Katharine McLennan

Senior Vice President, People & Culture at Cochlear

Katharine McLennan has a career that spans corporate strategy, execution and leadership. Her specialty is facilitating executive teams in the integration of strategy, operations, team dynamics and self-transformation; integrating these practices with the science of the brain and the gut and the philosophies of our ancient ancestors.     

Prior to Cochlear, her most recent corporate role was head of the Global Leadership Academy for QBE, where she designed and led five levels of leadership development across QBE’s 40 countries. Prior to that, Katharine was executive general manager, Talent and Business Unit HR for Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Here, she was responsible for talent acquisition and retention strategies, succession planning, talent development and workforce planning. She also line-managed the heads of HR for the nine major business units of all of CBA.

Prior to CBA, Katharine spent 10 years in leadership consulting, providing advisory services on behalf of three major organisations: Heidrick & Struggles, the Mettle Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Through this work, she led projects in succession planning, CEO team strategy facilitation and executive assessment and development for ASX Top 50 clients, helping these clients to manage their internal pipeline. Katharine’s clients have included CBA, GPT, Ergon Energy, PwC, AGL, Qantas, Macquarie Bank, Telstra, NBN, CSR, Leighton, Gilbert & Tobin, Minter Ellison, Bankwest, UBS, Westpac, Medicare/Centrelink and Ernst & Young.

Before her leadership consulting years, Katharine spent four years as the key architect and implementer of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games operational strategy. In this role she led the operational planning process for the venue operations and was the main facilitator on all operational planning and contingency exercises within the Sydney organisation. She continues today to advise the IOC and all organising committees in their operational planning, workforce strategies and leadership development.

In the early '90s, Katharine worked for Booz Allen & Hamilton in Australia and New Zealand, driving corporate growth strategies, business reconstruction and process re-engineering across industries such as health care, banking, telecommunications and logistics. Clients included CBA, NAB, Tubemakers, TNT, Telstra, Royal Adelaide Hospital, the Alfred Hospital and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Katharine has a Bachelor of Science with Honours (neuroscience & history) from Duke University, a Master of Arts (political science) from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Stanford University, graduating with top class honours in all three degrees.

With a strong passion for the university-corporate connection, Katharine sits on the Advisory Board of the UTS Business School under Dean Roy Green and just retired as a Director of the MINDD Foundation (mindd.org), an organisation focused on solving children’s health challenges through integrative medicine.  She has recently joined the Board of Petrea King’s Quest for Life Foundation, as she is a fervent advocate for mental wellness and recovery from addiction, two of the focus points amongst others that the foundation is serving in Australia. 

Katharine is a qualified psychotherapist.

Speaker’s event

The Artificial Intelligence Debate: Does Creativity Require Humanity?

The Artificial Intelligence Debate
Sold out
The Rocks
15 Jun, 07:00 pm - 09:30 pm