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2023-12-22 2:05 pm
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Salvana conservation reserve plant

Why does a bank have a climate action strategy manager?

Jo Stewart
February 23, 2024
January 7, 2024

Georgia Windrum is determined to make Bank Australia’s ambitious climate commitments a reality. But what exactly does a climate action strategy manager do? We sat down with Georgia to find out…

You may be familiar with Bank Australia’s action on climate change but what you may not know is who is making it happen. Georgia Windrum, Bank Australia’s climate action strategy manager is one such person.

Sitting within the bank’s impact management team, Georgia supports the bank to deliver its climate action strategy and, in particular, the commitment to achieving net zero by 2035. “We've made that commitment because our customers consistently tell us that they want us to take ambitious action on climate,” Georgia says. “And we know that 2050 is too late.” 

Much (much) more than emissions reductions

Helping Bank Australia customers build resilience and prepare for the climate transition is a key part of Georgia’s role, but it doesn’t end there.

Supporting communities on the frontlines of the energy system transition, such as the Latrobe Valley, is also in focus, as is centring First Nations leaders and communities. Addressing climate risk plays into her role too. “For us, that largely means addressing physical risks from climate impacts,” says Georgia. “So what happens when we have increasing and more severe fires, floods and storms? And how can we work with our customers and the broader community to better understand those risks and help them to be more resilient?”

As Bank Australia increases its advocacy work, Georgia has become more involved in helping to influence government policy via submission processes, as well as working with not-for-profits and community advocates to support systemic shifts in the way we live, work and do business. “Over the last year or so we've participated in the federal government’s National Energy Performance Strategy and National Electric Vehicle Strategy consultations, as well as the Senate Inquiry into Residential Electrification,” Georgia says.

Sunrise at the Bank Australia Salvana Conversation Reserve


From the arts to climate strategy  

While other banks have ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) teams, they tend to focus on analysing, mitigating and reporting on the risks climate change represents to their business and shareholders. Georgia’s role at Bank Australia is powered by different motivations. It’s also much wider in scope.

“My role is exceptionally broad,” she says. “I work across product development, advocacy, partnerships, and risk management. That would probably be multiple people in different departments in a bigger institution. Because we're a smaller, customer-owned bank, we’re nimble enough to test and pilot exciting projects that could take much longer for a big institution to implement.”

Georgia’s journey to Bank Australia began in an unlikely place: studying art history. With a keen interest in politics and social change, she transitioned from working in the arts into a range of campaigns, policy and strategy roles for not-for-profit organisations including the Australian Conservation Foundation, Climateworks Centre and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

After an earlier stint working at Bank Australia, Georgia returned in September 2022. “Bank Australia is committed to such ambitious targets; I really wanted to be a part of what it means to make that happen,” she says. “Helping our customers to change tangible things in their everyday lives and in their homes just felt like where I wanted to be.” 

All about impact

Working with a team of people who are passionate about climate change is deeply fulfilling for Georgia. “Staff working in branches, product or operational roles  are all critical people to help solve the climate crisis,” she says. “I feel proud to be able to help create that opportunity for Bank Australia staff to do impactful work.”

Reflecting on her impact so far, Georgia recounts that supporting customers to transition away from using gas in their homes has been a major highlight and gives her hope for the future. “Launching the Electrify Your Home pilot was a huge piece of work,” says Georgia. “As first movers in this space, we're contributing to the market that's forming around household electrification and supporting a broader understanding of what role banks can play in this space. Being able to pilot and lead this kind of innovative work  is what makes us different. And doing this on behalf of our passionate members makes me proud.” 

Now you’ve met Georgia, meet Bram – Bank Australia’s nature and biodiversity manager.

 

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