Arete Executive is eager to feature a much greater representation of female guests on the podcast, especially those who have successfully moved from an executive to a non-executive or portfolio career. It was wonderful to sit down and have a conversation with Kathy Hirschfeld, a civil engineer and accomplished women, who forged an impressive career in senior roles in an often male dominated industry. Kathy is genuine and down-to-earth and was forthcoming with fascinating stories from what is a remarkable number of diverse roles throughout her career.
Kathy was born in Brisbane, a self confessed “bossy” eldest sibling of three children. She attended Ascot State School and completed her secondary education at Brisbane Girls Grammar, while maintaining a part-time job as an assistant to a local hairdresser. Upon completing school, she was offered an apprenticeship in the salon but Kathy had bigger plans and chose to study a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering at The University of Queensland (UQ).
Kathy’s career with BP spanned almost 20 years and took her overseas to Turkey and the UK before she returned to Brisbane to assume the combined roles of Managing Director and Refinery Manager of BP Bulwer Island Refinery, and as Executive Director of BP Australasia. In 2010, she exited BP and set off on a six month journey around the world before pursuing her portfolio career.
Kathy is currently a Non Executive Director of both InterOil Corporation and Toxfree Solutions, a Board Member of UN Women Australia; works with Merryck & Co as an Executive Coach and Mentor and is also a Member of Senate at UQ. Kathy is a lover of the Arts and enjoys attending the ballet and the opera, and is also a member of the Foundation Committee of Queensland Art Gallery and GOMA. A proud supporter of the Queensland Reds Rugby Union team, Kathy is the Red’s Number 1. Ticket Holder. She lives in Brisbane.