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Bears on Bicycles | Peggy O’Neal

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In Episode 126 of the No Limitations podcast Bears on Bicycles, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks with Peggy O’Neal AO, Chancellor of RMIT University and former President of the Richmond Football Club.

In a compelling conversation, Peggy discusses her start in life in a small coal mining town in West Virginia and how, after meeting an Australian backpacker in Greece, she relocated with him to Melbourne. Peggy then forged a reputation as one of Australia’s leading superannuation and financial services law experts and, since then, has taken on a range of Board positions. Peggy speaks about her role as President of the Richmond Football Club where they won three premierships in four years under her stewardship. From within the inner sanctum, Peggy sheds light on the euphoria of winning: the culmination of a new strategic agenda, improved financial management and the importance of consistency. She is also credited with strongly suggesting that coach Damien Hardwick complete a leadership course at Harvard where he learned the mantra of “excellence with happiness” that led to ultimate success for the Club. As the Chair of the now cancelled 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Peggy sheds some light on the behind the scenes challenges. In addition, as Chancellor of RMIT University, she emphasises the importance of both vocational skills and intellectual development in a tertiary degree and closes with her view on the nature of leadership in today’s society.

Peggy started her career in Australia as a solicitor, and later partner, at Herbert Smith Freehills and is currently a consultant to Lander & Rogers, having specialised in superannuation and financial services law for over 25 years. She is the Chancellor of RMIT University, the Chair of Vanguard Superannuation and a Board Member of Women’s Housing Ltd and Home for Homes (an initiative of The Big Issue). Peggy has also served on the Boards of MLC Super Ltd and the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. She has been Chair of the Law Council of Australia’s Superannuation Committee and was a consultant to the federal government’s review of the superannuation system in 2010. In sport, Peggy is the immediate past President of the Richmond Football Club, having served on the Board since 2005. She was also Chair of the Victorian Minister for Sport’s Inquiry into ‘Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation’ and was appointed to the Australian Institute of Sport Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Advisory Committee, as well as serving on the AFL’s Mental Health Steering Committee. She was on the Victorian Ministerial Council on Women’s Equality for three years and was the inaugural Co-Chair of the Victorian chapter of the Minerva Network. Peggy is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a member of Chief Executive Women and the Melbourne Forum. In 2019, Peggy was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for her services to Australian rules football, financial services law and women in leadership. Peggy was awarded Melburnian of the Year in 2021, received VicSport's award for "Outstanding Contribution to Sport" in 2022, and will be inducted as an AFL Life Member for her services to Australian Rules Football in 2024.

Please note: this episode was recorded on 25th September 2023.

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