Meet the Executive team behind the scenes at the Australian Retailers Association.
Paul Zahra is a CEO, Non-Executive Director, Board and Company Advisor and one of Australia’s most influential diversity advocates. A leading force in the Australian Retail Industry for over 35 years, Paul’s corporate roles have included Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of former ASX listed department store, David Jones Limited as well as senior leadership roles at Target Australia and Officeworks Superstores.
Paul has been previously credited for leading the digital transformation of one of the oldest department stores in the world, achieving market-leading momentum, resulting in financial stability for the business during the worst retail conditions in 25 years and leading to its successful sale at a premium in 2014.
Paul is currently CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, a not for profit that is the country’s oldest, largest, and most diverse retail body, representing a $360bn sector which employs 1.2m Australians. The ARA has gone through a significant transformation during his leadership, welcoming the recruitment of well-known large and major retail brands since his appointment, whilst successfully retaining 95 per cent of members that are small to medium size businesses.
Starting his working career in a family small business, he has been a strong advocate for small to medium size retailers, celebrating their contribution to the intellect and diversity of the retail community.
A powerful champion for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Paul has led numerous high profile LGBTI campaigns and initiatives. He is the former Chair of PwC Diversity and Inclusion Board, Former Chair of the Pinnacle Foundation, Former Chair of Australian Institute of Music and currently an ambassador for the 30% Club Australia. He has held non-executive director roles in ASX listed companies, private equity, start-ups and not-for-profits in the education, retail and FMCG sector.
Paul is an alumnus of Stanford University, USA, and a Graduate of Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Fleur leads the Industry Affairs portfolio for the ARA. With an entrepreneurial background, Fleur was founder of Launch Group and the Nine Network’s Entrepreneurs TV and Founding team for TEDxSydney. Fleur is the author of The Business of Being YOU - Personal Brand Secrets of Celebrities and CEO's.
An experienced retail professional, Nathalie has strong operations and management expertise and deep experience as a change agent within retail environments. She is a highly collaborative and results orientated leader with a finance, compliance and commercial background and strong strategic skills. Her previous roles have included more than 14 years with David Jones in roles including: Head of Strategy Delivery, General Manager Change Management, and General Manager - Stores Planning & Administration where she has focused on operations performance and planning and working on large scale transformation programs.
Joanne leads the membership team at the ARA. An experienced association manager with over 13 years in the sector, she has led teams in small and large associations spanning sport, health, and professional services industries. She is passionate about creating member experiences that deliver value, build enduring relationships, and generate revenue. Joanne has significant experience driving system improvements and is dedicated to finding innovative solutions that support collaboration at each level of the association.
Aaron leads the education and training division of the ARA, providing targeted skills training and staffing assistance for ARA members, and supporting individuals in commencing and progressing their retail careers through retail education programs. With a diverse background as a start-up founder, business owner and a senior manager in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, specifically in national operations and academic management positions for several highly regarded Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and ASX listed education and employment companies, Aaron has a depth of experience in successfully leading high performing teams, building strong industry relationships and collaborating with key stakeholders to identify, analyse, implement and lead high quality, innovative and engaging learning solutions.
Jason leads the policy and sustainability team at the ARA, working with members and key stakeholders to progress the policy priorities that are important for Australian retailers, now and into the future. With more than 30 years working in the retail and hospitality sectors, Jason has worked for small business owners, franchise operators and large national brands in a range of roles across operations, business improvement, strategic planning, program management, risk management, sustainability and public policy.
Veronica leads the marketing, events and partnerships functions at the ARA. A commercially-focussed business development, innovation, marketing and communications professional, Veronica's expertise includes leading corporate strategy, business development, insights-driven digital marketing, innovation projects, brand management and communications for large national and global companies across diverse industries.
Mike is a highly motivated and results driven Finance professional who has more than 20 years of invaluable experience in leading and developing a successful finance team. He has broad experience in finance and operations gained across several industries including hospitality, construction, and banking as well as in semi-government instrumentalities. A member of the Chartered Accountants of Australia & New Zealand (CAANZ) and a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) of UK, he has a demonstrated history of contributing to the strategic direction and critical business decisions leading to sustained growth and profitability through his finance capability.