Katie Cooper

Chief Executive Officer | Metro Tasmania

  • Change agent
  • Driving reform
  • Innovator
Based in: TAS
Modes: Aviation Busses
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"Right now we have a great opportunity to shape what the transport industry can provide prospective entrants."

Current positions

  • Chief Executive Officer, Metro Tasmania
  • Director, International Association of Public Transport Australia New Zealand (UITPANZ)
  • Mentor, Mentor Walks

Previous positions

  • Head of Transformation, Melbourne Airport
  • Head of Aviation Operations, Melbourne Airport
  • Head of Security, London Stansted Airport
  • General Manager, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek Airports
  • Regional Airport Manager, Air New Zealand
  • Ramp Services Manager, Air New Zealand
  • Passenger Services Manager, People and Performance, Air New Zealand
  • Passenger Services Manager, People and Performance, Air New Zealand
  • Airport Manager, Queenstown (secondment), Air New Zealand
  • Duty Manager, Operational, Air New Zealand
  • Customer Recovery Coordinator, Ansett Australia
  • Director, Australian Airports Association
  • Director, Tourism Central Australia
  • Director, Chamber of Commerce (Alice Springs)
  • Member, Technical Advisory Committee, Australian Industry Standards
  • Mentor, Piers Fowler Mentor Program, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Mentor, Australian Airports Association

Career snapshot

Katie Cooper is a commercially focussed, operationally experienced and authentic business executive with an impressive track record of success in private and public sector services.  

Katie has worked in public transport, infrastructure, retail, tourism and airlines across regional and metropolitan Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom gaining a breadth of experience and knowledge in fast paced, complex, service orientated businesses. 

Katie’s work has been enhanced by formal studies, including an MBA and other academic qualifications.  She has been recognised for her skills and knowledge with various business awards.  These include being awarded a Chief Executive Women scholarship to attend Harvard Business School’s leadership program and the Northern Territory Telstra Business Woman of the Year in 2012.

In all roles Katie champions the importance of genuine leadership and creating a great culture, critical to business performance and success.  

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In her own words

My career journey has followed a non-traditional career path as I did not go to university directly after high school.  l started working and it was only later in my career that I wanted to expand my knowledge with education.  I have subsequently become a strong believer in the importance of continual learning, being curious and in formal education.

I have had some amazing opportunities over the years – from starting as a trainee in human resources though to setting up a new department in the operations centre for a major Australian airline, focussed on customer advocacy, moving to management roles in international operations and leading large unionised teams, building solar power stations and runway overlays, and negotiating and implementing new commercial agreements.   I have also been involved industrial relations, stakeholder management, strategic planning, studying zero emission buses and I am passionate about driving a safety culture.

One thing I have learnt - people are at the heart of all the activities you do.   

Opportunities arise, however you can also create them.  Either way, you still must seize them.   I made a conscious decision as I matured in my career to say yes and back myself.  Metro Tasmania is my first CEO role, and it was appealing because of the location, the scale of the business, the challenges of public transport and the fact that I can make a positive difference not only in the business but also across the State.

Aligning values

When it comes to achieving diversity in transport there is no silver bullet.  The industry is often thought of as male dominated and a bit traditional in some areas.  

But right now we have a great opportunity to shape what the industry can provide prospective new team members.  People are considering more than simply remuneration or job hours when they evaluate a role or industry. They are looking for meaningful work in businesses with values aligned with theirs. This includes how a particular business values sustainable practices, behaves as a corporate citizen and contributes to the community in which we all live. I think the value of all forms of diversity and corporate responsibility in workplaces is becoming more well understood and sought after.  

At Metro for example, is we have a proportionally high level of mature workers.  Whilst this is great, and their contribution is valued – they will retire at some point.  We need to evolve and ensure we are attracting and meeting the need of all age demographics – including the younger demographic who are looking for careers and have different priorities.  

Workplace behaviours is another evolving work practise. Flexibility is a great example where within the industry, especially post COVID, we have shown where it is a practical and realistic opportunity for some roles. We need to ensure we look at each situation with a contemporary view, not always remaining traditional in our thinking simply because we’ve always done it this way.   

We must be very clear on the value proposition we are offering and ensures it meets the needs of the employees, business, and community.  

Attracting talent

A lot of the skills we need in transport are transferable from other industries. We need people with skills in business, operations, corporate affairs, leadership, crisis planning, risk, and customer services which means we can bring people in from lots of other sectors, such as retail. We need to be targeted and open to this approach. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can be very helpful. 

My vision for the next five years is…

 …public transport will be valued for its contribution and importance to our community. Customer experiences and business efficiencies will be enhanced through investment in products and digitisation and a maturing of sustainable practises and technologies.  It’s going to be a fantastic to see it continue to evolve.

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