“If you’re not nervous you’re not doing it right.” – Liz Ellis

One of the most successful Australian netballers of all time, Liz Ellis is a former captain of the Australian Diamonds and the Sydney Swifts. Her career highlights include three World Championship gold medals, two Commonwealth Games gold medals and four national premierships.

In 2009, Liz became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and in 2018 she was elevated to an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

Q: You joined Corrs in 1996, working as a solicitor for four years. What are your fondest memories of your time at the firm?

LE: My fondest memories are of the people who I worked with. I predominantly worked in the Property and Infrastructure division of the Sydney office and whilst we worked on some incredibly interesting projects, we also had a brilliant time. I made lifelong friends during that period for which I will be incredibly grateful. 

Q: How has your legal training and experience influenced your netball and post-netball career? 

LE: My legal training and career has had a huge influence on my post-netball career. It has given me the ability to think critically about issues and assess a situation from a number of angles. That is incredibly valuable in the work that I do in broadcast when it comes to formulating an opinion on a difficult topic. It has also meant that I am well equipped to pursue interesting opportunities. Over the years I have been able to be involved in a number of boards, both government and private, as well as chairing organisational reviews and working in strategic roles for various organisations.  

Q: What are some of the most rewarding experiences of your corporate career to date?

LE: The most rewarding part of my career post-playing has been seeing the growth of women’s sport and being a part of that from a broadcast point of view. I have a dream that we will one day stop talking about ‘women’s sport’ as a separate entity and just talk about ‘sport’. To see the growth of a number of professional female leagues over the last few years has been incredibly exciting and I am optimistic for the future. 

One of the most rewarding experiences of my corporate career was to Chair the Netball Australia State of the Game Review in 2020. We drilled down into all aspects of the sport from grassroots netball through to the professional league and were able to make a number of recommendations which have I believe put the sport on steadier footing to face the challenges of the post-COVID era. One of the key recommendations was around corporate governance and making the Netball Australia board more stable and diverse. This has largely been actioned and I am hugely proud of this. 

Q: You have held multiple board positions over the years, what is it that attracts you to these roles?

LE: I am attracted to board roles as I enjoy the intellectual stimulation of contributing to an organisation’s success at a strategic level. I enjoy the challenge of bringing my legal, my high performance and my leadership skill set to the board table and looking at ways to help an organisation achieve its goals. 

Q: What is the best career advice you have ever been given?

LE: A television executive I worked for in my early commentary career told me to focus on making good television and the ratings would take care of themselves. It echoed what I learned from sport which is if you focus on the outcome you forget about the process. So for me over the years I have worked to make sure I understood what we were trying to achieve and then focused very much on the process of achieving it. 

I was also encouraged to get out of my comfort zone by some key people in my career and every time it has paid off. When I am nervous I remind myself of some great advice, which is ‘if you’re not nervous you’re not doing it right’.

This interview was conducted in March 2022.