Business School a university for the real world


01 October 2020

ABC Deputy Chair Dr Kirstin Ferguson has been named the QUT Business School Outstanding Alumni Award winner for her business leadership and commitment to gender diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

Kirstin began her career as an Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force where she was recognised for her commitment to the nation from her service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Her contribution to the ADF continued in 2002 when she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate ways the military could develop improved strategies to support bereaved families of military personnel.

While in the military, Kirstin completed a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at QUT and became admitted as a solicitor in Queensland and New South Wales. Rather than practise law, Kirstin continued to lead others and moved to the consulting firm Sentis, where she became global CEO of the company.

She started her PhD research into the field of leadership and corporate governance in 2012, and spent the next two years as a mentor for QUT’s Executive MBA program before completing her PhD at QUT Business School in 2015, and is currently an Adjunct Professor at the university.

Kirstin’s advocacy for gender diversity and inclusion saw her launch the widely acclaimed 2017 #CelebratingWomen campaign, which she created after deciding she wanted to see more celebration and less denigration of women online. The campaign celebrated 757 women from 37 countries globally, and led Kirstin to co-author the award-winning book, Women Kind.

Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has known Kirstin for five years, and describes her as being “an insightful, smart and multi-talented leader, who has achieved remarkable success in a range of diverse roles.”

“She approaches each new challenge with curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, adaptability, humility and a growth mindset, which places her in a class of her own for leadership and vision.”

Throughout COVID-19, Kirstin has employed social media channels to deliver a series of leadership Q&A vlogs that provide support for leaders who are navigating teams through this unprecedented crisis.

Kirstin’s military training, the diverse roles she has held across a multitude of organisations, research into safety and governance and advocacy work, has led her to build a skillset that is truly reflective of an agile and resilient business leader.


The annual QUT Outstanding Alumni Awards recognise outstanding graduates of the university, and its predecessor institutions, who have displayed exceptional professional, academic or research achievements and contributions to the community.

Each winner and their achievements will be celebrated at the Outstanding Alumni Awards dinner on October 12 at Room Three-Sixty at QUT Gardens Point campus. The QUT Outstanding Alumnus of the Year will also be announced at the event.


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