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Former CEW Presidents

Barbara Cail AO | President 1985 - 1989

Barbara founded Chief Executive Women in 1985. Barbara also founded her own Business to Business publishing company in 1978 which published 15 industry and business based magazines, books, industry seminars and conferences. In 1984 she created a magazine specifically for business and professional women “Portfolio”. Fairfax approached Barbara to sell them the magazine after 18 months of publication. In 1985 from some of the women featured within “Portfolio” magazine Barbara organised a dinner for 18 women and proposed that they become a group who advocated for more women in leadership. Initially they affiliated with Women Chief’s of Enterprise based in Paris. After 4 years the group resigned from Women Chiefs of Enterprise and renamed the group Chief Executive Women. Today the members of CEW are close to 300 leading women and providing 24 scholarships for emerging business women leaders each year. The winners of the scholarships are the women leaders of the future Barbara has been a constant advocate for women in business and has represented this focus by having been: Chairman Small Business Development Corporation for the NSW State Government Director State Development Council NSW State Government.

Imelda Roche AO | President 1990 - 1992

Together with husband Bill, Imelda established Nutrimetics International (Australia) Pty Limited in 1968 and 23 years later, in 1991, acquired the worldwide interests of Nutrimetics International. The Group was subsequently sold in 1997 to the Sara Lee Corporation. In 1986 Imelda was awarded the Australian Pursuit of Excellence Award for her outstanding leadership and performance in the Direct Selling Industry. In 1993 she was appointed Chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations representing 50 national associations, 1500 member companies with over 20 million representatives. A first for a woman and a first for an Australian! In April, 1994 Imelda was appointed by Prime Minister Keating as Australia’s representative to the PBF, The Pacific Business Forum of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) and appointed in 1996 as Prime Minister Howard’s representative to the successor organisation – ABAC – the Business Advisory Council to APEC. Recognition of Imelda’s contribution to business and commerce came in 1995 when she was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in the Australia Day Honours List and in 1996 when awarded the Degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causi from Macquarie University Sydney. In April 1997 Imelda was internationally recognised in Paris as one of the 50 leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World and June 1997 saw Imelda ranked number one in the NSW publication, Business Sydney of the Top 25 Women-Owned Businesses in New South Wales. In December 1997, Imelda was appointed Deputy Chancellor of Bond University Queensland and Chancellor in November 1999. In March 1999 she was appointed Chair of the New South Wales Chapter of Family Business Australia. In June 2001 she was appointed a Patron of the Hawke Centre at the University of South Australia. Imelda completed her term as Chancellor in May 2003 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Bond University in 2004. In January 2001 Imelda was one of several thousand Australians who were considered to have made a significant contribution to the Australian society in business leadership and was awarded a Centenary Medal. Imelda has served on a number of Boards and Committees, most notably: St Vincent’s Hospital ‚ Sisters of Charity Foundation‚ Garvan Medical Research Foundation ‚Bond University School of Business, Bond University Council‚ Business/Higher Education Round Table – Executive Committee, IDP – International Development Program of Australian Universities, Australian International Education Foundation Council, Macquarie University Graduate School of Management, Asia Australia Institute – University of NSW, Committee for Quality of Teacher Education – NSW Government, Australia Young Leaders Program Inc, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme in Australia, John Brown Foundation, APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation) Pacific Business Forum, APEC Business Advisory Council, Trade Policy Advisory Council of the Australian Government, Economic Development Council of the NSW State Government, CEDA – Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Family Business Australia, NSW Chapter, World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, Air Services Australia, Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

Ita Buttrose AC OBE | President 1993 - 1994

Ita Buttrose is Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The 2013 Australian of the Year, she has held executive and editing roles for major Australian media companies including Australian Consolidated Press (now Are Media), News Ltd and Fairfax and has run her own media company, Capricorn Publishing. She has served on the boards of Australian Consolidated Press, News Ltd., and Television & Telecasters Pty Ltd., (Network TEN). She has worked in print, radio and television and has written 11 books. She was inducted into the Australian Media Hall of Fame in 2017.

A founding member and former president of Chief Executive Women she is a committed community and welfare contributor and chaired Arthritis Australia 2003-06 and Alzheimer’s (now Dementia) Australia from 2011-14. She has been National Ambassador for Dementia Australia since 2014 and a member of the Sydney Symphony Council since 2010.

