Today’s leaders inspire the next generation

Today’s leaders inspire the next generation

RMIT’s Global Leadership Forum featured visionary leaders across not-for-profits, leading brands and start up organisations tackling the biggest challenges and opportunities the world faces.

More than 3,000 students and staff registered for the online event held on Wednesday 19 August, with attendance across Australia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

The Global Leadership Forum was presented in collaboration with RMIT’s Global Experience Office and partner Common Purpose, a global leadership organisation devoted to developing leaders in work and society.

The event was opened by Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE, followed by a keynote from the honourable Julia Gillard AC and Common Purpose CEO, Adi Sengupta.

Attendees were then provided with three rounds of ‘masterclasses’, where they could tailor their program and attend three 45-minute sessions of their choice.

All up, there were 20 masterclasses focusing on leadership, the future world-of-work, physical and mental wellness, cultural intelligence, Indigenous activism, and sustainability.

(L-R, Top-Bottom) Robyn Mudie, Julia Gillard AC, Paul Huynh, Lidia Thorpe, Vincent Fantauzzo, Alysha Richards, Daniel Klug, and Anna Keeling.

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic

As current Chair of Beyond Blue – Australia’s biggest mental health and wellbeing support organisation – Gillard discussed the importance of having ‘healthy minds in uncertain times.’

Gillard said that one way to help build a healthy mind was to plan out a daily routine.

“Before the pandemic, we had a very knowable rhythm to our day,” Gillard said.

“In this period, Beyond Blue is advising people to think about how you can find a structure to your day.”

She also shared the phenomenon known as ‘post traumatic growth’, where individuals find positive change as a result of adversity. 

Julia Gillard presenting via Zoom Julia Gillard AC during her keynote 'Healthy minds in uncertain times'.

Gillard encouraged the students and staff to structure healthy habits into their day, leading to potential post traumatic growth during COVID. 

Award-winning artist Vincent Fantauzzo presented the closing keynote titled ‘A story of difference: embracing diversity to thrive’.

Fantauzzo is a distinguished RMIT alumnus with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and a Master of Fine Arts. 

On the topic of COVID-19, he said it’s important to try and look past everything that’s going on now and take some good out of it. 

“We’ve all had a big shakeup,” Fantauzzo said. 

“There’s something good we can take out of this crazy time: respecting each other and supporting each other.” 

Future world of work 

With a rapidly changing job-market, Fantauzzo said the way we perceived the world-of-work may never be the same.  

“The rule book, what the world was in the past, is out the door,” Fantauzzo said. 

“It's a time where anyone can achieve anything. 

“If you have love from your family or peers, the people you look up to, if you have their love and support and confidence, you can achieve whatever you want to.” 

Common Purpose Partnerships Manager Tara Hawley, Associate Director Global Experiences Sam Baillie, Common Purpose CEO Adi Sengupta, Award-winning artist and RMIT Alumnus Vincent Fantauzzo. (L-R, Top-Bottom) Common Purpose Partnerships Manager Tara Hawley, Associate Director Global Experiences Sam Baillie, Common Purpose CEO Adi Sengupta, Award-winning artist and RMIT Alumnus Vincent Fantauzzo.

RMIT Alumnus and Creative Strategist at Facebook Australia, Stefanie DiGianvincenzo, hosted the masterclass ‘Facing the Future of Skills: unpacking the skills needed in the future world of work’.

Like Gillard, DiGianvincenzo discussed the importance of trying to find certainty in what are uncertain times.

“That feeling of uncertainty is the only certain thing, and you need to be able to lean in and embrace that uncertainty – even when it feels uncomfortable," DiGianvincenzo said.

“Be willing to embrace the unknown. The speed of change will only increase.”

Responding to a question about standing out in the job market post-COVID-19, DiGianvencenzo said ingenuity is key.

“Companies are looking to recruit people who are capable of dreaming up the next big thing,” she said.

“That might be someone who’s done it before, but it could just as likely be someone fresh out of school, who’s shown ingenuity in a passion project.”

