The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) has been using the services of Gerard Penna for the past 18 months as the key external facilitator in our Leadership Development program.
During the past two years the ADF has doubled in size from 60 to 120 staff, and in order to increase our long-term effectiveness, I prioritised the development of our Leaders. Gerard has been actively involved in this work in a range of ways, including:
- one-on-one coaching of my Executive team, including myself;
- significant work with my Executive team to enhance our collective impact; and
- developing the leadership skills of my Senior Leadership Group (the 18 staff who report directly to the Executive).
Gerard has played a pivotal role in enhancing the adaptive leadership skills across the organisation, enriching, challenging and building the skills of my key leaders to work much more effectively together and strengthening our individual and group self awareness to enable us individually and collectively to increase our leadership impact.
Gerard has used a variety of tools and techniques to assist in this work, including Life Styles Inventory, and he has combined this with a deep personal understanding of himself and his own impact on others, his extensive knowledge of effective leadership and his commitment to helping this world be a better place to live in. His balance of his 'own person' with a variety of tools contributes appreciably to his significant impact and success.
Gerard is a warm, engaging person of integrity who has had an amazing impact transforming the leadership skills in the ADF and whilst this work is still it its infancy, the impact of it is clear to see already.
I strongly commend Gerard for similar work in your organisation.
Alcohol and Drug Foundation
Our company employed Gerard Penna to assist our Executive map out a strategy for our group.
Gerard was very clever in his facilitation skills to ensure that we were doing the work and stayed on track. He also challenged individual and group behaviours whenever our behaviours contradicted the behaviours we all sign up to initially.
After working with Gerard, all Executive members came away with a common sense of purpose, commitment and alignment. Whilst we are at the beginning of our journey, Gerard’s facilitation skills were and continue to be excellent.
We are now at the stage where we have constructed our Leadership Playbook which will be rolled out through the organisation. It will articulate our company’s values which we all subscribe to and hold each other accountable.
Gerard Penna has outstanding skills in facilitating strategic conversations that results in real direction and outcomes for the client.
Chief Operations Officer
“It has been an absolute pleasure working with Gerard from both a personal and organisational level. Gerard’s approach is both considered and impactful. His work with our senior leadership team and our broader leadership group has been tremendously valuable. We have a common language and values set within our organisation now, and I look forward to our continued and ongoing work with Gerard in cultivating the Leadership our business needs to successfully grow and develop”.
Learning & Development Manager
LITTLE Real Estate
Gerard is an experienced Executive coach and leadership development professional. Over the years I have worked with him in different organisations Most recently he is working with us at the Alcohol and Drug foundation to help us develop and strengthen our organisations leadership capability. Gerard is working with the Executive team to help build our leadership capability and strengthen our impact as well as working with a number of the executives in a 1:1 coaching environment.
Gerard is also working across our senior leadership group and has facilitated a number of offsites which have gained great feedback. He is a very experienced leadership coach and is able to weave theory, frameworks and his own expenses into the conversation without it feeling contrived. He has built great rapport and has a way of helping individuals and team identity and realise the core of an issue and how to “make progress”.
It is great to have Gerard working with us at the ADF. He is making a huge difference in helping us build our leadership capability and ultimately increase our impact as an organisation.
Head of People & Culture
We are a successful national business that is growing rapidly. Building a sustainable high performance leadership culture has been crucial to our success. That is why my business partners and I engaged Gerard over the last few years to help us get it right. His work with our senior leadership team and our broader leadership group has been tremendously valuable in helping us think deliberately about what we value as leaders and how we do things around here.
There is a deep wisdom that we tap into whenever we spend time with Gerard. His style is so engaging and challenging. In fact, whenever he spends time with our leadership group, there are many of our leaders who say that his sessions have been the best development opportunity that they have received.
If you want to build a high performing leadership team and organisational culture I would highly recommend engaging Gerard.
