About

Wendy McCarthy is an experienced manager and company director who began her career as a secondary school teacher. She moved out of the classroom into public life in 1968 and since then has worked for change across the public, private and community sectors, in education, family planning, human rights, public health, overseas aid and development, conservation, heritage, and media.

She has held many significant leadership roles in key national and international bodies including eight years as Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ten years as Chancellor of the University of Canberra, and 12 years of service to Plan Australia as Chair, with three years as Global Deputy Chair for Plan International.  She has recently retired eight years as chair of headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, 15 years as Chair of McGrath Estate Agents and seven years as Chair of the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Wendy’s current portfolio reflects her passions.  She chairs Circus Oz, Australia’s leading circus and is deputy-chair of Goodstart Early Learning, Australia’s largest early learning provider.  She is also a non-executive director of IMF Bentham, the world’s most experienced and successful litigation funder.  She is a Patron of the Sydney Women’s Fund, Ambassador for 1 Million Women and Advisor to Grace Papers.

She has also established several businesses, including her national consulting practice McCarthy Mentoring which specialises in providing mentors to major corporations, the public sector and not for profit organisations. Her daughter Sophie McCarthy bought the business in 2012, and Wendy continues in the role of founder and mentor.

In 2000 she established Corporate Good Works as a specialist broker to bring together corporations and not-for-profits in mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships. Its initial achievement was to broker a three-year relationship between Citigroup and the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre to train the next generation of Indigenous leaders. It was the largest corporate/Indigenous partnership in Australia.  CGW was the first major player in this space.

Her advocacy and leadership have been continuously recognised:

1989 – Appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for outstanding contributions to community affairs, women’s affairs and the Bicentennial celebrations.

1996 – Awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia

2003 – Awarded a Centenary of Federation medal for business leadership.

2005 – Nominated by the Sydney Morning Herald as one of Australia’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals

2011 – Featured in the International Women’s Day publication The Power of One which profiled 100 women who have shaped Australia.

2013 – Inducted into the Women’s Agenda Hall of Fame for her contribution to the lives of Australian women.

Wendy is an experienced speaker and facilitator, and is regularly asked to comment on social and political issues. She enjoys writing and is the author several books including her memoir Don’t Fence Me In published by Random House in 2000.