RMIT Alumnus and Creative Strategist at Facebook Australia, Stefanie DiGianvincenzo presenting 'Facing the Future of Skills: unpacking the skills needed in the future world of work'. RMIT Alumnus and Creative Strategist at Facebook Australia, Stefanie DiGianvincenzo presenting 'Facing the Future of Skills: unpacking the skills needed in the future world of work'.


Attendees were able to complete the RMIT Micro-Cred ‘Developing Global Leadership’ as part of the forum.

The micro-credential involved completing a reflecting on their own personal leadership style, and how they can apply it to further their chosen cause or passion.

Anna Keeling, Managing Director at Boeing Defence UK, said that to understand your leadership style, you need to understand yourself first.

“Get to know yourself, learn the subject of you. You need to be able to lead yourself before you lead others,” Keeling said.

“Leadership is a journey; it’s not about my title or position.

“Leadership is about action, it’s the choices I make, it’s how I show up. And often it’s about doing something when everyone around you does nothing."

Keeling also pointed out the importance of being an ‘inclusive leader’ by staying curious and seeking to understand

“Be inquisitive, ask questions, it’s the only way to leverage the diversity around you,” She said. 

RMIT and education

Like many industries, the education sector is undergoing rapid change to prepare students for the changing world of work.

Gillard, Minister for Education from 2007-10, said education institutions like RMIT are powerful change agents for people of all ages.

“RMIT is at the forefront of offering those opportunities to students who don't come from a background of privilege, and that is such a powerful change agent,” Gillard said.

“Education made me what I am today.

“It opened up a world of opportunity, not just academic, but a world of opportunity where through those years of education, I came to understand a lot of myself and what I wanted to do."  

Full program of presenters:

  • Martin Bean CBE, Vice-Chancellor and President, RMIT University

  • Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia. Current Chair of Beyond Blue, Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at Kings College, London, and Chair of the Global Partnership for Education

  • Deepak Ananthakrishnan, Business Unit Director, Johnson & Johnson (India)

  • Dr Ranjana Srivastava OAM, Oncologist and award winning author (Australia)

  • Philipp Ivanov, CEO, Asia Society Australia (Australia)

  • Senator-Elect Lidia Thorpe, first Aboriginal woman in Victorian parliament and first federal Aboriginal MP for the Greens (Australia)

  • Tanzy Owen, Sustainability Manager, Endemol Shine Australia (who produce Masterchef, Survivor and more) (Australia)

  • Georgina Stickels, Environmental Sustainability Manager, UN Food Programme (Italy)

  • Paul Huynh, Head of People, Performance & Culture, KPMG Asia Pacific (Vietnam)

  • Alysha Richards, Global Head of Retail, Frank Body (Australia)

  • Brenda Appleton OAM, Chair of Transgender Victoria, Member of Victoria Mental Health Ministerial Advisory and Director of The Pinnacle Foundation (Australia)

  • Vandana Saxena Poria OBE, Chief Alarmist of The Human Alarm Clock, award-winning founder of Get Through Guides, Chair of the British Business Group in Pune (India)

  • Daniel Klug, Brand Strategist, TikTok (Australia)

  • Liza Noonan, ASEAN Director at CSIRO, Vice President of Aust Cham Singapore (Singapore)

  • Dominick Ng, Senior Software Engineer and Manager at Google (Australia)

  • Andrew Maher, Chief Digital Officer, Aurecon (Australia)

  • Stefanie DiGianvincenzo, Creative Strategist, Facebook (Australia)

  • Ben Westcott, Digital News Producer, CNN (Hong Kong)

  • Pham Viet Tuan Jimmy, Founder, KOTO (Vietnam)

  • Ambassador Robyn Mudie, Australian Ambassador to Vietnam

  • Andrew Strano, Musical Theatre Writer, Australian currently in NY

  • Dr Megan Clark AC, Head, Australian Space Agency

  • Captain Sophie Hollingsworth, Associate Director, KPMG Australia, former Environment and Sustainability Consultant, Global Citizen, American currently in Australia

  • Shawn Andrews, Director of Indigicate and Supply Aus

  • Anna Keeling, Managing Director, Boeing Defence UK

  • Vincent Fantauzzo, award winning artist


Story: Caleb Scanlon


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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.