May 25, 2023
Brendan Lyon joins UOW as Professor of Practice
Infrastructure professional brings wealth of experience in corporate, government roles to Faculty of Business and Law
Professor Brendan Lyon knows better than most that there’s always light after darkness.
Over the past five years, wading through hell in his professional life, infrastructure professional Professor Lyon withstood immense corporate and political pressure by sticking to his core principles.
Now, as he joins the University of Wollongong (UOW) as the first Professor of Practice in the Faculty of Business and Law, Professor Lyon has no regrets about maintaining his ethics and character, in the worst of times.
“At the start of my career a company director named Mark Birrell, who is one of my greatest friends and mentors, gave me a simple ethical framework to apply across my career: ‘Would you still say or do something in two years’ time, if you were working somewhere else?’,” Professor Lyon said.
“It has been some of the best advice I have ever received and has served me well throughout my career, particularly in tough times.”
Professors of Practice are traditionally senior executives who bring a wealth of real-world, practical experience to the role and can be engaged in both teaching and research activities.
Originally from southern Sydney, Professor Lyon has a long history with UOW, beginning with an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts and Law. Although he left in his fourth year of the double degree, eager to pursue a job in the world of business, he came back to complete a Master of Business Administration a few years later.
He is “delighted” to have taken on the role of Professor of Practice, which will enable him to balance his interest in research with a position teaching across the faculty’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
“I am absolutely thrilled to join the University of Wollongong,” he said. “UOW’s campus is beautiful, the faculty have been very welcoming, and I am excited about the opportunity to conduct my own research and to help teach the next generation of business leaders.”
In addition to his business experience, Professor Lyon brings to UOW a wealth of experience in project management and infrastructure that will translate to both law and business. He has always been drawn to the people-centred nature of business – the fact that corporations or projects are the sum of their human parts.
“All business is personal,” he said simply.
In particular, Professor Lyon loves that infrastructure, at its best, helps to make people’s lives better.
“If you look at road infrastructure, it connects people, it makes their trips safer and shorter, which enables them to spend more time with their loved ones and to be more productive in their day. When infrastructure is done well, it is a reflection of business or government doing well.”
UOW Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law, Professor Colin Picker, said that as the new Professor of Practice, Professor Lyon brought to the job an extensive record of hard work and results in the business world that would translate into research and teaching.
“Business and Law’s commitment to real world and practice-informed research and teaching has taken a great leap forward now that we have a Professor of Practice to further enhance the expertise and relationships that already exist within the faculty,” Professor Picker said.
“Furthermore, the appointment of Professor Lyon into that role additionally connects that commitment to one of our other principles – that of teaching and research focused on socially responsible business and law. Professor Lyon’s unique experiences and proven commitments will ensure that the faculty continues to lead in these spaces.”
Along with the many lessons he has gained in ethics over the course of his career, which reflect the Faculty of Business and Law’s focus on socially responsible business practices, Professor Lyon is looking forward to working alongside young, business-savvy minds.
“When you enter the professional world after university, you tend to think that everyone you are working with has all the answers. But then you realise that they are human, they are just making it up as they go along. We are all just making decisions every day based on the information that is in front of us and the skills that we have gained,” he said.
“That is one thing that I really want to instil in my students when I am teaching. If you have good values and good intentions, then you can make the right decisions when you need to.”
Professor Lyon delivered the guest address at the Faculty of Business and Law graduation ceremony at UOW last month. It was an immense honour, he said, and a chance to instil in the graduates the value of standing up for what they believe in, and for using their own name to build a career, and a life, after University.
“Whatever you choose to do – remember the distinction between who you are – and what you do. If there is a material gap between who you are and what you are being asked to do, be prepared to resign – or to be sacked,” he told the audience.
“Take risks, make mistakes, make decisions, gain experiences. If you are honest, your mistakes will be honest. If you are accountable to your errors, you will learn and adapt and people will trust you, respect you and want to work for, with or around you.
“Jobs, roles and titles are transitory but your name is permanent. If you act professionally and with integrity, you’ll always have people’s confidence and be regarded for professional diligence and fairness.”