How has your association FINSIA contributed to your development over your career?
FINSIA has opened countless doors for me over my career. The networking opportunities have allowed me to meet a lot of new contacts in the industry and led to several mentoring relationships and job opportunities.
The benefit of being able to meet people in an informal setting at an early stage of my career has really helped. I now count many of those connections as trusted friends and as people I can turn to for help in my job.
Moreover, participating in FINSIA committees has greatly expanded my network within Brisbane and equipped me with skills I would not have learnt elsewhere.
Tell us about your career to date?
I started my career in banking as a teller while still studying finance at university. At the time, I was unsure what I wanted to do. I found it very helpful to speak to as many people I could in various jobs and understand a bit more about what a career in finance could look like. After university, I decided to take a couple of years to travel and worked in fund management in London, a very different experience to retail or business banking in Brisbane. The pace of London was incredible, and I learnt so much, whilst also being able to travel around Europe on the weekends.
Moving back to Brisbane, I was still studying towards my final CFA exam, and found it difficult to find something in fund management, given how small the sector is in here relative to London. I finally took a role in the treasury function of BOQ. I worked in the market risk team and looked at banking from an internal lens of how bank fund themselves and the interest rate and liquidity risk they carry day to day. Although when joining the team, I believed I had a decent grasp of Excel, this role pushed me to develop further my modelling skills, which I believe is an area not sufficiently covered in university.
After five years at BOQ, I decided to broaden my banking experience and delve into front-line credit, leading me to join CBA's corporate banking division. Over the past six years at CBA, I have held various roles primarily focused on diversified industries, with a particular emphasis on healthcare. Recently, I joined the national healthcare strategy team to enhance my expertise further in the sector.
We've read your title, now tell us how you would describe what you ACTUALLY do to a friend at a BBQ?
As Associate Director of CBA's National Strategy & Insights team for healthcare, my job involves supporting large and complex healthcare transactions. I ensure that deals are structured properly, and risks are mitigated, while also analysing broader strategies and policies to help the bank determine its focus in the healthcare sector, with a special emphasis on senior living.
What are your most pressing challenges in 2023?
Like many others, my greatest challenge lies in managing time and priorities effectively. There’s so much we all try to cram into a day/a week/a year, and it can feel overwhelming at times. I try to balance what I can and avoid overloading myself, but I still find myself occasionally losing sleep over when I will find time to get everything done.
What led you to pursue your career path in the first place and can you remember where and when the lightbulb came on?
I haven't experienced a defining lightbulb moment yet; my passion for what I do has evolved gradually over time. My enduring interest in finance and understanding how businesses operate led me to pursue a commerce degree at university, even though I was uncertain of where it would ultimately take me. Entering the banking industry felt like a logical step at that point, and it has continued to present me with new opportunities and challenges ever since.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Figure out where you ultimately want to get and why and what drives you. Spend a week and write down everything throughout the day that gives you energy (zappers), or takes your energy (sappers), and use that as a guide for what you enjoy doing and then what building blocks you need to get to where you want to be. Work towards this but keep an open mind as to how you get there and be ready for your priorities to change as life goes on. Don't be afraid to take on unconventional roles or projects and be prepared to walk away from situations that don't serve your purpose.
In hindsight, what is the one thing you would have done differently in getting to where you are now?
Throughout my career, I've been ambitious and always focused on one or two roles ahead, but my path often didn't follow the exact route I had envisioned. It's important to set goals, but it's equally crucial not to fixate on a single path to achieve them. Embracing an open-minded approach and seizing new opportunities as they arise can be incredibly beneficial. If I had realised this earlier, I could have saved myself many sleepless nights worrying about whether I was on the right track, comparing myself to others, or questioning my progress based on my age. Recognising that everyone's path is unique and being flexible can often lead to greater success in the long run.
Who is your most influential or inspirational professional influence and why?
I've been fortunate to have numerous mentors and influences throughout my professional life. Early in my career, I realised that most people genuinely enjoy helping others, regardless of their busy schedules. It's rare for someone to decline a request for advice or mentorship, so I've taken every opportunity to learn from the people around
me. Instead of having a single individual shape who I am today, I've picked up lessons from a lot of people, including both exceptional leaders and those with shortcomings, as well as countless colleagues and friends.
What do enjoy doing outside of work?
Outside of work, I've recently started working towards obtaining my private Pilot License. Although it requires more time and commitment than I initially anticipated, it's been an incredible experience so far. It's something entirely different from my day job, allowing me to completely switch off from work and focus on keeping a plane I'm in control of in the air!
Is it true you recently donated bone marrow? If so, what the impetus for that?
Yes, it's true that I recently donated bone marrow. About 10 years ago, I joined the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Register during a routine blood donation. At the time, I had a vague awareness of what it was and the need for donors, given the low probability of finding a match for someone in need. I didn't give it much thought beyond the initial questionnaire until I received a call, informing me that I had matched with a recipient who needed an urgent transplant. Despite not knowing much about the process, I went ahead with the donation. While it turned out to be a more significant procedure than I expected, the opportunity to save a life is something you can't easily say no to when presented with it.