Under the Hood with ReGen's Libby Lyons

Libby Lyons

Politics is in Libby Lyons' DNA.

With a grandfather who was Australia’s Prime Minister and a grandmother who was Australia’s first female elected to the House of Representatives in the Federal Parliament, it was only natural for Libby to become a driving force for change.

Drawing her inspiration from her mother, Libby has been pivotal in creating more gender-equitable workplaces in Australia.

Libby’s work has secured her a number of accolades, including being listed on Apolitical’s 100 Most Influential People Working in Gender Policy and being awarded Woman of the Decade for Gender Policy by Women Economic Forum in 2019. 

Now, she serves as strategic counsel at ReGen Strategic, where she has continued to support new initiatives supporting women.

Growing up on the north-west coast of Tasmania, Libby was often surrounded by family members. As the fourth of six children, she recalls an often-amusing upbringing amongst her siblings.

“There were always people around,” she reflects.

“We were always encouraged to have friends over, so we’d often sit down with 12 or 13 people around the dinner table.

“I suppose when most people were sat around the table talking about footy, we were talking about politics.”

In her school years, Libby enjoyed English class and of course politics, but she found herself struggling in the environment.

“I wasn’t a good student at all. I liked the primary years, but I didn’t like it in secondary school, and I was always a little bit old for my year,” she says.

“I remember the day my year 12 results came out and my mother and sister spent about an hour talking on the phone discussing what they were going to do with me when I failed. But I didn’t fail, I scraped through.

“I think we put students and young women and men under a lot of pressure these days and I think it’s sad because in reality, you don’t necessarily have to go to university to have a great career.”

During her school years, she took her first job at a hairdressing salon, sweeping the floors. 

After studying at university, she became a primary school teacher, which she describes as the hardest job she has ever done.

However, she says the experience taught her at a young age how to manage different stakeholders and issues.

“A teacher is not just teaching the children, it’s about having a relationship with the parents, the teachers, the headmaster or headmistress, the school board, the local community and anyone else that comes in and around the school,” she explains.

From teaching, she was able to upskill and move into IT teaching, which eventually allowed her to navigate into a new career.

Her IT expertise landed her a job at Shell Australia and multiple opportunities in London.

Over her career, Libby has taken on a number of high-profile positions including heading up BHP’s Olympic Dam corporate affairs division. She has also held senior executive roles at Atlas Iron, CITIC Pacific Mining, Alcoa of Australia, the Western Power Corporation and Telstra.

However, the highlight of Libby’s professional life was when she was leading the Workplace Gender Equality Agency as director. In this role, she says she was able to take data and turn it into something meaningful for women.

“There was one defining moment and I thought, women shouldn’t have to go through this, women shouldn’t have to suffer in a workplace or be discriminated against in the workplace purely because it’s dominated by men and we are the minority,” she says.

“Then the job at the Workplace Gender Equality Agency came up and I was blessed to get that. I was absolutely determined to make that data mean something and to use that data as a vehicle for change.”

However, despite all the evidence which shows workplaces can benefit from more gender equality, Libby says the challenges are ongoing and never ending.

“I think most men are fantastic and want change, but there is a small cohort that thinks it’s a load of rubbish and they think we’re skewing the data,” she explains.

“The evidence is there, and it says that when we get more women we get into senior roles, it boosts productivity, performance and profitability.

“If you’re a board director and you don’t do something about it, then in my mind, you’re neglecting your fiduciary duty to shareholders.”

Throughout her life and career, Libby has often drawn inspiration from her mother, who raised her to believe anything was possible.

When Libby became a parent herself, she found a new appreciation for her own mother who had raised six kids.

“Nobody prepares us or trains us for being a parent and so you can feel very inadequate at times,” she says.

“It softened some of my harder edges and it just made me want to work harder and be a better person so that I could be the best possible parent I could be.”

Libby’s passion and drive to create better outcomes for women drew her to accept a strategic counsel position at ReGen Strategic in November 2021.

In this position, she has worked with clients to bring in a new program that will address bullying, racism and sexual harassment in the workplace.

She also currently serves as chairperson on the boards at Science in Australia Gender Equity and the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council. Additionally, she is also a member of the National Aged Care Advisory Council.

When she’s not trailblazing new initiatives for gender equality, you can often find Libby indulging in walks and experimenting in the kitchen.

But above all else, Libby loves a good party and spending time with her friends and family.

“You’ve just got to have a party because you never know when it’s your last one,” she declares.

“My late husband, Michael, died in 2010 from a brain tumour and it was 11 weeks from diagnosis to death.

“I think that changed my outlook a lot. It made me realise that your whole life can change in a heartbeat and for that reason, you’ve got to live for today. I can’t change yesterday, and I really have no control over tomorrow, so it’s all about today.”


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