Interview by Tim Carroll
Sue has extensive strategic and line management experience, predominately in financial services. She has held a variety of senior executive roles leading strategy, transformation programs and multi functional P&L businesses. Sue currently works for the grown up fin-tech start up, OFX (formerly Ozforex), as Head of Strategy Execution.
Career Related Questions
What is the best thing about your job?
Firstly, I like the breadth of my role which spans strategy, innovation, performance improvement and the execution of change. Secondly, I like the work environment which is agile, fast paced and collaborative.
What is the most challenging project/problem you have worked on either as an external consultant or an internal strategist?
I played a key role in the design, launch and governance of CBA’s multi-million dollar “Which New Bank” transformation program. Overall, the program helped move the dial on customer service and improved the organisation’s financial trajectory. There were a lot of moving parts and complexity. Along the way I added significant value but also made some mistakes.
What advice would you give someone transitioning from a consulting firm to a role in industry?
Consulting can open up many different types of roles across functional domains and industries. Follow your passions and interests. Be discerning about leadership and culture. Look for businesses and leaders that have a track record of nurturing talent.
Who has influenced your career the most and why?
Early in my career Rob Whelan (now CEO of the Insurance Council of Australia) was a mentor who gave me the opportunity to lead the insurance business at Legal & General. He also played a key role in positioning me for leadership roles post the acquisition of this business by Colonial. More recently, I have enjoyed working for Richard Kimber at ANZ and now at OFX. Under his leadership I find myself doing what I do best and having fun.
What is the favourite piece of advice you have received and from whom?
My life partner Jon has kept me grounded and reminds me of what is really important in life – family, friends and the simple pleasures that come from our natural environment.
As a child what did you want to be when you were older?
A medical practitioner…and I am not entirely sure why I changed tact. The medical profession would have allowed me to apply technical skills with patient care and be self-employed or a partner in a smaller business. However, I have no regrets and strangely enough the work I do today ticks some of the same boxes; applying problem solving skills and collaborating with people in an environment which values “doing work that matters”.
What are your three favourite books and what are you currently reading?
For pleasure I love reading literature which is evocative and takes you to an imaginative place. As a child this meant many hours at night with a torch under the bed covers. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is still a favourite. I also like anything written by David Malouf and Tim Winton.
The best non-fictional book which I have read in a long while is “Give and Take” by Adam Grant (Wharton professor in organisational psychology).
I am currently reading “The Lean Start Up” by Eric Ries which was recommended to me by our CTO Craige Pendleton Browne.
Who is your personal or business hero/heroine and what quality do you most admire in them?
Ralph Norris at CBA made a huge bet to overhaul the core banking platform, the benefits of which were never to be realised during his tenure. Meanwhile other competitors have talked a big game, invested a lot but with not that much to show for it. CBA will continue to benefit from that strategy for many years to come.
Who would you like sitting next to you at a dinner party and why?
On one side, my nineteen year old daughter Kate. Whilst she lives at home with us there never seems to be enough quality time to really just be with her. She is lively, good humoured and engrossed in her university course which creates some thought provoking discussions.
On the other side, maybe Richard Branson. He has cast a large leadership shadow over the world because of his entrepreneurship, philanthropy and vibrant personality. It would be fascinating to spend an evening with him.
What is your favourite quote or motto?
It’s all about people. Success comes from hiring well and creating the conditions for people to do their best work. Occasionally it also means helping people realise they are in the wrong job.