Mrs Penelope Morris AM (B. Arch Hons 1974) is a high achiever and one ABP alumni who has taken a less travelled path and made it her own. Having been raised on a Gippsland farm, with a younger and an older brother for playmates, Penny has always known how to survive in a male dominated environment.
Penny spent her early years riding horses and helping on the farm her mother ran, while her father worked as a dairy industry executive. No surprise, then, that she became the first woman to graduate from this Faculty with honours in Architecture, and won a prestigious cadetship with the Commonwealth Department of Works. She ended up being with the Commonwealth Government for 16 years. In 1979, Penny graduated with a Master’s Degree study in Environmental Science from Monash University. She thanks Melbourne and Monash Universities and early Commonwealth Government training for giving her the skills to thrive in both the public and private arenas.
Moving to Canberra with Department of Works at the end of 1979, with husband Paul and a baby daughter, proved a good move. Penny rose to be Director of Commonwealth Property in the Department of Administrative Services responsible for the Commonwealth Government’s vast Australian and Overseas Estates. She loved the job and the rigour of the work environment, and it was only when Paul was transferred to Sydney in 1987 that she agreed to leave Canberra. In Sydney, she worked with Lend Lease for 6 years, firstly as CEO and a Director of Lend Lease Commercial and then Group Executive Lend Lease Property Services.
Looking for ever more stimulating challenges, in 1989 Penny accepted a place on the Board of Directors of the newly corporatized Australia Post. This started the growth of her next career as a full time professional company director after she left Lend Lease at the end of 1993. Numerous Board positions followed on publically listed companies and major Government Business enterprises. Penny has now been in the Boardroom for over 20 years and is winding down to retirement from paid Corporate Governance at the end of this year. In the 2002 Queens Birthday Honours Penny was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to the property and construction industries.
Now in her mid-sixties, Penny is as full of energy, commitment and ideas as ever, and devotes a lot of her time to her property at Jamberoo, NSW, where she and Paul designed and built their retirement home on six acres. Their design brief was contemporary adaptation of Colonial Architecture: as if they were designing a modern version of the homestead that once should have been built on such a magnificent site. “It was amazing how much you learn studying architecture that you never forget!”