8th Annual Public Sector Executive Assistant Congress – Agenda

1-2 November 2023, National Convention Centre Canberra


Conference day one – Wednesday 1 November 2023

08.30 Registration
09.00 Opening remarks from the chair
09.10 Keynote address:     Empower Yourself



  • Key messages and stories focusing on resilience and persistence
  • How resilience, tenacity, and polite resistance trumps luck every time
  • Never giving in when the world says no
  • Strategies to keep going when all you want to do is give up

Keynote speaker:

Taryn Brumfitt, Australian of the Year 2023,

Thought Leader, Body Image Advocate, Author, Filmmaker and Presenter, The Embrace Collective


Cultivating relationships to grow your network

  • Communicating strategically to make and maintain connections
  • Assessing the purposes and types of professional communication
  • Overcoming fears around networking and raising your voice
  • Fostering a culture of connection and collaboration within your networks

Monika Walczak, Professional Etiquette Coach and Communication Expert, The School of Modern Etiquette & Canberra Women in Business


Morning tea


Elevating your confidence by learning and practicing self-empowerment

  • Exploring the qualities which make you great and how these benefit your workplace
  • Conquering imposter syndrome by knowing your value
  • Communicating and sharing your needs and aspirations with your Executive
  • Raising your voice and exerting a positive influence in your workplace

Katrena Friel, Award Winning Author, Corporate Trainer & Executive Coach, Refresh Your Thinking

11.55 Panel discussion:     Becoming a strategic leader to partner with your Senior Executives and propel your team to success
  • Conceptualising methods of strategic leadership
  • Identifying opportunities to become a strategic leader
  • Visualising strategic plans to solve complex problems and achieve evidence-based results
  • Aligning your goals and actions with that of your executive and organisation

Savannah Lukic, EA to First Assistant Secretary, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts

Sharna Lawler, EA to Executive Director of Strategic Reform, Planning and Partnerships, Western NSW Local Health District

Mary-Elizabeth Denmark, Senior EA to Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Medicine & Health & to Chief Executive Macquarie University Hospital &Clinical Services, Macquarie University

Natalie Hawkes, EA to First Assistant Secretary People Culture and Change, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications, and the Arts

12.40 Lunch

Creating your unique professional brand and setting yourself apart

  • Incorporating your personality into all aspects of your professional practice
  • Articulating your value and asserting what makes you great in job applications
  • Utilising your uniqueness to remain relevant in competitive professional landscapes
  • Enhancing your confidence and self-worth by empowering your greatest assets

Alyssa Broomby, EA to Chief Operating Officer, Department of Home Affairs


Uplifting your wellbeing to achieve balance at work and home

  • Incorporating positive habits to enhance your mental and physical health
  • Recognising the signs of burnout and asserting your boundaries
  • Becoming a reliable listener and caring for your team’s wellbeing
  • Building resilience in challenging times to bounce back from adversity

Liz Nair, Founder and Director, Attivo Consulting


Afternoon Tea


Panel discussion:      Understanding what motivates passionate Executive Officers and exploring their career

  • Discussing the role of Executive Officers and the skill sets that thrive in the role
  • Finding your professional purpose and using it to motivate your success
  • Portraying your personal brand and being confident in how you present
  • Highlighting the unique paths Executive Assistants can take to become an Executive Officer

Fiona Gaffney, Executive Officer, NSW Department of Customer Service

Chiara McNabb, Executive Officer to Chief Digital Officer, University of Canberra

Fiona Gavagan, Directorate Liaison Officer, ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate

Elizabeth Murray, Executive Officer and Director, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications & the Arts


Leveraging your skills in project management to expand your developmental opportunities – my journey from EA to Project Manager

  • Exploring the essential skills and knowledge that Executive Assistants need to know
  • The phases of project management that form the backbone of your operation’s livelihood
  • Transferring project management skills into new career opportunities
  • Keeping track of your projects with the best project management tools

