Keynote Speaker: Holly Ransom

Holly Ransom is a globally renowned content curator, powerful speaker and master questioner with the belief that if you walk past it, you tell the world it’s okay. She is the CEO of Emergent – a strategic advisory firm specialising in disruptive strategy, digital innovation, leadership development, customer and stakeholder engagement, and building the capacity of organisations to execute change. Holly is also a Fulbright Scholar, and an author – her book The Leading Edge was published by Penguin Random House Australia in July 2021.

Named one of Australia’s 100 Most Influential Women by the Australian Financial Review, Holly has delivered a Peace Charter to the Dalai Lama, was Sir Richard Branson’s nominee for Wired Magazine’s ‘Smart List’ of Future Game Changers to watch and was awarded the US Embassy’s Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Leadership Excellence in 2019.

Having interviewed the likes of Barack Obama, Malcolm Gladwell, Richard Branson, Billie Jean-King, Condoleezza Rice, Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and the world’s first humanoid robot Sophia, Holly fights complexity with curiosity, apathy with empowerment and fear with fact. 

Panellists for the day

Seemali Shukla

Country HR Leader Australia & New Zealand, HP

Seemali is an accomplished HR Leader who has extensive experience across HR function specialising in core HR business partnering & talent acquisition. During her 20 years+ experience she has worked with leading multinational companies across markets inclusive of FMCG, Telecom, Consulting as well as IT / ITES.  

Seemali started her career with HP India in 2015 as Talent Acquisition Lead, and continued to accelerate her development by being appointed Country HR Leader, ANZ in 2017. 

Throughout her 20 years+ of HR experience, Seemali has held a variety of HR leadership roles including Talent Acquisition Lead at Ernst & Young, HR Manager at Samsung and Staffing Head at Coca-Cola India. 

Seemali earned a Masters in Human Resources from Thames Valley University, London in the UK and is an AHRI member. 

Seemali has an 19 year-old son, Mudit who is studying Bio – Medicine at Monash University and her husband, Arvind works in real estate. She is currently based in Melbourne, Australia. 

Jacky Connolly CAHRI

Vice President People and Global Capability, Woodside

Jacky Connolly is an HR professional with over 20 years of experience across Australia, New Zealand, Africa, the Middle East and Turkey. Her experience spans coaching, mentoring, identifying talent, M&A, leadership of teams, payroll, immigration and HR process. Jacky was appointed as Vice President People & Global Capability, Woodside in July 2017. Prior to this, Jacky worked for General Electric for 10 years, including four years as the HR Regional Shared Services Leader in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

Jacky has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from University New England, New South Wales majoring in Human Resources and Organizational Design, as well as a Master’s Degree in Occupational Health and Safety Management from the University of Technology, New South Wales. Jacky is an AHRI member and appears on the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) Advisory Board. 

Paula Goodwin FCPHR

Group Executive and Chief Operating Officer, Enterprise Services Group, Bureau of Meteorology

Paula has held a number of First Assistant Secretary roles, including Chief Operating Officer and First Assistant Secretary in the Department of the Environment and Energy.  

She is currently the Group Executive of Enterprise Services with the Bureau of Meteorology.  

Her passion is organisational transformation and supporting organisations to deliver for their customers and the community – particularly from a people and culture perspective.  

Paula has worked across a range of Policy and Human Resource functions both in the public and private sector.  

She is a member of the AHRI ACT Council and a Fellow Certified Practitioner Human Resources. 

Kate Aitken FAHRI

Vice President, People and Culture, Optus

Kate joined Optus in August 2020 from Westpac Banking Corporation and leads Optus’ People and Culture team.  

With a career spanning senior regional and global Human Resources and business roles, Kate is responsible for end-to-end HR, People and Culture at Optus and aligning initiatives across theSingtel Group. 

Kate is an experienced business and HR professional with strong leadership, management, change and communication skills gained in roles with Westpac, Goldman Sachs and Macquarie Bank in London, New York, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  

With over 20 years HR experience, Kate has led strategies and teams through major business and economic events, as well as business transformation, acquisition and divestment. 

She is a member of Chief Executive Women, a board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Bus Stop Films, Pride in Diversity Advisory Board and is a Founding Member of the Minerva Network. 

While Kate is well travelled, she currently lives in Sydney where she grew up and balances her work life by spending time with friends and family. 

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