She chaired the National Advisory Committee on AIDS (NACAIDS) from 1984-88. Her committee spearheaded Australia’s national HIV/AIDS education program. She later chaired the AIDS Trust of Australia from 1990-94.

In 2014 Sydney’s Macquarie University conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters on Ita in recognition of her contribution to the arts. In 2015, she was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Wollongong for her contribution to mental health and ageing. In 2018 Ita was conferred Doctor of the University – Honorary Medicine Doctorate by University of New South Wales for eminent service to health and for being an inspirational role model for aspiring women in business and those wanting to make a difference in society.

In 2019, Ita was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent service to the community through leadership in the media, the arts and the health sector, and as a role model. She was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1988 for her services to the community especially in the field of medical education and health care. She received an OBE for her services to journalism in 1979 and the Centenary Medal in 2003 for business leadership to Australian society.

Wendy McCarthy | President 1995 - 1996

Wendy McCarthy AO is an experienced executive and company director who began her career as a secondary school teacher. She moved out of the classroom into public life in 1968 and since then has worked for change across the public, private and community sectors, in education, women’s rights, public health, overseas aid and development, media and the Arts. Wendy has held many significant leadership roles in key national and international bodies including serving as Chair of Plan Australia, headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation and Circus Oz, deputy-Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Goodstart Early Learning, and non-executive Director of IMF Bentham. Wendy was a founding member of Women Electoral Lobby, Chief Executive Women and The Sydney Community Foundation Women Fund. In 2018 she Chaired the successful by -election campaign to elect Dr Kerryn Phelps AM as the Independent Member for Wentworth. She continued that role in the subsequent Federal election which Dr Phelps lost by a narrow margin. She led the successful NSW Pro Choice Alliance campaign to remove abortion from the criminal code. The new legislation was enacted on 2 October 2019. She has also established several businesses, including the national consulting practice McCarthy Mentoring which is now owned by her daughter Sophie McCarthy. Wendy was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for outstanding contributions to community affairs, women’s affairs and the Bicentennial celebrations, and received a Centenary of Federation Medal for business leadership. Most recently, in a special edition of Who Mattered in 2019, The Sydney Morning Herald named Wendy as one of the people defining Australia right now: McCarthy‚ advocacy and passion for women’s rights has spurred a new generation. We wouldn’t be where we are without her.

Helen Lynch AM | President 1996 - 1997

Helen Lynch AM is a former banker and has had a long involvement with Westpac – from a junior member of staff to a member of the Bank’s Executive Committee, followed by appointment to the Westpac Board, then Chairman of both The Westpac Foundation and the Westpac Staff Superannuation Fund. Currently she is a Founding Director of The Westpac BiCentennial Foundation and on The National Selection Committee of The Westpac Scholarship Fund. Helen served as a Non-Executive Director on many public listed companies and maintains advisory roles on a number of Family Foundations. She has always been committed to the community, and has served as a director of numerous arts, charitable and government organisations, including Chairman of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Funds SA, as well as being a founding member and former President of Chief Executive Women and a Director of The Garvan Medical Research Institute. In 1994, Helen was appointed a Member of The Order of Australia for services to the banking and finance industry and in 2003 was awarded The Centenary Medal for her contribution to business leadership and to the community. In 2005 Helen received the honorary award of Doctor of Griffith University.

Sandra Yates AO | President 1997 - 1998

Sandra Yates is now retired. lShe is a former President of CEW, and was Chair of Saatchi & Saatchi Australia from 1996 to 2004. She was publisher of Time magazine from 1990 – 1994, Chair of the NSW TAFE Commission Board from 1997 to 2007, Chair of Sydney Writers’ Festival from 2000 to 2011, and Chair of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music from 2014 to 2022. She was a founding board member of the newly independent National Art School.

