Audette Exel AO has more than 35 years’ experience in the global financial services markets and the not-for profit sector as a senior executive, a non-executive director and as a social entrepreneur. Audette is a passionate advocate for diversity at all levels of public and corporate life. She is a committed social entrepreneur and a leader in the “business for purpose” movement. She has a deep interest in the changing role and expectations of business in society, which she brings to all aspects of her working life.
Audette is the Founder of the Adara Group, which is an acknowledged leader in bridging the worlds of financial services at the highest levels with the world of international development. Audette is also the Chief Executive Officer of Adara’s two corporate advice businesses, Adara Advisors and Adara Partners, which she established to help fund Adara’s work with women and children in extreme poverty.
The Adara Group believes that every person should have access to quality health, education and other essential services, no matter where they live. Adara has developed deep expertise in maternal, newborn and child heath and remote community development. They have been working in Uganda and Nepal in some of the world’s remotest places since inception in 1998. This work directly touches tens of thousands of people in extreme poverty each year and countless more through Adara’s knowledge sharing work.
Audette is a Non-Executive Director of Westpac, Australia’s first and oldest bank. From 2012 to September 2020 Audette was a Non-Executive Director and member of the risk and nominations committees of ASX20 Suncorp Group Limited. From 1999 to 2017 Audette was the Vice Chairman of the board of Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association Trustee (Bermuda) Limited, one of the world’s largest Protection and Indemnity clubs in the shipping industry.
Before establishing Adara, Audette was Managing Director of one of Bermuda’s three Banks, Bermuda Commercial Bank. She was one of the youngest women in the world to run a publicly-traded bank. During 1995 and 1996, Audette was also Chair of the Bermuda Stock Exchange. From 1999 to 2005, Audette was on the Board of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, Bermuda’s central financial services regulator, and was Chair of its investment committee.
Prior to joining Bermuda Commercial Bank, Audette practised as a lawyer specialising in international finance. She began her career with Allen, Allen and Hemsley in Sydney, Australia before joining the English firm of Linklaters & Paines, in their Hong Kong office. She is called to the Bars of New South Wales, Australia, England and Wales, and Bermuda. Audette has a BA from University of Victoria, Wellington and LLB (Hons) from University of Melbourne.
In 1995, Audette was elected a Global Leader for Tomorrow by The World Economic Forum. She was the recipient of the Economic Justice and Community Impact Award from the Young Presidents Organisation Social Enterprise Networks in 2010. In 2012, Audette won the Telstra NSW Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award, and was the winner of the NSW Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Award. She was also one of The Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence in Australia in 2012. In 2013, Audette was awarded an honorary Order of Australia for “service to humanity through the establishment of the Adara Group to provide specialist care to women and children in Uganda and Nepal” and was recognised by Forbes as a “Hero of Philanthropy” in 2014. In 2015, Audette was inducted into the Australian Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame. She was a recipient of a World Class New Zealander Award in 2015. Audette was named Australia’s 2016 ‘Leading Philanthropist’ by Philanthropy Australia, and in 2017, was admitted to the New Zealand Hall of Fame for Women Entrepreneurs. In 2019 she received the YPO Global Impact Legacy Honour for her outstanding, lasting and replicable impact in the world.