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The mentors behind the business world’s top leaders

Australia’s finest executives shared who they turn to for inspiration.

Richard Branson. Photo: Virgin

Celebrating another year of incredible achievements at The CEO Magazine’s 2021 Executive of the Year Awards, the country’s leading executives shared exactly who helped them get to where they are today.

From beloved family members to influential global figures, many of the award-winning leaders from the 10th iteration of the prestigious event revealed who inspired them to follow success throughout their careers.

So who exactly inspires the people who inspire you?

Who inspires our top leaders?

Cathy Baker, Principal at Belle Property Central Coast

“Richard Branson – I’m inspired by Richard’s honesty and his commitment to people, and to the community. It’s something I’ve tried to infuse in my business.”

Zia Keirouz, Executive Assistant to Booktopia’s CEO

“Any authentic leader like Brené Brown. Unfortunately there aren’t enough female leaders out there being recognised so I’d like to see more of that but I have worked with some amazing CEOs in the last 15–20 years of my career, who I’ve learned so much and been inspired by.”

Vijay Paul, Co-CEO at Vantari VR

“As much as mentors can inspire you, you can learn a lot from your co-founders. I could never have achieved this Executive of the Year Award without my Co-Founder Nishanth Krishnananthan.”

Duncan Webster, CFO of Mars Wrigley Australia

“Gordon Ramsay.”

Steffen Daleng, Chief Marketing Officer of Booktopia

“My dad. He’s a traditional retailer with traditional stores and he cares about community and building customer affinity. He takes the time to sit down with every one of his customers and takes them for a coffee – he’s a very old school retailer who does the right thing and listens to his customers. That’s incredibly inspirational.”

Alex Harper, CEO and Co-Founder of Swyftx Pty Ltd

“My Co-Founder, Angus Goldman, and I met Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar from Atlassian back in 2012. Even then they were still the almighty tech gods here in Australia. They gave a speech to our group, took us through their offices, showed us what they built. It’s super inspiring to see what they’ve built and they continue to be such amazing tech leaders in Australia. We’re super proud to be Australian with those guys leading in tech.”

Robin Jerome, Managing Partner of Zeep

“There’s no one individual. I’m inspired by success and hard work and motivation, and there are thousands of people in that category. I’m always excited to see success come through.”

Caterina Nesci, Executive General Manager, Director of International Partnerships & ESG at La Trobe Finance

“My CEO Greg O’Neil. He believes in: it’s not about you, it’s about giving to others. You’re much happier when you give more than you take.”

Andrew Shea, CEO of Builders Academy Australia

“I’ve always had executive coaching and strong managing directors in parent companies that I’ve been able to work closely with. I’ve had a range of individuals that I’ve been trying to replicate the best of their capabilities and learn from. I’m a lifelong learner, so I’m always looking to learn from people, grow my own capabilities and adapt, especially in times of challenges.”

Arabella Gibson, CEO of Gidget Foundation Australia

“Gidget’s family have very much been a guiding force for me. They’re a wonderful compass for the direction of the organisation and they very much evoke what is the heart of what we do – we represent the legacy of someone who tragically took her life far too soon and didn’t need to. We have a chance to fix that for other Gidgets – be they guys or girls.”

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