Annabelle Bennett AC | President 1999 - 2000

The Honourable Dr Annabelle Bennett AC SC is a retired Judge of the Federal Court of Australia and was an additional judge of the Supreme Court of the ACT, having previously practised as a Senior Counsel specialising in intellectual property. She is currently Chancellor of Bond University, President of the Anti-Discrimination Board (part-time), Chair of Land Services SA, an Arbitrator of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Member of the Board of Directors of the Garvan Institute; Member of the Advisory Council of Questacon, Member and past President of Chief Executive Women, and Member of the Advisory Board of the Faculty of Law at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Dr Bennett completed her BSc (Hons) and PhD in Biochemistry [the latter in the Faculty of Vet Science] at Sydney University and later obtained her law degree at the University of New South Wales. She also served as Pro-Chancellor of the Australian National University. Her interest in biological sciences has led to membership of the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee, the Biotechnology Task Force, the Pharmacy Board of New South Wales and the Eastern Sydney Area Health Service. She was also a member of the Gene Patenting Advisory Committee of the Australian Law Reform Commission, a Director of the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, past President of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences, Trustee of the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, as well as a member of the Reference Group for the APEC Women Leaders’ Network Meeting 2007 and the Head of Delegation to the APEC Women Leaders’ Network Meeting 2008 in Peru. Annabelle was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in the Queens Birthday Honours in 2019 for eminent service to the law, and to the judiciary, particularly in the field of intellectual property, to higher education, and to sports arbitration. She is a past President of Chief Executive Women.

Past Presidents 1470 x 981

Karen Wilson | President 2001 - 2002

Diane Grady AO | President 2003 - 2004

Diane Grady is on the Board of Directors of Macquarie Group, Spotless Group and ASI. She is also a member of McKinsey & Co.’s Senior Advisory Board, is Chair of both Ascham School and The Hunger Project Australia and an Advisory Board member of the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council, The Centre for Ethical Leadership, and Heads Over Heels. Diane has been a full time independent director since 1994 serving on a range of public company and not for profit boards including: Bluescope Steel (2002 – 2012), Woolworths Ltd. (1996-2010), Goodman Group (2007-2010), Wattyl (1994-2002), and The Sydney Opera House Trust (1999-2008). She was also a member of the ASIC Business Consultative Panel, and the Federal Government’s National Investment Council. Diane was President of Chief Executive Women (2002-2004) and chaired the CEW task force that published the ‘CEO Kit for Attracting and Retaining Female Talent’.

Previously, Diane was a partner with McKinsey & Co where she spent 15 years consulting to clients in a broad range of industries on strategic and organisational issues. She was a worldwide leader of the Firm’s Organisation and Change Management Practice, and in Australia headed the Consumer Goods, Retailing and Marketing Practice. Diane was the first woman outside the US to be elected to McKinsey’s global partnership, and the first female partner in the firm to have children.

Diane earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. She also holds a Masters in Chinese Studies from The University of Hawaii, which she attended on an East West Centre Fellowship. She spent 3 years in Taiwan where she worked as an editor and director of marketing for a Chinese owned publications company. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Mills College, Oakland, California, where she was awarded the History Prize.

Diane was made a Member in the Order of Australia in 2009 for her contribution to business and to the promotion of women leaders. She was a recipient of the Australian Centenary Medal in 2001 in recognition of her contribution to Australian society in business leadership.

Diane was born in the USA, but emigrated to Australia in 1979. She is married to Chris Komor and they have two daughters, aged 25 and 28.

Jillian Broadbent AC | President 2005 - 2006

After a 30 year career in banking in Australia and overseas, Jillian left her executive position to become a non-executive director of a number of companies. Prior to her resignation from Bankers Trust Australia, she was a senior executive and department head at that Bank.

Catherine Livingstone AO | President 2007 - 2008

Catherine Livingstone was appointed Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in January 2017, and has been a Director of the bank since March 2016.

Catherine is a highly respected company director with extensive business and finance experience across a broad range of industries and organisations. She is also a Chartered Accountant. Her executive career spanned more than 22 years in which she held general management and finance leadership roles, primarily in the medical devices sector and including six years as the Chief Executive Officer of Cochlear Limited.

Catherine is a former President of Chief Executive Women (2007-2008), and is the former Chairman of Telstra Corporation Limited and of the CSIRO.

She has served on the Boards of Macquarie Group Limited, Goodman Fielder Limited and Rural Press Limited and has contributed to the work of the Innovation and Productivity Council for the New South Wales Government.

She was also the former President of the Business Council of Australia.

In 2008, Catherine was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia. Other Directorships and Interests: WorleyParsons Ltd, The George Institute for Global Health, Saluda Medical Pty Ltd, Chancellor of the University of Technology Sydney and Australian Museum Trust (President).

Naseema Sparks | President 2009 - 2010

Naseema is an experienced top-line growth director with strong experience in technology-driven business models disrupting traditional industry sectors.

