A guiding compass through career progression
Now a Strategy and Transformation Analyst at Westpac, BFO Young Ambassador Christina Wu recalls her days as a Univeristy of Sydney student and the words from her Dean that 'doing business and doing good' should not be mutually exclusive. It is a statement that continues to guide her decision-making process as she progresses in her career.
Seven years ago I sat in a lecture hall at the University of Sydney, listening to the then Dean of the Business School talk about the potential impact of a career in business. I was in my final year of high school, attending the Aspiring Business Leaders Program held by the university. The thing that really stuck with me from that day was his closing remark, “doing business and doing good is not an oxymoron”. Seven years on, I still go back to those words every time I am faced with uncomfortable situations or difficult decisions. At this early stage in my career, I use it as my guiding compass.
It’s easy to blame “a few bad eggs” for what has transpired in our community, but it’s actually our collective responsibility to speak up when something doesn’t feel right rather than let issues go unchecked. Speaking up takes courage and I know how difficult it can be for young leaders to go against the tides and challenge those in authority. It may feel like we have so much at stake and we could risk jeopardising the rest of our career. However, there’s so much more to lose if we don’t stay true to our values. As soon as we let things slide, it becomes a slippery slope leading towards selective ignorance. William Wilberforce, a British Politician, and a leader in the abolition of slavery delivered a really powerful closing speech to the House of Commons in 1791 that I believe sums up the attitude that we ought to have at this defining moment in our industry. Wilberforce stated, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” The banking Royal Commission was a reminder to me that each of us have a responsibility to do better for those we serve.
In order to live these values, we should constantly be seeking to educate ourselves on matters that affect people. Whether it be social, political, economic, or religious issues – it’s important that we broaden our minds and approach situations and people with empathy. A recent Forbes article titled, ‘How Millennials Are Changing the Face of Leadership’, illustrates the fact that our generation are striving to emulate a leadership style that is more empathetic and caring. Many are strong advocates for diversity and flexibility in the workplace. These attributes are so crucial and give us immense capacity to leave a positive impact on our industry and in our broader society.
Another way we can work at being better leaders is to learn from other people. If you are a young professional who is navigating their way through banking, finance, or any other industry for that matter, I encourage you to surround yourself with peers, leaders, and mentors who model the behaviours you seek to develop in yourself. Listen humbly to their experiences and advice, and take what you need from it to apply in your own lives and careers. As a young ambassador for the Banking and Finance Oath, I see the Crossroads Conference as a wonderful opportunity to meet other likeminded individuals who have committed to the same pledge as you, who will hopefully inspire and keep you accountable on your journey. Let’s help each other navigate this crossroad, because the path forward for our industry is one where doing business becomes synonymous with doing good for our communities.