Alumni profile

Elizabeth Proust AO

BA (Hons) Sociology, 1973

Chair of Bank of Melbourne and Nestle Australia

Elizabeth Proust AO is one of the most influential Australian women of her generation.

Elizabeth has led an extensive list of major companies, government and community organisations with flair and integrity throughout her career, which spans more than thirty years.

Her achievements are quite remarkable when taking into account that there were no women in high positions when Elizabeth was building her career.

“When I was developing my career, all the senior people to me were men, so I haven’t had a female mentor," Elizabeth said.

The experience has led Elizabeth to offering her advice to female mentees. 

"It seemed important  to me that I make myself available when I can to women who need advice," she said. 

Elizabeth served as Chief of Staff to the Victorian Premier John Cain after working with him on a voluntary basis at La Trobe University. 

Following her three-year stint in the Premier's office, she was appointed Deputy Director-General of the Department of Industry, Technology and Resources. 

In 1990, Elizabeth was appointed CEO of the City of Melbourne and in July 1995 she was appointed Secretary of the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet - the most senior public service position in Victoria. 

Elizabeth spent eight years with the ANZ Group, where she held numerous senior executive roles, including global head of HR at a time when the bank was represented in some 43 countries.

She is currently Chair of Nestle Australia, Chair of the Bank of Melbourne and a Director of Perpetual Ltd, Insurance Manufacturers Australia Pty Ltd and Sinclair Knight Merz Pty Ltd. Elizabeth is also a member of the JP Morgan Advisory Council. 

Her professional commitments have been balanced by her steadfast contribution to charitable community organisations in the arts, family services and education. For these services, Elizabeth was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2010.

Elizabeth is a big believer in giving back to the communities that assisted her throughout her career. 

“I think the importance of making a difference is that you think about not just your career, your family and your immediate circle; but what you can give back to the community," she said.

Elizabeth received a Distinguished Alumni Award from La Trobe in 2012 and said her time at the University has been crucial to her career. 

"The time I’ve spent [at La Trobe] and some time subsequently when I’ve been involved in various aspects have been a very important part of what I’ve done," she said.

“To be a distinguished alumni of any university - particularly the one you had your first degree from - is very pleasing and a great accolade."

Distinguished Arts, social sciences and communications

Last updated: 1st May 2019