Finding our new CEO

A man stands at the top of the stairs before a golden door

Finding our new CEO

A man stands at the top of the stairs before a golden door

In late December last year, I received an early morning text message that immediately got my attention.

It was from our highly respected and much loved CEO, Anja Nikolic, saying that after nine years with the APA and almost five as CEO, it was time for her to move on to her next career challenge.

Anja has been an exceptional CEO of our organisation during her tenure and we knew we would have a vitally important role in managing her succession. 

We sincerely thank Anja for all she has done and achieved at the APA and wish her and her family all the best for the future.

After an online meeting with the Board of Directors the next day, a plan was put in place to find the next CEO of the APA, with the support and guidance of Elles Vanderkley, APA General Manager, People and Culture.

Our first step was to appoint a recruitment firm. 

We tendered for the role over the Christmas and New Year period and, after much consideration, asked Fisher Leadership to manage the recruitment process. 

In mid-January, we had our first meeting with Kate Wheeler, a partner at Fisher Leadership.

A time line was agreed on and the search for the new CEO had begun. There was significant interest in the role. 

More than 110 expressions of interest came in and by the time applications closed, we had received 84 formal applications for the position. 

Fisher Leadership was then responsible for working through this list of highly qualified individuals, conducting interviews and psychometric testing.

The Board of Directors set up a subcommittee to consider a shortlist of candidates that we would consider for the full interview process, presented by Fisher Leadership. 

Along with myself as chair of the board and Elles, the subcommittee consisted of Ruth Faulkner, chair of the Audit and Risk Committee; and Rik Dawson, chair of the Nominations, Remuneration and Governance Committee. 

After a lengthy meeting with Kate, in which 11 short-listed applicants were discussed, we decided on the top four to take to full interviews.

In mid-March, the subcommittee interviewed the final four candidates for the position, hoping to be able to recommend two or three to meet with the whole board. 

There were two clear stand-outs who made it through to this last round. 

After a thorough final interview that involved a presentation to the board, comprehensive questioning on their vision and strategy for the organisation and the profession, and further psychometric testing from the APA organisational psychologist, it became abundantly apparent who our next CEO would be. 

Welcome to the APA, Robert LoPresti.

In addition to his strengths in education, governance and policy, Rob has extensive leadership experience gained in senior positions across academia, public health and membership including at Austin Health, the University of Melbourne and, most recently, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. 

He holds a Master of Management from Melbourne University, was originally educated as a physiotherapist and has previously served the APA in voluntary leadership roles.

This combination of executive experience and meaningful insight into the challenges and opportunities facing the physiotherapy profession makes Rob exceptionally well placed to take the reins at the APA. 

We wish Rob all the best as he starts his CEO journey with us and we look forward to continued growth and success under his leadership.

Mark Round APAM
Chair, APA Board of Directors



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