2014 Foenander Lecture

Designing the 21st Century Workspace: Shaping Business Culture and Practice

Presented by Rosemary Kirkby, Principal, Rosemary Kirkby & Associates

About the lecture

Contemporary workplace design in Australia has its origins in the processes of workplace reform in the Finance sector in the 1990s.  The experience of a highly collaborative and inclusive design process used to develop the first MLC Enterprise Development Agreement with the Finance Sector Union encouraged MLC to employ the same processes of co-design to refurbish its 1950s building in North Sydney in 1998. It was this project which was the catalyst for more than a decade of innovation in the design of Australian workplaces.  Workplace design has ceased to be principally about property and has become business and people-led. This lecture explores the way design of the workplace has supported, and helped to shape, the cultures of our organisations. Another wave of change is currently occurring as disruptive technologies transform industries and challenge our assumptions about organizational structure, culture, and models of leadership. In this lecture Rosemary examined the leadership challenges which are emerging as work becomes more virtual and discussed the role that place will play in creating the conditions for productive and meaningful working lives.

About the speaker

Rosemary Kirkby

Rosemary works with CEOs and their leadership teams to shape organisations that are inclusive, profitable and sustainable to strengthen their capacity to adapt and thrive in a turbulent marketplace.  She has done this through executive roles with large Australian companies including the Lend Lease Group, MLC, NAB, The GPT Group and, recently, through her own advisory practice.

She is known for her expertise in the leadership of organisational change, in MLC during its repositioning in the financial services sector by Lend Lease in the 1990s. While with NAB she managed more than 600 people to co-design a 60,000m2 building in the Melbourne Docklands in a process of cultural renewal (2000-2004) and through partnering with the leadership team of GPT, as Head of Sustainability, in the business turnaround of the group (2010-2012).