Name: David Wakeley
Position: Bank Australia Non Executive Director
Years on the Board: 4 years
What city do you live in? Sydney
Why did you join Bank Australia?
I saw the opportunity to give back, and also be part of something that I believe was making a positive impact in the world.
Bank Australia is bold, it has an ambition as big as its name and it has a team that is changing the world all day and every day. It's not often in your career that you get to work for an organisation that you can call “bold” and it is even less often that you can say you work with an organisation that is bold and resolutely seeking to make a positive change in the world.
I did not have the chance to meet the team before I interviewed for the role, if I had had the chance I would have been very nervous for the interview. It is a rare joy to work with the people I get to engage with in this role and the pressure would have been on to land the role!
What do you feel are the most essential qualities for being a Bank Australia director?
A desire to give back and an ambition to change the world by the impact of responsible banking.
What previous job really defined your career and why?
My first CEO role with Virgin Money provided me the opportunity to work with all parts of the business for the first time. I was also CEO of Virgin Money at the time of the GFC so I can fairly describe my time in that role as being a “learning rich environment”.
I think all of the “firsts” in our career path are moments of rich growth and we really should be thankful to the people that gave us the opportunity to do something that for us was for the first time.
What advice would you give someone wanting to work in a values led business?
It is critical to ensure your values align with the those of the values led business you're interested in.
All too often we can assume that values led businesses share all of the same values as we do … there are many good organisations that are values led that do not perfectly align with our individual views.
It is easy to assume that all good businesses are our own brand of good but that is not always the case and can lead to disappointment.
How do you manage your work life balance?
This is a difficult task for all of us, I have a personal mantra that “weeks can be out of balance, but months cannot be”. That is, I can tolerate short periods that are out of balance but never allow longer periods to be that way. As a result, I have an end of week ritual each week to test where I'm at and what corrections I should make.
What’s something you do in your life to help protect the planet or support your community?
I am a believer in the power of education to transform the lives of individuals (and by extension communities and then the world). I was, until very recently, on the board of Women’s College within the University of Sydney and I'm still on the board of Robert Menzies College within Macquarie University.
I'm also very active in coaching executives in Diversity and Inclusion. I currently coach around 15 'C-Suite Executives' (like CEOs, CFOs etc.) to understand their positions of privilege and seek to ensure they making their workplaces a place where everyone has the opportunity to bring their authentic self to work, where they can feel a sense of belonging and be empowered to grow.
What’s one way you believe the COVID-19 pandemic will change to the way people will live in future?
This pandemic has been a tragic period for many but it has also been massive social experiment in flexible work. The very fact that we have all been through the experiment together and at the same time has meant that we can all accept changes over a short horizon that we would not have accepted anywhere near this quickly.
Video conferencing has gone from “zero to hero” for me and I can see that this tool will enable to limit my travel agenda (and my carbon footprint) into the future. Video conferencing has also resulted in met inviting dozens of colleagues into my home virtually and me into theirs. That would have been all very weird just months ago but it now feels normal.
What’s a book, film or TV show from the last 12 months you loved, and why?
My favourite TV moment of the past 12 months was watching the Australian Women’s Cricket Team win the T20 World Cup. Being Sydney based, I couldn't get to the game, but it's wonderful to see the public at large finally valuing sport by our talented female athletes. It has taken too long to get here.
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