Conference Program

8 November 2022

The Corporate PA Summit program is designed to deliver content that is cutting-edge, highly beneficial, easily transferable, empowering and inspirational. It’s designed specifically to help you fulfil your potential and be the best you can be.



Becoming a person of influence

Michelle Cowan

Michelle Cowan is Head of Womens Football at West Coast Eagles and has an impressive resume, notably becoming Australia’s first female WAFL assistant coach at the age of 21. Her successful and pioneering coaching career has helped to shape both mens and womens AFL and has been awarded  both AFL Football Woman of the Year and AFL DSR Coach of the Year in recognition of her incredible contributions.

Michelle’s influence on the sport is undeniable and is the culmination of her fierce determination, passion and an innate ability to build strong and enduring relationships. She believes relationships are at the heart of any successful business or sporting team and credits this to her success.

In this high-energy presentation, you’ll learn:

  • How to communicate and connect with your team to build robust working relationships
  • How to create your own ‘support team’ to lean on during tough times
  • How to harness the power of positivity to make things happen
  • The importance of trusting and backing yourself in leadership
  • How to bring your values to your work to create real impact
  • How a mentor can help you to achieve your goals


The CEO and EA Team: Getting the balance right

Kirsten Barker, Executive Assistant to the Hon Julie Bishop

Join our, soon to be announced, leading EA’s  for a discussion on how to focus on the key challenges facing this partnership in 2022 and beyond. What qualities does a CEO value most in their EA, and what are their key expectations?  And, of course, vice-versa – the EA’s expectations of their CEO? They’ll discuss how these expectations can be balanced to ensure the ultimate partnership as well as opening up to your questions. In this not to be missed session they will share:

  • Opening the lines of positive communication and fostering a flourishing professional relationship
  • Work-life balance – how do the CEO and EA see the possibilities?
  • Goal setting, managing expectations and dealing with challenges as a team
  • How might the CEO and EA relationship of the future evolve? And where is the future of the EA/PA role going?
  • Assess priorities. to incorporate key objectives rather than just immediate issues – the balance between important v urgent
  • Focusing on the fundamentals of business and team culture, and diversity and inclusion


Become an expert in behavioural cues to help balance your workload and fulfil expectations

Sophie Zadeh

Executive Assistants are expected to successfully juggle a plethora of day to day tasks, fulfil expectations, and at the same time, intuitively understand the subtle cues and emotions of their executives.

The intensity of juggling workload and expectations can create internal negative emotions and imposter syndrome—ultimately affecting health, wellbeing and relationships. And missing subtle communication cues, feelings and emotions or making incorrect assumptions can damage interactions, working relationships and achieving overall goals.

In this eye-opening presentation, Sophie Zadeh shares the fascinating secrets of the body and the power it holds to change the way you feel, as well as the hidden meaning behind some common behaviours. She’ll show you how:

  • The body-brain feedback loop affects your emotional state
  • To use your body and voice as a tool to increase your confidence and generate positive emotion
  • To quell fear and anxiety, resetting your body to its calm state
  • To uncover the true feelings of others, empowering you to offer a better response


Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Tanya Finnie, Global cultural strategist, company director and TEDx Speaker

As a PA/EA you have enormous influencing powers as you hear and see everything at various levels in the organisation. It also presents unique challenges. As a global cultural strategist, Tanya understands the role culture plays in how we communicate and influence.

Language is a powerful tool for building inclusion and exclusion at work. It can create a sense of being valued, respected and ‘part of a team’ or being under-valued, disrespected, and an outsider. This keynote focuses on behaviour and actions in a diverse cultural environment. Discover how to influence people of diverse age, belief systems, working styles, gender, interests, learning styles and different cultural backgrounds. Investigate workplace culture, build on value structure, develop cultural capabilities, and build an inclusive workplace.

  • Learn how to find common ground and build trust
  • Discover how to adjust your communication approach based on need and situation
  • Gain a deeper understanding of diversity and its dimensions
  • Identify bias in your organisation and your own thinking and understand its impact
  • Practise culturally intelligent ways to disrupt bias in self and others


INSPIRATIONAL KEYNOTE: Stronger than you think

Karen Tighe

On any given day, you are likely juggling multiple priorities – your career, family, social commitments, bills, pets, appointments – life can be incredibly busy and sometimes, overwhelming. You may even be struggling to keep all your balls in the air and feel it could all come undone with the smallest of interruptions. So, what would you do if faced with a life event that sidelines you for the better part of a year?

Award-winning sports broadcaster Karen Tighe was faced with such a challenge in 2020 when she developed life-threatening viral encephalitis, causing inflammation of the brain and resulting in her suffering significant memory loss. Karen was faced with a painstakingly slow recovery and uncertainty regarding whether she would regain her memory.

In this inspirational keynote, Karen will share how she navigated the most challenging time in her life and has come through the other side with a renewed perspective, greater resilience and a strong sense of purpose and determination in her life and career. You’ll come away from this presentation with tools and strategies to:

  • Handle any challenging situation that life throws at you
  • Cope with uncertainty and develop an acceptance for the unknown
  • Develop your mental fitness and face your fears head-on


Developing your Assistant role without a roadmap

Ruth Kilah, International Executive Assistant Coach + Mentor

As an Assistant, it’s easy to become weighed down by the constant influx of requests, emails, meetings and day-to-day administrative tasks. You might have aspirations of developing your skillset, increasing your responsibilities or stepping into a more senior role, but just don’t have the time or headspace to know where to begin.

This presentation will be led by Ruth Kilah, an Executive Assistant Coach who is passionate about helping Assistants become more fulfilled, proactive and strategic in their roles. Ruth is paving the way for Executive and Personal Assistants to reach their full potential and get ahead in their careers through her roadmap to becoming a highly regarded, Strategic Assistant.

Ruth will share what she has learned first-hand through her own career progression and how the rise of the Strategic Assistant is a win-win for both Executive and Assistant. She will give you practical tips on how to develop your role and capabilities and inspire you to step up and get noticed in your organisation.

You will learn:
• The most significant factor halting your development and how to change it
• How to finish your working day with a greater sense of accomplishment
• How to stop being reactive and start approaching your work with a strategic lens
• Why working harder does not always equate to more opportunities and recognition – and what you should be doing instead



INSPIRATIONAL KEYNOTE: The secret sauce of effective communication: Trust. Easier said than done.

Dr Norman Swan

Dr Swan is a multi-award winning producer, broadcaster and investigative journalist. His career has been highlighted by his desire to keep the Australian public informed of health developments as they happen, combining medical expertise with journalism.

Dr Norman Swan has made himself a household name in Australia for providing current, research-backed, and straight-forward health information and advice to the public.

Dr Swan has the ability to cut through the noise of contentious and complex issues and break them down in a way that is easy to understand, well-rounded and gets to the heart of the issue. He has demonstrated this most recently with his commentary regarding COVID-19 and has become a highly respected authority on the pandemic across multiple media outlets.

In this session, Dr Swan will share how you stand up, step up and make your voice heard when it counts. He will draw on his extensive career to offer you practical suggestions on:

  • How to develop your expertise and influence within your organisation and beyond
  • The power of language and ‘learning the lingo’
  • How to communicate with impact to get your voice heard
  • How you can set yourself apart from the crowd and create opportunities to further your career
  • How to become the go-to person in your team, industry or profession

“Really enjoyed the day – excellent speakers and topics, very relevant and can put into practice.”
NZ Rugby