Lisa was first appointed Secretary of the Department of Education, Science and Training in 2004 by Prime Minister John Howard. She was reappointed Secretary of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations by Prime Minister Rudd, and reappointed by Prime Ministers Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.

Lisa left government in 2016 to ‘learn new things’ via a portfolio career.

She is currently leading an initiative full time for the Business Council of Australia to help bush-fire affected communities recover, under the leadership of Sir Peter Cosgrove.

In October 2018, Lisa was appointed Chair of headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation. 

In May 2019, Lisa was appointed a Director of the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre.   To date, Lisa has joined the Boards of two listed companies, one private company and the Federal Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board. She holds an Enterprise Professorship part-time at the University of Melbourne, is a Counsellor of Bond University, and sits on the Boards of several not-for-profits including Social Ventures Australia. 

Lisa was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2011. In 2003, Lisa was awarded a Public Service Medal (PSM) for coordinating the Federal Government’s domestic response to the Bali bombings.