What Clients Say

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“My sessions with Elise have been wholly transformative. At the start, we agreed to intentionally leave the focus of our time together open – this has provided enormous flexibility to address the unexpected, including a career transition. I find her combined use of behavioural analysis and neuroscience unique in its ability to deliver deep insight into the relationship dynamics across my professional and personal pursuits. I am working, communicating and partnering with far greater intention, effectiveness and impact, and far less heartache and frustration. She’s worth her weight in gold!”


Este Darin-Cooper, State Manager (NSW/ACT) – Creative Partnerships Australia, Co-founder and Director – Darin Cooper Foundation


“Elise has constantly challenged me throughout my coaching process and guided me to work on personal and professional behaviours that need improvement. She has inspired me to become more of an active and engaged learner during both group and individual settings and encouraged me to generate my own ideas and solutions rather than providing these to me. I have felt valued and supported throughout the coaching process.”


Kim Douglas, General Manager, Marketing and Communications, Creche & Kindergarten Association


“My coaching with Barb has provided me with the impetus to set aside time and head space for working on my own professional development. My sessions are always insightful and enjoyable but above all they give me greater clarity and confidence in the robustness of my leadership decisions. Her coaching provides a supportive environment to test my assumptions and reflect on my approach to complex situations and I walk away with a much clearer pathway forward. Invaluable!”



Marnie Karmelita, Head of Programming, New Zealand Festival


“I highly recommend executive coaching with Elise. I was skilfully supported to more effectively manage Board dynamics during a strategic review. It was thought provoking, practical, and purposeful. Overall, a valuable opportunity to become a more competent and capable leader.”


Executive Director, Philanthropic Foundation


“I came to see Barb at a stage of my life, where I had lost contact with my own business goals, as I was worried that my side-gig was looking like it would take over my whole working life.  Working with Barb allowed me to balance the two elements in my working life – giving space to each as was needed – and eventually being able to lean forward into my own business again.  Barb’s energy, humour, compassion and strength helped me to hold each piece of the jigsaw puzzle in place, get me past some tough spots, and gave me space to re-energise and commit to a renewed business strategy.  At the end of our 12 months, everything just seemed to fall effortlessly into place, and I am looking forward with confidence to next stage of my professional and business development.”


Judith Bowtell, founder Albany Lane Consulting.



“I have really enjoyed enjoyed the support I have received from Barb Barkley.  Through a process of reflection Barb has helped me learn more about myself and my strengths and gaps as a leader.  Barb assisted me during a critical time of joining a new organisation and setting the strategy for increasing UNICEF Australia’s impact for children through our Policy and Advocacy work.  Though our coaching sessions, Barb assisted me to stay focussed on my goals and helped me determine the steps that I could most effectively take to achieve them.  Our coaching sessions enabled me to reflect and consider different perspectives in my leadership.  Barb extended this support through a facilitated session with the Policy and Advocacy team, enabling us to clarify as a group how we progress UNICEF Australia’s goals and responsibilities in working with Governments to uphold the United Nations’ conventions on the rights of the child.  I would recommend Barb as a coach to anyone seeking to stretch themselves as a social purpose leader.”


Nicole Breeze, Director of Policy and Advocacy, UNICEF Australia


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“We just did in 1 day, what would have taken us 6 months”.


Marcus Watson, BackTrack


“Elise guided the team to reflect more deeply on how we work with our venture partners at SVA, learning from our 15 year legacy but bringing a sharper definition of what we do as our natural core and what we want to avoid doing, or connect to others to get done.  Elise was then able to bring the best of neuroscience to help us better clarify the ‘how’ of our support role for leaders of inspirational, early stage for purpose organisations.  At the level of individual team members, including myself, Elise worked with us using a deeper personality assessment than the 5+ profiles I had done over the previous 15 years.  The result was impressive.  We now have a common language and a more profound understanding of what is behind our behaviours with each other and as we work with our venture partners.”


David Williams, Executive Director, Venture Philanthropy, Social Ventures Australia (SVA)


“Leadership Space has been supporting Sylvanvale as we steer our way through this very dynamic time in the disability sector, with the introduction of the NDIS.  Through individual coaching, team coaching and workshop facilitation, Leadership Space has worked with Sylvanvale’s Executive Leadership team to support each leader’s personal commitment to greater collaboration and team cohesion. This has enabled our leadership to clearly understand and deliver on the outcomes necessary for Sylvanvale’s success.”


Leanne Fretten, CEO, Sylvanvale Foundation


“Leadership Space was formative in a time of change and transition at Brisbane Powerhouse. The combination of personality profiling, a team workshop and then ongoing coaching for the leadership team was critical in not only setting strategic direction, but maintaining our focus on getting there. Barb and Elise have the right mix of NFP understanding, expert facilitation tools and a gentle/firm touch, depending on what was needed.”


Fiona Maxwell, CEO, Brisbane Powerhouse


“Elise from Leadership Space has provided team and individual coaching to members of the C&K Executive Leadership Team over the past 3 years.  C&K has been going through a period of complex organisational change and has been working to clarify its strategic direction in  a complex and rapidly changing environment. No longer is the early childhood education and care sector dominated by not for profits (NFP) and organisations like C&K who wish to maintain their NFP values and compete in this market face challenging questions.  Managing this change presents many challenges for the executive team and Elise’s coaching has been instrumental to our success as a team and individually as we work to address ‘wicked questions’, high workloads and complex change. We value Elise’s expertise and excellent coaching skills with our team.”


