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Ms Burtt joins Asialink from the global payments company Visa Inc, where she served as Vice President Government Affairs, Asia Pacific, overseeing the company’s engagement and partnerships with governments and regulators across the region, and as a member of the Asia Pacific executive leadership team.
University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Graduate and International) Professor Carolyn Evans said the University is delighted to welcome Ms Burtt to this important role.
“Penny’s experience in leadership in government, the private sector and the not-for-profit sector, combined with her deep experience across Asia, makes her the ideal person to take Asialink to the next stage of its journey,” Professor Evans said.
Prior to Visa, Ms Burtt held roles with McKinsey & Company and as a senior diplomat with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, serving in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Geneva. She has continued to represent Australia’s interests in Asia, both personally and professionally, most recently as a New Colombo Plan Business Champion appointed by Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, last year.
Ms Burtt said she is honoured and excited to join Asialink.
“Driving closer Australia-Asia relations has been my personal and professional passion throughout my career. More than ever, Australia needs independent and credible platforms to engage our partners in Asia, inform and help shape decision-making,” Ms Burtt said.
“Navigating the rapid changes in the region and preparing Australians and Asians for a shared future will require more meaningful understanding and deeper connections. Building on its remarkable achievements to date, Asialink can play a leading role in those efforts, expanding its reach in Australia, Asia and beyond.”
Ms Burtt has worked closely with Asialink, providing advice to its leadership team for over 15 years, including on the Asialink Conversations Track II dialogues that bring together senior leaders across sectors in Vietnam, Singapore, India and Indonesia. She also participated in Conversations in Japan and Singapore.
Ms Burtt has been a consistent supporter of Asialink’s Singapore Chapter and participated in Women in Asia events, delivered boardroom briefings for Asialink in Singapore and Australia and supported Asialink’s Arts Programs. She has also served on the Advisory Council of Asialink Business for the past three years.
Asialink Chairman, former Australian Minister for Trade, the Hon Andrew Robb AO, welcomed Ms Burtt’s appointment.
“Asialink’s work has never been more relevant to Australia’s national prosperity and security. Penny’s appointment is a signal of the strategic importance of Asialink’s work,” Mr Robb said.
“Penny brings exceptional skills and networks to the role of Group CEO of Asialink given her extensive experience in Asia in a range of senior public and private sector roles. Under her leadership, Asialink will be well-positioned to grow and make an impact in all its key areas in the years ahead.”
Mr Robb also praised the extraordinary legacy of outgoing CEO, Ms Jenny McGregor AM.
“Jenny has served as the Co-Founder and Group CEO of Asialink since its establishment in 1990 as a partnership between The University of Melbourne, The Myer Foundation and the Australian Government’s Commission for the Future,” Mr Robb said.
“Under Jenny’s leadership, Asialink has been recognised as Australia’s leading centre for the promotion of public understanding of the countries of Asia and of Australia's role in the region.”
Ms Jenny McGregor AM highlighted Asialink’s long history of engagement with Ms Burtt.
“Penny Burtt brings the ideal background to the CEO role with senior leadership in both business and foreign affairs and living and working in Asia for over 20 years,” Ms McGregor said.
“Penny also has a strong personal commitment to the not-for-profit sector and has long supported Asialink’s work across the region. Penny will dedicate her powerful intellect and energy to leading Asialink in a new era.”
Ms Burtt’s appointment will start 16 July 2018.