Speakers Profile - Rosemary Vilgan

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One of Australia's top CEO's
Telstra Australian Business Women of the Year.
Recognised nationally and internationally for her innovative leadership.

"Presenters must be driven by passion, the strong desire to share, deep personal thinking, and be informed by real life hard yards. Rosemary has all of these." Pauline Vamos (ex CEO of Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia)

Rosemary Vilgan is an inspiring and experienced leader. She is one of Australia's top CEO's, a multiple award winner, including Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year.

Rosemary has had a long and distinguished business career. At the age of 33, she was appointed CEO of QSuper, one of the largest superannuation funds in Australia. Rosemary is recognised both nationally and internationally for her leadership of transforming QSuper to an innovative, vertically integrated $90 billion financial services organisation.

Highly regarded in the superannuation, financial services and business communities, Rosemary regularly works with government, industry and business.

Current board roles:

- Chair of the Commonwealth Bank Group Staff Superannuation Fund Board
- Chair of the Federal Governments Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC)
- Children's Hospital Foundation (Qld) Board
- Cambooya Investment Committee
- QUT Investments and Borrowings Committee
- Qld Council of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD)

Key achievements at QSuper:

- Personally negotiated and led major superannuation improvements for over 80,000 clients.

- Transformed a public sector superannuation organisation into a globally recognised financial institution, which now covers superannuation, investment, financial planning and life insurance.

- Led many mergers and therefore knows the issues with blending cultures. Many of these were very difficult and she had to overcome many stakeholder interests.

- Created a World-class culture and received World-class staff engagement scores. Rosemary was able to bring the employees along for the journey and growth of QSuper. Many staff even had to resign from public service during the GFC to work alongside her in the new private entity she created.

- Oversaw global investments as a result gaining great insight into why QSuper would invest around world: e.g. Times Square New York, Heathrow airport.

Key achievement at ASFA (Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia):

- Led national superannuation body from age 33 as Chairman and had a major influence on retirement policy. She was made a life member in 2009.

Key achievements in the University Sector:

- Council (i.e. Board) member for 12 years of QUT in a time of great progress. QUT is very highly regarded.
- Was Deputy Chancellor for 2 years (i.e. Deputy Chairman of Board) and Chairman of Audit and Risk Committee for nearly 10 years.
- Chaired reviews into the Education and Business faculties.
- Given Honorary doctorate from the University, so technically 'Dr Vilgan'

Rosemary's tips on what makes a great leader:

- Go for nirvana i.e. in Strategy. You need to know where you are going. Always focus on the biggest of dreams of what you are about. This is what led Rosemary to building such a big, global business.

- Lead your people and organisation from a place of love. You are being asked to love and care for the organisation that pays you. Your people need to understand the organisation mission and strategy. Don't let fear of the impact (especially on you) get in the way.

- Make it real and become great at communicating the stories. Why are we doing this? Be prepared to be vulnerable if you can.

- Lead up. Your team below you is very important but many people forget who hires you are actually the people above. Are you helping them achieve?

- Things go wrong. Risk is always there whether you recognise it or not. You need to trust your staff or why have them? You also need to ask lots of questions as ultimately the buck stops with you.

Why Book Rosemary?

- Rosemary is a female leader who achieved from a very young age. She walks the talk and did the really hard things to become a great leader like merging organisations and building a great culture. Rosemary decided to leave at the top of career.
- She raised a family whilst a CEO.
- The scale of the business Rosemary left behind is of global consequence.
- She speaks from hard fought experience and speaks in really plain English about people and that makes people understand her. The President of the Teachers Union has actually told her she would make a great teacher.
- She is passionate (not shouting from the roof tops though) and has an ability to engage with an audience to leave a long lasting impression. She has people years later tell her she was the one who made them make a key changes in their business and personal lives.

Rosemary in the media:

Rosemary's achievements and views on leadership, culture and financial services have been regularly profiled and quoted in the media.


2015 - Honorary doctorate, Queensland University of technology for services to the university.
2014 - Pensions and investment magazine (USA) global innovation award for designing a new superannuation product for 400,000 people that incorporated an innovative, tailored investment strategy.
2013 - Telstra Australia businesswoman of the year and community and government award.
2013 - Telstra Queensland businesswoman of the year and community and government award and innovation award.
2009 - Life member, Association of Superannuation funds of Australia for services to the association.

Key presentations:

Rosemary presents in three key areas being Leadership, Diversity and Finance (including the psychology of finance.


Leading from the head, engaging from the heart. Asks and answers critical questions of leading people.

Relevance: Suitable for business, not for profit sector and government, and can be especially tailored for all levels through to C suite.

Takeout: Act from a position of love for the organisation, not fear. Become a storyteller to illustrate complex into simple. Do you have strong leadership traits in you and your organisation? What is ethical behaviour? Is your organisational culture lived and breathed? Are the words in your culture statement what is evidenced day to day? How can every person develop their leadership style?

Building a culture of continuous innovation. How to build an organisation with a clear direction.

Relevance: Suitable for business, the not for profit sector and governments interested in developing their strategy and delivering innovation. Global and Australian focus.

