Interview with Lynne Pezzullo – 2008 ACT Telstra Business Woman of the Year // Part 1

I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine. She’s the calibre of woman that I aspire to be.

Our husbands have known each other for about 20 years (they were Army Reservists together), but Lynne and I have really only known each other for a couple of years. She’s the kind of person that puts you at ease from the first moment you meet, and you feel as though you’ve been friends for ages. I love it when that happens.

Lynne is the type of role model that our world is crying out for, so I thought I’d share her with you 🙂 . She’s an award winning business woman, she’s a dedicated mother and loving wife. She’s a devoted follower of Jesus and gives freely of her time and skills to not-for-profit organisations. She writes songs and leads worship. She finds time to follow her dreams. She’s a leader and a beautiful woman, inside and out.

Lynne was generous enough to answer some interview questions via email a little while ago, and I will be sharing her responses with you over the next couple of days.

Allow me to introduce to you…Mrs Lynne Pezzullo.

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Lynne at the Telstra Business Women’s Awards

You recently won the Telstra ACT Business Woman of the Year award for your work as a Director of Access Economics in Canberra. What is it about the way you do business that makes you such a strong role model for ACT business women?

The Telstra awards recognise women who have excelled in their field, innovated, taken risks, and built a high-growth, diversified and successful business that contributes to Australian society. I’m passionate about good, equitable health outcomes, and aim to help achieve that through my health economics business, which is something I decided to do after ten years working in international economics for government. It’s still quite novel for women to achieve business success, public profile and influence, particularly in a highly technical, male-dominated sphere like economics consulting. Also, recently my business went global, so now I have the opportunity to make a difference overseas, in areas like HIV prevention and the eradication of preventable blindness. I think role models are people who inspire others through what they do and who they are, so hopefully I can do that – inspire and encourage others to make a difference in the world through their work, among other things.

You are the only female director on the board of Access Economics…have you found it difficult being a woman in your field? What challenges have you faced? What advice would you give to young women starting out in business (I guess it isn’t restricted to young women is it?)?

When I worked in the public sector in the 1990s, there was little or no flexibility to work part-time, work from home or work non-standard hours. Meetings were scheduled at 5pm, when I had to leave to pick up my son from childcare. At one international meeting, a foreign delegate would only meet my male junior, because I was a woman. In former workplaces, there were sometimes ‘girlie’ jokes, ‘girlie’ entertainment and ‘girlie’ posters, and I experienced inappropriate behaviour on a few occasions. Women can be treated differently – excluded or overlooked – and are not well represented in senior positions, sometimes not represented at all. There were few senior women at Access Economics when I started, and no maternity leave policy, but the culture was much more flexible than in the public service – a key to AE’s success. My husband has challenging work too, but I’ve borne the brunt of household and childrearing tasks. None of our four children slept regularly through the night till they were one, and I breastfed them, so sometimes I was pretty tired (we don’t have family in Canberra). I’d advise young women to try to find a workplace that genuinely supports flexible work practices. Accept it will be hard sometimes – that’s ok, dream big and go the distance. It’s worth the sacrifices when you’re standing on that glass ceiling and putting out a hand to help some other women up!

What’s the best piece of leadership advice you have ever received?

I don’t think I ever received any ‘leadership advice’ per se! My mum was a great inspiration in my life, and encouraged me that whatever I did, to work hard at it and pursue excellence. Mentors (and experience) over the years taught me a few things about leadership, and here’s my ‘top five’.

1. Some leaders are ‘out on their own’ – they may be right, but they can be bossy and arrogant; people follow them because they have to, not because they want to. Other leaders are just consensus-brokers, going with the majority – they’re popular, but spineless. The best leaders are not afraid to be different, but they listen carefully and are appealing – people choose to follow them, because they are inspirational, offer insightful perspectives and mentor others to be leaders too.
2. Good leaders treat other people well, even when they have to make tough calls. They communicate clearly and respectfully, with warmth and empathy. They cultivate genuine closeness – not claustrophobic, but interdependent. Their teams are like family – they can celebrate together, cry together and have fun together. They share a common purpose, and complement each other in ways that get all parts of a job done well.
3. Good leaders make decisions quickly once they have assimilated the necessary information. They evaluate and learn from their mistakes and their successes. They take time to reflect and plan.
4. Good leaders establish and protect their boundaries, so they don’t burn out. They are not hesitant to charge what they are worth, and they don’t feel guilty saying ‘no’ to things that are outside what they have chosen to do. They are also generous with things (including voluntary and pro bono things) that are within their boundaries.
5. Good leaders set their gaze firmly on their goals, and then tenaciously but flexibly work their way towards them. They don’t get distracted and don’t stop till they arrive.

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Please come back tomorrow for the rest of the interview with Lynne 🙂

Do you agree or disagree with Lynne’s top 5 leadership tips?

Michelle

Related Post:

Interview with Lynne Pezzullo //Part 2

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One response to “Interview with Lynne Pezzullo – 2008 ACT Telstra Business Woman of the Year // Part 1

  1. Pingback: Interview with Lynne Pezzullo //Part 2 «

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