Carole Berndt joined ANZ in May 2015 as Managing Director Global Transaction Banking, based in Hong Kong. She has responsibility for the bank’s Global Transaction Banking products, channels and sales for all customer segments. With over 20 years of experience encompassing roles in finance, risk management, business development and technology, Carole is regarded as a practical and innovative leader in global transaction banking. Carole’s career spans four locations (Australia, Hong Kong, New York and London) and centres on institutional transaction banking and client delivery.
Head, Global Transaction Banking
Carole Berndt joined ANZ in May 2015 as Managing Director Global Transaction Banking, based in Hong Kong. She has responsibility for the bank’s Global Transaction Banking products, channels and sales for all customer segments.
With over 20 years of experience encompassing roles in finance, risk management, business development and technology, Carole is regarded as a practical and innovative leader in global transaction banking.
Carole’s career spans four locations (Australia, Hong Kong, New York and London) and centres on institutional transaction banking and client delivery.
Prior to joining ANZ, Carole was responsible for the end-to-end management of the transaction banking business at RBS as Global Head of Transaction Services, providing core cash management, trade and liquidity to multi-national corporations, and financial institutions. Before this, Carole had a leading role in delivering the integrated global corporate banking financial plan and market share growth for Bank of America Merrill Lynch as Head of Global Transaction Services for EMEA.
Carole has also worked for Citigroup in New York, where she had global responsibility for the end-to-end delivery of implementation, service and client technology for its global treasury products portfolio; and in Hong Kong, where she held Corporate Banking roles ranging from product management and reengineering to business management and client service.
Carole has a degree in Information Technology and a Masters of Business Administration in International Business.
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.
“Balance is attainable and sustainable. Many career women (and men) manage very busy lives, but the key to success is in planning and discipline. Manage your time like the scarce resource it is so you spend it wisely and on things that drive a good return.”
What advice do you have for work-life balance?
It won’t happen unless you manage it. This applies to both men and women. You decide the priorities in your life, and yes, this prioritisation has consequences.
Balance is attainable and sustainable. Many career women (and men) manage very busy lives, but the key to success is in planning and discipline. Manage your time like the scarce resource it is so you spend it wisely and on things that drive a good return.
I don’t think one needs to sacrifice other interests and make work their priority in order to be recognised and successful at work. In fact, I would argue the opposite; family, friends, fitness and fun are all essential inputs to a successful career. It’s what makes you, you.
Priorities can change as people go through different life stages, but commitment to one’s priorities is the key to work-life balance.
What are your tips for young professionals?
Have a career direction, not a plan – but don’t feel compelled to stick to a given path. Be open-minded, know what you are good at and want to do, but also be open to other options. In today’s flat organisations, the quickest way up, is often to take a step down or sidewise. Seek feedback from others, as they may see something that you don’t see in yourself. For me, I have always taken the risk to seize unplanned opportunities and it has worked well for me.
Be genuine to earn respect. Be you, but be open to coaching that helps build your support circle. People tell me I am surprisingly forceful given that I’m a woman, but I wouldn’t change my style. Everyone will not always agree with you and may not always like you, but if you are genuine, honest and have integrity, you will win their respect, which is one of the hardest things to earn in any industry.
Master your own destiny. It’s each individual’s responsibility to achieve the right balance in life, whether it is pursuing one’s career goals or managing between home and work. Don’t get caught up in trying to out-do people and focus on ‘quality not quantity’ to drive outcomes.
Don’t be afraid to fail … just don’t make the same mistake twice. If you don’t fail you don’t stretch yourself and you don’t learn, and in today’s environment courage and creativity are often the differentiators.
Go for a run, watch a movie, spend time with your family and do the job exceptionally well … it’s a combination of them all that lead to success.