Ashley Winnett

  • Ashley Winnett
    Executive Director People, Performance & Culture

    GM Holden


Lessons from a “Management Maestro”: How to lead an organisation through change

Australia’s car industry has gone through immense change these last few years, transforming itself almost beyond recognition. At Holden – with more than 14,000 employees across Australia – Ashley has played a key role in support the workforce through this massive change, while still staying focused on helping teams and individuals unleash their potential.

For the NFP sector, so used as it is to uncertainty and change, Holden’s success in managing this transition has some important lessons for organisations, large and small, on how to stay focused on what’s important, even while the world changes in front of our eyes.


About Ashley

Finalist in the AHRI David Ulrich HR Leader Award 2017 and Winner of the LinkedIn Conscious Business Leadership Award 2016 – Management Maestro category – Ashley Winnett is not your typical HR Director.

Ashley has had three equally rewarding careers. Stacking shelves in numerous departments at Coles but never making it to a register; realising he didn’t enjoy law but becoming a partner anyway because that’s “what you’re supposed to do” when your parents decide you should study law whilst you are overseas enjoying your schoolies break; and finally, rebuilding an iconic Australian business whilst simultaneously dismantling it so as to ensure that his peers, friends and team mates have all the support necessary to help them forge careers both within and beyond Holden.

Having joined Holden in 2005 – initially as part of the legal team – it wasn’t long before Ashley was enticed to get his hands dirty. In 2007 he joined the HR team as HR Manager Assembly Operations based in Adelaide. In 2009 at the height of the Global Financial Crisis Ashley was appointed to the role of Director – Manufacturing & Labour Relations where he negotiated the “One Shift Two Crew Half Pay” arrangement which sustained the operations at a time when export production was cancelled overnight.

In 2012 Ashley returned to Melbourne to the position of Executive Director Human Resources. In 2013 Ashley led a small team who successfully negotiated the landmark variation to the Holden Enterprise Agreement before having to inform the same workforce that their efforts had been unsuccessful. In 2014 Ashley was appointed to the Holden Board. Ashley is now Executive Director – People, Performance and Culture where he has been an active and vocal positive disruptor across the business and believes that supporting flexibility increases inclusion, supports diversity and improves overall engagement and teamwork whilst empowering people to be their best.

Prior to joining Holden Ashley was a Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright in their Workplace Relations Practice. Ashley holds a Bachelor of Law and Arts (Hons).