Gerard has been a long-term partner in the delivery of our Senior Leader Development program over the past 3 – 4 years. While we initially engaged with him to contribute as a facilitator, his willingness and interest in contributing to the back-end design has assisted in the programs’ success and supported us in developing different kinds of adaptive leaders.
Gerard delivers above and beyond a technical capability. He brings a strong, confident polish coupled with an operating style that enables him to build credibility quickly. Whether it be in coaching, facilitating, or leadership development, I’ve found Gerard to be a safe pair of hands who is well received by many different audiences. The fact that Gerard makes himself available impromptu to share his perspective and views, has enabled value-adding tailoring of programs. These robust conversations, rather then just a service delivery, lead to a really positive experience that encourages left of field ideas that challenge the way you think and what you wish to convey.
For those investing in leadership development, I would highly recommend Gerard. He is not a one – off facilitator who will present and disappear, he is far more likely to invest in your company’s outcome and ensure long-term benefit.
He presents with impact and knowledge, and where others stick to a predetermined agenda, Gerard’s distinct value add is his tendency to challenge and test ideas on the fly to really get at the undercurrent of what is at play. Through challenging our thoughts and ideas, Gerard has a capacity to get people to think more deeply and broadly, reframe problems and solutions in a different light, and thus, bringing value to the business.
Organisational Development – People and Culture
We have engaged Gerard at South East Water for a range of opportunities including leadership development of our Executive Team, strategy workshops, and coaching. In all areas he was able to guide us forward and create sustainable results.
Gerard allowed us to think outside the box and determine how we could do things differently. Initial leadership development did not have the impact we intended. Gerard took another path to really understood what was needed to change and progress things.
He was able to teach our entire team to listen and appreciate each others’ style better. We’ve seen great change as a result. Gerard really broke through the barriers with each individual and built trust. We have much more open discussions now and people are prepared to challenge each other. We are also open to receiving those challenges and contemplating them. As an organisation, we are more aligned in our direction and strategy as a result of this refinement.
I found the experience with Gerard had an immense effect on me personally. I have seen a change in myself, and I am approaching work challenges in a much more enjoyable way. Gerard’s involvement provided me with breathing space and another perspective in approaching specific tasks.
It is difficult to find a consultant who can install trust and at the same time, gel with the entire leadership team, but Gerard has an unconventional, free flowing way which brings out the best in his participants.
The unique thing about Gerard is he really pushes you. He wasn’t afraid to put things on the table that he was observing. He has this amazing way of simplifying and creating structure, breaking things down into bite sized pieces which are easier to tackle.
I would recommend Gerard to anyone who is experiencing an organisational challenge and has tried the true and tested models, yet is still not experiencing the desired outcomes. Gerard will not take you down the easy road. It is more ‘grey’ without a simple solution, but it will be the one that creates sustainable results that not only changes your strategy, but your cultural behaviours.
General Manager of People and Safety
South East Water
As an active and passionate supporter of Basketball, Gerard stepped in to provide Basketball Australia leadership with facilitation support in its effort to work with the NBL to maximise commercial and operational outcomes for the benefit of the overall sport in Australia. Gerard was quick to understand the areas of opportunity and brought creative thinking, humour and humility to the discussions to ensure not only a successful outcome, but that each participant felt energised about the opportunities that we could work on collectively.
Everyone was extremely grateful for his involvement and don’t believe we would have got to such a good outcome without Gerard’s leadership.
Rob Marcolina, Basketball Australia Chairman/
Qantas Group Executive Strategy & Transformation
As a Leadership Team we aligned on our mission of becoming a high performing team, and quickly landed in a space of believing Gerard was the right coach & facilitator to lead us through this team transformation. Gerard's experiences coupled with his ability to read both the individuals and the broader room create a safe and equally challenging & supportive learning environment. What has been most valuable in Gerard's approach has been his ability translate concepts into practical behaviours through story telling; creating valuable memory structures for team in the process. Exercising patience for the learning agility of the team, Gerard has played a key role in supporting us on our journey to high performance.
