Professor Kerry London joined the University of Western Sydney in 2017 as the Deputy Dean of the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics following an extensive career in higher education and architecture.
Kerry’s passion for architecture was cemented in Year 9, following a two-week experiential learning program in Sydney where she met with practicing architects and explored the profession. This experience led her to pursue her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Architecture at the University of Newcastle and following her graduation began her career with architecture firms across Newcastle.
Kerry decided to return to study after completing her Professional Practice exams and becoming a registered Architect and an 18 month adventure travelling the world with her husband – undertaking a Masters of Research, not brave enough to commit to a PhD at the time.
After graduating with her Masters, Kerry took up a position with the Northern Territory Government. It was the early 1990s and the government hired five ‘young guns’ to take on a role in an emerging field at the time – Project Management - an experiment that turned out to be a defining role in Kerry’s career.
Armed only with a laptop, the position saw Kerry travelling to Alice Springs, Katherine and Darwin to manage diverse projects for the Government. The experience giving her the attitude and skills to be able to work from anywhere – changing her approach to work and the traditional constructs placed on employees at the time.
After a number of years Kerry moved into a Senior Policy role, tasked with implementing an asset management framework across the Northern Territory Government. Kerry felt thrown into the deep end, but with a blank piece of paper and encouragement from the executive she went out to find a solution. Kerry thrived in this environment where she was solving challenges with creativity and innovation and where she had to have a vision and create the blueprint. She had a very supportive environment of senior mentors in the NT government and first learnt the true value of mentorship.
When Kerry was ready to enrol in her PhD, she found herself in the enviable position of being offered positions with three Universities – deciding on the University of Melbourne where she was fortunate to receive a prestigious top-up grant from the industry partner the Victorian state government Department of Infrastructure.
Within weeks of commencing her PhD, and through the mentorship of her supervisor, Kerry was encouraged to submit an abstract for the Triennial World Building Congress. To her great surprise, Kerry was invited to present at the opening panel – a nerve-racking experience for any new PhD candidate - but one where she was encouraged to play to her strengths and leverage her extensive industry experience in a strategic way.
Kerry feels indebted to the University of Melbourne for the experiences she received throughout her PhD – including a scholarship to participate in Universitas21, which saw her take off to Lund University in Sweden to build international collaborations, gain new perspectives and learn how other researchers engaged with industry.
On completion of her PhD, Kerry spent time in New Zealand designing curriculum for a polytechnic UNITEC but was lured back to the University of Newcastle as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Built Environment – where she created the first Research Centre - taking on the role of Node Director of the CRC for Construction Innovation. Throughout this period Kerry highlights the mentorship of Professor Barney Glover as an important part of her development and through the counsel of her mentors was given the confidence to take on a Chair position at Deakin University.
Kerry spent 7 years in Victoria across positions with Deakin and RMIT, commuting every week to her family in Newcastle. Kerry remembers her role as Deputy PVC for Learning and Teaching at RMIT as an exciting and daunting period in her career, where she managed a College with six schools and over 22,000 students. It was here that she developed skills in navigating complex organisations and making decisions in fast paced environments.
It was in her role as the Dean of Research at UniSA where Kerry experienced an executive role with clear KPI’s and a performance-based contract. She was tasked with the responsibility of reinvigorating the research of the division – a position where she drew on her extensive stakeholder engagement skills and regularly sought feedback from a group of trusted advisors.
Kerry thrived in the position at UniSA, but moved back to NSW in 2017 when a new opportunity emerged for her husband in Sydney. This led to Kerry reconnecting with her mentor Professor Barney Glover, the now Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney, who to Kerry’s surprise offered her a position on the spot (subject to due diligence of reference checks).
Kerry believes her career has benefited from the mentoring of trusted advisors like Barney; Professor Sue Rowley (past DVC Research at UTS) and Professor Joyce Kirk (past Vice President RMIT Vietnam). Kerry enjoys mentoring others and sees it as her role to create a safe environment and be a trusted sounding board for her mentees to explore big ideas, navigate issues and find solutions. Kerry’s approach is very action orientated and she likes to delve into the unique attributes of the individuals she mentors.
Kerry is also an advocate for finding work life balance – something she believes she may have recently cracked for the first time – and enjoys playing tennis and jumping in the car to explore New South Wales with her husband. They spend two weeks every year at Langkawi an island off the coast of Malaysia which is very special to them reading, swimming, relaxing and enjoying the local food.