What has FINSIA done for your career?
I've been at QIC for 32 years, which is very unusual these days. My studies and early work experience were in accounting. As an accountant working in an investment management organisation, it was invaluable for me to complete the Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance and Investment through FINSIA. It was so helpful to build my understanding of investment management and the different asset classes at QIC. Throughout my career, FINSIA publications and information have been invaluable in keeping my knowledge current.
Tell us about your career to date.
I started at QIC after a year on the Queensland Treasury graduate program. I’ve been in numerous roles at QIC over the years, including my appointment as QIC’s CFO for the past 12 years and culminating in me being appointed joint COO and CFO in the past 18 months.
I loved working at QIC from the moment I started back in 1991. I feel very fortunate that 30 plus years later, I still feel the same way. I really enjoy the investment management industry and QIC is a wonderful organisation. It plays a critical role in the financial industry ecosystem of Queensland and indeed Australia and I love what we do. The culture of the organisation is very strong, and the work is always interesting and challenging. QIC’s purpose is clear, and I really like the people I work with.
I have had a lot of opportunities over my time at QIC to undertake different roles. It's an organisation of opportunity.
What are the challenges of 2023 – 2024?
QIC specialises in alternative assets and liquid market solutions. With interest rates rising and pressure on liquidity, it's a more challenging market for unlisted assets but there are tailwinds supporting our private debt and liquid markets capabilities, which reinforces the power of our diversified business. We are actively building out our capabilities, including our private debt offering – both here in Australia and internationally – and a second pooled infrastructure vehicle.
For me, as the CFOO, I am particularly focused on managing our profitability through a period where we are investing to build out these new capabilities. Another big focus is continuing to build and enhance our ESG capabilities. ESG plays an important role in our decision making across our business – it’s important to us and our clients and stakeholders.
What led you to pursue your career - and can you remember where and when the lightbulb came on?
I didn't intend to be an accountant or work in the finance industry at all. My top three preferences when I put my university application in were in the health and medical space. A Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Queensland was my fourth option. But I think that was fate working in my favour. At the time when I got that offer for Commerce, I wasn’t disappointed because I had started to think maybe health sciences weren’t the right choice for me. For example, I'm quite squeamish around the sight of blood! I think I was born to be an accountant. I enjoy the nature of accounting. I love numbers and the ‘tidiness’ of accounting.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
I remember having a conversation relatively early in my career with a more senior colleague who said that people enjoyed working with me because ‘you get stuff done’.
I was quite surprised because I didn't have that impression of myself, but I reflected on it afterwards and thought it was probably right. I don't procrastinate and I do enjoy getting things done.
That comment has influenced my career because, following that feedback, I have focussed on maintaining and developing that trait.
I think people do appreciate others who get things done and make things happen. It's not necessarily career advice, but it certainly shaped my career. It's also a reflection of how important feedback is.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
Probably one thing I would do differently with hindsight is to be more vocal, particularly around gender diversity and equity issues that arose throughout my career. It was challenging at times as a young woman working in the investment management industry in the 1990’s. The industry was very male dominated. If I had my time again, I would be more assertive in standing up for myself and others at times and pointing out where things were not as they should be.
Is there an inspirational professional?
My inspirations have been those people throughout my career who have given me opportunities and encouraged me to step up into roles before I thought I was ready. One of QIC’s former CEOs, Doug McTaggart, appointed me to the CFO role in 2011. I didn’t feel I was ready for it at the time, but he encouraged me to take on the challenge. I'm so thankful to him, because I wouldn't have taken that step up but for his encouragement. It's people like that, who give you those opportunities and encourage you before you think you're ready, who are so important in your career.
What do you do outside work?
I love travel. I'm glad the pandemic has settled so that we can go on some interesting holidays again. I have been pursuing the Six Star Marathon Majors since 2014. It consists of completing six major marathons around the world. I've completed five of the six: New York, Boston, Chicago, London, Berlin with only Tokyo remaining. I was trained and ready for Tokyo in 2020 and then two weeks out it was cancelled due to COVID. I subsequently injured my knee badly. I had surgery in mid-2020 and that has been very hard to come back from. I'm slowly getting back into running, with the aim of completing Tokyo in 2025 and finally get that medal, but it really depends on how my knees hold up.