Lynette Clunies-Ross

STEMM PROFILE: Lynette Clunies-Ross, BBus (Computing) | Chief Operating Officer | SAS Australia and New Zealand | Sydney | NSW

Lynette Clunies-Ross
Lynette Clunies-Ross [Image: SAS Australia]

“… I would advocate taking the time to practice your craft and build on your mastery before you consider a change in profession or direction”

Lynette Clunies-Ross joined SAS in 2012 as the Chief Operating Officer for SAS Australia and New Zealand – a business analytics vendor. With over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry, Lynette is a proven and innovative business leader with a unique blend of deep technology, business and operational expertise.

Lynette brings to SAS an integrated and holistic approach to marketing and sales strategy and execution. As a recognised thought leader in client partnering and collaboration, Lynette is tasked with leading SAS’ marketing, Financial Services, and Energy & Utilities industry business development, sales support & operations. To enable SAS growth as the premier provider of advanced analytics, Lynette’s responsibilities also include building SAS partner and business analytics advisory organisational capability. Lynette has strategic priority ownership of the SAS innovation agenda and academic outreach.

Prior to SAS, Lynette spent 22 years at IBM starting as a Systems Engineer before assuming a number of senior executive sales, operations, strategy & transformation roles in Australia/New Zealand and on a strategic international assignment for over 5 years in the IBM Growth Markets Unit based in Shanghai, China.

Lynette is a graduate of the international Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. She graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Computing) from Charles Darwin University and has completed company sponsored leadership & executive development programs with the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School.

What has been the biggest barrier you have faced in your career and how have you overcome it?

Overcoming stereotypes would have to be the biggest barrier I faced through each of my major career transitions. Each of these transitions, from technical practitioner to sales, from expert to manager and from manager to executive, I had to go out of my way to debunk stereotypes and extreme labels.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful leader?

Authenticity, integrity, inquisitiveness and collaborative are the words I would use to describe a successful leader. These attributes will be even more important for our future leaders who will have to lead through unprecedented levels of disruption, uncertainty and ambiguity. Fortunately, these attributes come naturally to most women in science.

What is one piece of advice you would give to women just starting their careers in science.

I was fortunate to be able to study my computing major part time, usually at night, whilst I practiced my craft during the day as a computer systems officer. This way I built up a huge body of expertise and experience over 6 years whilst still in my early twenties. I’m not advocating this for everyone, but I would advocate taking the time to practice your craft and build on your mastery before you consider a change in profession or direction.

I have a sense that we have many more female undergraduates of STEM who’ve never practiced in their chosen degree.

If you could give one piece of advice to the current government what would it be?

Don’t be too distracted by the tech in STEM, get back to basics in attracting and retaining the best STEM teachers, especially maths and science. Facilitate close collaboration between academia and industry to align around the competencies and capabilities we need in future STEM graduates. Sorry, that’s two, but the first without the other will be wasted if we don’t address the latter.

What have you learnt in your career to increase your resilience?

Taking the high road and keeping your higher sense of purpose in mind has helped me overcome the many inevitable difficulties and challenges in my career. Staying well informed through diversity of inputs to stimulate creative ways to solve a problem or pursue an opportunity.