super leader


HESTA CEO Debby Blakey was named 2018 Fund Executive of the Year Award by super industry body Fund Executives Association Ltd (FEAL) at an event on 1 August this year.


The prestigious award recognises the work of outstanding leaders in the Australian super industry.

Just three years into her tenure as CEO, Debby has impressed an expert judging panel across five key areas of achievement:  innovation, leadership, exceeding expectations, demonstrated strategic planning, and contribution to the market place.

Here’s how Debby stood out, and what her win means for our members.

Read more about Debby here.

An innovator

Debby has long known that truly understanding who our members are, and what they need, is the first step to making a difference to their future.

Under Debby’s leadership, we’ve been able to gather and use better data and insights to develop a 'retirement readiness' score for our members. The score will help us track what works best to help you prepare for life after work.


A strong leader

80% of HESTA members are women: a major reason why we’re so committed to gender equality and addressing why women retire with half the super of men.

Debby is a Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Pay Equity Ambassador and champions diversity and inclusion: not only at HESTA but for women across Australia.

Understanding diversity and long-term investment performance go hand in hand, in early 2018 Debby wrote to all companies in the ASX 200 calling on them to have more women at senior executive level.

Debby’s focus on responsible investment in our members’ future also led to HESTA becoming among the first two funds to adopt an Australian stewardship code and the first super fund to commit to a global set of principles endorsed by the world's biggest investors.

Not afraid of a challenge

Debby has spent more than a decade at HESTA leading the call for super to be fairer for women and the lower paid.  

Recognising the world is facing an increasingly tough investment environment, Debby oversaw a review of our investment strategy that has set up our investment team for ongoing success.

Debby is equally passionate about sharing insights drawn from our data with our employers. With more than 200,000 of our members working in aged care, Debby saw a unique opportunity to help counter the challenges the sector will face in meeting growing demand. Our Transforming Aged Care report is the result, supporting the sector to re-imagine its workforce and develop practical solutions that will benefit HESTA members and employers.

Taking the fund forward

While the teams at HESTA have always shared a vision to make a real difference to our members’ future, Debby has strengthened our collaborative culture.

Ensuring teams work effectively together, and with our partners outside the fund, to achieve our strategic goals is having a real impact. HESTA has high employee engagement scores and the highest brand awareness and trust in the health and community services sector.

Debby’s focus on customer experience has helped deliver new member tools and services including member-led advice and education. And it’s seen HESTA become one of the fastest growing funds in Australia.

With growing scale comes more opportunities for us to use our influence to drive meaningful change. Under Debby's leadership, HESTA was the first industry super fund to commit to a Financial Inclusion Action Plan and a Reconciliation Action Plan to promote financial inclusion and equity. Debby’s advocacy has also helped Western Australian de facto couples get the fair access to super they had previously been denied.

Debby also continues to grow our profile as a leading responsible investor with a strong focus on climate action, impact investing and active ownership.

And our ability to support our members when, where and how they need us keeps improving under Debby’s embrace of new technology. Over the last year our members’ retirement readiness has improved by 17%. That’s a big difference to a lot of hard-working people.

Taking the industry forward

Debby has been making a difference in super and financial services for more than 15 years in Australia. She holds a number of high profile positions on industry committees, boards and peak bodies.

Her keen support of women in the industry shines through her advocacy on closing the gender super gap, domestic violence, aged care workforce planning and responsible investment.

And with Debby at the front, there’s a lot more positive change to come for our members and our community.


Inspired? We bet your story’s just as amazing.

And we want to be a part of it. Join the fund that’s leading the way for your sector.

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What do we stand for?

We speak up for others. We're dedicated to people in health & community services. And, we're committed to creating better futures for our members, women and in fact, all Australians.