and leadership by focusing on what really matters, even as the world goes mad around them. She’s spent the last decade supporting leaders to make hard decisions, transform their organisations and bring their vision to life – and now she’s sharing those lessons with the world.

Co-host of “What’s on Your Mind?” podcast, LinkedIn addict, prolific blogger and author of two books: From Strategy to Action: A Guide to Getting Shit Done in the Public Sector and the forthcoming You Don’t Need An MBA: Leadership Lessons that Cut through the Crap, Alicia reaches global audiences, cutting through the complexity for a new world of work. No buzzwords. No bullshit.

David Downs

David Downs

David Downs is the co-author of a number of books in NZ, on serious topics written in a humorous and accessible style. David is an engaging and regular public speaker and presenter.

David’s early career started as an actor, writer and stand-up comedian, before pursuing a corporate career that has seen him be very successful as a business and now government leader, always bringing with him the belief that you don’t need to be solemn to tell a serious story, and that humour in the workplace and in home life is one of the best ways to lift performance.

Dr Paul Wood

As an 18 year-old, Dr Paul Wood was completely off the rails. He wasn’t coping with the impending death of his mother, he was dependent on drugs, and was an unemployed high-school dropout who was committing crimes to feed his habit.

Two days after his mother died he lost control when his then drug dealer attempted to sexually assault him. Paul was convicted of murder for this offence and then spent more than a decade in some of New Zealand’s toughest prisons. During this period Paul became the first person in New Zealand’s history to progress through undergraduate and Masters degrees while in prison. He was also the first person to begin a Doctorate while incarcerated. Paul’s educational pursuits dovetailed with a journey of personal exploration and change, both of which gave him a profound understanding of the ingredients required to successfully strive towards our potential, deal with the challenges of change, and build the mental toughness and resilience necessary to flourish in adversity.

On his release, Paul was able to translate this knowledge into strategies for improving leadership effectiveness and organisational culture. As a result, Paul rose rapidly through the ranks to become the senior manager responsible for Training and Development within the multinational professional services firm OPRA Consulting Group. Paul now runs his own practice and has served as a committee member and advisor to a number of boards.

Current work
Paul spends most of his time facilitating leadership and emotional intelligence focused programmes across the private and public sectors. He works with everyone from the Hurricanes to Central Agencies of government. His charitable interests see him visit prisons and act as patron for START Taranaki, which helps at risk young men turn their lives around. Paul is also a regular contributor to the media. For more on Paul’s thinking visit his Huffington Post blog or watch his viral interview on the AM Show.

Paul’s presentation style is dynamic, humorous, and deeply authentic. He speaks to the human experience and provides practical insight on topics such as our capacity for change, how to cope with uncertainty, how to build mental toughness and resilience, the importance of self-reflection and personal accountability in growth, how to identify and maximize our potential, and how to turn adversity to your advantage.

If you’re looking for a speaker who will challenge your audience and push the boundaries of the ‘every day world we live in’ look no further!

Dr Paul Wood – B.A. Philosophy & Psychology; M.A. Psychology; PhD Differential Psychology

Kieran Flanagan

Kieran Flanagan is the Co-Founder of the Impossible Institute, a strategic think-tank that helps organisations make change positive and positive change. She is a speaker, trainer and author.

A rare female leader in the world of MadMen, Kieran was one of the youngest Creative Directors to lead an award-winning agency. She was behind the most successful product launch in Australian history, has headed up Australia’s premiere creative school, won awards all over the planet for her thinking and effectiveness and is on the faculty at Thought Leaders International.

Kieran has had her thinking published in over a hundred titles all over the globe. She has appeared on tv and radio. She was also recently voted as one of the USA’S C-suite speakers to look for.

Zoë Robinson

Zoë Robinson is an award-winning EA with 20 years’ experience working alongside C-Suite Executives. She has spoken at conferences across Australia and New Zealand on the role of the Executive Assistant; increasing your knowledge of the business and contributing to key initiatives and growth strategies. In 2016 Zoë was awarded Executive PA Magazine’s PA of The Year Award; the oldest and most established award for Personal & Executive Assistants and the only global PA & EA awards.

Born in London, Zoë has worked in different corporate environments in both the UK and New Zealand; from large multi-national corporations to smaller independent businesses.

Zoë currently works as Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer at nib nz, and leads the Workplace Experience team. Established in 1952, nib is an ASX listed international health partner, empowering over 1.5 million members to improve health outcomes through greater accessibility to affordable health services and information.

Kelly Warton

Kelly Warton has been a C-suite Executive Assistant for more than 20 years, supporting CEO’s, Chairs, Directors and high impact Entrepreneurs across ANZ and the US.

Kelly is the Executive Assistant to the Directors at the Donovan Group. Previously Kelly was the Executive Assistant to Jonathan Reid, Executive Chair and Co-founder of VMG Ventures and GOAT Ventures.

In addition, Kelly co-founded EA Inc., a membership platform that provides an inclusive environment where C-suite Executive and Personal Assistants can be inspired, mentored and empowered to be the best they can be in their career. Kelly covers the roles of Committee Chair, Memberships & Database, and Mentoring Program for EA Inc.

Born and bred in Adelaide, South Australia, Kelly moved, with her husband and two boys, to Auckland in 2005 with a plan to return to Australia after two years – this never occurred and her family now proudly call Okoromai Bay on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula home. Kelly’s personal interests and passions are travelling, cooking, horse riding and house renovating.

Lauren Parsons (masterclass facilitator)

Lauren is an award-winning wellbeing specialist who believes that everyone deserves to thrive. With 19 years’ experience in the health and wellbeing profession she is a sought-after speaker, coach and consultant.

TEDx speaker, author of real food less fuss, and Seven Fitness Myths to Overcome, founder of the Snack on Exercise movement and host of the THRIVE TV ShowLauren helps busy people re-discover how to feel vibrant, confident and energised.

Described as inspiring and life-changing, Lauren is a dynamic and highly engaging presenter, and master story-teller who will have you laughing, moving and learning in a memorable way. You will leave Lauren’s session feeling uplifted and empowered to create positive change, today!

Lauren lives in Palmerston North, New Zealand, with her husband and three children, she can often be found hosting dinner parties, spending time outdoors or playing board games. Lauren travels regularly to speak at conferences and in-house, and specialises in helping organisations create a high-energy, peak-performance team culture, which enables people to thrive.

Digby Scott (masterclass facilitator)

Digby works with people and organisations that are on a mission to make a difference. His aim is to help people to think and act in new ways so that they nail it.

Creative, curious and a master communicator, Digby has a unique perspective on the leadership and workplace challenges that we are all trying to navigate. As a former National Manager for Robert Walters in New Zealand, and having established and sold numerous businesses, Digby understands the harsh realities we all face, and what it actually takes to succeed.

He’s the author of two books, Change Makers and Out There. As well as the co-host of the popular podcast series ‘What’s On Your Mind?’. He’s also fallen flat on his face more times than he cares to remember. The good thing is that he’s taken those lessons and applied them to helping thousands of leaders to learn how to develop themselves, and grow others, so they create lives worth living and cultures worth being a part of.