Professor Lisa Given is the Associate Dean (Research & Development) in the Faculty of Health, Arts and Design at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.
Growing up in a small town of 20,000 people in Canada, Lisa always knew she was destined to move away to study. When the important decision of selecting her undergraduate arose, she followed her father’s advice of ‘do what you love’ and enrolled in a English degree at the University of Western Ontario.
Throughout her degree, Lisa received the constant questioning that many in the humanities field experience – ‘what are your career prospects?’ So to further develop her skills, Lisa went on to complete a second degree in education, as she thought this would be a practical career move.
On graduating, Ontario was experiencing a significant job freeze with no new teachers being employed. Instead of taking short part time positions like many of her graduating class, Lisa continued on to complete her Masters in Library and Information Science, combining her love of literature with computing.
Lisa went onto complete her PhD, exploring the information needs and practices of mature aged University students – being in the unique position of being able to compare her findings with her husband as he experienced these challenges in real time.
Lisa recalls the mentorship of her PhD supervisor, Associate Professor Gloria Leckie, as a career highlight. A mentor who provided constant encouragement to grow her leadership capability, including serving on the Faculty’s Doctoral Student Association; Gloria always maintained that Lisa was first and foremost a colleague – not ‘just’ a student. The feeling that someone believed in her, before even she did, built her confidence as an academic.
After a period teaching and conducting research at the University of Alberta, as well as serving in a number of leadership roles, Lisa and her husband made the life-changing decision to sell their house and relocate to Australia, a country where they had no family and only knew a few professional colleagues.
Lisa took up a position at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga as the Professor of Information Studies – tasked with the responsibility of growing the department’s research culture, developing the PhD Program and setting a School-wide research agenda.
Lisa and her husband enjoyed the strong sense of community in Wagga, spending over 5 years in the town before moving to Melbourne to take up her current role with Swinburne University of Technology.
Through her mentorship of others, Lisa recognises the importance of interpersonal chemistry and building trust. She enjoys bouncing ideas around and problem solving with mentees and approaches mentoring as a two-way learning experience. Lisa gets immense joy from seeing her students and mentees grow and achieve their goals.
Lisa offers unique perspectives from her interdisciplinary research career where she has worked with colleagues across the fields of humanities, social sciences, nursing, wine sciences, among others, and within the not-for-profit sector. She has a collaborative approach to work, is a lateral and solutions-focused thinker who is able to guide women in their leadership development.
Outside of her career, Lisa enjoys observing the wonderful bird life in Australia or winding down to a series or two on Netflix and HBO with one of her cats on her lap. And as a big foodie, she loves nothing more than exploring the Melbourne restaurant scene or being the ‘sous chef’ at home with her husband.