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Felicity Cooper: “I’d like to start a movement that helps people build confidence in their abilities and better understand their strengths and how to leverage them”

I would start a movement that helps people build confidence in their abilities and better understand their strengths and how to leverage them. I am constantly surprised at how the most capable individuals do not experience their real potential through poor self belief. I had the pleasure of interviewing Felicity Cooper, Chief Internal Auditor for Brisbane […]


I would start a movement that helps people build confidence in their abilities and better understand their strengths and how to leverage them. I am constantly surprised at how the most capable individuals do not experience their real potential through poor self belief.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Felicity Cooper, Chief Internal Auditor for Brisbane City Council. Prior to joining Council, Felicity was Executive Audit Manager for Suncorp Group. In this role, Felicity led the internal audit portfolio, developing and delivering the internal audit strategy and plan. Before this, Felicity was General Manager Line 1 Risk for Commonwealth Bank of Australia where she led the team building risk maturity across the organisation.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a Chartered Accountant, I have worked in a risk and commercial capacity throughout most of my career through establishing high performing teams, transformation and delivery of risk and audit strategy and plans. I chose a risk career path as it was the area best suited to having an end to end strategic view of organisations and their key risks. I also enjoy the challenge of large complex environments and engaging with multiple diverse stakeholders.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Most interesting story is getting to know my team and colleagues and learning more about where they came from and what they ultimately would like to do. Interested to see how passionate people are and willing to contribute to making things better.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Whilst doing audit vacation work during uni, I was asked to “check” the adding up of a long roll of numbers using a manual adding machine. I duly did this but understandably kept getting a different answer and became very concerned that I possibly shouldn’t become an accountant if I could not even tally a roll of numbers. I eventually realised it was an initiation test but learned an invaluable lesson to always challenge why you do things.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My organisation stands out on scale as the largest local council within Australia with a wide diversity of services and deep focus on strategy and direction to improve community outcomes.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am working on a particular project helping my team to be courageous leaders. My demonstration: doing more, saying less.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Be true to yourself and your values and believe in your abilities and judgement. Keep focus on your goals and strengths and always do what you are passionate about. 
 Engage mentors and coaches as they are invaluable in all aspects of our lives both formally and informally. You likely have more mentors than you realise. Learn to recognise who they are and always value their support and advice as they will be with you for life.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Understand your personal strengths and gaps in leading teams and leverage them accordingly. Always have a clear vision and strategy and ensure that every team member has clarity in their own roles and objectives. There are many ways to deliver successful outcomes so work out which one maximises the strengths of the team as the sum of the individual team members is always greater than the whole.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am grateful to the industry and technical leaders I have worked with who have believed in me and shared their knowledge and experience providing invaluable experience and opportunity.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I believe it is critical to give back to the community or industry. I use what I do to contribute to creating opportunity for the risk industry to grow and mature which is key to mitigating organisational risk exposure.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Always have a clear vision and direction aligned to corporate vision and direction. This provides a clear focus point that everyone can relate to. 
 2. Always provide clarity of roles and expectations to all team members and align to their personal goals and objectives. This empowers team members to deliver their roles in the best way suited to their own style. 
 3. Regular and effective communication with key stakeholders to avoid surprises and build trust.
 4. Always consider how you are adding value and providing insights — continuously challenge so as to open up endless opportunities and areas for innovation.
 5. Build deep relationship with your team members and key stakeholders to build strong trust and understanding which assists in effective team work.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a movement that helps people build confidence in their abilities and better understand their strengths and how to leverage them. I am constantly surprised at how the most capable individuals do not experience their real potential through poor self belief.

Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The tougher things get, the shorter the timeframe to consider”. I learned this from my mother as a technique she used to deal with grief when my father died of cancer 2 weeks before I was born. If things seem unbearable then focus on the shortest manageable timeframe until you can cope with longer ones e.g. ranging from one minute to days and weeks etc. I find this a very effective technique in many aspects of what I do.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter @FelicityCooper4.

Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!

My pleasure!

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