Michael Tizard, CEO, The Creche and Kindergarten Association


 “Leadership Space was a sensational facilitator of our Board Review. The project challenged us but more importantly got us all on the same page, even on contentious, long-standing issues. Elise is a consummate professional: highly skilled with individual conversations, able to generate productive group sessions, and to get the whole team signed up to important change. Even the report was succinct and compelling. If anyone is hesitating about whether to engage Leadership Space on a project to support the development of their Board, my counsel is, ‘Do it.’ If you have any regrets, it will be that you didn’t do it sooner!”


Suzie Riddell, Executive Director, Education, SVA & Director, Holdsworth Community Services Centre


 “Elise worked with Milk Crate Theatre on our Board Review. We gained a clear and united view of the kind of person and skills we wanted and needed with regards to a new Chairperson. The one-on-one interviews with Directors provided great value, highlighting areas the board needed to resolve and agree on as a team, as well as gaps and opportunities to further strengthen the organisation. The facilitated workshop clarified our position on key issues and introduced us to useful frameworks to extend our strategic thinking. Thanks for partnering with us on this work.”


Angus White, former Chair, Milk Crate Theatre & Chair, Vincent Fairfax Ethics in Leadership Foundation.


“Leadership Space facilitated a sharpened awareness of our needs as a Board. Before the review we were focused on governance and processes but understood our industry was facing a paradigm shift in service delivery, culture and competition. Now we’re really talking about leadership and how we fulfill this. The project gave us a wake-up call and initiated the first steps needed to commence the change. I feel so much more energised now. It was valuable time out to reflect and we now have a clear picture of success for ourselves as a Board and are on that journey. Elise did a fantastic job.”


Wendy Miller, Board Director, Holdsworth Community Services, previously CFO Benevolent Society

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“Lumina Spark is a deeper personality assessment than the 5+ profiles I had done over the previous 15 years.  What individual team members, including myself, have gained is a common language and a more profound understanding of what is behind our behaviours with each other and our venture partners. The results are impressive.”


David Williams, Executive Director, Venture Philanthropy, Social Ventures Australia


“We engaged Elise from Leadership Space to facilitate our strategic planning. She gained my trust quickly and brought to the conversations a level of value and insight that included our culture, leadership and strategy. Over a period of 9 months, Elise partnered with myself and the CEO. At the end of this process we have a more cohesive Board and Executive, higher quality leadership relationships, and a strategy that we are deeply excited about and aligned to.”


Louise Thurgood-Phillips, Chair, Emanuel Synagogue


“Leadership Space has been our partners in a whole-of-organisation cultural change process. Through individual coaching, team coaching and workshop facilitation, Leadership Space has worked across all levels of Artbank. Barb has been pivotal in this process by supporting our people to build a stronger culture of personal empowerment and collaborative engagement to achieve the outcomes necessary for Artbank’s success.”


Tony Stephens, Director, Artbank


“I can’t overstate the value that Leadership Space has provided to One Health Organisation and to me personally as CEO. Elise knows the social purpose sector intimately and is one of our most trusted mentors and challengers. She has brought tools to our organisation and to the leadership team which have transformed the quality of our thinking and our capacity to stretch the thinking of the ventures who we in turn support. She has facilitated our critical strategic planning, trained and mentored our staff, and provides me with the kind of high quality thought partnership which leaders of complexity require.  She is courageous, insightful, generous and highly skilled as both a facilitator and an executive coach. I would highly recommend her and the team to any organisation or leader committed to tackling complex social change.”


After OHO engaged Leadership Space in 2016, they were ranked 2nd on the Australia-wide Innovation Index.


Jimi Wollumbin, CEO, One Health Organisation


Over the last 18 months we have worked extensively with Elise Sernik to develop our strategic direction and to facilitate a number of key executive staff interactions. Elise is highly professional and brought experience, energy and clarity to the tasks assigned to her.  She was able to articulate the issues succinctly and keep us moving towards a meaningful and useful set of decisions. She has a deep understanding of the not-for-profit sector but I believe that her skills can easily translate into the ‘for profit’ sector as well. I have no hesitation in recommending her.


Jonathan Harris, Chair, Woodbury Autism and Education


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“Thank you 3 times over for facilitating TFN’s team development day. As we charge forward, I think we will later reflect on this day as a cultural moment for our team. It was just the right balance of useful and emotional, accelerating our chances of gelling and working together successfully.”


Tom Hull, General Manager, The Funding Network (TFN)


 “I’d like to thank you for the half-day offsite workshop that you did with the team. It was a great session and really useful, and I’d certainly consider using Leadership Space again in the future.”


Antonia Ruffell, CEO, Australian Philanthropic Services


“Elise is a born facilitator and coach. Combining deep emotional intelligence with a knowledge of and passion for social impact leadership, Elise enables emerging and established leaders to become more effective and purposeful in achieving their goals. I’d work with her again in a heartbeat.”


Janine Hoffman, former General Manager, Centre for Social Impact