At the virtual Australian HR Awards 2021, you’ll be able to:


Catch the exclusive stream of the winner announcements.


Show your support for the HR profession and the 160-plus outstanding excellence awardees


Join live virtual panels featuring some of the excellence awardees, who will be sharing their inspiring insights, best practices and success stories


Network and reconnect with your peers in the HR profession with our live chat and a peer-matching function


Get a chance to win a $200 Westfield voucher by sharing a #AusHRAwards photo celebrating in style on the day


10:00 am MAIN STAGE

Meet Australia’s most courageous and inspiring CEOs

Featuring: HR Champion (CEO) of the Year Excellence Awardees

Hear award-winning leadership strategies from Australia’s most forward-thinking and people-focused CEOs.

  • How to lead with courage, authenticity and decisiveness
  • Providing employees with guidance, safety, empowerment and direction
  • Establishing an HR framework for employee connection and engagement
  • Managing operational disruptions through targeted employee communication



David Anderson, CEO & Co-founder, Big Red Group

Mick Frewen, Chief Executive Officer, CareFlight

Simon McGrath, Chief Executive Officer, Pacific, Accor

Drew O'Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Collins Foods



Nigel Ward, CEO and Director, Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors

10:30 am BREAK

5 minutes

10:35 am MAIN STAGE

Creating a strong, high-performing culture

Featuring: HR Director of the Year award Excellence Awardees

Australia’s best HR directors are highly driven, passionate and commercially astute. In this panel, you will hear directly from our award winners about their HR programs and strategies.

  • Creating a culture that is open, collaborative, inclusive, high performing and resilient
  • Driving continuous business improvement and innovation
  • Communicating openly and showing vulnerabilities



Sarah Derry, Senior Vice President Talent & Culture, Pacific, Accor

Amanda Hart, former HR Director, Dyson

Mari Ruiz-Matthyssen, Chief People Experience and Marketing Officer, Melbourne Airport

Natalie Nicholson, Chief People & Corporate Affairs Officer, humm group



Nigel Ward, CEO and Director, Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors


20 minutes

11:25 am MAIN STAGE

Award-winning workplace flexibility programs

Featuring: Best Workplace Flexibility Excellence Awardees

COVID has changed the way we work forever. In this panel, we’ll take a look behind the scenes at Australia’s most flexible workplaces and what makes them so successful.

  • Nurturing relationships and fostering connection between employees 
  • Allowing employees to take control of their working day  
  • Empowering leaders to own and manage the way their team works  
  • Taking work to talent, not making talent come to work 



Julian Clarke, Transformation, Communications & People Executive, Telstra

Jane Shand, Chief Human Resources Manager, Queensland Rugby League

Anita Patrick, Snr HR Director, ANZ, PepsiCo

Rachel Pirc, Associate Director, Projects - People, Culture, and Talent, NSW Department of Premier & Cabinet



Alex Margarit, APJ Senior Director of Employee Workflows, ServiceNow

11:55 am BREAK

5 minutes

12:00 pm MAIN STAGE

Powerful reward and recognition programs

Featuring: Best Reward and Recognition Excellence Awardees

Hear from Australia’s best employers about their targeted and innovative reward and recognition programs. Find out how to create a culture where saying “thank you” is second nature.

  • Leveraging rewards to drive performance and engagement
  • Providing ‘in the moment rewards’
  • Automating recognition and reward processes
  • The key to successful peer-to-peer recognition programs



Sarah Novelli, HR Business Manager, BGIS

Jess Edmonds-Saunders, Employee Experience Specialist, Youi

Gayle Fearnett-Smith, Head of Organisational Development, Sodexo

Tara Bowler, Director of HR, Colin Biggers & Paisley



Emma Harvie, Manager, Client Services, Achievers

12:30 pm BREAK

5 minutes

12:35 pm MAIN STAGE

Innovative Remote Work Strategies

Featuring: Best Remote Work Strategy Excellence Awardees

Australia’s most innovative employers have remote work strategies to keep their people remain safe, productive, engaged and connected. This panel will discuss their pioneering approaches to flexible work.

