Celebrating Women in Leadership in Technology

Anna Leibel, CEW Scholar 2018 MIT Innovation

Growing up in Diamond Creek, Anna Leibel taught herself to code at the age of eight. By the time she was 18, the world wide web was just starting to take off along with this new thing called ’email’. She got a lot of requests for help from friends and family and soon she had her first business, helping others adapt to the emerging technologies in their lives.

I was fortunate to meet Anna, when we were selected to attend the world-leading MIT course on Innovation in 2018 as CEW Scholars.  We were two of just nine women on the course, alongside fifty men. See above image, MIT in Boston, USA, 2018 Left to Right: Fiona David, CEW Scholar, Jacquie Fegent-McGeachie, Chantelle Millard, CEO Maggie Beer Holdings., Anna Leibel, CEW Scholar, Lyndsey Douglas.

We both stood out, for different reasons. At that time, Anna was on her way to becoming CIO of a $100 billion superannuation fund. I was the only person on the course from a not-for-profit background, looking to apply innovation learnings from the business world to social issues.

I learnt an incredible amount in that one intense week, working up strategies and business plans with a cohort that included everyone from Japanese tobacco executives to technologists from the Saudi Central Bank. I will never forget how grateful I was to have Anna there with me in what was a very foreign environment.

Anna went on to implement her learnings as a 2018 scholar in her executive role with UniSuper, which led to an expanded transformational agenda by bringing the customer – member operations – together with IT. In 2019, Anna joined the Ambulance Victoria Board, where she was recently appointed the Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee.

While others were binging on Netflix during the COVID lockdowns in 2020, Anna took the opportunity to write a book, The Secure Board, alongside her co-author Claire Pales. Written in plain English for non-technical readers, the Secure Board is a practical guide for any Director wanting to understand cyber-risk. It steps through the five elements that Directors need to consider, starting with the important mindset shift that “Cyber is a business risk not an IT problem”.  As Anna notes:

“In the digital age, cyber risk can no longer be managed solely by IT and investment.  Now one of the top three risks for most organisations, cyber risk management is on the agenda of Boards, CEOs and regulators. We all must have a level of cyber literacy commensurate with our role, particularly the Board and Chief Executive as they set the tone at the top.”

Congratulations to CEW Scholar Anna Leibel for her inspiring and ground-breaking contribution.

Fiona David,
Chair of Research, Minderoo Foundation and 2018 CEW Scholar