Saying yes to early opportunities helped Loretta Lynch excel in her career and become a better manager.
Q&A with Loretta Lynch
Can you tell us about your time at Deakin? Is there anything you especially remember?
I completed some of my subjects while living overseas in a non-English speaking country (Argentina), using the earlier days of the internet (dial-up!) to do my research. The work experience I was getting at the same time made my study extremely valuable because I could see clearly how the quality of the strategic decisions being made would be essential to the success of a huge multinational project. I also remember taking my Deakin exams in Buenos Aires University under supervision by an invigilator in a huge exam room all on my own. It was daunting, but once the exam starts you are too focused to notice.
What has been your journey since finishing your course? Briefly outline your career path prior to your current role.
My MBA supported me in demonstrating broader knowledge outside of finance/accounting and allowed me to take on diverse roles in companies experiencing huge growth. After finishing the MBA I worked with major contracting companies in commercial roles, which eventually lead me to the Managing Director position at Gold Coast Light Rail. Flawlessly delivering 300 per cent of normal services during the Commonwealth Games has been the highlight of my career so far. In addition to a day job, I’ve had several board roles with government and not-for-profit organisations. These have strengthened my oversight and influencing skills and make me more effective for my own leaders.
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
Great leaders. I realised early on that those who really care about the success of their people receive outstanding effort in return. I’ve fortunately had several great bosses who were generous with their honest feedback and offered me amazing opportunities over the years.
Have you always wanted to pursue the kind of career you have embarked on? If so, when and how did you realise?
Outside of my core value of wanting to be useful to others, there was no master plan. I said yes to opportunities and as a result, I lived and travelled overseas and throughout Australia, met outstanding people at all levels of organisations and developed a passionate talent for leading teams.
Which skills do you believe are important for the successful managing of a team?
Listening, showing respect and the belief that a leaders’ role is to support the success of others.
What do you believe Deakin University has shown you/given you as a person?
A big-picture vision of excellent organisational strategy. This enables me to bring a wider and more informed vision to strategic planning.
What is something that amazes you?
It never ceases to amaze me how often people assume things and things go wrong as a result. I’m guilty of it too, so I try not to assume anything, and I ask a lot of questions.
How would someone describe you?
A positive and strategic leader who gets stuff done.
Is there any advice you would give to a person who is starting out in your career?
Say ‘yes’ to small opportunities and people who give you amazing ones. Look out for big scary opportunities because you’ll have great support and you’ll develop the most. Have a learning mindset. Although I didn’t have a grand plan, taking on new roles and learning new things means I am always gathering skills along the way.