As chief executive officer and managing director of Mirvac Group, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz MBA’94J focuses on “reimagining urban life”.
Q. What prompted you to pursue a degree at INSEAD?
I fell into the property industry and immediately loved it because of the possibilities it offered to create a sense of place and community. But it quickly became apparent that there was more I needed to learn, and I could see that hampering me unless I did something to address it. I started working on an MBA part-time but wanted to pursue it on a more serious level, prompting me to apply to INSEAD.
Q. How did your INSEAD experience transform you?
It utterly changed my life and shaped who I am. INSEAD educated me on the important business and economic issues I needed, but also formed the key planks of my life. I met my husband on the first day, and some of my best friends were found on campus. INSEAD made me think differently and gave me a ticket to play. It is striking that 12 months can last you a lifetime, but it really became the bedrock on which I built my career. It was an incredible, rounding experience.
Q. What challenges have you faced in your career?
One of my key challenges was in finding my own leadership style. A mistake I made early on was believing I had to emulate other good leaders. Of course, you absorb all you can from others, but not at the expense of your unique qualities. Being a female leader in a male-dominated industry heightens the challenge, and I had to find my own voice and learn how to lead in a more authentic way. I think it is important to be conscious not just of what you say, but how you say it. Actions carry more weight that words, and I am very aware as a leader that everything I say and how I engage with people all contributes to making sure that I am “walking the talk.” I still work on that today and never stop trying to overcome the challenges that leadership presents.
Q. How has being part of the INSEAD alumni network benefitted you?
INSEAD had a profound effect on my life, and I want to make sure others have the same opportunity. My husband and I are both interviewers, and I’ve been involved in the advisory council here in Australia. INSEAD opened up new worlds for us, and the shared experience forged deep friendships.
Q. Has your career or life path evolved as you expected?
My career evolved because I allowed it to take different directions when opportunities arose. Looking back, I think the key was keeping the same signposts even though the path was different. Each time my career took a turn, I asked myself, “Will it stimulate me? Can I learn something? Will I make an impact?” The job always had to be challenging and allow me to use my skills where I could to make a difference by following those signposts.
Q. How have you made an impact in the world?
Big business can have a big impact, and this is built into the DNA of Mirvac. Building communities is not simply bricks and mortar. Once you build an environment, you can’t unpick it—it’s a semi-permanent creation, and we want to leave behind a positive legacy. This is why we are passionate about sustainability. We never stop thinking about the impact we’re having on the planet, communities and people. We were named the world’s most sustainable real estate company by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index last year, something we are enormously proud of and recognises our whole team.
Q. What advice would you have for women at INSEAD who want to reach your level of success?
Ask yourself what you are passionate about, and how you can use your skills to make a difference. Don’t fall into patterns where you are fitting in with what you think people expect. Pay it forward—I often look back to that pivotal moment when my then boss agreed to fund INSEAD. It doesn’t always have to be a big, sweeping gesture; there are hundreds of little things you can do. Don’t let work shrink your world. I am proud of what we have achieved at Mirvac, but I am proud to have achieved it while still being thoroughly engaged with my family. People getting MBAs now face a vastly different experience than I did, but the qualities of empathy, curiosity, commitment to doing the right thing and leadership will endure. Hold on to those—the trajectory of careers and the pace of change are only going to keep accelerating.