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Maj General Liz Cosson AM CSC (Retd) 

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Shattering the glass ceiling … supporting others to follow.


A leadership journey through Army ranks to the highest level in the public sector.


General Cosson’s career has been shaped by her family history of military service.  As the great granddaughter of a war hero who fought on the battlefields of Gallipoli and died in the fierce battles of the Western Front, as the daughter and wife of military veterans, to her own 31-year service in the Australian Army, Liz is a passionate advocate for service above self, diversity and transformational change.

From the humble beginnings as a Secretary to a Real Estate mogul in Canberra to being the first woman to be appointed Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs, President of the Repatriation Commission and Chair of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, Liz has over four decades of diverse experience in high tempo roles.  This includes lived experience working and succeeding in predominantly male environments, networking with and mentoring others, delivering outcomes internationally and nationally and paving the way for others.

Entering military service at the beginning of equality for women in Australia’s Defence Force, Liz has learned the importance of bringing a voice to the table and embracing diversity.  From traditional roles in her early years, Liz went on to serve in the field of aviation logistics and appointed the first woman to serve as the Chief of Staff, Peace Monitoring Group, Bougainville PNG, before being the first woman to be promoted to the rank of Brigadier and then Major General in the Australian Army.

After her distinguished military career, Liz served in the Commonwealth departments of Health and Home Affairs before returning to the most contested and demanding environment of Veterans’ Affairs.  Liz has extensive experience leading geographically dispersed organisations and managing multi billion-dollar budgets.  This experience includes times during intense media scrutiny, public criticism, delivering to a disgruntled client base and a once-in-a century pandemic.

Although not your traditional public servant, Liz has faced and overcome adversity, career challenges and obstacles to achieve her vision and goals to succeed.  Recognised for her various roles leading and driving cultural change to transform organisations, Liz knows the importance of investing in leadership, staff, communication, culture and performance.

Major General Cosson was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross in 2001 and was appointed a Member in the Military Division of the Order of Australia in 2011 for her contributions to the Army and the delivery of profound organisational reform.

In 2014, she was awarded the ACT Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership.

In 2019, Liz was inducted into the Women in Defence Hall of Fame.

General Cosson is an amazing communicator and relates easily with all who encounter her. Her orations are passioonate, insightful and delivered from a perspective of having lived and learned from her experiences. She is highly regarded for her astute judgement and is widely sought after by corporate boards and conference organisers for keynote addresses and consultancy projects.

The General is happy to take subject briefs and prepare oiations to meet a client’s aims.

Liz holds a Master of Arts (Strategic Studies), Bachelor of Social Science and is a Member of the AICD.

General Cosson is based in Canberra.


Topic 1 - Leadership

Over four decades training and experience in multiple leadership roles, Liz has seen what good and poor leadership looks like and the impact this leadership has on organisational outcomes.

Liz will reflect on the highlights and challenges she faced when leading various geographically dispersed organisations, including during periods of intense media scrutiny, public criticism, a disgruntled client base and a once-in-a century pandemic.

There are many insights and lessons that Liz will share that will benefit all levels of leadership and contribute to better outcomes for any organisation.

Topic 2 - Facing adversity

Liz reflects on the importance of values, authenticity and resilience when facing challenges and adversity.

From her military experience leading an unarmed multi-national force in an unstable and uncertain environment, to the board rooms of public sector organisations, Liz will share her reflections on the importance of governance, organisational and personal discipline and performance monitoring and management.

Liz also reflects on her experience when facing media scrutiny, public criticism and external inquiries.  Liz will reinforce the importance of maintaining focus, purpose and communication to support organisations and leaders navigate during times of adversity.

Topic 3 - Organisational Reform/Transformation

Liz has received recognition for her leadership and for driving profound organisational reform.  Liz will reflect on the importance of having a vision and maintaining purpose when leading and driving cultural change to transform the organisation.

From her military experience implementing major projects, organisational reform and organisational redesign to her public sector roles leading cultural reform, Liz will share her insights and lessons to support senior leaders during their planning for or during their organisational change journey.

Bringing an organisation, its leaders and workforce on any change journey will require united leadership, shared vision and effective communication at all levels. 

Topic 4 - People Matter

The topic of her valedictory speech to the Australian Public Service, Liz will reflect on four decades of why people matter and the importance of investing in people, at every level.

From her military service leading men and women internationally and across Australia, Liz shares the importance of diversity of thinking and representation in decision making.  Liz has learned through her experience that some need permission and courage to bring a voice to the table so that organisations can benefit from diversity. 

Through decades of lived experience, Liz recognises the value and strength of networks, mentoring and coaching.  Leadership is at every level and Liz will share her insights and observations from her military and public sector career.

Liz will share her reflections of the value of effective communication with staff, to listen and engage.  She will also share her insights on client centric design to drive better outcomes for the organisation and for people.


Robert Joske Management Pty Ltd

Tel: + 61 2 93281444

Mob: + 61 412 211 510


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