Shane Bonello, Managing Director - Australia & New Zealand
Hallmark Cards Australia
What really stood out to me was his authenticity. Gerard is an empathetic listener, non-judgmental and displays a very relaxed style. He is confident without arrogance, super smart with ability to make that practical and real for people.
I feel Gerard specialises in building high performing teams, executive coaching, strategic business planning, blue sky planning, or team development. Essentially any company or individual requiring significant impact or change would benefit!
Gerard is credible, articulate and intelligent and can tailor learning solutions that address specific needs and outcomes. He builds rapport easily and appropriately with all people from CEO to Exec Team to L&D so trust is there from the outset. He is authentic and down to earth, not an overpowering type, and had our team totally engrossed.
Head of HR Australia & NZ
Gerard was recommended to me by a HR colleague; I was looking for someone to help me further develop my Leadership Team.
My team are high performing individuals who have achieved a lot in the past two years, but I was looking to further develop them into a team that could lead my Division and in turn the overall Organisation, through the next period of significant business change and disruption.
Gerard was able to quickly build rapport with my team and I. He was able to quickly sum up the situation including my objectives for the sessions and the team. He gave me some terrific insights into the individual members of the team and my own style, and then lead us through a process of creating awareness, making team commitments and extending the teams thinking to their respective teams.
Gerard has an easy casual style and he knows how to allow the room to work its way through issues. That worked really well for us. I intend to continue to use Gerard to help us develop as individuals and as a team.
Chief Information Officer
We engaged Gerard to help with improving trust and integration of the senior leadership team in an effort to build the foundation for a higher level of performance moving forward.
He possesses a passion and level of expertise in his field which really shows when working with him. He is also quite patient and "curious" in his approach which had a positive impact on me and the team.
What makes him unique is his knowledge and understanding of the business world combined with a sound background of learning from academia, research, and broader psychological and behavioural studies/research. He has the ability to walk a fine line between business and theory. We had to tweak a bit for our organisation and team as we are geared towards practical application and "doing to learn". It proved very successful and beneficial to do so.
Andrew Penca, Managing Director
Cummins South Pacific
The "Executive Whisperer" is how I describe Gerard Penna. He has an uncanny mix of intuition and intelligence that enables him to deeply understand the complexity faced by executives and teams and skillfully guide them on the right path to uncover the answers they need to make progress. His ability to build trust with executive teams and teach them how to hold multiple perspectives and find the truth makes him a unique human being.
Author / Speaker / Expert in Leadership, Teams and wellbeing
Working with Gerard is like being part of a long term partnership. He’s not the type of consultant who comes in, delivers the IP, and you never hear from again until you have another job. His deep expertise and genuine desire to help means you get great value from him. Additionally, if the program isn’t working, he is not afraid to sit and discuss what needs to happen to make it work; make the necessary changes all the while staying true to the IP and delivery intent. That is what makes Gerard unique; he takes an IP, works it and brings his own perspective. He is very good at understanding your context and helping you identify key problem areas.
I’ve trusted Gerard across a number of organisations that I have worked for over 5 years. He is an experienced thought leader with deep expertise in building capability frameworks, brings an innovative approach to leadership and is extremely effective in working with big leadership teams that require change.
I’ve found Gerard to have a real desire for things to be better and that, coupled with a strong executive presence, creates a real sense of value in what you receive from him professionally. He is quite clever in ensuring that when the contract is complete, he hasn’t created any dependence. He really sets everything up so you can take away from the teachings and continue to utilise them through any number of scenarios or situations. He has this Zen-like quality which has you always feeling like you are in safe hands.
I continually rely on Gerard due to his calm style and his ability to work well with pretty much anybody. Gerard adapts himself, collaborates well, and personalises whatever program he is facilitating. He is not afraid to push back and challenge your thinking in a way that genuinely helps. He will tell you the truth to help you succeed.
