How did you start your banking career?
I had a non-traditional start to my career. I took on a number of tactical jobs before securing a book-keeping position at Allianz Insurance. I wanted to be prepared for opportunities when they arose and create them for myself where possible so I worked toward a degree in accounting, followed by a second degree in computing science and an MBA in international banking.
I was fortunate to be in the team driving Allianz’s successful commercialisation of the internet in the 1990s, but at a certain point I realised I wanted a new challenge. My entry to banking happened when I decided to throw myself out of my comfort zone. I moved to work on American Express’s merchant e-commerce strategy and later joined Citi GTS in 2001 to run its e-business project office in Hong Kong.
The banking skills and experience I acquired led me to take on global leadership roles for transaction banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, RBS and now ANZ, which I joined in May this year.
Is there a gender-bias in the banking industry?
I am not sure it is a bias, as most banks now have adopted policies that ensure conscious bias is eliminated. However, we do still see disparity in pay and perception that the industry needs to continue to manage out.
Personally, I have never been held back in my career because I’m a woman. That said; I’ve had to adapt, speak up and be proactive about articulating my views and goals.
For some women, the gender bias may seem more substantial, which may be due to a tendency to shy away from speaking up or claiming recognition for their work. This is something that can be overcome with self-confidence and the right leadership.
I believe leaders have a responsibility to ensure an inclusive approach to discussion. The person who has the best idea in a meeting may be the person who doesn’t feel comfortable speaking up so leaders need to provide these individuals, whether male or female, with a platform from which they can speak up. Only listening to half the room is a big mistake.
Do women bring anything different to the table?
Women generally have more empathy and intuition and this is an advantage in business, where relationships between people are important.
It also means that women think about problems in a different way. They add to the diversity of perspectives at the table, leading to a more balanced approach, which can only be a good thing.