How has your association FINSIA contributed to your development over your career?
I joined FINSIA to give back and share my experiences and knowledge with other young professionals, especially those from marginalised backgrounds. A career in finance is often portrayed as the glitz and glam of investment banking or private equity (thanks, Wolf of Wall Street), but I wanted to show people that there's so much more to the financial services industry than what you see in the news or in movies. It's a whole world unto itself, spanning from insurance and traditional banking to superannuation and managed Funds. There are so many career paths and opportunities available. I like to describe the Financial Services industry as the engine room of the economy.
Tell us about your career to date?
When I arrived in Australia 12 years ago my career prospects were limited due to my temporary resident status. I got a job as a receptionist at a chiropractic centre as well as a second job as a cashier at Woolies. Once I got my permanent residency I wanted to work for a company where I could grow beyond the entry level roles. I put out over 50 applications and got an interview at Commbank! I started off as a bank teller at the Darwin Branch and before I had finished my probation, I became a Customer Service Specialist. I really enjoyed the conversations I was having with our customers and helping them solve their financial needs. Soon enough I became a Branch Manager and from there I realised I also enjoyed helping people grow in their careers. In between I would be doing Product Specialist secondments - and from there I learnt that I enjoyed helping businesses grow and solve their financial needs. Darwin became too small for what I wanted to achieve in my career so I relocated to Melbourne where I became a Corporate Account Manager for Mid-Market Corporates. I enjoyed the complexity of the deals and the relationship management aspect of the role and also took a secondment opportunity as a Transaction Banking Specialist so I could enhance the conversations I had with my clients. I pivoted to become a Relationship Executive on the Commercial Non-Profit segment as I merged my career with my passion for community development. An opportunity arose to pivot to Risk Management at an Institutional Banking level and here I am now as Senior Credit Risk Analyst in the Telco, Media, Entertainment and Tech sector.
We've read your title, now tell us how you would describe what you ACTUALLY do to a friend at a BBQ?
I'm part of the team that decides if the bank should give big companies loans. We figure out how likely it is that the bank will get its money back, and we negotiate the terms of the loan.
What led you to pursue your career path in the first place and can you remember where and when the lightbulb came on?
Banking chose me, honestly! I just wanted a stable job, but almost 11 years later, I've found my passion and I'm loving every minute of it! I originally thought banking was just about working in a branch, but when I joined, I realised it's a much bigger ecosystem. I was curious and figured out my way around, and I found a space that plays to my strengths. I mean, in what other industry are you going to get rich insights into people's financial behavior or learn more about how successful businesses run? It's like getting an MBA in real time!
In hindsight, what is the one thing you would have done differently in getting to where you are now?
I wish I had believed in myself more. I wasted so much time worrying about whether I was good enough, or waiting for someone else to tell me that I was good enough. I had the skills and potential all along! If only I had had the confidence to back myself, I could have saved myself a lot of self-doubt and who knows, I might even be CEO by now!
Who is your most influential or inspirational professional influence and why?
My mentor, Todd Roberts, who is currently the CEO of Credit Union SA. We met nine years ago at a Branch Manager Conference in Adelaide, when he was the General Manager for Institutional Banking WA/SA/NT. We happened to sit next to each other at dinner and started chatting. I don't know what came over me, but I ended up telling him about my desire to grow my career. By the end of the night, I had his business card and he had offered to mentor me. I didn't even know what mentoring was, but I said yes.
Todd has been an amazing mentor to me. He's helped me to see the possibilities for my career and has been a huge support. He's also inspired me to become a mentor to others. I feel like I have a cheat code to winning in life! If you're looking to take your career to the next level, I highly recommend getting a mentor.
Tell us more about your Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards Nomination
So I like to describe my banking career as my 9-5 and my community work as my 5-9 (and weekends sometimes). I am currently the President of Incubate Foundation which is a non-profit that supports young African Australians to reach their fullest potential. We do some amazing work with young people, helping them break their imagination ceiling and overcome the negative stereotype of African youths within Australian society. The community work then morphed into me starting a podcast called Can We Talk About It?! Where we discuss complex topics that affect the social and emotional well-being of African Australians. The throughline for all the community work I do is creating safe spaces for Black people, as the world doesn’t afford us that luxury. I am humbled and grateful for my community work to be recognised at such a national level!
Find out more about FINSIA membership here