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Irish Chamber

2018 Finalist - Stephanie Lyons

Irish Australian Business Awards Peoples Choice 2018

I became the Chief Risk Officer at EISS Super over four years ago, a role that has been one of my greatest challenges but also one of my greatest achievements during my time in Australia.

I moved here in May 2009 to further develop my career by taking on the role as a Manager at KPMG Sydney before being head hunted by EISS Super. EISS Super is an award winning not-for profit industry superannuation fund which manages over $5.5 billion in funds under management for over 22,000 members.

Since I joined in May 2014, I have led the significant growth of EISS SUPER from $4.3 billion funds under management to currently $5.5 billion. When I commenced, there were 9 people in the Trustee office. Today there are 70 staff. I currently have a team of 8 people under my leadership.

I have been instrumental in the development of the organisation, executing the growth strategy and leading by example, mentoring all staff to invest in EISS Super’s vision ‘to inspire Australians to make smart decisions that ensure financial security and comfort in retirement’.

One of my key achievements at EISS Super in the past year is leading ‘Project Energise’ to transition our largest outsourced provider; our Administrator to a new provider, Mercer. As the Business Project Lead, this will transform the business and way of operating to be wholly focused on the best member experiences. I was identified by our CEO as the most skilled person to lead the largest project that EISS Super has ever undertaken.

To complete this transformation, I have demonstrated strong entrepreneurial vision for the future growth of EISS Super, which has allowed me to implement the following key changes as part of the project:

• a brand-new member centric experience with an enhanced mobile friendly online account;
• rolling out Salesforce Marketing Cloud to our Marketing Team which will allow us to provide our members the tailored experience they desire;
• introducing Salesforce Client Relationship Management to the Financial Planning team which provides direct one touch visibility to members’ preferences;
• improved financial planning process;
• increased transactional functionality for members;
• improved end to end member, pension and employer administration processes;
• removing fees for the members including exit fees, family law information and family law split fees;
• reduction in insurance costs for members; and
• overall reducing administration costs that will be directly passed on to ensure members have a better retirement outcome.

“It is a testament to her dedication and passion for the organization, which would not be in its current form without her”. Alex Hutchison, CEO at EISS Super

The core objective of EISS Super is to put members at the centre of everything it does. That ethos is fundamental to why I enjoy working in this industry. In my role, I endeavour to continually maintain a strong risk culture and robust risk management governance controls to ensure that everything EISS Super strives to achieve is in the best interests of members. I have built the risk management function from scratch and it is evident that a strong risk culture exists and permeates. A recent Internal Audit of the Risk Management Function based on the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (‘APRA’) requirements and best practice processes was very complimentary to how my I run my business unit. The Internal Audit concluded that the operation my risk management function was clearly above superannuation industry peers and demonstrated upmost best practice, which is testament to my leadership.

I have recently established a Project Management Office and Project Steering Committee to oversee the consistent implementation of all projects and initiatives under one risk banner. One of the key Projects, I am also leading is ‘Project Sea Eagle’. The purpose is to review EISS Super’s investment risk appetite and investment strategy to ensure that the investment strategy is appropriately tailored to our members and also provides adequate options for younger members with a long investment period. Under my leadership this project, will also enhance EISS Super members’ retirement outcomes.

Expanding my network and learning from other peoples’ working experience is integral to my personal development. I was chosen as a member of the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce Emerald Influence Peer to Peer Mentoring Program and nominated as the “Young Professional 2017”, where I have met so many astounding like-minded people. Also, I am intrinsically involved in the Risk Management Association, where I was the first non-bank, superannuation member. Also, broadening my horizon and interest in the investment management industry, I have implemented an investment operational and risk management due diligence review program of all our investment managers in-house instead of relying on the assessment of an outsourced provider. I have presented on the operation of this program at conferences including the annual Conexus Financial Superannuation Symposium, on the topic of the ‘Importance of the Investment Risk Function in a Multi-Manager Environment’.

I also taken great joy in applying my risk and project management skills to other areas in life. This includes part taking in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in December 2016 where risk management is such a key focus in the preparation of an offshore yacht race. Also, embracing my working knowledge of investment risk management, I have undertaken further education in the past 18 months having passed Level I, Level II of the CFA Candidate Program, where I am scheduled to sit Level III in June 2019. I have also applied to participate in the Harvard Advanced Management Program in March 2019 in the United States.

Below is a quote on my performance from Alex Hutchison, CEO at EISS Super:

“Stephanie is hard-working, reliable and incredibly smart in her thinking in leading “Project Energise”, establishing a risk management function and spear heading initiatives across the business. She was hired in her current role as Chief Risk Officer, based on merit and her outstanding attention to detail and dedication at KPMG servicing EISS Super as a client. She came here, when EISS Super was going through a challenging time however she has helped the company grow by over $1bn in 4 years and increasing the human resources from 9 people to now 70. It is a testament to her dedication and passion for the organisation which would not be in its current form without her”.