2024 Chief Executives and Emerging Leaders Breakfast

Little steps to giant leaps 

Failing forward and appreciating the details to master sustainable innovation


IPAA Queensland is thrilled to invite the public purpose sector once again to our annual flagship event, the Chief Executives and Emerging Leaders Breakfast.  

This popular event has become an important part of the fabric of public administration in Queensland, offering CEOs an opportunity to invest in their future talent and recognise young and emerging leaders in their organisation. 

Our 2024 keynote speaker, Josh Richards, knows a thing or two about the importance of paying attention to the little details. Physicist, Explosives Engineer, Soldier, Stand-Up Comedian and Astronaut Candidate, in the last decade he’s picked up booby traps for the Australian Army, slogged through mud with the British Commandos, used napalm in a music video for U2, been a science advisor to the richest contemporary artist in the world, and performed with some of the world’s top comedians while wearing a giant koala suit to confused audiences from Los Angeles to Edinburgh.  

Josh found his true calling when he discovered the Mars One project where he was selected from over 200,000 initial applicants to be one of 100 worldwide astronaut candidates short-listed to leave Earth forever.  While Josh was heartbroken to not receive his one-way ticket to Mars when the program was shelved, the experience opened up a new life purpose, which he now fulfils through other adventures.   

If anyone knows the importance of the finer details, the little things which collectively allow us to take big leaps forward, and how to fail forward with flair…it is him. 

Josh will share why paying attention to the finer details is important when approaching a transformation and innovation agenda and why sometimes things just don’t go to plan, leading us to review, reflect, and reorient. 

After all, it is the little details that matter when it comes to bringing long-term and complex objectives to fruition…and sometimes, despite paying attention to the details, things will inevitably need to change. 

With the public purpose sector needing to be creative, innovate and approach policy decisions with a fresh lens, Josh will provide the requisite inspiration in understanding how creativity has been applied in his fields in making transformation happen (and sometimes fail!).  

Held at Brisbane’s iconic City Hall the event features an engaging keynote speaker who will challenge the thinking of both well-seasoned public leaders and young professionals alike, on a hot topic or an emerging challenge in public sector leadership. 

At IPAA, we think of emerging leaders as those who new to public service, new to formal leadership roles, or are in the early stages of their public purpose career and are vital in progressing an innovative and transformational response to complex and evolving community needs. 

The event is a fantastic opportunity for emerging leaders to engage with senior leaders, share ideas and build their professional networks. 



Date: Thursday 9th May 2024 

Place: Brisbane City Hall, King George Square 

Time: 7am for a 7.15am start, concluding at 9am 

Price: Organisational members and partners are entitled to receive either 1 table, 2 tables, or 5 seats as part of their membership.
            Table – Additional table organisational members $1,199 
            Table – General admission $1,419  
            Individual – FULL members $109 
            Individual – Organisational member employees $131 
            Individual – General admission $153 


This event has been made possible with the support of our major sponsor  

QSuper- ART logo

IPAA Queensland Emerging Leaders sponsor

Event sponsor   


Physicist, Explosives Engineer, Soldier, Comedian, Astronaut Candidate, Cave Diver – one thing Josh Richards can never be accused of is being boring. After a decade of picking up booby traps with the Australian Army, slogging through mud with British Commandos, being science adviser to the richest artist in the world, and performing comedy wearing a giant koala suit to confused audiences around the world, Josh decided to take on the final frontier – applying for a one-way mission to Mars. Selected from over 200,000 initial applicants to the Mars One project, Josh was shortlisted as one of 100 astronaut candidates launching to the red planet in 2031. 

As an in-demand professional speaker and comedian, Josh’s storytelling makes for compelling & entertaining corporate keynote presentations on leadership, small-team dynamics, and the challenges of life in space that are certain to leave any audience with plenty to think about. With a natural talent for sharing science through standup comedy, he’s a passionate and highly visible ambassador for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) education, and his public science events and school visits inspire people of all ages to engage with science and discover the sky is not the limit. 

With the shutting of the Mars One project in late 2021, Josh’s focus shifted to another lifelong dream – exploring inner space by crawling over rocks, through mud, and swimming kilometers underground to explore and survey the water-filled karst systems of Australia as an exploration cave diver. His passion for discovering more about the universe remains only equalled by his desire to share it on stage and on paper. Besides regularly writing articles on space science, engineering, psychology and culture on Patreon, he’s also the author of Becoming Martian (a humorous look at how colonising Mars will change our species in body, mind and soul), Cosmic Nomad (an uncomfortably personal but deeply funny exploration of how signing up for a one-way mission to Mars will ruin your life), and an upcoming book on the weird and wonderful ways humans try to come to terms with death. 

Accessibility – IPAA Queensland is committed to ensuring our events are accessible to everyone. Please contact us prior to the event to discuss any adjustments required. This may include (but not be limited to) use of a hearing loop, accessible seating or support with entering the building and accessing the event space.
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IPAA Queensland’s Emerging Leaders Working Group was formed as part of IPAA Queensland’s priority for delivering initiatives that meet the needs of emerging leaders engaged in public purpose work. 

IPAA Queensland recognises that emerging leaders are the future leaders of our public service and public purpose organisations and have an important role to play as public service and public purpose work stewards of the future. 

The working group provides an important opportunity for emerging leaders from IPAA Queensland member organisations and IPAA individual members to contribute to our vision, direction and activities. This cadre of emerging public servants and public purpose workers are well positioned to provide guidance and advice to ensure that IPAA Queensland’s activities are relevant and engaging to new professionals and up-and-coming leaders. 

IPAA Queensland Council Vice President and Secretary Tanya Hornick (Strategic Partnership Manager, Queensland, Australian Bureau of Statistics) and President Deidre Mulkerin (Director-General, Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs) provide stewardship and mentoring to the group.