  • The key to a successful virtual work strategy
  • Engaging, connecting and onboarding virtual employees
  • Equipping remote workers with employees with tools and technologies to work effectively
  • Virtual team building activities and training



Annabel Kennedy, HR Country Leader, Australasia, Varian

Holly Barnes, Chief HR Officer, Vix Technology

Jane Betts, Chief People Officer, Findex

Katie Dunne, HR, TikTok



Craig Goldblatt, VP Partners & Alliances, Globalization Partners 


30 minutes

1:35 pm MAIN STAGE

Building a strong and effective HR team

Featuring: Australian HR Team of the Year (≤ 1000) Excellence Awardees

In this panel, HR leaders will discuss their award-winning programs and strategies to unleash the unique talents and skills of every employee in their organisations.

  • HR strategies to create a high-performance culture
  • Automating processes while providing a personalised experience
  • HR programs to enhance the employee experience and candidate experience 



Angela Edwardson, Chief People Officer, Novotech

Darren Peiris, Head of Talent – Australia, New Zealand, South Korea & Japan, The Kraft Heinz Company

Amy Wild, Group Executive, Head of Corporate Operations, Investa

Paul Kearney, Executive General Manager, People and Culture, Australian Financial Complaints Authority



William Prest, Senior Manager, Human Resources, Hays

2:05 pm BREAK

5 minutes

2:10 pm MAIN STAGE

Successful diversity and inclusion strategies

Featuring: Best Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Program Excellence Awardees

Diversity and inclusion are critical elements of a successful HR strategy. When people feel appreciated and included, they can be more creative, innovative, and successful.

  • Fostering innovation and collaboration through D&I
  • Gender equality programs and strategies
  • Successful and engaging LGBTQI initiatives
  • Enabling people with disabilities in the workplace



Sarah McCarthy, Oceania Diversity & Inclusiveness Manager, EY

Dr Deanne Gibbon, Director, Organisational Culture and Capability, The University of Queensland

Patrick Bruneau, Head of HR - Commercial & Marketing, Diageo



Kelly McFadden, General Manager, People and Culture, Ceridian

2:40 pm BREAK 



2:45 pm MAIN STAGE  

Health and wellbeing at work – new strategies for a new era

Featuring: Best Health and Wellbeing Program Excellence Awardees

Hear how Australia’s best employers are supporting the financial, physical and mental wellbeing of their workers through COVID and beyond. 

  • Creating a sustainable positive culture of support and empathy
  • How to reduce the stigma of mental health conversations in the workplace
  • Financial wellbeing campaigns that build financial confidence
  • Hybrid and flexible working policies that support work life balance



Darren Fewster, Transformation, Communications & People Executive, Telstra

Andrea Shaw, National Health and Wellbeing Manager, Coles 

Amy Cooper, Senior HR Business Partner, Unilever Australia 

Natalie Devlin, Chief Experience Officer, Charter Hall



Emma Baxter, CEO / Founder, YOUtax 

3:15 pm BREAK 


3:20 pm MAIN STAGE 

How to achieve HR excellence in 2021 and beyond

Featuring: Australian HR Team of the Year (> 1000) Excellence Awardees 

What do Australia’s most successful HR teams have in common? Find out in this panel discussion, featuring the leaders of Australia’s best HR teams. 

  • Attracting and retaining high performers in a tight labour market
  • Identifying and cultivating high potential (HiPo) talent
  • Strategies to motivate and engage a virtual workforce
  • HR programs to build a positive candidate and employee experience



Alana Shepherd, Executive Manager - People Agility, REA Group

Zemeel Saba, EGM People and Culture, genU

Tina McCreery, Chief Human Resources Officer, Deloitte

Trudie Harriman, Chief People Officer, Craveable Brands



Paul Bridgewater, Regional Leader, APAC, pymetrics 

3:50 pm  

Conclusion of panels

7:00 pm MAIN STAGE


  • Achievers Best Reward & Recognition Program
  • ServiceNow Best Workplace Flexibility Program
  • YOUtax Best Health & Wellbeing Program
  • Ceridian Best Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Program
  • Best Learning & Development Program
  • Best Recruitment Campaign
  • Best use of technology
  • HAYS Australian HR Team of the Year (<1000 Employees)
  • pymetrics Australian HR Team of the Year (>1000 Employees)
  • Globalization Partners Best remote work strategy
  • Employer of Choice (Public Sector & NFP)
  • Best Graduate Development Program
  • Employer of Choice (1-99 Employees)
  • Employer of Choice (100-999 Employees)
  • Employer of Choice (>1000 Employees)
  • Best Leadership Development Program
  • Australian HR Rising Star of the Year
  • Australian HR Manager of the Year
  • ABLA Australian HR Champion (CEO) of the year
  • ABLA Australian HR Director of the Year

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