Penny Pont, Former Executive Assistant at Department of Defence, current Project Manager , Boeing Defence Australia

17.00 Closing remarks from the Chair and end of conference day one
 17.10 Networking drinks
18.30 End of conference day one

Conference day two – Thursday 2 November 2023

9.00 Opening remarks from the chair
09.10 Senior Executive panel discussion:   Aligning your mindset with your Senior Executive to strengthen your strategic partnership
  • Building a strategic partnership with your Executive/s
  • Understanding  the skills, experiences, and values that Senior Executives seek
  • Communicating effectively to foster a great working relationship
  • Learning to be proactive in predicting and fulfilling your Senior Executive’s needs

Rebecca Ryan, General Manager, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council

Anne Fleischer, Assistant Commissioner Finance & People, NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commission

Lisa La Rance, First Assistant Secretary Road & Vehicle Safety Division, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication & the Arts

Annie Ryan, Chief Operating Officer Corporate Services Division, Australian Financial Security Authority


Establishing the foundations for powerful and effective communication to enhance your relationships

  • Understanding the reasoning and goals behind strategic communication
  • Communicating sensitively with empathy foregrounding your interaction
  • Achieving greater comprehension of your Senior Executive and organisation’s needs
  • Engaging and influencing your virtual audiences with ease and confidence

Ross Judd, Director, Team Focus

10.35 Morning Tea

Panel Discussion:     Identifying opportunities to refine your expertise and blossom your careers

  • Refining the core skills that are transferrable across multiple career paths
  • Gaining the support of your Executive in reaching your goals
  • Tracing the development journey from Executive Assistant to Executive Officer
  • Seeking out learning and development opportunities to broaden your employability

Jillian Gilmartin, EA to First Assistant Secretary Group Operations, Department of Defence

Shannon Edwards, EA to Chief Operating Officer, Attorney-General’s Department

Jenny Whitehouse, EA to Chief Financial Officer, Reserve Bank of Australia

Laura-Jane Bourne, EA to Chief Operating Officer & General Manager Regulatory Operations, Australian Financial Security Authority


Achieve peak productivity; unlocking the potential of the MS Suite for enhanced efficiency & teamwork

  • Learning the intricacies of the suite to best support your executive and organisation
  • Managing your dream team on Microsoft Teams
  • Keeping track of and organising tons of information with OneNote
  • Streamlining your organisation’s communication with Outlook

Gedd Busch, Facilitator and Executive Coach, Priority Management

12.50 Lunch

Mastering time management to maximise your efficiency

  • Maximising productivity and mitigating procrastination
  • Eliminating roadblocks to effective time management
  • Reclaiming and reinvesting hours of your time by doing the ‘right’ work
  • Maintaining momentum when demands and workloads are high

Laura-Jane Bourne, EA to Chief Operating Officer & General Manager Regulatory Operations, Australian Financial Security Authority


Panel discussion:   Future-proofing your career by preparing for the workplaces of tomorrow

  • Mapping future expectations and responsibilities of Executive Assistants
  • Becoming the tech-savvy saviours of your workplace
  • Operating as an extension of your executive to deliver results
  • Empathy: your new secret weapon to understanding and achieving success

Ruby Lambert, EA to National Security & Space & International Development, Bureau of Meterology

Chantel Gleeson-Abdilla, EA to Chief Technology Officer, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications & the Arts

Kathleen Harvey, EA to First Assistant Secretary, Department of Employment & Workplace Relations

Emma Crowe, EA to GM, Digital Transformation Agency


Afternoon tea


Embracing technological innovation to enhance your readiness for the future

  • Identifying emergent technologies which best support your executive
  • Streamlining and automating tasks with Artificial Intelligence software
  • Communicating and collaborating in virtual environments with influence and ease
  • Utilising social media to assist in amplifying your professional presence

Jax NiCarthaigh, Consultant and Engagement Advisor, CommunicationLink


Closing remarks from the Chair and end of conference