Learn a bit more about us, and why we do what we do

Our vision is a safe wise world.

We believe that social purpose organisations have a critical part to play in bringing this vision into reality.

Our mission is to strengthen the thriving social purpose economy and we do this by helping social purpose leaders to transform their organisation’s effectiveness.

We formally came into being in 2013 and we are a social purpose business; which is to say that our purpose drives our reason for being and our sustainability ensures we can continue to have the impact we care about.

Our theory of change


Who we work with


  • CEOs
  • Founders
  • Executive Directors
  • General Managers
  • Executives
  • Managers
  • Chairs
  • Directors
  • Emerging talent


  • Executive Teams
  • Board of Directors
  • Management Teams
  • Leadership Teams
  • Key Project Teams
  • Across Teams


  • The Arts
  • International Development
  • Disability
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Children’s Services
  • Community Services
  • Religious entities
  • Philanthropy
  • Environment & Heritage
  • Indigenous
  • Aged Care
  • Independent Schooling

How we do it

We offer the ability to build capability in yourself, your team and your organisation so that you can do more of what you do, better and more efficiently.

Our team bring hands-on sector experience along with best in breed skills in Coaching, Facilitation, Consulting and Training.

Our approach is integrated because our experience and belief is that transformation requires a rich and responsive palette of skills and knowledge.

We combine expertise in neuroscience and neuro-leadership, strengths-based adult learning, integral psychology, mindfulness, conflict management, conversational intelligence, resilience, constellations, systems theory and much more.



Better navigate complexity, keep growing, and deliver exceptional outcomes



Fast track performance and cohesion guided by strategic insight



Bring to life your organisational strategy and potential



Create and implement great adaptive strategy using the intelligence in your people

Meet the team


Elise Sernik PCC, Founder

Elise is an executive and team coach, strategy consultant, leadership and culture change facilitator and trainer with a long history of specialising in the social purpose sector. She founded Leadership Space to help the sector fulfil its critical role in the Australian and global economy. Over the past 15 years, Elise has worked with hundreds of leaders across the sector helping them to unlock their ability to set strategic direction, lead, team, partner and accelerate the achievement of meaningful social impact.

Prior to establishing Leadership Space, Elise had the pleasure of contributing to the early foundation of People for Purpose - colleagues from her years at Social Ventures Australia where she was an internal and external consultant, providing strategy and operational consulting and program design. Prior to SVA Elise was General Manager of Nonprofit Australia where, amongst other things, she designed and delivered a large-scale mentoring program for social purpose CEOs. Elise’s first career was in the commercial sector managing corporate partnerships with BBC Worldwide, followed by consulting and the design of a production-finance-digital joint partnership. She left commercial roles in 2002, becoming Assistant Director of Marketing and Fundraising of the London based non-profit, Asthma UK.

Elise holds qualifications in executive and team coaching, neuro-leadership, gestalt psychotherapy and mindfulness. Her approach spans the personal, the organisational and the systemic, which provides her with a style that clients often describe as dynamic, engaging and transformational. In 2015 Elise was honoured to be recognised by ICF NSW for her contribution to the Nonprofit Sector.


Barbara Barkley PCC

Barb is an experienced coach and facilitator working closely with leaders and executive teams for over 7 years across the social purpose sector, in particular building a deep experience in the NDIS and Arts communities. Through her executive and team coaching, Barb works at both the individual and systematic levels of organisations to support leaders to set strategy, create positive values-based cultures, build cohesive teams and increase their own personal self-awareness of their leadership impact. This work is customised to the needs of each organisation whether it be for smaller teams or highly complex multi-layered organisations.

Barb’s executive coaching style combines the creation of a safe environment for self-reflection and insight, with the use of neuro-science, team dynamics and systems models to support leaders to think differently about their current situations and consider new ways to create impact. For some organisations this results in improving an already highly functioning environment, whereas for others it empowers leaders to make significant organisational change. Regardless of where and how she’s working, clients appreciate her deep commitment, kindness and care, along with her courage and sensitivity.

