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High profile professor appointed to lead social impact centre

2 min read

Starting January 2010, Professor Williamson will hold the centre’s Helen Macpherson Smith Chair of Leadership for Social Impact. This is the first position of its kind at the University of Melbourne and one of only a few in the world.

Jennifer George, MBS dean says that with Professor Williamson at the helm, the leadership centre will become a focal point for research and leadership teaching that will have impact across the community.

“This position enables research and leadership education in the third sector that otherwise might not have happened. We’re confident that Ian will bring great leadership and insight into social impact, in the same way he has brought great credit to our school in recent years.”

The new role is also an appointment to the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) – business school collaboration of the University of New South Wales, the University of Melbourne, Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Western Australia.

Professor Peter Shergold, head of CSI said, “I am delighted that Ian is going to join CSI. His interest in doing a comparative study of how to lead organisations that have a mission has the potential to provide significant insights.”

Frances Awcock AM, trustee of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust agrees. She says, “The nature of Ian Williamson’s work and his achievements so far shows he has all the professional and personal characteristics required to break the barriers between the more rigid elements of academia and the less structured form of philanthropy and the community sector.”

The centre seeks to be at the forefront of leadership education and social impact policy in Australia, throughout the region and globally. One of its aims is to help non-profits initiate or effectively participate in collaborative projects with businesses and governments.

Frances and her fellow trustees, Darvell Hutchinson AM and Keith Smith, believe the $1.5 million gift from the Trust to MBS will provide greater access to leadership education and research relevant to the non-profit sector. She says, “Our Trust aims to have strategic impact. MBS and its new centre, led by Professor Williamson has the potential for a remarkable national impact, and we are delighted to be associated with the school.”

Professor Williamson has had a longstanding personal and professional interest in the not-for-profit sector. His work in recent years with organisations such as the Koorie Business Network has given him insight into the challenges that organizations grapple with in establishing social enterprises and encouraging diversity in employment practices.

Extensive work with the business community provides him with a strong platform to broker and develop cross-sector partnerships and collaborations and as a result of his contributions to the school’s executive education leadership program, he has the expertise to work across sectors with students and faculty to promote and support leadership for social impact.

Professor Williamson joined MBS in July 2006 as associate professor, and has since been active in teaching, researching and consulting on the international stage.

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