Suzanne Young

08_Suzanne_Young(Class of 1986)
Strategy, Transformation, Finance, Leadership and Culture

Tell us a bit about your time at Scots.

I grew up on a farm “Cora-Lynn” at Kikoira, west of West Wyalong; about 4 hours north west of Albury. I was a Boarder. Interestingly, my Dad attended the School when it was known as Albury Grammar School. We had the same Mathematics teacher – Mr Free.

What is your fondest memory from school?

Like plenty of other kids some of my fondest memories came from playing sport (hockey, netball, softball, basketball, cross country, athletics and swimming and school camps). I’d never had the opportunity to play team sports before I came to Scots as my primary school was quite small and we lived on a farm. Scots and the staff encouraged me to try new things. This led me to join a surf lifesaving club and become a surf life saver. I have competed and travelled around Australia and overseas with lifesaving and ocean swimming. I’m not the quickest swimmer, but I’ve made some great friends and it is fun! I was president of the Thanksgiving and Aid Committee which raised funds for charity and also participated in ballroom dancing, debating, drama and the choir (however, as my kids will tell you, I should only sing in the shower!)

What did you pursue when you left Scots?

My favorite subject at School was economics. I went on to study Economics at the University of Sydney. Scots provided a quality education which set me up to go to university in Sydney. That set the direction for my career and my life.

Can you please tell me a little bit about yourself and what you are doing now?

I live in Sydney and I’m working as a senior executive at IAG, one of Australia’s leading insurance companies (brands include NRMA Insurance, CGU, SGIO, SGIC, Swann Insurance and WFI, with other brands in New Zealand and Asia). I’m responsible for projects which increase our scalability and functions which support our customers and people including Supply Chain, Procurement, Property and Facilities.

I remember Mr Todd in his speech at our Year 12 Graduation Dinner sharing a few comments about each of us. His comment about me was that I loved organising people and improving things. That is what I have been doing for the last twenty years! I serve on a couple of advisory boards (St Joseph’s College Foundation Board as the chair of the Indigenous Education Fund and The University of Sydney Business School Board of Advice) and I have also recently set up my own executive and leadership coaching business.

What are some of the projects that you have worked on?

I have designed and led large transformation projects for companies including Unisys, Qantas, CBA, Leighton Holdings and the NRL – many of these have involved implementing new technology and supporting people to adapt to change.

What traits did you develop while at Scots that serve you well in you career?

A good work ethic, setting goals and striving for results, independence, decision making, organisation skills, service (customer/community) and resilience.

What’s the best piece of advice a teacher ever gave you?

Mr Todd, the Principal, told me the best remedy for homesickness (Being a Boarder I cried for the first three weeks I was at school) was to get involved and that “the more you put into the school, the more you will get out”. Good advice then and even now. Mr Todd also said “we will not be judged by the behaviour of the best of us, but by the worst” – something I have shared many times over the years when dealing with governance and integrity matters.

If you could offer one piece of advice to Scots students, what would it be?

I’d offer three pieces of advice. Thank your parents for investing in you. Be brave (try new things, set yourself big goals, live your values, dream of a great future, decide to make a significant difference and go for it) and be gentle (you are not perfect, you make mistakes, smile and laugh). E.E Cummings said “It takes courage to grow up and become who you are”. Have the faith and courage to know deep in your bones, in your heart, that life will work out. 

What draws you back to Scots?

I’m very proud to have attended Scots, as my father did, and for all of the opportunities I had in my four years there. Kids outside of the major cities deserve access to a broad quality education – Scots, and before that Albury Grammar and Woodstock, have been fulfilling that need for generations.

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