September 15, 2009 marked one year since the collapse of investment banking giant Lehman Brothers, an incident which sparked a chain of events that plunged markets into turmoil and brought the global financial industry to its knees.

Twelve months later, we were still assessing the lessons of Lehmans’ demise. The global financial crisis was the most brutal upheaval of global economic stability since the 1930s. It also triggered the implosion of faith in long-established ideologies which failed to prevent and protect the world against economic disaster.

The tentacles of the financial crisis have been farreaching, its impact felt on a personal, local, national and global scale. For individuals, it has meant job losses, bankruptcy and home repossessions. For governments, it has meant the challenge of crafting rapid-fire policy solutions to regain lost confidence, protect local businesses and invest in long-term infrastructure investment programs whilst stimulating the economy.

On a global level, financial turbulence has challenged the very fabric of society, questioning values, redefining the global balance of power and opening up the financial landscape to scrutiny and stricter regulation.

The eyes of the globe are on leaders to rise to the challenge of building economic momentum as well as a new regulatory regime which supports transparent, competitive markets and protects the public interest as well as private investment.

In Australia, we are in a better position than most to see the opportunity that the financial crisis can give us as a catalyst for change. Constructive participation and collaboration of international leaders from business, government, academia and the community in meetings like the Australian Leadership Retreat is critical to the next stage: the creation of the ‘new normal’ that will bring us safely out of a moment of global decline into sustainable prosperity.

It is crucial that this ‘new normal’ is able to deal with the multidimensionality as well as the complexity of the challenges we face. The responsibility of leadership is to create a new model of thinking which addresses the myriad realities of an integrated global society co-ordinately, rather than attending to issues, crises or institutions in ad hoc isolation.

The 2009 Australian Leadership Retreat stimulated many thought provoking discussions which challenged long held assumptions, explored revolutionary solutions and encouraged collaboration. Participants came from a diverse range of backgrounds, countries and areas of expertise but all left with a renewed sense of purpose and fresh ideas.

 The ADC Leadership Retreat 2009 would not have been possible without the generous support of our Partners.


  • Accenture
  • Bain & Company
  • Goldman Sachs JBWere
  • Kailis
  • KPMG
  • L.E.K. Consulting
  • Minter Ellison Lawyers
  • Mulpha