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I became Vietnam Country Head after 20 years working in Markets. Here’s how ANZ helped me make the move

Jodi West, Country Head for ANZ Vietnam, had been working in banking for two decades when she decided she wanted a new challenge. Her career to that point had been focused on Markets, and at the time she was Head of Institutional FX Sales (Australia) at ANZ.  West felt it was time to get more international experience and exposure to a new part of the business.

“After 20 years in Markets, you become very technical. I wasn’t growing as I did in the early years of my career. I found myself wanting to be challenged in new ways and to keep learning.” she says.

The position of Country Head of Vietnam offered exactly the type of challenge West was looking for. While her career move involved both a change of country and job function, it was very much in line with ANZ’s philosophy of looking at candidates’ potential, not just their technical skills and experience.

In fact, the bank is very open to hiring people from different sectors, who have a fresh perspective and a growth mindset. “I have honestly been very blessed to be given the opportunity to make such an unusual move.” says West.

This growth mindset is a pivotal aspect of how ANZ helps employees ‘future proof’ their careers, as Kathryn Van Der Merwe, Group Executive of Talent and Culture explains.

“Learning – and being an ‘Always Learning’ organisation – is at the heart of our cultural transformation at ANZ. We’re on a path to become a better, simpler bank, with a focus on the customer and community. And we need our people – who are curious and who have a growth mindset – to help us get there. Our people also want to adapt and evolve and invest in their own learning to stay relevant and ‘future proof’ their careers.“

West was connected with a number of executives from across the bank, including a senior mentor who had worked across several jurisdictions. “His mentorship was incredibly helpful, both professionally and personally. One of the fantastic things about ANZ’s network is that we have a lot of people across Asia who are so willing to help.” says West.

Since making the move 20 months ago, West has not looked back. “It has been an unrivalled learning experience. The breadth of exposures, both personally and professionally, have helped to broaden my perspectives and build diversity of thought.” she says.

ANZ has been in Vietnam for 27 years and the business supports some of the world’s largest companies with their trade and capital flows. It has about 170 staff based in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. “Global supply chain relocation has accelerated in recent years as companies have moved to address the manufacturing concentration risk in China – and Vietnam is a significant beneficiary.” says West.

She says the biggest challenge of her new role is also the thing she enjoys most about it, which is its fluidity. “No day is ever the same. Things are constantly changing and most of these changes are triggered externally, whether they are related to the Vietnam economy, customer or regulatory changes and more recently the Covid-19 pandemic."

Like other organisations across the globe Covid-19 saw ANZ adapt rapidly.

“We introduced precautionary social distancing measures in mid-February with many employees working from home and others split across two offices in Vietnam. Our established remote working capabilities enabled us to do this quickly, keeping the wellbeing of our staff and customers top of mind.” explains West.  

West thinks ANZ’s willingness to offer its employees flexible working, exposure to new roles and markets also benefits the bank. “I’m not a seasoned Country Head, however I bring a fresh perspective without bias.”

West adds that she has a “brilliant team” who have a huge amount of expertise in the local market, while she also has colleagues in various functional lines offshore who are always willing to spend time on the telephone when she needs support.

She adds that she is incredibly grateful to ANZ for giving her the chance to make the move.

“This has been an amazing development opportunity. ANZ’s willingness to support staff in lateral moves highlights the importance of diversity of thought to the organisation.“


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