SWS congratulates Elizabeth McDonald on Government Leadership Award


SWS Lawyers congratulates Principal, Elizabeth McDonald, on receiving an Australian Government Endeavour Executive Leadership Award.  The Executive Leadership Award recognises high achievers in business, industry, education or government who will be able to build enduring international networks and enhance Australia’s economic prosperity.

Elizabeth was recognised as an emerging leader in clean energy and sustainability.

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Above: Elizabeth presenting on energy law and policy.

As part of the Executive Leadership Award, Elizabeth recently had the opportunity to undertake a global mobility experience in the United States.  Elizabeth met with industry leaders, including lawyers at the Vermont Institute for Energy and the Environment, Yale Law School and the University of California, Berkeley.  She discussed trends in the clean energy and sustainability sector from microgrids to land use planning to the opportunities which are arising for SMEs as large corporations develop sustainability policies.

In California, she visited the carbon neutral apartment building which was awarded the 2018 US Department of Energy ‘Housing Innovation Award’ and the Passive House Institute US ‘Best Overall Project in North America’ for 2018. The visit provided an opportunity to discuss the increasing demand for sustainable development with the project’s developer.

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Above: Elizabeth talking to the developer of the building which won the 2018 US Department of Energy ‘Housing Innovation Award’.

Elizabeth’s focus on clean energy and sustainability was inspired, in part, by the RDA Hunter Smart Specialisation Strategy which identified that the Hunter must “discover how it can best address the challenges from… the need to secure a sustainable energy future”.

“I think the Hunter is incredibly well placed to meet this challenge.”  Elizabeth says.

“We have deep skills in engineering, energy and innovation as well as business leaders with a track record of adapting to change and spotting emerging markets.”

In the 2019 Hunter Investment Prospectus, the then Parliamentary Secretary for Planning, the Central Coast and the Hunter, Scot MacDonald MLC, recognised that the renewable energy industry in the Hunter is “poised for growth”.

In order for the Hunter region to reach its potential in a rapidly changing environment, Elizabeth believes it needs to be able to draw on a global network for ideas and partnerships. The SWS corporate and commercial team is already well recognised for the international connections they provide Hunter businesses and their expertise in cross-border transactions. The relationships Elizabeth has now made will broaden the leadership that SWS Lawyers can provide to organisations wanting to be at the cutting edge of innovation and to benefit from emerging market opportunities.

In the coming months, look out for Elizabeth’s articles about the growing clean energy and sustainability sector and what we might learn from the US.