Elizabeth Proust AO

Honorary Doctor of Laws

Citation delivered by Professor Grace McCarthy Dean, Sydney Business School University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Elizabeth Mary Proust AO as a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) on 17 December 2019.

Chancellor, I present Elizabeth Mary Proust AO.

In a diverse career spanning more than 30 years, Elizabeth Proust has rightly earned a reputation as one of Australia’s leading business figures and change-makers. She has excelled in high-profile and influential leadership roles traversing both the public and private sectors and has been a trailblazer and role model and mentor for many women.

Moving to Wollongong with her family in 1963, Elizabeth was educated at St Mary Star of the Sea College where she thrived and shone academically. She is a firm believer in the power of a good education as a driver for a successful career and went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts with Honours at La Trobe University, followed by a Law degree from the University of Melbourne.

Much of her early career was spent in the public service in Victoria, where she was a key advisor to the Premier, Deputy-General of the Department of Industry, Technology and Resources, and Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Attorney-General's Department.

In 1998, Elizabeth began her eight-year tenure with ANZ Banking Group, where she led significant structural and cultural change underpinning the company’s subsequent growth and success. She served as Group General Manager for HR, Corporate Affairs and Management Services at a time when the bank was represented in 43 countries, and as Managing Director of Metrobanking. As Managing Director of Esanda – a role which saw her join the ANZ Management Board, and as such, was the group’s most senior woman – she completely transformed its culture and growth.

Stepping down from ANZ in 2005, Elizabeth turned her considerable talents to an enormous array of management and advisory boards, from publicly listed companies including Perpetual Limited and Spotless Group, to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne International Festival of the Arts, National Breast Cancer Foundation and Nonprofit Australia. In her three years as Chair of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, she advocated with conviction and intelligence, shining a light on wide-ranging issues and generating a paradigm shift in attitudes. She currently serves on the boards of Lendlease, Nestle (Australia) and the Westpac Victoria Advisory Board.

Elizabeth is an inspiring role model and a passionate driver for change. She is a tireless and vocal champion for the advancement of women in business, gender diversity in the boardroom, and the power of women’s business networks. She is a generous mentor, and our staff and students – in the Faculty of Business and Law in particular – stand to gain much from her valuable insights.

Her distinguished contribution to business, leadership and mentoring, and to the community through her contributions to the arts, charity and education, is widely recognised. Elizabeth was awarded both a Centenary Medal and named BOSS True Leader of the Year in 2003, and in 2010 was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. She is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Institute of Public Administration.

Chancellor, today we honour Elizabeth Proust for her exceptional and insightful leadership, her advocacy of gender equity in the boardroom and her outstanding contributions in mentoring and championing women in business. It is a privilege and a pleasure to present Elizabeth Proust AO for a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.