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Emerging Leaders

Join us on the Gold Coast at COBA 2019 to develop your skills and network as an Emerging Leader!

2019 marks the 17th year that the Emerging Leader Program has formed part of the COBA annual Convention. The program aims to equip our future leaders with the skills, networks and opportunities to develop themselves – and make meaningful contributions to their organisations and the customer owned banking sector.

The Emerging Leader delegates at the Gold Coast Convention will be offered a program focused on personal and professional development. For the first time we will commence will a full day of sessions on Sunday, allowing some additional flexibility to attend the main program on Monday and Tuesday.

‘Breaking Through’

COBA Emerging Leaders are facing a changing workforce while pushing the boundaries and trying things differently.

We are breaking through barriers and stigma to have our voice heard amongst other leaders.

We are developing relationships and working together to ensure our sector remains relevant into the future, even if that means changing the way things have been done in the past.

Each session allows our Emerging Leaders to work with their peers and professional facilitators to enhance their own capabilities as our industry faces an increasing set of disruptive challenges and opportunities.

With plenty of opportunity for social networking with other delegates, as well as senior executives across the sector, the program will culminate in the announcement of the Bridges COBA Emerging Leader Award.

Delegates will leave with valuable insights into leadership and opportunities to build a diverse network of peers from across the sector and learn how to successfully navigate careers as young leaders.

We look forward to seeing you in Gold Coast in November!

COBA 2019 Emerging Leaders Sessions**

Sunday 10 November 2019

09:00 – 11:15
Cooperative History and the Meaning of Mutuality

Understanding the mutual difference and how to be a mutual leader comes from understanding the history of the sector and how cooperatives differ from other business models. Mark Worthington will sshare examples from the sector including Australian Mutual Bank and the Australian Mutuals Foundation.

Speaker: Mark Worthington, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Mutual Bank

Ice breaker

As its name suggests, it is designed to get you engaging with your fellow attendees. In short, be prepared for anything.

Facilitator: Dean Donoghue, Manager Operational Excellence, Bank Australia


11:15 – 11:45
Emerging Leaders Morning Tea


11:45 – 13:00
How to pitch your best pitch

During this session you will have the opportunity to hear from an inspirational guest speaker Lachie Smart who share his experience getting an idea off the ground, pursuing his dream & leading change through the eyes of a millennial. We will also be joined by Ariana Clee, Margo Dewar, Sally Mackenzie and Greg McKenna, who are currently working in our sector and report to boards and/or hold board positions.

Delegates will gain insights from our industry leaders to assist them with practical tips for preparing & presenting to boards or senior executives. Future leaders will walk away from this session feeling empowered and have the foundations required to merge their ideas into a pitch worthy reality.


– Lachie Smart, World Record pilot
– Sally Mackenzie, Director – Strategy & Stakeholders, COBA,

– Greg McKenna, Chair, Police Bank,

– Ariana Clee, Head of Marketing and Communications, Nexus Mutual,

– Margo Dewar, Chief People Officer, Heritage Bank

Facilitator: Corey Warwick, Area Branch Manager, Heritage Bank


13:00 – 13:45
Emerging Leaders Lunch


13:45 – 15:00
Million Dollar Handshake

Do you think your handshake is worth a million dollars?

Catherine Molloy has developed the “Million Dollar Handshake” to maximise business connections, opportunities and growth. She challenges you to hack your meet and greet to create likeability and a great first impression.

Catherine’s high energy approach will engage delegates to connect, communicate and understand their behaviour style for influence and win-win results.

This session includes a networking opportunity for delegates to put new skills straight into practice to create long lasting connections in the sector.


Speaker: Catherine Molloy, Communications Expert

Facilitator: Steph Petkovski, Product and Marketing Manager, Illawarra Credit Union


15:00 – 15:30
Emerging Leaders Afternoon Tea


15:30 – 17:00
The Power of Purpose

Known as ‘The Streets’ Barber,’ Nasir Sobhani has earned his title by offering free haircuts and shaves to the homeless and less fortunate on Melbourne’s streets. His inspirational story of compassion and generosity has received global attention, helping to provide a ‘voice to the voiceless’. With a vision to create meaningful connections in order help empower others, Nasir believes in the importance of service to the community – especially by drawing on our unique talents, skills and passions. His story is sure to motivate and encourage our Emerging Leaders to help them find their purpose.

Following Nasir’s talk, Emerging Leaders will have the opportunity to workshop ideas on how COBA members can work collaboratively to make a difference in vulnerable communities. Our Emerging Leaders will leave this session with an understanding of the strength in working together and the benefits of putting people before profits.


Speaker: Nasir Sobhani, ‘The Streets’ Barber

Facilitator: Sean Lo Cascio, Digital Marketing Officer, Police Bank


Monday 11 November 2019

15:30 – 16:15
Emerging Leaders and CEO Afternoon Tea


18:30 – 22:00
Emerging Leaders Networking Event

The Loose Moose Tap & Grill House, Oasis Shopping Centre, 75 Surf Parade, Broadbeach

(Emerging Leader delegates only – pre-registration required)



Tuesday 12 November 2019

07:30 – 09:00
Emerging Leaders Breakfast

The Strength and Importance of Customer Love

(Emerging Leader delegates only)



– Luke Boyle, Executive Manager, Distribution Partnering, CGU
– Joel Owen, Manager, Partner Relationships, CGU

– Jacki Johnson, Non Executive Director, Community First Credit Union

Facilitator: Dean Donoghue, Manager Operational Excellence, Bank Australia


Proudly sponsored by CGU


14:00 – 15:15
World Café

The customer owned banking sector boasts great talent, many of whom have started their careers as part of the emerging leader community. This popular session will provide you with an opportunity to hear about the experiences of the leaders in our sector, and they will share their tips and tricks to help you in your career. Bring your questions and a keen attitude!


– Jane Calder, Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Heritage Bank
– Mark Worthington, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Mutual Bank

– Jennifer Miller, Company Secretary & Head of Risk, COBA

– Con Nikolaou, Head of Cyber Protection, Teachers Mutuals Bank

– Dan Vittorio, National Property & Facilities Manager, Beyond Bank Australia