Barb’s own leadership experience has been honed over 20 years with roles that included CEO of Womensport Queensland, National Manager of the Telstra Foundation and through her own executive coaching business. Barb is a professionally accredited PCC coach, with a business and accounting background and a Masters in Sports Management. Alongside her work with Leadership Space, Barb works with Sports and Community organisations, under the banner of her own coaching practice Brava Coaching.


Sarit Vandegraaff PCC

Sarit is an experienced organisational coach and facilitator who has worked locally and globally supporting organisations from a cross section of industries with a particular focus on the social purpose sector.

Having lead teams herself in the Retail, Finance and Professional development industries, Sarit has an acute understanding of the pressures and complexity that come with leading in both large and small organisations in our current changing environment.

Over the past 10 years Sarit has walked alongside leaders and their teams to create and lead transformational organisational change.  Her approach is tailored and consultative to suit organisational needs whether it be strategic planning, cultural transformation, team charter development or leadership skill enhancement towards greater organisational impact.


Nicola Rothmann PCC

Nicola is an experienced coach, facilitator and leadership consultant with extensive and varied experience across a broad range of organisations and industries including the social purpose sector.

Nicola’s psychology and neuro-science background combined with her use of powerful questioning, deep listening and reflective practice create a safe environment for people and organisations to clarify their purpose and examine their mindsets, values and strengths. Based on their insights, Nicola both challenges and supports them to allow new possibilities to emerge and to make courageous, strategic decisions to successfully navigate and influence the complex challenges they face to create impact.

Her areas of focus are transformational leadership, high performing teams, culture change, conflict resolution and promoting well-being and resilience.

Nicola is a professionally accredited PCC coach who prior to joining Leadership Space, honed her skills as a Leadership and People Development Consultant at the Nous Group, and internationally as an associate with a number of other successful companies (Impact Solutions International, Be Better People, Vienna Consulting Group, SALT, Pathways, Outward Bound Australia) providing her with a foundation of broad practical experience. Nicola also has her own coaching and leadership development practice, The Possibility Space.


Mark Powell

Mark has extensive experience and credentials in leadership facilitation, team coaching, executive coaching, and leadership assessment. He brings extensive senior level business experience including a commercial background that includes senior management positions with Citibank and Macquarie Bank, followed by the launch and sale of two of his own start-up businesses.

From the banking sector Mark moved to lead the global recruitment for a hospitality business across Asia Pacific, and from there established his own boutique leadership consultancy firm with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney. He has worked with over 300 senior executives and 30 executive teams across 14 countries and 8 industries over the last decade.

This work includes assignments with several NFP and “For Purpose” organisations, including large multi-stakeholder facilitations to support the Gates Foundation in its work on Sanitation and Water hygiene across Africa and Asia. He is a former international rugby referee and maintains a keen interest in the psychology and science of high performance.

Mark works alongside leaders to accelerate both performance and leadership capability through a time of increasing complexity and change. He helps organisations shift culture through the focus on high functioning teams and a coaching style of leadership. He facilitates broad and diverse groups of stakeholders in developing and gaining momentum around a shared purpose or vision that impacts a whole ecosystem.

Mark has spoken at international forums on executive assessment, team dynamics, and leadership. In 2017 Mark joined the international faculty for the Academy of Executive Coaching’s executive and team coach training and in this capacity is engaged in the supervision of other developing coaches. Mark holds qualifications in executive and team coaching, coaching psychology, education and psychodrama, along with various business qualifications. His style is creative, intuitive and transformational.


Caroline Upsall

Caroline brings 15 years of learning and leadership development experience from the professional services sector coupled with a personal connection with the for-purpose sector. She has a passion for building awareness of behaviours, enabling personal growth and organisational effectiveness. Caroline has local and global experience in designing, facilitating and managing learning and leadership development initiatives.

Prior to joining Leadership Space, Caroline held senior Leadership Development and Learning roles in the professional services sector. She has always been passionate about helping people to grow and change. Caroline has delivered learning programs in 10 countries, focusing on a range of leadership, personal and business skills. She has extensive experience in facilitating development and assessment centres for small groups of senior executives, has chaired conferences with 300 participants, and is equally comfortable working one on one with individuals in career development settings. Caroline has strong program design and delivery skills and significant experience in developing and implementing capability frameworks, tailored learning interventions, talent management and succession planning initiatives.

