If you want money, you probably want to work in banking. So I did. I started as a Bank Teller whilst I waited to get into University. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but I knew straight away Banking was for me, so I switched my thinking to economics and finance. I decided to stay in the Bank and work toward my degree at night. I was lucky enough to be at the heart of the Australian Banking Industry, ANZ Martin Place – in the heart of Sydney. The rhythm of her beating heart saw me addicted to the banking industy and if I’m honest – I still am.
I had a dream! That someday I would sit on the board of one of Australia’s Top Banks as ‘The’ board member with broad spectrum experience. I derived my career path and off I set. I learned Consumer Banking and Finance covering literally everything. Eighteen (18) months later (yep, that’s right, a bitch of a learning curve, but I was hungry), I moved into investigation, where you start to learn behaviour and risk, until I was picked up and dropped in Small Business Lending (the youngest ever – I was 20 years old). Within a year the bank went through a massive transformation that saw me shipped down to Melbourne to train people 2 x my age to take over my Lending Portfolio from a centralised call centre. I turned down two internal offers allowing myself to be retrenched at just 22 years.
I took some time out with my friends and went “around the world”, then back to Uni, and ready for work. I worked solidly through asset class banking & finance until 2004, when I relocated to London Arbuthnot Latham & Co a private bank based near Moorgate. It has the status of one of the 12 accepting houses in the UK. It offers banking, investment management and wealth planning services to both high net worth private individuals and commercial clients. 6 months later finding myself with a sponsored Visa in Dublin, Ireland, working for Fortis Prime Funds Solutions offered administration, custody and bridge, leverage, and structured financing to hedge fund managers and funds of funds (sold in 2009 for Eur 16.8 billion).
Investment banking and strategy consulting are not very different – both attract the elite – secure, deeply left-brain, hyper-intellectual, OCD over-achievers. Both pay well. Both involve serious commitments of your time and some heavy academic achievements. If you are all of the above and a people person with a deep understanding of the world and everything in it – you are destined for the upper reaches of any Organisation. This is not to say that banking and consulting are equivalent careers though. They have some pretty substantial differences. What works for one person will not work for the other. Pay can be a simple differential. Banking Pays More!
If you play a long game in consulting, there is a rare opportunity to make big bucks, whereas when you reach MD – level in an investment bank, compensation starts to plateau. So at this equilibrium, reporting to the Country Manager, or my cross-roads if you will, new decisions had to be made. Throw both options away and join an Investment Firm, like a hedge fund or private equity firm, with a view to start your own by 40 years old. This road didn’t seem possible as a younster, a world I didn’t yet know, but now, Hedge Fund Manager seemed better than being on the board of an unsexy Australian Bank. Hmm, new dream.
But then the unthinkable happened. Living work that I loved (more than most ever ever dream of and being well compensated), my Mother flies to my home in Ireland (where I was based but worked globally), and tells me she has Cancer. Now I have a new dream… I resigned the next day giving my mandatory 3 months notice, and sufficient time to rent out the home I had bought there, and arrange a relocation home to Sydney.
Life after this became very blurry as my focus shifted from career bliss to family responsibilities and all the aches and pains of going through something like this. Fortunately, my Mother is still kicking and is stronger than ever. Consulting became the best avenue for me to maintain the flexibility I need to be there for my family, and in the event of another unforeseen event. Then I realised that my career had gone full circle and there was no need to grieve for a dream I had for 4 mins, but embrace the dream of a teenage girl and play it out.
I love what I do. I am fullfilled by the challenges of starting up my own management consulting firm, with the brilliant mind of qualified charter accountant Leah Ostermeyer. I am faced each and everyday with challenges that excite me, am delighted by the contributions our Business is making to our clients, our communities and our own business interests. Leah and I, may be new to consulting, but we are experienced, passionate, creative and most importantly relentless. We are always looking for the next challenge, right here in Sydney. Our Home.