Kathy Hirschfeld — Former Executive Director BP Australasia & Non Executive Director

1a98322Kathy Hirschfeld — Former Executive Director BP Australasia & Non Executive Director — On Gender Diversity, Running a Refinery & Creating Your Own Future

Arete Executive is eager to feature a much greater representation of female guests on the podcast, especially those who have successfully moved from an executive to a non-executive or portfolio career. It was wonderful to sit down and have a conversation with Kathy Hirschfeld, a civil engineer and accomplished women, who forged an impressive career in senior roles in an often male dominated industry. Kathy is genuine and down-to-earth and was forthcoming with fascinating stories from what is a remarkable number of diverse roles throughout her career.

Martin Warner – Managing Director – Home Instead


Martin established Home Instead Senior Care in Australia in 2005 with his wife Sarah Warner when they opened their first Home Instead office in Brisbane, Queensland. Since then they have grown their Australian Home Instead network to 24 franchises operating in all major Australian Cities. Home Instead’s private fee for service model is unique in Australia operating in an aged care market traditionally dominated by heavily subsidized government services.

Martin graduated with a BSc from North London University and began a career in hospitality management before specialising in franchising. Martin and Sarah migrated from the UK with their family to Australia in 1986 where Martin was involved in the establishment and development of a number of different franchised businesses both in Australia and overseas. He has qualifications in Institutional Management and Health Services Management and is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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Erin Feros – Partner – Allens & Non Executive Director

Erin Feros joined Allens as a law graduate and has worked for the firm throughout her career, achieving some fantastic results including opening international offices, becoming the Managing Partner for Queensland and joining the board.  I really enjoyed speaking with Erin about her career and her views on leadership.  She shares a great model for success called SWAN, and the importance of being “Nice”.  She has a tremendous enthusiasm for her work that I found really refreshing and inspirational.  She’s speaks about her involvement as the State Chapter Chair for Chief Executive Women, and as NED for the Queensland Theatre Company.

Please note:  In the recorded introduction to this podcast, I incorrectly refer to Erin as the Queensland Events Chair of Chief Executive Women, when in fact her actual title is State Chapter Chair.


Erin was admitted as a solicitor in 1985 and became a partner of Allens in 1988.  Erin is a member of the Allens Board, is the firm’s Mining Sector Head and is the managing partner of the Brisbane office of Allens.  Mergers and acquisitions in the resources sector and privatisations are Erin’s primary areas of practice. Erin has broad experience dealing with ASIC, ASX, the Department of Mines and Energy and other Commonwealth and State Government departments.

Erin lists the opening of Allen’s office in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in 2011, an initiative she lead, as one of the highlights of her career.

She is a former director of Queensland Rail and is currently on the board of the Queensland Theatre Company.

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John Wagner – Chairman of the Wagner Group

The Wagners are regarded as one of regional Queensland’s most iconic and successful family businesses of our generation.  As Chair of the Wagner Group, John has overseen the business grow from owning a small hotel and quarrying operations, to a vertically integrated construction materials and mining services business employing over 1000 fulltime people over 5 countries.

Along the way, Wagners have funded, constructed and now operates the first privately funded public utility airport in Australia; plus been honoured with the Premiers Award at Queensland’s 150 Year celebrations as the company that has had the biggest impact in Regional Queensland in 150 years.  John’s story is inspirational especially given how humble he is about his and his families achievements.

Grant Murdoch – Non Executive Director – Former Partner EY

Grant is a Non Executive Director and Corporate Advisor with a coveted portfolio that includes listed, private and Not for Profit organisations. 

Grant has over 39 years chartered accountancy experience. For 8 years, from 2004 to 2008, he headed the Corporate Finance Team for Ernst & Young Queensland overseeing a doubling of revenue over that time (including the GFC). In addition to these responsibilities Grant was an audit partner from 1980 to 2000.

During this time with Ernst & Young he:

Lead the TAS team for the re-capitalisation of Transpacific through the investment by Warburg Pincus, which was recognised in the UK Magazine Transaction Quarterly

Lead the engagement team on a number of QLD Government asset sales, including the recent $3bn sale of Queensland Motorways and Golden Casket

Lead the engagement team on many significant IPOs, including Transpacific and Wotif


  • Master of Commerce (Honours), University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Bachelor of Commerce, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Graduate of Kellogg Advanced Executive Program, North Western University, Chicago, USA (1988)
  • Advanced Leadership Program, North Western University, Chicago, USA (1998)
  • Fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (past Chairman at the Queensland Committee and Member of the National Professional Standards Committee)
  • Fellow of Financial Services Institute of Australasia
  • Public Practice Certificate, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia
  • Member of Australian Institute of Company Directors
  • Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand (prior Chairman of the Canterbury/Westland Branch – 1990)

Grant’s ability to accurately and methodically piece together sometimes disjointed scenarios consistently yields excellent results.

Current Board roles

Past Boards

  • Past Non-Executive Director of Cardno (member of the audit committee)
  • Past Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Endeavour Foundation (Chair of the Nominations and Remuneration Committee, member of the Audit Committee and the Property Committee)

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Recent Lessons from some of Australia’s Top Leaders

by Richard Triggs

For those that don’t know me, I’m the Managing Partner of a Brisbane based executive recruitment company, Arete Executive. I’ve also recently launched the Arete Podcast, where I interview leading CEOs, Non Executive Directors and other leaders about their careers, key achievements, lessons learnt along the way and so on. The motivation for the podcast is to allow those who aspire to achieving similar career success, to learn from those who have walked the path before them, in order to hopefully accelerate their own careers.

I thought for this article I would summarise some of the key learnings from my early guests; those that I found most interesting and pertinent.