Since using Gerard, the quality of discussion from leaders has really improved. Behaviours have been quickly adopted and really resonated. In coaching workshops, he has really helped shift the team and move them forward. He has agitated, given constructive feedback, and adapted his teachings so all involved felt confident that we were really learning something valuable to take away.
From a personal point of view, Gerard has been a coach and sounding board on how to manage different types of stakeholders and agendas helping me focus on big things within the organisation. I would not hesitate to recommend him for Executive Coaching, especially for people transitioning into director or board roles. By reorganising your mind, Gerard helps you work on the pitch / balcony, allowing you to focus on the right strategy / implementations required. Through effective partnership and collaboration, I have witnessed Gerard bring organisations together, creating team effectiveness.
Director- People Experience
Thanks you Gerard for your continued professional approach – I know that the Bureau was thrilled with your facilitation capability.
Alan Vallance, Director Corporate Services
Australian Bureau of Meteorology
General Manager, Parcels
Gerard is a very skilled facilitator who is a fantastic role model in how to approach discussions with staff
Wes Gibson, General Manager Human Resources,
I have been working with Gerard over a number of years. Gerard's engagement has been for new team forming, existing teams check in/reflections and burning platform facilitation for required change. What sets Gerard apart has been his system thinking approach that has tapped into commercial and relational opportunities. As a quick learner, Gerard has been able to pull threads together to constantly adapt to identify team hotspots as well as areas of untapped potential.
Chris Carroll General Manager
It was the most valuable coaching I have experienced –
Anthony Schinck, CEO
City of Ballarat
Thought Gerard was excellent
Vanessa Potts General Manager Merchandise
You really put words to something that I probably knew in the abstract but couldn't really articulate. It was really well done and I hope it helps others gain similar insights. I really enjoy your thinking about leadership. It's both provocative and thoughtful, which is a hard balance to strike.
Chris Green, Editor
Kansas Leadership Centre
Thank you again for facilitating. Your energy, wisdom and insights were all very much appreciated by me and the team!
Jane French, General Manager
My brother Xavier and I own and run a business that engages close to 400 staff and subcontractors. We are and always have been, a family business where employing and retaining staff is paramount to our success.
Xavier and I identified that some of these people, although excellent procedural managers were ineffective communicators and lacked some real leadership attributes that are critical in any business. It became more important as our business grew and it became obvious that we needed help outside our normal training avenues. Through a business associate, I was referred to Gerard for advice on what we needed in terms of our shortfalls and also advice on the provision of some training to assist us going forward. This was a pivotal juncture in the development of our management team.
Initially, Gerard conducted a two-day Leadership Training workshop that was a major awakening for most of our leadership team. I say ‘most’ because therein lies Gerard’s strengths. It wasn’t a ’one size fits all approach’. He tailored the training to be accessible to each manager whilst maintaining a group dynamic. It was an amazing two days and an equally amazing outcome. At our subsequent monthly management meeting we ‘debriefed’ and the effect was startling. Each person had a different outcome but as a group we achieved common benefits. To a person, we had learnt about dealing with people (staff or clients) according to their personality, learnt to have empathy for, and an understanding of people’s differing strengths and weaknesses. For most of us, this was a cathartic experience.
Since then, Gerard has continued to provide executive coaching to the Directors and helped us to find other ways to continue our management development.
James Egan, Owner and Director
Freedom Facilities Management
Thanks again for guiding me on my leadership journey at BHP Billiton and I have no doubt you will touch and and inspire many many other lucky individuals in the same way.
Thank you for your time today. I thought the session was fantastic!
Vice President Risk Assurance
Thanks Gerard. The session today was excellent and you received plenty of good feedback!
Manager Planning and Development,
You did a wonderful job shepherding the participants and myself through the week. We are incredibly grateful and look forward to catching up in the coming weeks.
Senior Manager Capability,