CEO, Westpac Banking Corporation Ltd
Director, Melbourne Business School
"An MBA requires a huge investment - of your time, heart and mind - but the more you put in, the greater the rewards."
For me, choosing to do an MBA was all about correct timing.
I started my career as a teacher in Latin and history – the disciplines I majored in as part of my Bachelor of Arts degree. I was raised in South Africa and all of my education, including my MBA, was completed there.
I migrated to Australia with my husband and four children in 1997, and set about coping with the challenges of settling my young family into a new country while building new networks and coming to grips with different industry dynamics and organisational cultures. I have no doubt that my MBA helped equip me for these changes. It assisted me in thinking broadly and strategically; in being able to manage and thrive during a period of change.
While in South Africa, I decided to switch from teaching to banking – starting out as a teller for Nedcor, one of South Africa’s largest banking corporations – before moving into an accelerated development program with the company.
I was in a mid level role in HR at Nedcor, and realised that if I intended to be serious about commerce and gaining a more senior position within financial services, I would need formal qualifications in business. I considered an accounting degree, but elected to do an MBA because of the broadening, leadership and management skills that you gain.
An MBA requires a huge investment – of your time, heart and mind – but the more you put in, the greater the rewards. My MBA was a new and exciting period in my life because it opened my thinking to the crucial areas of accounting, finance, marketing and operations management – knowledge domains that I previously had no depth in apart from some practical exposure in the workplace.
There is no question that my MBA also gave me confidence and courage to tackle the opportunities coming my way. The networks and friendships established remain current today.
I feel privileged to be a member of the Board of Directors at Melbourne Business School and to have ongoing input into the vision which is guiding the school’s progress. With its global outlook, leading edge programs, flexible course structuring and supportive environments for learning, MBS is remarkably well placed to equip future business leaders with the insights, perspectives and capabilities they require at a global level.