Prior to joining Swinburne, her roles include: Dean of Commerce at the University of Wollongong; and Pro Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, where she held a personal chair in corporate communication; and academic positions at the University of Auckland (her alma mater), Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington. She has undertaken senior advisory roles for government and industry, including serving as research leader of the Growth Culture project for the New Zealand Government’s Growth and Innovation Advisory Board.
Shirley is an A-ranked scholar under the New Zealand PBRF research assessment system. She and her research teams have received more than $5m in national competitive grants, including for an Australian Research Council project on the Mineral Resources Rent Tax, and a NZ Foundation for Research Science Technology project Building our Productivity: Understanding sustainable collective productivity in NZ firms. Her research is focused on public discourse and change, including science-society engagement and communication, particularly in relation to science and technology.