Hassell has unveiled its first ever female Managing Director, with Australia’s own Liz Westgarth to oversee the practice’s worldwide operation from 1 July 2023.

Regarded as a generational shift for the practice, the Sydney-based Westgarth will lead Hassell into a new chapter. The practice hopes to set a precedent for gender equity through the appointment and its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Westgarth joined the practice a decade ago, performing several leadership positions including her current roles as a Head of Design and Board Director. She currently is a Member of the AIA’s Climate Action Sustainability Taskforce and sits on NSW’s State Design Review Panel. She was recently acknowledged for her industry contributions, winning the 2022 Business Women of the Year Award at the NSW National Association of Women in Construction Awards for Excellence.

Westgarth says she is delighted to assume her new role in the coming weeks.

“I’m looking forward to taking on the role of Managing Director at a moment where there’s a real opportunity to build on our current success and momentum,” she says.

“We're working in a fast-moving global context where big issues – social inequality, climate change, urbanisation and digitisation – are presenting new challenges and opportunities for design.

“High-quality design can contribute to a better world, solving some of the complex challenges that our clients are facing. Our clients want us to help them navigate change, find regenerative design opportunities, identify more inclusive ways to connect people, and make positive impacts now – and well into the future.

“These are challenges and opportunities I find very motivating as a designer and as a business leader, and I know that’s a view shared by my colleagues at Hassell. They, like me, want to be part of creating a better future by designing places people love.”

Hassell Board Chair Rob Backhouse says her leadership qualities make her a natural for her future position.

“Liz is a passionate advocate for design excellence, sustainability and innovation and is genuinely committed to increasing diversity and inclusion across the industry,” he says. 

“She is an active mentor and an admired role model to the next generation of leaders across the Hassell practice and within the broader industry.”

A list of Westgarth’s recent projects includes the likes of Hassell’s Harbourside Redevelopment, Sandstone Precinct Lands Department, 110 Walker Street Commercial Tower, AMRF First Building, Waterloo Metro Residential Development, the UNSW NIDA Postgraduate School, and The State Library of NSW Redevelopment.