From ice skating to academia, Associate Professor Lynn Gribble has always believed that business is all around us.

As the Co-founder of The Australian Teaching/Education Focused Academic Network, supporting those who specialise in teaching and teaching scholarship for impact, and as the Co-lead for the UNSW AI Community of Practice, exploring and driving AI education practices, Associate Professor Gribble believes we should be using technology to make business knowledge more accessible to students.

To achieve this, Associate Professor Gribble is helping to create a more equitable education landscape that is more ethically minded.

For Associate Professor Gribble, business makes the world tick - meaning those in business have the power to make the most impact. By combining her experience in business with her passion for education, technology and innovation, Associate Professor Gribble is determined to make learning opportunities more accessible than ever. Which she believes has the potential to change everything for the better.

As a nationally and internationally awarded and recognised academic, Associate Professor Gribble is known for her work in digital innovation in teaching, which allows her to apply her long corporate experience in learning and development, as well as her knowledge of human resources, to university learning.

But the road to a career in academia started somewhere very different, on an ice-skating rink. As a professional ice skater from a young age, Associate Professor Gribble toured the world and lived overseas on her own. But business was always inherently present in her life.

“I grew up in a family where business was front and centre. My dad was a CEO, so everything in our household was about business. My mum also understood and talked about business, so I didn't ever think of anything not being about business,” Associate Professor Gribble says.

“My first job in retail, it was about the business of selling things. When I worked as a skater that was about the business of sport. I set up and ran skate schools. I travelled the world. I made money, I earned money, I spent money. And that's what business is – and it is all around us.”

The near limitless boundaries of a business career is why Associate Professor Gribble wants more young women to consider a business degree. Because wherever your passions lie, there are frameworks and pathways to build success.

“I didn't ever think of what I would or wouldn't do. My father always treated me like I would work in business, so in that way, I could always see myself there. I want more young girls to feel like that too so they can find their place.” 

Transferring business acumen into academia

It was while running skate schools in Australia that Associate Professor Gribble realised she had a passion for education, and she took this passion into her corporate career. She went on to hold senior leadership positions in big tech and HR companies, building a vast range of experience in people management, corporate training and organisational development. She also achieved a PhD in Organisational Behaviour.

But it was her transition into motherhood that triggered a desire to switch to teaching at a university level.  

“It was only at the point when I had a young child that I really thought about teaching in universities. I realised it was quite difficult to balance very senior corporate roles, and the demands of those roles, which require travel working around the clock and being available at odd hours with who I wanted to be as a mum of a young baby,” Associate Professor Gribble says.

“I wanted to continue doing what I loved and to ensure that I could put both my academic qualifications and my experience to good use. I've experienced a lot in my career, both good and bad. And I wanted to use real examples to unpack the coursework in an informed and practical way, so students can apply what they’ve learned to a professional setting.”

Associate Professor Gribble wanted to bring a real “boots on the ground” approach to her teaching, so her students can make sense of what they’re experiencing in the classroom while making the frameworks and tools applicable to the real world of business and what students are likely to encounter once they graduate.

“I wanted to take a practical approach and to show that the methodologies we’re teaching are not random. They're actually very explainable, and very accessible, especially when taught in a considered and thoughtful way.”

Technology opens the door to inclusivity

The way Associate Professor Gribble approaches teaching and learning has always set her apart.

She was the first student at her university to complete a PhD by correspondence and she introduced distance education programs for companies that needed to reach team members across Australia. For Associate Professor Gribble, technology is a powerful tool of connection and enablement. 

“I'm fascinated by how technology makes the world more equitable and more accessible. How it enables us to gain back time, to do things that previously we couldn't even consider, and not only for me, but for the world,” she says.

“When we look at a world that is connected, that understands how technology can help us in our day to day lives, then everything changes. And to be responsible with our use of technology is incredibly important as well.”

That’s why she’s such an advocate for technology in learning, to enhance the student experience so each student gets what they need.

“I'm really conscious of what I bring into the classroom. Because if it is too noisy, if it has too many clicks, if it’s too distracting, then it's not adding value. It's always got to be pedagogy before technology,” Associate Professor Gribble says.

“And there are so many hidden disabilities and neurodiverse people out there. Do we need a world that tells everybody I have a disability? I don't think that that's what we need. I think we need a world that says, “we can meet you where you are”. I believe the magic of learning is possible for everyone and my job is to remove or reduce barriers.”

Associate Professor Gribble says looking for the possibilities is where all innovation comes from. But for her, it’s all about putting that different lens on to make things easier, better and more accessible.

“If we make education available to everyone, then we change everything. If we can make sure that every person has access to good quality, considered information and they also have the opportunity to talk about and think about it, then that has to make the world better,” she says.

“And who doesn't want a world that's a little bit better, a little bit more considered, a little bit more able for everybody to join in?”

The business of responsible management

In her current role within UNSW Business School’s School of Management and Governance, Associate Professor Gribble convenes and teaches Responsible Business Professionalism, a compulsory core course in the Master of Commerce Program.

This was a program she initiated, designed and developed to focus post-graduate students on the ethics of business and the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) as the future differentiators in the workplace and for their careers. It can be an eye-opener for students that are entering the Business School for the first time.

“Business degrees have this unique ability to go with you no matter where you go in life. And for me that is critical for people to get their head around. You know that business is not this discreet thing. I don't have to work in banking to be in business, I can work in art, journalism, sport or research.”

“At the end of the day, business is a part of everything we do and enjoy and we need to understand who it serves, how it serves, how it sustains itself and how it contributes to society, which is so incredibly important to succeeding in any venture or industry,” Associate Professor Gribble says.

“Business has to be here to make the world better, otherwise intrinsically it's making the world worse. And my course is designed to look at the beliefs you’ve had all your life that you’ve never questioned. And to challenge your mindset to view business as a means of making the world more equal, a more sustainable place, and looking at how business has a responsibility to society,” Associate Professor Gribble says.

A woman’s place is in business

Associate Professor Gribble also thinks it’s important to challenge people’s belief systems when it comes to women in business. Because without women, she says business is not going to survive.

“People have spent their entire life doing, saying or believing something, and they don't even recognise that it is inherently disadvantageous to a woman, to a carer, or to somebody who identifies as being female,” she says.

“But we need women in business. It is women leaders who bring a diverse mindset to business ideals and practices, which ensure there is balance and inclusivity. It was only because women leaders said they needed to be able to balance child-rearing with their professional workload that now men actually go, oh, guess what? I could take some time off and be a more active parent too!”

And Associate Professor Gribble says this isn’t just about women making things possible for other women. It’s about women making things visible, using their strengths and showing that they belong too. She wants young women to know there is a space for them in business, they just have to find the space that’s right for them.

“There's nothing inherently gendered about leadership or being able to do most jobs. Because women belong everywhere. Women don't only belong in certain contexts that have been previously determined as “female jobs in nature”, we belong in every industry sector.”

And while there’s still a long way to go, it’s women like Associate Professor Lynn Gribble that are leading the way forward to make a career in business more equitable, inclusive and sustainable for the next generation of female-identifying leaders to make their mark. 

Want to explore your future in business?

Learn from inspiring leaders like Associate Professor Gribble at the UNSW Girls in Business Camp. The Camp is open to any year 10, 11 or 12 female-identifying high school students in New South Wales who have a genuine interest in studying Banking and Finance, Economics, Information Systems and Technology Management, Risk and Actuarial Studies at UNSW Business School.

Learn more about the UNSW Girls in Business Camp

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