The social CEO

The social CEO

Mar 22
CEDA NSW welcomes senior leaders from across the Australian corporate and not-for-profit landscape to discuss corporate leadership on social issues that shape Australia's prosperity. 


Alison Watkins, Group Managing Director, Coca-Cola Amatil
Debby Blakey, Chief Executive Officer, HESTA
Nik Gowing, Founder and Co-Director, Thinking the Unthinkable Project; Former BBC presenter
Steven Spurr, Chief Executive Officer, Edelman Australia

Event overview

Australia faces emerging, entrenched and growing social challenges such as unemployment, underemployment, inequality, mental health, reconciliation to forge a better future. 

Increasingly, corporate Australia acknowledges the role it can play in addressing social issues by financing, mobilising and providing new thinking to ingrained problems to achieve social impact and bridge the trust gap with their customers. 

Featuring leaders from across corporate Australia, this event will examine:

  • The role of corporate Australia in addressing social issues;
  • The impact of failing levels of trust across government, corporate and not-for-profits;
  • The role of social licence to operate in building connections to the community; and
  • Expectations of your customers, employees and the board when considering to support social causes.

Meet the keynote speaker

Alison Watkins
Group Managing Director, Coca-Cola Amatil

Alison joined Coca-Cola Amatil as Group Managing Director in March 2014. Alison is a non-executive director of The Centre for Independent Studies and the Business Council of Australia. Alison’s previous roles include Chief Executive Officer of agribusiness GrainCorp Limited and of Berri Limited, the market leader in Australian juice, and Managing Director of Regional Banking at ANZ. Alison spent 10 years at McKinsey & Company from 1989-1999 and became a partner of the Firm in 1996 before moving to ANZ as Group General Manager Strategy. Alison has been a non-executive director of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Woolworths Limited and Just Group Limited. She is a former Victorian President and National Board Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Meet the panel

Debby Blakey
Chief Executive Officer, HESTA

Along with the health and community services sector HESTA has grown over the past 30 years. Debby Blakely has a University of Natal Bachelor of Science and has held leadership roles at the now $47 billion industry fund since 2008.

Nik Gowing
Founder and Co-Director, Thinking the Unthinkable Project; Former BBC presenter

Nik Gowing founded the Thinking the Unthinkable project in 2014. He is co-author of Thinking the Unthinkable (2018) and a Director of Think Unthinkable Ltd. Nik was a main news presenter for the BBC’s international 24-hour news channel BBC World News 1996-2014. He presented The Hub with Nik Gowing, BBC World Debates, Dateline London, plus location coverage of major global stories.

Steven Spurr
Chief Executive Officer, Edelman Australia

Edelman works globally to evolve, promote and protect the reputation of leading international brands. Steven joined Edelman Australia as CEO in 2016.  He has over two decades of consultancy and in-house experience focused on brand building and re-positioning, influencer programming, and policy and systems change.  Most recently he was COO of Edelman UK & Ireland.

Meet the chair

Narelle Hooper
Editor-in-chief, Company Director Magazine, Australian Institute of Company Directors

Narelle has had a long commitment to sustainable business and leadership models and gender equality. She is Editor in Chief of Company Director magazine published by the Australian Institute of Company Directors, is a non executive director at The Ethics Centre and Documentary Australia Foundation. Among previous roles she was Editor of the Australian Financial Review’s BOSS Magazine and founding co-chair of the Financial Review’s Women of Influence Awards and director of the women's global entrepreneurship accelerator SBE Australia. In 2015 she co-authored the agenda-setting book New Women New Men New Economy (Federation Press) which shows how inclusive cultures drive innovation and sustainable growth.

Sponsorship opportunities available:

Align your brand with CEDA and communicate with hard-to-reach business, government and policy leaders by sponsoring this event. Contact Louise Claridge on 02 9779 9751 or email