Maria O’Leary


Executive Consultant

Maria O'Leary - Merit Solutions Executive Consultant
  • Executive Recruitment
  • Coaching and Training
  • Organisational Development
  • B.A. (Hons) (Psych), University of Queensland
  • M.Psych.App. (Organisational), University of Queensland
  • Registered Psychologist with the Psychology Board of Australia
  • Australian Psychological Society, Member
  • College of Organisational Psychologists, Member

Career Details

Maria is an organisational psychologist with more than 25 years experience in organisational and community development. Her skills and experience lie in the areas of human resource management, the management of organisation change, facilitation and intervention process design. She has developed particular expertise in the areas of executive selection, retention, development and mobility, professional supervision, coaching and performance management.

Maria was first appointed to a senior executive position in the former Queensland Public Sector Management Commission as Manager, Senior Executive Service in 1991 and has since undertaken executive positions in such diverse Queensland Government agencies as Family Services, Primary Industries and Queensland Health. Over this time, she worked in corporate roles as a Director of Human Resources, in service delivery as a Regional Director, in governance roles as Director, Executive & Legal Services, and in policy roles as a Director, Strategic Policy. She has also lectured at postgraduate level in QUT’s MBA program in both Strategic Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour.

Since leaving government in 2006, Maria has consulted to the private and NGO sector and worked with a large recruitment & management consulting firm. She joined Merit Solutions in 2011.

Senior Executive Service Work

Maria managed the introduction of the Senior Executive Service within the Queensland Public Service, including the management of SES establishments, recruitment, selection and mobility programs. Through this work, Maria developed a particular interest in CEO and SES job design, career paths and preparatory pathways, which became the focus of her Masters’ program of research. More recently, Maria has been involved in senior executive selection and assessment centre work for a range of private sector clients, together with individual career transition support.

Learning & Development

Drawing on her early career work in staff development, Maria has undertaken learning and development assignments with middle managers & senior executives from both government and non-government agencies. She developed and implemented a service-wide executive development framework and programs for the Queensland Government’s initial Senior Executive Service, including curriculum design for both the leadership and policy development programs; Maria also implemented service-wide executive performance management systems, including performance agreements for chief executives and senior executives. A key component of these required individual development plans and Maria was directly involved in facilitating and reviewing the first round of these development schemes. Since joining Merit Solutions, Maria has been involved in recruitment and selection training, particularly Capability and Leadership Framework applications in the Queensland Public Service.


Maria has worked as a senior manager across a range of central and line agencies, leading policy, corporate, governance and service delivery teams. She draws on this diverse experience in her coaching work with senior executives and managers. She has developed a particular interest in working with managers to improve work team performance and that of individual direct reports.

In 2008 she was involved as a development coach with the Mater Hospital Executive Leadership Program. In addition to coaching work, Maria also provides professional supervision to new psychology graduates seeking registration or specialist accreditation.

Career and Transition Support

A natural progression from development planning has been Maria’s work in broader career planning and transition support for individuals, including psychometric assessment, life/work rebalance and individual career transition support for employees displaced by major organisational change.

Organisation Development

Enabling organisational and cultural change has been a core focus of many assignments undertaken by Maria. She has been actively involved in organisational strategy – change programs, departmental mergers, organisational restructuring, transition planning (including job redesign & evaluation) and manager/employee support processes during change.
Maria’s recent work has focused on change management support and, in particular, workforce capacity building and preparation for major change within both public and community sectors.