India Lloyd

Former Executive Dean honoured for contribution to UOW

A renowned business leader who spearheaded the creation of the University of Wollongong’s Sydney Business School has been recognised with an Emeritus Professorship.

Professor John Glynn, who in December retired as Executive Dean of the Faculty Business and UOW’s Sydney Business School after almost 20 years at UOW, gave the Occasional Address at the July 21 graduation celebration, a speech that captured the diversity of his career and his passion for education.

From his coveted first job as an engineering cadet at British Aerospace, Professor Glynn carved out a long, successful career spanning numerous countries and industries.

However, when Professor Glynn joined the aerospace industry in the 1960s, he assumed he was taking a job for life, where he would work until his retirement.

“At that time, you left school and got a job. Usually a trade,” Professor Glynn said. “It was a different era. Now, statistics show university graduates can expect to have six to eight jobs throughout their careers. But at the time I expected to have a job for life.”

Professor Glynn cut his teeth at a time when, post-World War II, the British aerospace industry dominated the manufacturing landscape. Britain alone was home to 14 aircraft manufacturers. However, the decline of the industry in the 1970s marked an unexpected career change for Professor Glynn when retrenchments swept the industry. He saw it as an opportunity to retrain in accounting.

“When things like that happen, there is always a silver lining,” Professor Glynn, who has a Masters of Philosophy in Accounting from the University of Exeter; Masters of Accounting from the University of Kent; and a PhD in Accounting from the University of Kent, said. “It gave me a passion for lifelong learning.”

From there, Professor Glynn spent a number of years in the corporate world, in the fields of project management and consultancy, before transitioning to the higher education sector, first in the UK and then in Australia.

Professor Glynn joined UOW in 1997 after then Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerard Sutton invited him to apply for a role that would involve creating a new business school. With Professor Glynn at the helm, UOW’s Sydney Business School has gone from strength to strength.

Professor Glynn said his vision for UOW’s Sydney Business School, which is located in Circular Quay, was an institution that harnessed the corporate connections right on its doorstep while maintaining ties to the Illawarra.

“At the time, I said the school had to be based in Sydney because it had to build up connections with Sydney’s financial and corporate sectors,” Professor Glynn said. “It is difficult to get busy people to come to Wollongong, so we need to have a presence right on their doorstep. For the UOW Senior Executives to be able to support that vision to create a new school in Sydney was extraordinary.”

Professor Glynn said the connection with the students and hearing how UOW’s Sydney Business School had helped them to achieve their dreams was the most fulfilling part of his job.

“My greatest achievement is hearing the personal anecdotes of students, such as the single mother who set up a business after attending UOW’s Sydney Business School or how the man was struggling to set up a small business.

“There is a real gratification in seeing them achieve success.”

He may have retired, but Professor Glynn has not slowed down. He still consults on projects, liaises with students at UOW, and is finding the time to travel. He has simply changed course, uncovering projects that ignite his passion and his love of lifelong learning.

This ability to seize opportunities when they arise and a willingness to embrace education has been the key to his rich and diverse career, and to his journey from a small town in Ireland to head of UOW’s Sydney Business School and Faculty of Business, Professor Glynn told the graduation celebration in his address.

“I have had a breadth of experience in different industries. I truly believe this wouldn’t have happened without my university degrees,” he said. “Along the way, you recognise that we are all now in the age of lifelong learning.”