Singapore-based alum Joanne Flinn’s University of Tasmania qualifications have taken her around the world, helping businesses change their game.
After completing degrees in economics and law, Joanne launched her career consulting for Accenture in Sydney followed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) internationally.
Joanne is a published author, speaker and strategist who specialises in integrating sustainability into organisations and advising boards on green governance. She is the Chair of the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) Institute, where she works with global entities to develop, scale and deploy sustainability strategies. Joanne also lectures on governance and ethics at CPA Australia and co-founded Change Leaders, a global professional community aligned with HÈC Paris and Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford.
We caught up with Joanne recently to find out about her study-to-career journey.
How did you come to study at the University of Tasmania?
Growing up, I was a foreigner. I lived in North America, Africa, Europe and Asia. My family is old-school Tasmanian, so when I was ready for university, I applied to the University of Tasmania. I remember mailing the letter, explaining my background, and asking for a place—where I could reconnect with my homeland.
What were the highlights of your time at the University of Tasmania?
The highlights? Clearly, the life-long friendships formed in the law library or at the Uni Bar! Representing Tasmania for the Jessup Moot and getting to the finals also stands out. And being treasurer and then president of the Student Union, which in those days ran the business side providing student services like the bar, the refectory, the bookstore, the housing scheme and what was then the biggest entertainment space in the State. I got the chance to apply all that hard-earned knowledge from economics and law into the real-life situation of being responsible for one of the biggest businesses in Tasmania. I took the theory of being a company director into the practice of being accountable for debt, equity, and all the things that make an organisation sustainable over the long term.
Where have your University of Tasmania qualifications taken you?
They’ve taken me back around the world. First into the professional world with Accenture and PricewaterhouseCoopers in Sydney, then into Asia, where I have worked for quite a number of years now. My qualifications prepared me to lead big consulting at PwC for their financial services consulting practice; to sit on the IT Expo at DBS, an Asian bank; and to run my own business working with leaders to transform their businesses. On the academic side, my University of Tasmania qualifications got me to HÈC, for a master's in change leadership. I co-founded a professional community of practice associated with the University of Oxford, and have subsequently published multiple business books, including Unleash Your Voice, Powerful Public Speaking for Every Woman, which I co-edited to bring together 15 powerful female perspectives from around the world, and most recently, Greensight, the Sustainability Guide for Company Directors.
What does your current role involve?
These days I am the chair of the ESG Institute. Our mission is to help accelerate the transition to a sustainable economy that is nature positive, low carbon, and respects other human beings. My role involves speaking at industry and company conferences on ESG’s impact on business, collaborating with business leaders as we set standards for the sustainability journey through the ESG-123 maturity model, and mentoring boards and C-suite as they align their strategy to sustainability and take practical profitable action.
What goals do you have for the future?
Just like World Rugby lifted the game of rugby so that there are fewer injuries and more spectacular play, business must change its game for the betterment of everyone involved. What got us here is not going to get us to where we need to go. It’s a transformation journey. Personally, this transformation is as much about how I see myself as a leader as anything else, and this is both humbling and exciting.
When I look to the future, I focus on being a happy, healthy human. This is foundational, and it involves creating, exhibiting, and seeing my art (I am also an artist!) enjoyed by discerning collectors. In business, my mission is to help businesses and leaders become magnificent. This means building toward a sustainable, net-zero world in collaboration with likeminded leaders like we have in the University of Tasmania.
Image: Joanne Flinn