Home People
Dr Lee Martin among 2021’s most influential Asian-Australians

Deakin Business School (DBS) researcher recognised for her contribution to education in workplace cultural diversity.

DBS senior lecturer Dr Lee Martin has been named among this year’s 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australian Awards.

Recognised in the awards’ education category, Lee’s research lies in cultural diversity in the workplace, with a particular focus on how multicultural employees, leaders, and teams can contribute to organisations.

This relatively-new field of research focuses on helping individuals and organisations understand how to harness cultural diversity for success in today’s globalised environment. 

‘I enjoy working in this area because I can see the practical value of this research, especially as I talk to multicultural employees in organisations. It changes their self-perspective to learn that there is scientific research into how multicultural employees are valuable to organisations, even if that value hasn’t always been fully recognised,’ she explains.

Now in its third year, the 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians Awards is part of the Asian-Australian Leadership Summit and recognises the outstanding contributions made by Asian-Australians across a range of fields, including the education, arts and culture, science and medicine, and sport sectors.

Lee says it’s humbling and inspiring to be acknowledged among a group of amazing individuals.

‘Personally, this is one of the most meaningful awards I have ever received. It’s great to have your hard work recognised and appreciated but I feel especially proud because it affirms the impact that we can make as Asian-Australians. Our cultural diversity is a strength, and this award encourages me to keep striving to do my best to help build understanding of this.’

With a mixed Chinese-Australian heritage, Lee grew up in Australia and says she feels fortunate to have been raised in a mix of cultures.

‘While I’ve always had a connection with Chinese culture, I think my story is similar to many Asian-Australians in that it was only as a young adult that I really became interested to explore more of my ethnic heritage. I learned the language, studied and worked in China, and started a language training business in Beijing. These experiences sparked my interest to discover more about cross-cultural management through a PhD which delved into early immersive culture mixing and how this experience can shape an individual’s identity and thought patterns.’

Before completing her PhD and taking up an appointment with DBS in 2018, Lee worked as an adviser with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, an economic analyst with the Reserve Bank of Australia, and also held a position with the Commonwealth Treasury at the Australian Embassy in Beijing.

As a senior lecturer in DBS’s Department of Management, she led a group of Deakin academics who in 2019 developed a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Leading Culturally Diverse Teams in the Workplace. This MOOC will soon have its 6th run on the FutureLearn platform and boasts almost 20,000 learners from 120 countries.

In addition to her research and teaching responsibilities, Lee is also member of DBS’s newly-established Leadership Futures Hub and will be moderating the hub’s upcoming panel discussion Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling in Australia: Challenges and Solutions.

The event features four other 40 Under 40 awardees and Lee is looking forward to the collective effort of raising awareness about Asian-Australian leadership.

‘I hope to leverage off the visibility of the awards to work with other awardees and achieve more together as a group than we could individually to raise awareness and bring about positive change. By acting together, we have a chance to have greater impact on diversity and inclusion in Australia.’