Australian Women CEOs Speak

With just 14 female CEOs in the ASX 200, it’s clear that corporate Australia hasn’t been an easy environment for women.

Those who have made it to top leadership did so by leveraging a particular combination of personality, skills, and approaches that is different in key ways from the global norms.

The Korn Ferry Institute began researching the careers of CEO women in US companies in 2017, and this report is an extension of that work. Korn Ferry, in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Company Directors, conducted structured interviews with 21 Australian women: current and former CEOs, as well as women who had experience heading up professional services firms, government departments, and universities—all CEO equivalent roles. We asked them about their career objectives, obstacles, motivations, and about their experience with boards. Sixteen also took an executive assessment, and we compared their results with Korn Ferry’s executive database.

Although the CEO women were not selected based on any job performance criteria, we found that their results were similar to our benchmark for best-in-class CEOs on two-thirds of drivers (motivations), more than half of traits (personality and other natural attributes), and 60% of competencies (specific job skills).

The areas of difference, however, were telling. Their interest in leadership rests on a different foundation, and they rebalance their strengths and apply their talents accordingly.

Australian Women CEOs Speak is a resource for executive teams, HR leaders, boards, and most importantly the women who aspire to reach their full potential in their chosen career.

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Authors

  • Katie Lahey

    Executive Chairman, Australasia

    Bio >