Naseema has publicly listed and private equity experience and has strong strategic skills across many sectors, including the digital economy. She has a history of working with disruptive innovation, to realise revenue EBITDA growth and a sustainable differentiation for the organisation. She also has good experience as a director in turnaround situations, example PMP Ltd and Melbourne IT Ltd.

Her expertise is future-focused and includes business strategy, marketing, new brand management, e-commerce, retail, financial services, media (incl. digital & social), technology services and manufacturing.

Naseema has had hands-on management experience in creative innovation industries, where the drivers of growth and differentiation are continuous innovation via IP and / or technology, together with creating a change-mindset culture.

Belinda Hutchinson AC | President 2011 - 2012

Belinda Hutchinson is Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Chairman of Thales Australia, Chairman of Future Generation Global Investment Company, a Director of Qantas Airways Limited, Australian Philanthropic Services and a Trustee of the St Vincent’s Health Curran Foundation.

Belinda was previously Chairman of QBE Insurance Group and a Director of AGL, Telstra Corporation, Coles Myer, Crane Group, Energy Australia, TAB, Snowy Hydro Trading and Sydney Water. Her executive career included her role as an Executive Director of Macquarie Group, a Vice President of Citibank, and a senior manager at Andersen Consulting. She has a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Christine Christian AO | President 2013 - 2014

Christine Christian is a leading Australian business executive, chairman, company director and investor with more than 30 years ‘ experience in financial services, private equity, investment, credit risk, and digital media. Her career includes senior executive and advisory roles in Australia, China, India and the United States. Christine is currently Chairman of Kirwood Capital Group and a Director of FlexiGroup Limited, ME Bank Limited, Lonsec Fiscal Group and the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority. She is Deputy President and board member of the State Library of Victoria and chairs the Library’s Finance Committee. 

She is a board member of The Cranlana Programme and Council member of La Trobe University. Christine is a past President of Chief Executive Women (2013-2015). Prior to her board career, Christine was CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Australia and New Zealand from 1997 to 2012 and Chairman of Dun & Bradstreet Consumer Services from 2004 to 2012, where she grew the group ten-fold. In 2006, she was appointed to the additional roles of member of the D&B World-Wide board and in 2011 as Executive Director of D&B India where she spearheaded a growth and strategic agenda.

Throughout her career Christine has been active in industry reform and in helping businesses and public institutions adapt to deep structural change. Christine initiated and led the Credit Reporting Reform with the Federal Government to introduce positive credit reporting, which led to the biggest changes to Australia’s Privacy Act in more than 20 years. Regionally, Christine advised the People’s Bank of China on establishing a commercial and consumer credit bureau and on small business lending, and was founding chair of the Business Information Industry Association for Hong Kong and the Middle East. During 2016 she was a member of the Victorian Government’s TAFE Capability Assessment Panel. 

In 2001 Christine led a high-profile management buyout of D&B Australia and New Zealand that she sold back to the US parent company ten years later at ten times the original sale price. The buyout is used as a case study by global business school IMD.

Diane Smith-Gander AO | President 2015 - 2016

Diane Smith-Gander AO is a professional non-executive director maintaining a diverse portfolio over varying types of entities, industries and geographies. An advocate for gender equity and past president of CEW. 

Diane is Chair of Zip Co Limited and HBF Health Limited, and is a non-executive director of listed mining services company Perenti. Diane sat on the Wesfarmers board for more than 11 years, chaired Broadspectrum (initially Transfield Services) during a tumultuous time and had an eventful six years at AGL Energy.

She was the float Chairman for DDH1 Limited and stewarded the company through the acquisition of Swick Mining Services before the company combined with Perenti.

Kathryn Fagg AO | President 2017 - 2018

Kathryn Fagg is an experienced chairman and board member having worked in senior executive roles across a range of industries, from resources, to manufacturing and logistics, as well as banking and professional services, in Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

Kathryn is Chairman of Boral Ltd, and Non-Executive Director on the boards of ASX-listed companies Djerriwarrh Investments and Incitec Pivot. She was a member of the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia from 2013 to early 2018.

Kathryn is Chairman of the Melbourne Recital Centre as well as Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA). She previously served as Chairman of Parks Victoria.

Kathryn is a board member for the Australian Centre for Innovation and is a Fellow of the Academy of Technology and Engineering where she chairs the Industry and Innovation Forum.

