NEXT Insights

Learn about practical solutions to critical workplace challenges facing Australian HR and business leaders.

Tuesday 8 August

11.00 am – 11.50 am

1A: Shorter working weeks: The future or impossible fantasy

Shruti Ganeriwala, Head of HR, Unilever ANZ

Greg Keith, CEO Grant Thornton

Emma Lowes, General Manager People and Performance, Standards Australia

Donna McGeorge, Global authority on productivity and bestselling author

The idea of a shorter working week has gathered momentum as organisations participate in four-day week trials in Australia and abroad. So, what are the real benefits, challenges, and opportunities of shaking up the traditional 9-5 workweek?

Join an expert panel as we learn how organisations have moved to a more innovative approach to work and leave with practical tips and insights that you can apply to your own organisation, helping you to stay ahead of the curve and create a workplace that attracts and retains top talent.

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Tuesday 8 August

11.00am – 11.50 am

1b: The influence of generative AI on employment and wellbeing

Dr Sean Gallagher, Director of the Centre for the New Workforce at Swinburne University

According to Bill Gates, we are in the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI) which has the potential to be as transformative as mobile phones and the internet. Generative AI tools capable of generating multiple content types such as text, images and audio based on large data set patterns are rapidly being adopted.

Its impact on work tasks is expected to be swift as workers adopt it at an unparalleled pace. Within four months of the release of Chat GPT, 43% of US professionals were already using generative AI tools for work-related tasks. Occupations such as law, business, architecture, and engineering are the most susceptible, so highly educated, highly paid, white-collar workers are both the most exposed to and most likely to benefit from generative AI.

In Australia, questions arise regarding the prevalence of generative AI tools in the workplace, their applications, and their impacts. Can these tools enhance productivity and work quality while promoting better work-life balance and wellbeing through time saved and process streamlining?

In this session, you will hear about the latest research on generative AI tools their anticipated impact on work and policy consequences for HR professionals.

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Tuesday 8 August

11.55am – 12.45pm 

2a: Balancing business requirements and changing employee expectations

Ruby Anandajayasekeram, Global Diversity Equity & Inclusion Excellence Advisor, Shell

Mofoluwaso Ilevbare CPHR, Chief People Officer, Allied Pinnacle

Sarah Schmalz, Human Resources Director – ANZ, Kimberly-Clark

Clare Murphy FCPHR, Executive Director – Organisational Enablement, EACH

In today’s rapidly changing world, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve and understand what businesses and employees need to thrive.

Our expert panelists will share their insights of and experiences with the changing business environment, discussing the latest trends and developments that are driving success in today’s talent marketplace. We will also delve into the evolving expectations of employees, from flexible work arrangements to increased focus on purpose-driven work.

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Tuesday 8 August

11.55am – 12.45pm

2b: Achieving optimal performance

Aaron McEwan FAHRI, VP, Research & Advisory, Gartner

Today, there are fewer constraints on ‘when’, ‘where’, and ‘how’ work must be done, especially for jobs that can be done remotely. This is creating performance opportunities and challenges and, while HR leaders report meeting or exceeding current performance targets, they express significant concerns about future performance. Specifically, they fear that their current approaches no longer equip employees to perform optimally, that is to consistently give their best work sustainably year after year. In fact, research shows that less than half of employees are performing optimally, putting organisational performance at risk. Sub-optimal performers contribute less value, are less likely to stay, and are less likely to promote the organisation to others, risking innovation, and the ability to attract and retain top talent. Join Gartner’s Aaron McEwan to learn how the best organisations are orienting employees with path, pace, and progress cues that unlock their best and most sustainable performance.

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Tuesday 8 August

1.45pm – 2.35pm


Elizabeth Griffin FCPHR, Principal, Complexity Consulting 

Fiona Krautil, D&I Lead, Uniting NSW ACT KnowHow 

Mathew Paine FCPHR, Executive General Manager – People and Culture, Australian Financial Complaints Authority

Dr Michelle Phipps FCPHR, AHRI Director and DEI Advisory Committee Chair, and Chief People Officer, VetPartners 

The opportunity for the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) agenda to drive meaningful change has never been riper than now. As a diverse society with a long and rich history, Australia is currently experiencing a volatile, fractious, and rich context in which to pursue the DEI agenda. It is in every conversation, in every business. As a result, it is more mainstream than ever, and at the very foundation of the HR profession. 

Join this conversation as we explore issues such as allyship, representation, leadership, cultural safety, the reality versus the ‘stated’ views of organisations and the creation of an open and inclusive conversation for all. 

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Tuesday 8 August

1.45pm – 2.35pm


Dr Michelle McQuaid, Author and Founder of The Wellbeing Lab

Every job involves some psychosocial hazards that have the potential to harm people. New national codes and local legislation require workplaces to measure, control, and monitor the risks their people are encountering. But what might this look like practically? Based on new data gathered from more than 1,000 Australian workers, in this session we will

  • Discover the most frequently reported hazards in Australian workplaces and the impact they are having on burnout.
  • Explore the most effective strategies workplaces and leaders are using to minimise psychosocial risks for workers.
  • Understand the safety and wellbeing “super strategy” every team needs to control and monitor risks in real-time.

