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Sonia McDonald

'I want to empower people to step into their Greatness'

At a glance

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In 2004, Sonia McDonald was living in China with her husband and two-year-old daughter, working in a senior HR role. Having overcome the language and cultural challenges which come with living and working overseas, the girl from the Gold Coast felt in a good place when her world came crushing down.

Sonia’s marriage came to an end and she found herself completely devastated.

Now facing life as a single mother to young Abby, she decided to move home to Australia while maintaining her role in China. But juggling motherhood and the travel demands associated with the role were challenging so she resigned from her position.

Sonia stepped out of her comfort zone and took on a very different role teaching and coaching engineers and superintendants in the construction industry around leadership. She fell in love with teaching principles of leadership and mentoring others to make a difference to the performance and wellbeing of individuals, teams and organisations.

As a lover of writing she started a blog called Leadership HQ and after steadily growing an impressive following was encouraged to start a business. Sonia openly talks about her achievements and failings in business, encouraging others to embrace their “stuff-ups” as they learn from mistakes.

Sonia believes we should all focus on our talents, passions and dreams. She believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same.

Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn inspire and bring out the best in others through her study and more than 25 years on the front lines of human resource management.

Her daughter Abby’s journey of being bullied throughout her teenage years and the far-reaching consequences has seen Sonia’s leadership work expand. She realised there’s a gap in teaching our youngsters how to step into their power, lead to prevent bullying and cope with difficult situations and does work and keynotes for students in these areas.

Sonia is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, who puts people at ease, talks bravely about her own experiences and starts important conversations. She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.

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Click here to connect with Sonia

Leadership + Neuroscience = A keynote that rocks

What you will learn

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Passion – Above all, Sonia McDonald is an accomplished and passionate individual, whose enthusiasm for leadership and self-improvement is infectious, and she has the accolades to prove it.  

Named in Richtopia’s Top 250 Influential Women Across the Globe lists and Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs as well as being published in many local and global publications, Sonia loves to engage her audiences with a honest and lively approach adapted to suit their needs - resulting in a keynote speech that entertains, informs and inspires. 

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Current presentations

Leadership Attitude

This is a powerful keynote which explores why leadership is an attitude not a role or a title. Discover the five keys to a leadership attitude and learn how you can be a leader through your values, actions, mindset and behaviour.

Just Rock It

This high-energy inspiring keynote has become a life-changer for many attendees. We need a world of courageous and brave people where everyone feels empowered to shine and stand tall and help make others reach for the stars.

Leadership in Small Busines

The number one challenge for small business is leadership.
Many small business owners fail to understand their crucial
leadership role in building a long-term sustainable business.
This keynote will empower you and give you the skills, tools
and confifidence to lead and manage your business.

Leading the Next Generation

Effectively leading and inspiring our next generations is a key to success for our organisation and businesses. Research shows our young and up and coming workforces are more technically savvy, have a global mindset, want to build sustainable communities and crave quality mentorship.

Courageous Leadership

What does it mean to be a courageous leader? How do you build a team who have trust in you and are in turn brave and resilient? Explore the philosophy behind courageous leadership and in turn date to step into your own power as a leader.

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Sonia is one gutsy woman; her story of humble beginnings that led her to self-motivated success was very inspiring. She introduced us to the concept of confidence and leadership in our roles (even if we don’t have Manager or Leader in our titles) and she managed to keep a fairly chatty crowd engaged and eager to hear more

The EA Initiative Team
We engaged Sonia to assist us with a leadership development program targeted at a selection of our Female leaders in the business. Sonia was engaging, real and practical in both her stories and facilitation.

General Manager People - Fulton Hogan Construction Pty Ltd
You really changed my mindset today and put things into perspective for me. I suffer from anxiety and you made me realise I can overcome obstacles. Your daughter’s story really inspired me too and I understand no matter how hard things get there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you have the power to live a meaningful and purposeful life so thanks again for giving me a lollipop moment

Future Leaders attendee
Sonia is enthusiastic speaker who can communicate complex concepts in an entertaining and engaging manner. Her depth of knowledge and understanding of leadership is exemplified in the detail she goes into in her presentation. She’s committed to delivering the goods, honing her message to the group to ensure relevance and engagement. There’s no fluff, just substance with Sonia and she’ll give you skills to take home, tell others and start using immediately to better you, your company and everyone around you.

CEO & Founder, - La’Quar
Sonia McDonald is an inspirational keynote and workshop presenter with a distinctive ability to bond and engage with her audiences. Sonia is well-known for her dynamic, charismatic workshop/presentation style and people walk away on an emotional and inspired high, feeling informed.

HR Architect and AHRI Convenor

Connect with Sonia

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