Kathryn commenced her professional career as a petroleum engineer with Esso Australia (now Exxon Mobil), after completing her chemical engineering degree at the University of Queensland. As a petroleum engineer, her work was focused on maximising oil and gas production from the fields in Bass Strait.

Kathryn was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Queens Birthday Honours in 2019 for distinguished service to business and finance, to the central banking logistics and manufacturing sectors, and to women.

Sue Morphet | President 2019 - 2020

Over 30 years of brand, consumer goods, manufacturing, and retail management experience across Australia and New Zealand. Senior Executive of Pacific Brands Limited 1996, 2012. General Manager of Tontine, Group General Manager of Bonds from 1999 – 2007. CEO of Pacific Brands Limited from 2007 to 2012. Chair of Manufacturing Australia from 2012 to 2014. Currently non-Executive Director in Australia and past President of Chief Executive Women.

Sam Mostyn AO | President 2021 - 2022

Sam Mostyn AO is a businesswoman and sustainability adviser, with a long history of executive & governance roles across business, sport, climate change, the arts, policy, and NFP sectors.

Sam is the President of Chief Executive Women and chair of Women’s Economic Opportunities Review. She serves on the board of Mirvac and is the Chair of Citi Australia’s consumer bank. She also Chairs the boards of the Foundation for Young Australians, Australians Investing in Women, Ausfilm, ANROWS (the Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety) and Alberts.

She also serves on the boards of the GO Foundation (founded by Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin to provide education scholarships to indigenous students), the Centre for Policy Development, The Climate Council, Tonic Media, and until recently as an inaugural board member of Climateworks Australia.

Sam was a founding supporter and Chair of the women’s climate action group 1 Million Women and serves on the Australian faculty of the Cambridge University Business & Sustainability Leadership Program.

Sam has served on the Global Business & Sustainable Development Commission, and on the boards of Reconciliation Australia, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Swans, Transurban, Virgin Australia Australian Volunteers International, and has chaired Carriageworks and The Australian Museum.

Sam served as a Commissioner with the Australian Football League for over a decade until 2017. In 2005 she was the first woman to be appointed to the Commission where she was an advocate for the inclusion of women at all levels of the AFL. She was an advocate for the creation of the AFL Women’s league and was the 2018 AFLW Cup Ambassador. In 2009, Sam was a member of the Crawford Sports Funding Review expert panel which examined sports funding in Australia.

Between 2013-2017 Sam was President of the Australian Council for International Development. She was an inaugural commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission and was Deputy Chair of the Diversity Council of Australia. Sam was named Winner – Individual, in the IGCC 2019 Climate Awards.

Sam was presented the distinguished 2020 United Nations Day Honour Award for her significant contribution in advancing the work of the United Nations; in recognition of her outstanding efforts in the advancement of sustainable development as defined by the UN and her leadership in the areas of diversity and inclusion in Australia.

Sam was awarded an AO in the 2021 Australia Day Honours for distinguished service to business and sustainability, and to the community, through seminal contributions to a range of organisations, and to women.

Her executive and non-executive roles have encompassed business strategy, human resources, culture change, corporate and government affairs, risk management, community engagement, climate change, gender equality, and sustainability.

Before taking on non-executive roles, Sam held senior executive roles at Insurance Australia Group, Optus, and Cable & Wireless plc. After early years working as a solicitor for Freehills, and Gilbert + Tobin, She was a senior Policy advisor for Senator Bob Collins (Minister for Transport & Communications) and The Hon Michael Lee MP (Minister for Communications & the Arts), and senior communications Policy advisor for the former PM, The Hon Paul Keating.

Sam has a BA/LLB from the Australian National University, and in 2018, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the ANU, in recognition of her work as a pioneer of gender inclusion and equity, and leadership in sustainability and climate change.

Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz | President 2022 - Present

Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz is President of Chief Executive Women, Chair of the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council, a non-executive director of Rio Tinto Limited, a non-executive director of Macquarie Group, a member of the Sydney Opera House Trust and a member of the INSEAD Global Board. Susan was Chief Executive Officer of Mirvac and a Director of the Mirvac Board from 2012 to 2023. Prior to this appointment, Susan was Managing Director at LaSalle Investment Management in London. Susan has also held senior executive positions at MGPA, Macquarie Group and Lend Lease Corporation, working in Australia, the US and Europe. Susan holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Sydney and an MBA (Distinction) from INSEAD (France).