“I was an Olympic athlete, now I help execute ANZ’s strategy across Asia”
Carli Renzi says ANZ started supporting her career aspirations even before she joined the firm.
In late 2005 Renzi was looking for her first banking job as a graduate, but this wasn’t the only thing on her plate. She had recently won gold in the Australian National Judo Championships and was competing in Europe as part of the national team.
“I was away when I found out I had an interview for ANZ’s graduate programme and couldn’t get home before the deadline,” says Renzi. “The bank was very accommodating to me as an athlete and allowed me to come in a week later.”
ANZ helped Renzi to reach the top in her sport even as she moved up the ranks at the bank. “I had to spend long stints overseas to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics, but my boss was amazing. He told me ‘you have to take this opportunity; we’ll make it work’,” explains Renzi. “ANZ gave me additional ‘sporting’ leave and working flexibly allowed me to self-fund the travel. Most athletes didn’t get anything like this from their employers.”
Renzi’s team and many of her coverage colleagues in Melbourne got together to watch her fight on TV, with colleagues from ANZ’s London office even attending in person to cheer her on. “It just shows that you can balance a career in banking with your passions outside of work,” she says.
The encouragement Renzi received in the sporting arena is far from the only reason she has stayed with ANZ until this day and is now a senior manager. Throughout her career, ANZ has constantly offered her new and sometimes surprising challenges.
After starting out as a graduate in group treasury, Renzi shifted into a completely different function – corporate finance – after just two years. “It was a big move because I had no experience in the area. But I was surrounded by high performers, and they taught me from the ground up, involving me with clients and deals from the outset,” says Renzi, who ended up focusing on financial institutions advisory.
ANZ has a strong track record of giving high-performing employees like Renzi the chance to progress at an early stage in their careers. Chester Wang, for example, also started out at ANZ in Melbourne after university, but secured a Lending Services (restructuring) role in Hong Kong at the end of his graduate programme in 2009.
“I wanted to work in Hong Kong after spending time there during some of my training. Fortunately, ANZ is very supportive of internal mobility and you don’t need to be senior to apply for a transfer,” says Wang. “It was exciting working in a growing team in Asia. I got great exposure to our regional strategy and to senior people in the business.”
By 2012, Wang says he had reached a “plateau in my job at the time” and wanted to move into a new field at ANZ. “When building a career after your graduate training, you should try to organise your own rotations around the bank. It’s important to keep on learning,” he says. “My manager was encouraging and together we identified loan syndications as a potential good fit for me.”
They were right – Wang has now reached director level in loan syndications and runs a small team. “Some people just sit in a role until they’re unhappy and are forced to change companies. I’ve always sought out new challenges at ANZ and got my managers to back me, so I haven’t needed to do this.”
Like Wang, Renzi moved from Australia to Asia with ANZ. “When I was on leave in London for the Olympics my boss called to check on how I was going and to test my appetite for an FIG solutions job in Singapore. Despite everything going on, he’d remembered a conversation we’d had about me wanting to work in Asia.”
The new job was regional and more senior. “In Singapore I was suddenly the main specialist in financial institutions and others in the team looked to me for advice. ANZ had encouraged me to step up and take on more responsibility.”
It was a trend that would continue. In 2016, while Renzi was on maternity leave, her boss asked if she would be open to another new job in another new market. The position on offer – Head of Business Execution, International – was based in Hong Kong.
“The fact I was considered suitable for this role had little to do with my technical skills, which shows how forward-thinking ANZ is with career development. The bank wanted someone who was adaptable and understood clients,” says Renzi, who got the job after interviewing with Farhan Faruqui, Group Executive of International.
Renzi is now relishing the opportunity to help drive ANZ’s International strategy, which is focused on institutional banking and generating business from larger companies trading within the Asia Pacific region. “I’ve moved from being a technical expert into a much broader role where I get insights into policy making and strategic decisions.”
Wang has also been promoted into a strategic senior job in a new city – Shanghai. “It’s important to have a career plan in banking, especially if you work for an employer like ANZ which promotes internal progression. For example, I talked with my manager about Shanghai about six months before I actually moved.”
Living in Shanghai means Wang is closer to ANZ’s major Chinese loan syndication clients. And as a manager, he is now devoting more time to developing his team’s strategy as well as working deal to deal.
“I like to look after the careers of my team members in the same way as my managers have supported me over the years at ANZ,” says Wang. “I’m trying to create an environment where everyone can have an open dialogue with senior colleagues – not just about day-to-day tasks, but also about longer-term career goals.”
Renzi agrees: “I’ve had great managers since I joined ANZ, who’ve worked with me to grow my career in three countries and across different parts of the bank. They’ve helped me become an all-rounder as a banker – and I’ve even be able to compete at the Olympics along the way.”
Image credit: stacey_newman, Getty