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The Workplace Gender Equality Agency understands that in order to assist organisations, you need to understand them. 84% of WGEA staff have substantial experience in the private sector. Private sector experience is a requirement when we select our out-facing roles. All staff in the Advice and Reporting team have worked in the private sector with experience in a wide range of industries in small, medium and large organisations. Agency staff experience includes working in companies such as:

CaltexLaw Institute of Victoria
Cordell InformationMacquarie Group
Flight CentreNRMA
HarperCollins Publishers AustraliaTAL Life Insurance
IHS Australia Pty LtdTarget Australia
Insurance Australia GroupTourism & Transport Forum Australia
KPMGUTS Business School


The Agency is managed by a Director of Workplace Gender Equality, with a small team of specialists to lead research, operations, advice and reporting, and partnerships and communications. 

Helen Conway

Helen was appointed Director on 27 April 2011 for a five year term.  Prior to her appointment, Helen spent 30 years in the private sector.

Following 10 years in private practice as a lawyer, including seven years as a partner, Helen joined the corporate sector where she held various executive positions in companies covering the insurance, transport, downstream oil, retailing and construction industries. In addition she has held various directorships in the health, transport and superannuation sectors.

In 1992 Helen was the recipient of the first scholarship awarded by Chief Executive Women which enabled her to undertake studies at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management and in 2005 was awarded the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association Corporate Lawyer of the Year.

Helen has an established track record in the equal opportunity sphere focusing in particular on initiatives in support of women. She spent ten years on the NSW Equal Opportunity Tribunal including three years as its Senior Judicial Member.

Yolanda Beattie
Public Affairs Executive Manager
Yolanda joined the Agency in January 2013 and leads the team responsible for running communications programs and building partnerships to support initiatives such as research, events and public campaigns. 

Yolanda's background is in corporate affairs, communications and marketing in the financial services sector having most recently been the general manager at a boutique public relations firm representing leading Australian and international brands.  Previously, Yolanda held senior communications roles at Insurance Australia Group and Macquarie Group.

Yolanda has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney with a major in finance, economics and marketing, and is completing her Masters in Public Policy.

Olivia Jenkins 
Research Executive Manager

Olivia started with the Agency in September 2013, replacing Dr Carla Harris who is taking a year of maternity leave. Currently, Olivia leads the three member research team in conducting research projects and data analysis, and preparing for the online benchmarking system.

Olivia is a research and insights professional with extensive experience across government and industry.  She has a background in social sciences research, and her PhD was in the field of geographical sciences and planning from the University of Queensland. Her Doctorate explored images and stereotypes of Australia and how they influence the behaviour of international visitors to Australia.

Prior to joining WGEA, Olivia worked as an independent consultant with the Committee for Sydney on a project to position Sydney as a Global Talent Hub. Previously, Olivia was employed as the research manager at Destination NSW/Tourism NSW.

Olivia is strategic and results-driven, with an ability to see the big picture, distil complex ideas into meaningful results and communicate insights. She thrives on innovative, collaborative projects which bring together stakeholders to drive and/or facilitate change, and is passionate about contributing to better gender equality outcomes in Australia.

Marion Higginson
Operations Executive Manager

Marion joined the Agency in August 2011 and leads a small team responsible for diverse operational areas, including finance, human resources, IT Services and general administrative support.

Marion brings to this role 14 years’ experience in senior national operational roles in private enterprise. After her initial degree in Library and Information Science at Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education (now UTS,) Marion focused her further studies on people and business management obtaining various diplomas and certificates primarily through the Australian Institute of Management.

During her career Marion has managed teams through the various stages of change associated with new technologies and their incorporation into business practices.

Vanessa Paterson
Advice and Reporting Executive Manager

Vanessa leads the team responsible for the advice, reporting, coverage and leading practice functions of the Agency, including the employer of choice citation. Vanessa has worked in key roles in the Agency since 2001 and more recently she has been integrally involved in the reforms of the Agency and its underlying Act. Her team continues to play an important role in implementing the new Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.  Prior to working at the Agency, Vanessa worked in a range of senior roles in the private sector.

Vanessa has a Bachelor of Science majoring in psychology, particularly focusing on organisational psychology and neuro-psychology, areas about which she remains passionate.

Dr Heidi Sundin
Education and Innovation Executive Manager

In this role, Heidi is responsible for working with organisations to develop educational resources and practical tools focused on driving and improving gender equality in the workplace. Heidi comes to the Agency from KPMG where she was the Director of the Office of the CEO. In this role, she was involved with key elements of KPMG’s diversity and inclusion strategy.

Heidi was previously a lecturer for over six years at the UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney in the area of management accounting and control systems. She has also previously worked for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Geneva in the Climate and Energy program, managing the development of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Heidi holds a Bachelor of Business with Honours and a PhD in management accounting from the University of Technology, Sydney.