Ally Nitschke: Charting the Course from Finance to Empowering Leadership

Sitting down with Ally Nitschke, it’s clear she’s not your average leadership expert. From the ballet stage to the corporate boardroom, Ally’s journey into public speaking and executive coaching is anything but ordinary.

She’s here to chat about that pivotal moment her career took a sharp turn, her passion for cultivating bold leaders, and how she’s using her voice to make a real difference in the workplace.

Ally, transitioning from a background in arts finance to public speaking and executive coaching is quite the leap. Could you share what sparked this dramatic shift in your career path, and perhaps some insights into the first steps you took on this new journey?

I always like to say that my career path has been an eclectic group of experiences. I grew up in a small country town and my first love was ballet. I worked as a professional dancer and fell in love with the stage at a young age. 

Sadly the arts budget from my dance program was cut so a new path emerged by accident. I was a little limited by choice where I was living and by chance ended up working within Credit Union. I worked my way up the ranks quickly and enjoyed what I learnt in this space.

Towards the end of this chapter I experienced professional burnout and knew it was time for change. I spent the next decade in a federal government role which really shaped my leadership skills and helped develop my leadership values. I was loving the corporate world but knew something was missing. 

The stage was calling me again and wanted to take all I learnt about performing and business and combine it to create something meaningful, fulfilling and valuable. This is when the transition began and I decided to take a step back towards my dreams and create my coaching and professional speaking business.

Reflecting on your involvement with Professional Speakers Australia, how has their support and the opportunity to become a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) shaped your career trajectory? I’m particularly interested in hearing about the role their scholarship played in your development.

Aligning with Professional Speakers Australia has been one of the most important steps in carving out a path as a Professional Speaker. Their support and expertise has been invaluable. 

I first started out by joining a chapter meeting and from there my involvement just grew. I was awarded the Kerrie Nairn Scholarship which gave me the professional support I needed to take my career to the next level. PSA has access to the best in the business and their mentoring and guidance is second to none. 

They set me up for success and I was able to fast track my path towards becoming a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) which is an international accreditation that recognises the experience and professional capability of Australia’s leading speakers. CSP Accredited members have a proven track record of capturing the audience and consistently delivering value from the platform.

Your passion for helping organisations foster courageous leaders and prevent burnout shines through in your work. What personally drives this passion, and how has following this path enriched your life both professionally and financially?

Early on in my career I experienced burnout and its all encompassing effects. My drive to help others through their personal challenges in this area ran deep.  I love to be able to take what I have learnt and share it with large audiences to provide relatable support.

Courageous Leaders was born from some of the business flaws I continued to notice in my professional career that seemed to lead to burn out culture in business. The foundation of Courageous Leaders is learning how to communicate clearly and confidently and not beat around the bush in conversations. Courageous Leaders support professionals to be brave and gain the skills they need to be direct and kind whilst getting things done to lead effectively. 

The “Courageous Leaders” program stands out as a cornerstone of your work. What inspired you to create this program, and can you share a story or two about how it has impacted the leaders and organisations you’ve worked with?

Courageous Leaders are leaders of the future. From my business career I saw that the need for brave leaders was vital to success. Business is messy and I was inspired to show people how to gain the confidence that they need to cut through the chaos and be clear and influential in how they lead teams.

I want leaders to become confident in knowing that they need to often deliver ikky conversations to create change and a strong business community. The program has positively impacted the organisations I work with by providing them with the skills they need to develop their communication delivery, a mind set of curiosity, and become effective change makers.

Your “incubator of resentment” framework is a fascinating concept. Could you delve into how you developed this approach and share an example of how it has helped transform an organisation’s culture for the better?

The incubator of resentment is a concept that provides context to a sometimes overlooked business problem. In all organisations there are often problems with what is “left unsaid”. For weeks, months and often years leaders and employees can stay silent on issues that are important for team growth and success.

From my experience when businesses can become conscious of this pattern happening they are able to take the brave steps necessary to rectify and initiate conversations that create lasting change. 

In your coaching, you’re known for being direct and uncompromising in pursuit of results. What common challenges do you see leaders facing today, and how do you guide them to cut through these issues effectively?

I feel lucky that I have had the opportunity to work with some incredibly inspiring leaders in my career that are uncompromising and direct. It has helped me develop my skills in being clear and calling out what I want from a team and a kind but direct way.

Without these skills leaders can be very ambiguous in how they communicate and their team often leave meetings unclear on next steps or what needs to be done. I love to help leaders take actionable steps to reach their outcomes by giving clear directions and speaking bravely.

For those inspired by your journey and looking to make their mark in public speaking or executive coaching, what advice would you offer? Are there particular qualities or skills you believe are crucial for success in these fields?

Like starting anything new, the beginning can be hard work. There is lots to learn and you need to often remove and shift through your limiting beliefs. Professional Speaking is a craft that needs to be built and developed on a consistent basis.

The best Professional Speakers are consistently working on their skills and always continuing to improve how they perform on the stage. Finding a good mentor at the beginning is a key step, they will help you develop your stagecraft and find your unique style. Joining Professional Speakers Australia to be supported by industry leaders is invaluable and my last piece of advice is to speak about things you love and know about.

If you want to be impactful you need to be authentic and have real life experience in what you are talking to. Have fun and bring humour into the craft, audiences don’t respond well to a dry speaker.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.