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


  • CEO
  • Executive Director
  • General Manager
  • C-suite
  • Managers
  • Chair
  • Directors
  • Emerging talent


  • Executive Teams
  • Board of Directors
  • Management Teams
  • Leadership Teams
  • Key Project teams
  • Across teams - Board and Executive, Cross-Functional 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.



  • Coaching Ethics Certificate, Centre for Coaching Development and Supervision
  • Coaching Leadership Teams Certificate, Professional Coaching MAP Coaching
  • Brain-Based Coaching Certificate, NeuroLeadership Institute
  • Diploma of Counselling and Gestalt Therapy, Sydney Gestalt Institute
  • Diploma of Yogic Studies, Yoga and Meditation, Satyananda Yoga Centre
  • Strategic Management, Birkbeck University of London
  • Bachelor of Arts (Political Science and Government), University of New South Wales

Instrument Accreditations

  • Lifestyles Inventory (LSI), Human Synergistics
  • Group Styles Inventory (GSI), Human Synergistics
  • Lumina Spark and Lumina Select, Lumina Learning
  • The Relational Matrix Model of Supervision, Gestalt Therapy Australia

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.



  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC), International Coaching Federation (ICF)
  • Accredited Executive Coach: NeuroLeadership institute – Brain Based Coaching Certificate
  • Accredited Team Coach:                              Professional Coaching MAP – Certificate, Coaching Leadership Teams
  • Alchemy of Team Coaching Certification, David Clutterbuck
  • Bachelor of Business (Accounting), Queensland University of Technology
  • Post-Graduate (Advanced Accounting), Queensland University of Technology
  • Masters in Sports Management, University of Massachusetts

Instrument Accreditations

  • Lifestyles Inventory (LSI), Human Synergistics
  • Group Styles Inventory (GSI), Human Synergistics
  • Lumina Spark and Lumina Select (in progress), Lumina Learning

Sarit Vandegraaff PCC

Sarit is an experienced executive, leadership, team and organisational coach and facilitator who has worked locally and globally with leaders at all levels from a cross section of industries, including the social purpose sector. Her first leadership career was in the retail and finance industries, and she continues to coach and support commercial organisations through her role as Head of Coaching with TranExec.

Sarit’s coaching utilises a combination of connection, powerful questions, exploration, reflection, feedback and action, which creates the space for leaders to discover their true purpose and unleash their potential. Her strengths-based approach, as well as her ability to challenge patterns of thinking and behaviour create a thought provoking, yet safe environment to explore based on trust and co creation. This approach culminates in sustainable and tangible results for leaders, their teams and the organisation. 

As a team coaching and group facilitator, Sarit enables self-reflection, peer to peer learning and self-awareness amongst leaders through dynamic questioning and idea generation. This creates a challenging and supportive environment for optimum, engaged learning and their sustainable long-term embedment.

Sarit is a passionate advocate for equipping leaders with the tools that they require to lead strategically, and effectively, with their people at the front and centre of their leadership. More recently Sarit has been honoured to take several programs that she designed for TranExec to universities and organisations in the UK and India. This brings together her depth of skills and experience in coaching, Emotional Intelligence and Conversational Intelligence® (the neuroscience of conversations), to a global cohort of coach practitioners.



  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC), International Coach Federation (ICF), USA
  • Accredited Executive and Organisational Coach, Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership (IECL), Australia
  • Accredited Coach Supervisor, Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership (IECL), Australia
  • Registered Mentor Coach, International Coach Federation (ICF), USA
  • Certified in Conversational Intelligence ® (C-IQ), Creating ‘WE’ institute, USA
  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Bachelor of International Business (BIB), Flinders University, Australia

Instrument Accreditations

  • C-IQ catalyst tool™
  • Trust catalyst tool™
  • DNA catalyst tool™
  • Lumina Select, Lumina Learning

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.



