IPA Business & Agency Leadership

3 DAY Residential

Business & Agency Leadership is a three day residential course, renowned as a unique opportunity for tomorrow’s agency leaders to equip themselves with the skills necessary to build and lead a resilient and forward-thinking business. Combining presentations from inspiring guest speakers and experts in transformational leadership, these interactive sessions are designed to stretch and challenge your thinking.

2021 Course manifesto

Welcome to the new norm of leadership. 

One where the rules are yet to be written and where the expectations are greater than ever.               

After a year of pandemic-induced upheaval across every facet of our industry, agency leaders, both experienced and emerging, have had to overcome extraordinary challenges, internally and externally.

And one thing’s for sure: nothing will ever be the same.

As a future leader, are you ready to adapt and lead in a world of uncertainty?

2020 and 2021 has, if anything, accelerated the evolution of the advertising and marketing landscape, which was already changing at a seemingly impossible pace.                       

There’s no doubt as our industry evolves, the challenges of leadership evolve with it. And we seem to be in constant conflict with ourselves.                                    

Clients are looking for marketing transformation across their complete customer journey. Yet, for many, the allure of data-led solutions and hyper-personalisation has put ‘creativity’ on notice.

While communication fragmentation continues, the principles of effective advertising have never been more relevant, whether we are engaging audiences in small numbers or reaching them en masse.

While clients’ ambitions and expectations have never been bigger, budgets are shrinking. “Do more for less” competes head-on with the challenges of bringing transformational thinking and ideas to life.

And while we see our agencies as exciting places to work and build creative careers, attracting and retaining talent has never been more challenging.

Amongst this whirlwind, how do leaders navigate their agencies? How do they engage and motivate their people, activating individuals and teams to perform to their potential? How do they blend commercial considerations with authentic purpose and a people-first culture? How do they continually remain relevant in a hyper-paced world and create sustained growth?

And how does one actually prepare for leadership in the first place?

If you see yourself as an aspiring, emerging leadership talent in Australia, these are the sort of issues you will need to get your head around in order to make the huge leap from managing to leading.                                                

In this three-day interactive workshop, you will hear from respected agency and industry leaders who have made or are making the leap themselves and have had their own lessons to learn. We will examine the challenges leaders confront in our industry, explore what it means to be an authentic leader with purpose and impact, and shed light on some of the fundamentals of effective leadership                                  

The journey to great leadership is not straightforward. There is no one-off approach that will fit everyone. We do not promise to reveal all the answers, but we will impart as much collective knowledge that’s possible in three days.


2022 Chairs

Yet to be announced!

What to expect

This 3-day residential course includes 2 nights accommodation and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The course has been designed to be residential so that you can remove yourself from your daily routine (even if you are based in the same city) and enjoy the opportunity to learn from your chairs, speakers and fellow delegates.

The residential nature also helps with the group and individual work.

  • Reside with other course delegates, allowing for evening networking and group work, building close working connections with industry peers
  • Participate in absorption sessions, exercises and discussions
  • Benefit from small group sessions and presentations from a range of industry leaders
  • One-to-one guidance throughout the experience from the course chair and co-chair
Who’s it for?

Group account directors (or equivalent)

Course Content

Day 1: Authentic Leadership

  • Welcome & introductions
  • ‘Build a career, not a moment’
  • ‘Failing my way to success’
  • ‘Resilience and leadership for purpose’
  • Dinner

Day two: Creating Change

  • ‘Transformational leadership’ 
  • ‘Good to Great’ 
  • ‘Transforming an agency for the future’
  • ‘High Performance linked to transformation’
  • Q&A 
  • Dinner

Day three: Leadership Your Way 

    • ‘Mental health and leadership’
    • ‘Growth mindset/leading high-performance teams’
    • Reflections
    • Final discussion

Please note, content may vary. 

Former Chairs

Melinda Geertz
CEO at Leo Burnett Australia
David Brown
Managing Director at Noisy Beast
Michael Rebelo
CEO, Publicis Groupe Australia & NZ
Laura Aldington
2019 Co-Chair - Sydney
Andy Pontin
2017 Chair - Sydney
Aimee Buchanan
2017 Co-Chair - Sydney
Kimberlee Wells
2017 Chair - Melbourne
Ricci Meldrum
2017 Co-Chair - Melbourne
Nick Garrett
2016 Chair - Melbourne
Paul McMillan
2016 Co-Chair - Melbourne
Paul Bradbury
2016 Chair - Sydney
Nitsa Lotus
2016 Co-Chair - Sydney

FORMER Speakers (2021)

Francis Deng
Business Support Advisor at National Australia Bank
Vladka Kazda
Marketing Director - AU at Xero
Martine Jager
Chief Digital & Marketing Officer at Westpac Group
Chris Jeffares
CEO at Cummins&Partners
Katie Firth
National Managing Director at whiteGREY
Ben Roulston
Co-Founder & Director of Vision at Thinka
Sarah Adam-Gedge
Managing Director at Wipro Limited
Aimee Buchanan
CEO at OMD Australia
Kath Blackham
Founder & CEO at VERSA Agency
Chris Howatson
Founder & CEO at Howatson+Company

related Articles

Throw yourself in! by Emily Pockley
Melinda Geertz and David Brown to chair 2021 IPA Business & Agency Leadership residential course

Participant Feedback

It was just so inspiring. I knew it would be good but it was just so god damn inspiring.
2021 delegate

Spending three days with a group of people, guided by two experts (chairs) dedicated to us, felt incredibly supportive and motivating. The tone was set early on that this was a safe space and that we were here to be vulnerable.
2021 delegate

The speaker list was a very well balanced mix of people. From extreme advertising veterans to inspiring speakers from totally different backgrounds… The relaxed and open nature of the environment, along with the casual Q&As really meant we could discuss topics as a group, rather than just be presented at.
2021 delegate