Public Sector Executive Assistant Congress agenda


This congress will be held in person in Canberra and online on 16-17 March 2022


Conference day one – Wednesday 16 March 2022

08.20 Registration
08.50 Opening remarks from the chair

Keynote address: Making positive changes to achieve your goals and

exert influence

  • Building confidence and creating a positive mindset
  • Embracing change and riding the wave of change during times of uncertainty
  • Exerting influence without positional authority
  • Being a strategic partner with your executives to solve problems
  • Conducting timely and effective communication

Moya Todd, The Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence;

Former Vice-Captain of the Australian women’s football team,

FIFA Executive Committee Member; Partner, Gilbert + Tobin Lawyers

9.50 Enhancing leadership skills and leading without positional authority
  • Dealing with management and leadership tasks
  • Making independent decisions and taking calculated risks
  • Showing initiatives and taking ownership to solve problems
  • Motivating others and exerting influence

Paul Donohue, Talent management and Coaching, The Australian National University


Morning tea


Panel discussion: Rethinking your role as an Executive Assistant to build new capabilities in a post-pandemic world

  • Understanding new and upcoming challenges brought by the pandemic
  • Taking on extra duties to provide wider business support
  • Overcoming unique challenges and seeing challenge as an opportunity
  • Communicating with senior executives effectively during times of change
  • Redefining your role and exploring the future of the EA role

Steph Buckley, Executive Assistant First Assistant Secretary, Department of Defence

Tamara Hull, Executive Assistant to First Assistant Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

Fiona Gavagan, a/g Executive Officer to the Commissioner, ACT Emergency Services Agency

Melissa Young, Senior Executive Assistant to CEO, Level Crossing Removal Project

Anne Ferris, Executive Assistant to National Manager, Australian Federal Police


Engineering your mindset and build resilience you can rely on

  • The Neuroscience of ‘Mindset’ and how you can engineer yours
  • What Resilience, Grit and Growth mindset really mean
  • The importance of Resilience, Grit and a Growth Mindset to wellbeing
  • Thinking tools to foster all of the above
  • Learning from setbacks and choosing to chase challenges

Abby Rees, Director, PunkPD


Striking a balance between work, life, relationship and relaxation

  • Embracing the hybrid model of working
  • Making plans organising ahead to cope with daily pressure effectively
  • Exploring approaches to maintain a better work-life balance

Sue Read, Founder and Director, Registered Psychologist, Life Unlimited Psychology

13.00 Lunch

Enhancing your relationships in work and life with emotional intelligence

  • Debunking emotional myths
  • Why emotions matter
  • How to recognise emotional signposts
  • Emotional choices – a foundation for action

Deanne Duncombe, Coach and Facilitator, Leading and Being


Panel discussion: Keeping your career moving forward

  • Taking ownership to build your career roadmap
  • Gaining support from your executive
  • Advancing your career as a professional EA
  • Winning a new role stepping outside of the EA space
  • Progressing further and choose the right career path for yourself

Sophie Butler-Stratton, Assistant Director, National Multicultural Festival; Former Executive Officer, ACT Community Services Directorate

Aisha Aboulfadil, Support Officer, Diversity and Organisational Development Branch; Former Senior Executive Assistant, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning VIC

Ingrid Bayer, Trainer, VA Institute of Australia


Afternoon Tea


Writing a winning job application for the Australian Public Service

  • Understanding public service application processes
  • Updating your Resume so that you stand out
  • Writing an exceptional application: Selection Criteria and the ILS
  • Preparation and top tips for a great interview

Jess Zdanowicz, Information Access Officer, Department of Veterans’ Affairs

16.30 Values and Beliefs – Understanding what motivates and drives you
  • Understanding what drives your personal and professional choices
  • Your two most dominant core needs that inform how you interact with others, and
  • Learning how to identify values and the beliefs that underpin your life and professions decisions 
  Helen Ollerenshaw, Certified Life Coach, LifEthereal Coaching; Author, HeartConnection
 17.10 Networking drinks
18.30 End of conference day one

Conference day two – Thursday 17 March 2022

9.00 Opening remarks from the chair

Building new capabilities to provide remote support to your executives

  • Navigating and adapting to the cultural change of remote work
  • Techniques to enhance and achieve productivity in the online working environment
  • Strategies for communicating effectively with your Executives when working remotely
  • Software tools that complement the online working environment

Ingrid Bayer, Trainer, VA Institute of Australia


Dealing with competing priorities and managing time wisely

  • Setting up priority and prioritising multiple tasks
  • Exploring time management tools and tips
  • Exploring strategies to determine top priorities and balance priorities
  • Preparing yourself to accommodate urgent priorities
  • Maintaining focus to commit to established goals for the day

Casey-Marie De Veau, Executive Assistant to Deputy CEO, AUSTRAC

10.40 Morning Tea

Your teams matter – Working smart with the use of the tool Microsoft Teams

  • Embracing Microsoft Teams to communicate, collaborate and connect with your colleagues
  • Establishing rules of engagement
  • Building teams within MS Teams and enabling best practice teamwork
  • Managing operational and project tasks to enhance team performance

Mario Halouvas, National Learning & Development Manager, Priority Management Australia


Panel discussion: Discovering the delicate art of managing up and building a         collaborative business partnership with your executive

  • Gaining a deeper insight into the pressures, demands and requirements of your executive’s role
  • Taking ownership of tasks to clear work goals and priorities
  • Connecting with your executive on a regular basis
  • Building trust as a team and asking for feedback proactively

Cleo Ludski, Executive Assistant to First Assistant Secretary and Assistant Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Fiona Gaffney, Executive Assistant to the Secretary, Transport NSW

Robbie Eason, Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary, Department of Defence

Jo Hillas, Executive Assistant to CEO, VicHealth

12.40 Lunch

Senior Executives’ panel discussion: discussing expectations and providing advice for executive assistants

  • What are our expectations of a great Executive Assistant?
  • What are the top-notch skills we appreciate the most?
  • Building a strategic business relationship with Executive Assistant
  • Where is the line between professional and personal?

Georgeina Whelan, Commissioner, ACT Emergency Services Agency

Tony Krizan, CFO, CIO, Executive Director Corporate Operations & Information, National Health and Medical Research Council

Lucy Poole, Head of Sourcing and Governance Division, Digital Transformation Agency


Building your personal brand and crafting your professional identity

  • Using positive psychology to raise your confidence level and boost self-belief
  • Remaining authentic to build your self-image
  • Proactivity leaning forward into tasks rather than hesitating
  • Fostering relationships with connections outside of your usual network
  • Creating a reputation of value that enhances your career, reputation and wellbeing

Carly Hartas, Founder, Country to Coast EA; Former Executive Officer to the British High Commissioner


Afternoon tea


Advancing your communication skills to boost engagement

  • Identifying your senior executive’s communication preferences
  • Enhancing personal capability to listen, negotiate and influence
  • Adapting your communication style to different situations
  • Facilitating communication on behalf of your boss

Lisa Finn Powell, Author, Journalist, Speaker, Facilitator


Managing workplace conflicts and setting boundaries with other people

  • Navigating diverse personalities and thinking styles in the workplace
  • Defining problems and clarifying perception of the situation
  • Controlling the scope of conflict with straightforward communication of information
  • Dealing with stereotypes and people saying “you are just an EA”
  • Building mutual trust and respect with your executive and colleagues

Liz Tilley, PCC Coach, International Coaching Federation


Closing remarks from the Chair and end of conference