  • Bachelor of Commerce (Human Resource Management), University of Western Sydney
  • Masters of Education (Adult Education), University of Technology, Sydney (in progress)

Instrument Accreditations

  • MBTI, Australian Institute of Training & Development)
  • Team Management Profile (Team Management Systems)
  • Occupational Personality Questionnaire (SHL)
  • Motivation Questionnaire (SHL)

Andrea van der Merwe ACC

Andrea is a leadership and team coach with a passion for supporting leaders to thrive in complexity and change. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the corporate sector and in consulting and has coached social purpose leaders and teams on three continents.

During her years in the corporate sector, Andrea held a number of general management and programme management roles in multi-national banks, with a focus on innovation and digital transformation. She went on to head up an innovative social purpose organisation aimed at addressing South Africa’s critical skills shortage. Over 2.5 years she led it from a successful start-up to a sustainable organisation, with global clients such as Deloitte, Ernst & Young and Barclays Absa.

In coaching leaders, Andrea draws on her experience of working and leading teams in many different contexts. She helps leaders operate more effectively in strategic, systemic and sustainable ways. She works with them to develop their self-awareness, and awareness of organisational patterns. Andrea’s use of narrative coaching helps leaders to build collaboration and to manage the interdependencies that lie at the heart of our complex organisational landscapes.

Andrea has a passion for methods which are based on dialogue, including Structural Dynamics, neuro-semantics (MetaCoach), psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), organisational and relational constellations, and systems theory and complexity (Cynefin) amongst others. She uses these and other frameworks to inform her coaching and to support her clients achieve their personal, professional and organisational goals. Her clients love her kindness, thoughtfulness and undivided attention, and her ability to strike the right balance between theories and practice.



  • Accredited Certified Coach, International Coach Federation (ICF), USA
  • Organisational Relational Systems at Work, ORSC Programme, CRR Global
  • Diploma in Project Management, Damelin School of Management, SA
  • Bachelor of Commerce and Honours, University of North West, SA
  • Masters in Systems Thinking & Complexity (MPhil Future Studies), Business School of Stellenbosch, SA

Instrument Accreditations

  • Kantor Baseline Behavioural Profile
  • Global Leadership Wellness Survey (GLWS)
  • PROSCI Practitioner
  • Lumina Select, Lumina Learning

Jon Gedge ACC

Jon is an experienced coach, facilitator and consultant, working with leaders and teams for the last eight years across the not-for-profit, government, tertiary education, banking, fintech and telco sectors. Jon has a passion for helping leaders develop their ability to lead organisational change, work effectively with complexity and uncertainty, thrive in volatile and ambiguous environments, and increase their ability to focus on what matters most to them and to their organisations. 

Jon has deep experience of working with organisational transformation as an agile coach and consultant in the UK and Australia, helping organisations such as Australian Red Cross, Bloomberg, ANZ, the University of Melbourne, Lloyds Bank and NBN build cultures of trust, openness, ongoing reflection and continuous improvement, and develop their ability to respond quickly and effectively to changing client needs and market conditions.

Jon’s calm and warm presence creates a safe and easeful environment that enables deep reflection and self-exploration which, combined with his ability to balance support and challenge, leads to significant growth for clients. Jon’s coaching is always tailored to the individual’s goals and context, but typical outcomes include increased self-awareness and flexibility of thinking, and increased ability to hold multiple perspectives and balance seemingly conflicting goals. Jon helps teams develop openness, focus, communication and collaboration skills, and their ability to work constructively with conflict. His coaching is informed by his interest in adult development theory, integral theory and systems and complexity theory.



  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC), International Coach Federation (ICF)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching, Barefoot Coaching/University of Chester
  • Organisation and Relationship Systems at Work, ORSC Intelligence, ORSC Geography, ORSC Path, ORSC Systems Integration, CRR Global
  • Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring, University of Warwick
  • Certificate in Positive Psychology Coaching, Animas Coaching
  • Certified Team Coach, Scrum Alliance
  • Leadership Circle Consultant
  • Certified Professional in Agile Coaching
  • MSc Computer Science, Birkbeck University of London
  • BSc (hons) Computing, Open University
  • BA (hons) Economics, University of Greenwich

Instrument Accreditations

  • Leadership Circle 360, The Leadership Circle
  • Collective Leadership Certification, The Leadership Circle
  • Leadership Maturity Profile, Institute for Developmental Coaching

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.
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