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Tuesday 8 August

2.40pm – 3.35pm


Sarah Queenan FCPHR, Founder and Managing Director, Humanify HR

Nick Ruskin CAHRI, Partner, K&L Gates

Susan Sadler CPHR, State Director SA, AHRI | CEO, Red Wagon Workplace Solutions

Jonathon Woolfrey FCPHR, Director and State Director WA, AHRI |Managing Partner, Talenting

Donna Young MAHRI, Group Employee Relations Director, Accenture Australia and New Zealand

In today’s complex business landscape, interpreting employment legislation is a critical skill all HR practitioners need to ensure compliance. However, even the most experienced HR professionals can make mistakes. In this session, a panel of legal and HR experts will provide practical knowledge and actionable strategies to interpret employment legislation. They will also outline the personal liability, moral, and legal responsibilities HR professionals hold. The session aims to explore how to stay informed about forthcoming reforms, and how to foster a thriving and compliant workplace that enhances employee satisfaction and productivity.

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Tuesday 8 August

2.40pm – 3.35pm


Rhonda Brighton-Hall FCPHR, Founder and CEO, mwah – Making Work Absolutely Human
James Hancock MAHRI, Co-Founder and Managing Director, mwah – Making Work Absolutely Human

As we emerge from that uncertainty and complexity, we are challenged to move quickly from reacting to the chaos of covid-19, to an expectation that we proactively and thoughtfully redesign work and culture in the best possible way for the future, which starts today.

So, what does that take?

  • What is the complex system that is culture?
  • How do you measure it?
  • How is it best managed?
  • How do you design the right culture for your work, your org, your customers and your team?
  • How do leverage great culture for business success? 

And all of that comes in the age of ESG – when we’re expected to measure beyond the organisational walls to the community we impact – starting with our own teams, but moving quickly to customers and broader society. What does take to lead this? To let go of the survival mindset, and see the opportunities in the challenges as possibilities rather than from the limitations? 

Join us to explore the data, the technology, and most importantly, the role HR plays in creating effective, successful and livable organisations for the future. 

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Wednesday 9 August

11.00am – 11.50am


Sarah Queenan FCPHR, Founder and Managing Director, Humanify HR

Nick Ruskin CAHRI, Partner, K&L Gates

Susan Sadler CPHR, SA State President, AHRI | CEO, Red Wagon Workplace Solutions

Donna Young MAHRI, Group Employee Relations Director, Accenture Australia and New Zealand   

Australia’s fast-paced and everchanging business environment means it is crucial for organisations to have a deep understanding of their rights, obligations, and responsibilities. This session’s panel of experts will explore the rights and obligations of unions, employers, and HR professionals, and the importance of managing relationships with employee bargaining representatives. They will also discuss how to effectively prepare for spot audits and navigate the powers and responsibilities of the Fair Work Ombudsman, safety regulators, and the Fair Work Commission.


Richard Rosenow, VP People Analytics Strategy, One Model

This session will explore the world of people analytics for HR practitioners. People analytics expert Richard Rosenow will share the best practices he has seen companies employ to develop and deliver a world class people analytics practice. Key ideas will include how to build people analytics capability for HR and people leaders, myth busting barriers that hold teams back, and introducing the framing of people analytics as “listening at scale”. It is also the most popular topic in the world right now, so Richard will share his insights on how AI is changing the people analytics landscape and what it means to be human in an AI world. 

Key themes to explore include:

  • Understand the history of the field of people analytics.
  • Gain context and confidence around the space of people analytics and how to apply people analytics within other verticals of HR
  • Explore the capabilities of people analytics and ways that data can influence and inform decision making around the workforce
Wednesday 9 August

11.55am – 12.45pm

6a: Talent acquisition and reskilling in a slowing economy

Michael Bradfield, Director Talent Acquisition – Global Tech, Digital and DNA, adidas

Dr Ben Hamer CPHR, Director, AHRI | Chief Futurist, CreativeCubes.Co

Brenda Hawke, Senior Director, Talent and Organisational Development, Queensland Health

Hayley Lock MAHRI, Partner, KPMG

Mark Vickers, Talent Acquisition Director – Asia Pacific, Stanley Black & Decker

This session explores strategies for successful talent acquisition and reskilling in a slowing economy. It’s a vital topic as organisations face increasing pressure to manage costs and optimise resources while continuing to need top talent as the global economy slows. More than ever, organisations must continue to attract, retain, and develop skilled employees to remain competitive.

An expert panel will examine the current economic landscape and its impact, the challenges organisations face in attracting and retaining top talent, as well as the need to upskill and reskill existing employees to meet changing business demands.

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Wednesday 9 August

11.55am – 12.45pm

6b: Psychosocial safety: The critical role of HR in improving peoples experience of work

David Burroughs, Workplace Psychologist, Australian Psychological Services

The obligation for employers to do everything they reasonably can to prevent harm arising from work has been a key focus of the HR profession in recent times. However, managing employees’ psychosocial safety at work has been a critical issue for far longer.  

For an integrated approach to a creating a psychosocially safe workplace, the HR function needs to play a key governance role that incorporates Work, Health & Safety and Learning & Development.  

David Burroughs has been advising organisations on these issues for more than 20 years and in this session will explore how HR should design work, provide interventions, and support the reduction and management of work stress.

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