Takeout: Attendees will understand what it takes to build an organisation with a clarity of direction in a world where many desire stability, but continuous improvement is demanded to survive. Attendees will be equipped with probing questions to ask of themselves and will understand how to uplift their organisational strategy development and delivery.

Are you committed to exceptional customer service? -Asks the many hard questions in customer service delivery.

Relevance: Suitable for business, the not for profit sector and government interested in better delivering to their customers. Can be tailored for all levels of staff.

Takeout: What is my role in customer service? What truly makes a difference? Can customers really identify truly exceptional service and can it build loyalty and profit? Specific examples lead to better understanding of building an organisation known for great service.


Diversity - It's not just what's on the outside that counts.
Relevance: Suitable for business, not for profit sector and government, and focuses on building a strong workforce. Can be tailored for staff or management.

Takeout: Gender is the most often quoted and measured aspect of diversity. But does diversity stop there? Attendees will understand how businesses should value "diversity of experiences" in their staff to build true resilience for a demanding and unpredictable future.
General Finance and the psychology of Finance

Living money -Money is not all facts and figures. Emotions, upbringing and psychology all play huge roles.

Relevance: Suitable for financial services practitioners (e.g., planners, stockbrokers, accountants), organisations and their clients. Also can be tailored for wellbeing programs run for general staff.

Takeout: Attendees understand that we should all look after our bodies. The same goes for finances because our money affects our lives dramatically. Money is not all facts and figures because emotions, upbringing and psychology play huge roles. What are common roadblocks to building a secure financial future? Not a dry look at money, but one filled with relatable examples.

So you really think you know how the investment world is developing?

Relevance: Suitable for financial services practitioners (e.g., planners, stockbrokers, accountants), organisations and their clients.

Takeout: Attendees will understand how the largest global investors build their portfolios and what that means for the rest of the investment world. How will financial services organisations develop from here as online becomes more prevalent? Attendees will consider their opportunities and threats as they see how the investment and financial services world is unfolding.

What clients say about Rosemary's audience impact:

"Rosemary was outstanding. A great speech. Ita Buttrose and Rosemary Vilgan - absolutely brilliant. Great speakers and inspirational. What a great way to start the conference!! Well done. Felt very privileged to have Rosemary and Ita talk to us about what makes a good super system and leadership skills. Both were very engaging women. Rosemary was outstanding, passionate and inspiring".

"I recently engaged Rosemary to deliver the keynote address at the Breast Cancer Network Australia luncheon in Brisbane. I have had nothing but positive and enthusiastic feedback about her address. The audience of 500 was a mix of corporate tables and those attending in their personal capacity; those with personal experience of breast cancer, and those without. Rosemary's personal and professional experience enabled her to craft her address with a message for everyone in the room, whatever their role or situation, and was able to keep the entire room captive for the duration of her speech, which for that number of people is remarkable. I was sitting with one of our Board members, Olympian Raelene Boyle, who caught my eye to nod and smile approval of the address, and that is high praise indeed. I can highly recommend Rosemary to anyone seeking her services."

"Having led a major business through times of industry, economic and political change, Rosemary Vilgan is a highly accomplished former CEO who speaks frankly about the challenges and rewards of leadership. For the Committee of Economic Development of Australia Rosemary addressed a 400 strong senior cross sector and cross profession audience on leadership, leading change, focusing a business on the customer and on the future, diversity and business transformation. A great story-teller, thoughtful presenter and generous respondent to diverse audience questions Rosemary impressed, challenged, informed and inspired guests with her business and leadership insights."

"I have listened to many professional and industry speakers over many years. What is sometimes missing is the backing of real life experience and the skills to draw a picture verbally. Rosemary can do both. Her deep experience particularly in a complex industry where you are competing for the hearts and minds of your customers means that to succeed, she has had to think outside the box. This need, together with a deep commitment to good government policy that extends outside her own organisation and into the community makes her a captivating speaker. Rosemary is also unique in that I have seen her effectively engage small groups in an informal workshop as well as hold an audience of over 1500 for a formal address. Presenters must be driven by passion, the strong desire to share, deep personal thinking and be informed by real life hard yards. Rosemary has all of these."

"We were delighted that Rosemary accepted our invitation to speak at the MinterEllison International Women's Day function for 2016 in Brisbane. With an audience of women and men at varying career stages, Rosemary spoke about her career in superannuation and provided practical advice about how to manage your money in a manner that is likely to bring you long term satisfaction. Rosemary was able to engage and captivate us all with her reflections, insights and advice delivered with humour and eloquence."

"Rosemary's presentation hadn't come out of a text book or the latest article she read. She had formed views based on years of actual experience which made her presentation authentic and practical. She was not guarded in sharing her experience. She was happy to talk about failures/learning as much as success. She welcomingly engaged with her audience. She thought networking was over-rated."

"Thank you for your excellent presentation to our group of Boeing leaders at our offsite last week. Your advice and insights around leadership, change and diversity were refreshing, informative and highly relevant to our current business climate. My particular take-aways were regarding 'Urgent vs Important' work and keeping check on the level of horizon and focus in particular roles."

"I really wanted to express sincere appreciation for your keynote and your most appropriately pitched topic and content. We have received many positive comments about your presentation style and your excellent tips."