Stephanie Newey, partner, head of L.E.K. Consulting Australia and co-leader of the Australian Healthcare practice, tells us about her path to leadership and her goals for L.E.K. Australia and provides powerful advice on career advancement and finding joy in your work. 

Tell us about your career background and your journey to L.E.K.

I grew up in Sydney and attended university there, studying finance and accounting. My father ran a small business when I was growing up. We often talked about business and government policy issues around the dining table, and I was really fascinated by it. My journey to L.E.K. started very early in my professional life. I started as an associate at L.E.K. straight out of university and really loved it — I was able to combine problem solving, commerce and working closely with people. I stayed for about five years. At that point, I was thinking about trying something different since L.E.K. was the only place I had worked, so I joined the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in a strategy and business performance role for about three years. I truly did enjoy working in healthcare and pharmaceuticals there, but eventually, all the things that I had originally loved about consulting were the things that drew me back to it. Also, at that point, L.E.K. was starting to move away from a generalist model, so I returned to the firm to focus on healthcare and building materials in Australia. That was 15 years ago. 

What are your goals for L.E.K. Australia?
My main goal is to scale the Australian practice and support our team in expanding the impact we deliver to clients, our staff and society more broadly. I believe there are ample opportunities for us to bring the full set of L.E.K. service lines to assist existing and new clients — both service lines that have been our heritage such as growth strategy and M&A as well as our expanded set of service lines such as digital, sustainability, organization and performance, and major capital projects advisory. I also want to ensure that our business model continues to evolve to attract and retain top talent so L.E.K. remains a leading career option. Additionally, I aim to preserve the fantastic elements of our culture, such as focusing on professional development, respect, trust and camaraderie, as we continue to grow.

How has L.E.K. supported you on your path to leadership?
L.E.K. has been incredibly supportive throughout my journey to leadership. From the beginning, I had great role models to look up to and learn from. I admired their leadership traits and used them as inspiration to develop my own leadership style. One of the things I appreciate about L.E.K. is the trust the firm places in its people. I was given room to explore and take on leadership roles with the backing and trust of my seniors and peers. At L.E.K., there is a sentiment that anyone can be a leader, regardless of their formal role. Throughout my career at L.E.K., regardless of my seniority, I was empowered to make a difference, suggest improvements and support their implementation, and contribute to building the company’s culture. This allows individuals to build leadership skills from an early stage in their careers. Additionally, L.E.K. has provided tailored support at specific times in my career to help me on my leadership journey. For example, when I returned to work after having my children, L.E.K. supported me with external executive coaching to help me adapt my ways of working and achieve a better work-life balance. Overall, in my role as Australian managing partner, I feel supported by my peers and feel they have my back and want the best for me and the firm. 

On top of being the managing partner in Australia, you are also a leader in L.E.K.’s Global Women’s Network. Why is being a part of this group important to you?
A few years ago, we set goals to increase the number of women in senior leadership roles, and one of the barriers we identified was the lack of women role models and a support network. So we founded L.E.K.’s Global Women’s Network to enable us to draw on our global strengths and create a rich support network for the women of L.E.K. across all our offices. We can learn from the experiences of women leaders within the organization and amplify our efforts to create a broader network of support, especially in offices where there are fewer women role models. It’s been going for three years now, and we run a series of events and programs throughout the year. The senior women connect globally twice a year, and I’ve just found it’s a real source of inspiration, camaraderie and great advice, and hopefully we are also creating inspiration and support for all the women of L.E.K.

What advice do you have for women who are hoping to advance their careers, both within the consulting industry and in general?
First and foremost, just do what you love and do what you’re passionate about, and don’t do something just because you’re good at it or because others expect it. It’s important to find joy in your work, because when you enjoy what you do, it won’t feel like a burden. I also encourage women to have the courage to deviate from the status quo or expected path. Don’t be afraid to explore different possibilities and advocate for yourself as you navigate different life stages. It’s essential to know what you want and be willing to ask for something different that aligns with your passions and values. Take ownership of your career and be open to taking on different roles and responsibilities. Lastly, it’s crucial to create a support network and seek out role models who can inspire and guide you. Building relationships and connecting with others in your industry can provide valuable support and guidance along your career journey.