10 #WomenToWatch in banking and finance

Last week, the Australian Financial Review revealed the keynote speakers for its Banking and Wealth Summit for 2015. The run sheet included 10 men, and not one woman.

The AFR’s Editor in Chief Michael Stuchbury has since issued a response to Women’s Agenda on the matter, saying the publication acknowledges that a lack of diversity in the summit is something that needs to be addressed.

But the Summit's speaker list also speaks to a broader issue surrounding the underrepresentation of women in visible leadership positions in banking and finance – a problem that is only exacerbated by the fact that Westpec CEO Gail Kelly last month made her exit from the role.

So we thought we would make a list of 10 #WomenToWatch in banking and finance to help dispel the myth that there are no experienced, talented women in the industry available to partake in events like the AFR’s Banking and Wealth Summit.

This list is just a start, please offer your own suggestions of #WomenToWatch in banking and finance in the comments field below. 

1. Cindy Batchelor: Cindy Batchelor is the National Australia Bank’s executive general manager for NAB Business. She joined the bank in 2003 as the managing director, people and communications for NAB’s wholesale banking division, and has since climbed the ladder rapidly to reach her current position as EGM. Batchelor recently launched NAB’s Start Counting program, an initiative designed to improve women’s financial literacy and therefore their financial independence. Batchelor says the program was inspired by watching her own mother’s financial literacy develop, and after seeing the significant impact this had on her livelihood.

“Women are 50 per cent of the population; we have to make sure we give them opportunities to shine. Historically and culturally women haven't been supported, rewarded or recognised for their achievements. We need to create more environments for that, for them to share the great things they do,” Batchelor said at the recent 2015 NAB Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.

2. Cherelle Murphy: Cherelle Murphy is a senior economist at ANZ, a position she has held for eight years and one which represents the culmination of a long and decorated career in finance.

Murphy joined the Reserve Bank of Australia as a graduate economist and then decided to leave banking for journalism. She joined the Australian Financial Review’s cadet program and spent five years working for the publication as an economics reporter.

Following a two-year stint in the parliamentary press gallery, Murphy returned to banking and joined ANZ as a market economist. She also spent time working as a senior media manager at the bank before moving back into an economics role, leading to her appointment as a senior economist in the corporate and commercial branch of the bank.

3. Jenny Boddington: Jenny Boddington is the CEO and director of QBE’s Lender’s Users’ Mortgage Insurance Limited. On top of this, she is director of QBE Mortgage Insurance (Asia) Limited and Executive General Manager of Financial Institutions. Before being appointed CEO, Boddington was the director of the Risk and Operations division of the organisation.

Prior to her impressive tenure at QBE, Boddington spent many years working for Deutsche Bank. Initially, this involved working as director of Deutsche Bank’s investment banking division in Sydney and London, and later as director of private equity for Deutsche Asset Management. Overall, she has more than 20 years experience in private equity and investment banking. She has a Masters degree in economics from Oxford University.

4. Lyn McGrath: Lyn McGrath has had a decorated 20-year career in banking, which has culminated in her role as Executive General Manager of Retail Sales at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. She joined the Commonwealth Bank in 2007. Prior to joining CBA, McGrath worked for FINSIA and St George Bank.

She is now responsible for a team of over 12,000 staff and was recently named one of Australia’s most influential women by the Australian Financial Review.

5. Gai McGrath: Lyn McGrath’s sister Gai is also a powerful female figure in banking. She was recently appointed Westpac’s Executive General Manager of Retail Banking. Prior to this appointment, McGrath was serving as the director of retail banking operations at Westpac New Zealand, but returned home to Australia to assume the EGM role. In her new role, she is responsible for the operation of 674 Westpac branches across 54 regions.

McGrath began her career as a lawyer, but her job as general counsel at Perpetual eventually led her into the financial services industry.

6. Lisa Claes: Also a former lawyer, Lisa Claes is now the Executive Director of Distribution at ING Direct. She began her career as a lawyer in the financial services industry, and in 2003 she moved into banking with ING.

During her 12-year tenure at ING, Claes has held positions as Executive Director of Savings, Direct Business and Mortgages. On top of her current role as ED of distribution, she is also the director of the ING Foundation.

7. Michelle McPherson: Michelle McPherson is the Deputy CEO and Chief Financial Officer at NIB Holdings Limited. She joined the company in 2003 as Chief Financial Officer and has since been appointed deputy CEO, reporting directly to CEO Mark Fitzgibbon. She is also the Company Secretary of the NIB Foundation, and deputy CEO of NIB Health Funds Limited.

She had a long career in financial services prior to joining NIB, which was predominantly served at Caltex Australia. She was educated at Harvard Business School and the University of Technology, Sydney.

8. Sally Collins: Sally Collins is the General Manager of Business Management at the National Australia Bank, a position she was appointed to in 2013 after joining NAB in 2012. Her previous role at NAB was General Manager for Kaizen at NAB Wealth. Prior to this, Collins had a 20-year history in banking and financial services, having worked at Colonial First State, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and AXA Australia. She is also a registered psychologist, with a graduate diploma in both psychology and financial planning.

More impressive still, Collins has spent the last ten years of her decorated career working part-time, and is an advocate for diversity and for part-time and flexible working arrangements.

"We just don't hear senior people say they work part-time or flexibly, and that it works for them and the business and it's beneficial to both," she told Women’s Agenda in 2014.

"Diversity is commercial, there are no two ways about it. Companies with more senior female leaders make more money and if that's not a good enough reason to embrace diversity then what type of business are they?"

9. Madeleine Harris: Madeleine Harris is the Director of Group Payments, Strategy and Development at the National Australia Bank. Harris joined NAB straight out of Agricultural College in Wagga Wagga as a graduate in the Agricultural Business division of the bank. She has since worked across its agricultural, retail, product, markets, business and wholesale divisions.

She also took part in the founding of NAB’s coaching program Thrive, a role which gave her the confidence to take control of her career and request a more flexible working arrangement to suit her needs.

 “What I learnt about myself through career coaching was that I felt really conflicted within myself. I didn’t feel like I was in control,” she told Women’s Agenda.

“From that point on, any job I’ve taken I’ve actively been involved in its creation.”

10. Sue Lin Ong: Sue Lin Ong is the Managing Director of Royal Bank of Canada’s Australia and New Zealand Fixed Income Strategy for the bank’s Capital Markets division. She has been working at the Royal Bank of Canada for almost two decades, having joined the organisation in 1998. Prior to joining the bank, she worked as a fixed income economist at Hambros Bank and an economic advisor to Australia’s Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Department of Industrial Relations.

Lucia Osborne-Crowley

Lucia Osborne-Crowley is a journalist and producer at Women's Agenda.

Twitter: @LuciaOC_

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