In addition to her corporate experience, Caroline has a strong personal interest in the for-purpose sector. Caroline has a sibling with Downs Syndrome and has a unique perspective on the challenges and needs within this sector. She is passionate about empowering people with a disability to have a voice and feel valued and respected within in our community. Caroline’s corporate experience with Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, coupled with her role as mother of two young daughters, has further ignited her passion for more equitable representation and inclusion of all people within our communities.


Melinda Cox

Mel is an experienced organisational development professional with over 20 years’ experience working in the professional services fields, in both Human Resources and Corporate Development specific roles. She has been responsible for all facets of corporate Human Resources from training and development programs, to consulting and advice on all resourcing management policies and procedures, and internal company values and corporate culture designs. Mel has gained many years of experience in the design and facilitation of organisational development practices and initiatives.

In the last 15 years Mel has moved away from generalist corporate Human Resourcing, to specialising in Project Management for boutique consultancies. Alongside her work with Leadership Space, she is a member of the team of Orijen, which is focused on empowering women to thrive in leadership roles across the private and public sectors.

Mel has worked both internationally and locally and holds qualifications in a Bachelor of Arts Double major in Psychology and German, in addition to a Graduate Diploma in Commerce Human Resource Management from the University of NSW.

Following a rich career working across all facets of the corporate sector in organisational development roles, Mel is now energized to be a part of the Leadership Space team, supporting social purpose leaders to transform their organisation’s effectiveness and become the most robust and successful leaders they can possibly be.

Our Values

The behaviours we live by in the service of ourselves, and the people we work with; both their and our own inspiring visions, meaningful goals, and striving for a better world.


Show up and step out, unlocking the value of what it means to be strong, brave, safe and authentic


Be grounded, deeply knowledgeable and real-world, delivering transformational value


Relish growth and insight, sharing laughter, lightness and surprise


Walk in partnerships of wisdom, enabling what is over the horizon to come into being

Leadership Space has been our partners in a whole-of-organisation cultural change process. Through individual coaching, team coaching and workshop facilitation, Leadership Space has worked across all levels of Artbank. Barb has been pivotal in this process by supporting our people to build a stronger culture of personal empowerment and collaborative engagement to achieve the outcomes necessary for Artbank’s success.

Tony Stephens, Director


Elise has constantly challenged me throughout my coaching process and guided me to work on personal and professional behaviours that need improvement. She has inspired me to become more of an active and engaged learner during both group and individual settings and encouraged me to generate my own ideas and solutions rather than providing these to me. I have felt valued and supported throughout the coaching process.

Kim Douglas, General Manager, Marketing and Communications

Creche & Kindergarten Association

My sessions with Elise have been wholly transformative. At the start, we agreed to intentionally leave the focus of our time together open - this has provided enormous flexibility to address the unexpected, including a career transition. I find her combined use of behavioural analysis and neuroscience unique in its ability to deliver deep insight into the relationship dynamics across my professional and personal pursuits. I am working, communicating and partnering with far greater intention, effectiveness and impact, and far less heartache and frustration. She’s worth her weight in gold!

Este Darin-Cooper, State Manager (NSW/ACT) - Creative Partnerships Australia, Co-founder and Director

Darin Cooper Foundation

My coaching with Barb has provided me with the impetus to set aside time and head space for working on my own professional development. My sessions are always insightful and enjoyable but above all they give me greater clarity and confidence in the robustness of my leadership decisions. Her coaching provides a supportive environment to test my assumptions and reflect on my approach to complex situations and I walk away with a much clearer pathway forward. Invaluable!

Marnie Karmelita, Head of Programming

New Zealand Festival

Our Collaboration Partners

Good Foundations help not-for-profit organisations create effective operational, financial and strategic platforms. Their team are practical and experienced, and like us, they put purpose before profit. If there's important analysis or robust data to develop, we love working with them to support our clients get the best outcome.

People for Purpose support the search, placement and development of professionals in leadership and board positions who strive to create positive social impact. We love supporting People for Purpose to find the right people for the right opportunities through Lumina Select.

Social Impact Hub help social purpose organisations design, demonstrate and scale positive impact. We partner with them on a range of projects to help accelerate individual leadership sustainability, organisational effectiveness and social impact.

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