UniSuper’s Anna Leibel stretches into new adventures

  • Posted on March 13, 2018
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
On the Move with Anna Leibel

I recently found myself walking the plank—and doing yoga poses!—on a tall ship with Anna Leibel, CIO of UniSuper and founder of 110% Consulting. On the agenda—her leadership in transforming the customer experience behind a major pension fund, her top pieces of advice for women in the workplace and some insights into her portfolio career approach.

UniSuper is a superannuation fund that serves Australia's higher education and research sector. As CIO, Anna is leading the charge on enhancing the experience that professors, lecturers and university staff have when it comes to managing their pension funds. But it’s more than just technology innovation that’s on her mind in the digital world – it’s about aligning IT to the goals of the business so they are partners in change.

“We're not changing technology for technology's sake,” Anna explained. “You've always got to have that understanding around how it links into the business strategy and why it matters to your customers, which, in our case is members and employees.”

Anna asked Avanade Advisory Services to help the UniSuper team set its technology strategy for the next three years. As a consultant herself, Anna could have led this work, but she felt it was important for her to be a voice in the discussion, rather than the facilitator, in a very inclusive and open exploration. “I wanted my team to come along and be a part of the process of developing this strategy,” she said.

Sailing into uncharted waters
Doing work that matters is a personal passion of Anna’s. Rather than pursuing a single and linear career path, she has adopted a portfolio approach that enable her to tap into the different skills and experiences that she brings to the table. Take right now, for instance. Anna is:

UniSuper’s CIO during a time of great change
Founder of 110% Consulting
Mentoring students at the University of Melbourne and helping them figure out the business aspects of a start-up, including commercializing and growing a business
A qualified yoga teacher with plans to open her own studio

This portfolio career is definitely enabled by the digital world: “I feel like I'm always on,” she said. “So, if on a Sunday morning, I've got a bright idea, I want to be able to work then”.

Anchoring in resilience
I asked Anna what capabilities she felt were most important to making a portfolio career work, and she told me resilience. She had to be ready to switch gears if she couldn’t find the right opportunities and she has to make sure her skills are relevant.

I believe resilience is important for companies these days, too. We need to be more open to people who come to us to help us accomplish a specific goal and who then might leave and do something else. We need to align our plans not just to the goals of the business, but to the reality of the workforce and the way people want to work.

Spending time with Anna gave me a perspective on what it means to pursue a meaningful career in the digital workplace. And it reinforced my affinity for the tennis court over the yoga mat.

Watch “On the Move with Adam Warby Season 3, Episode 1: Anna Leibel” now:

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