Capital W’s Annual Dinner 2019 took place on June 11th in the stunning Doltone House venue. With more than 200 students, alumni and industry representatives in attendance, the banquet room was bustling with excitement. The night started with open networking over canapes where 109 students had the opportunity to gain insights from representatives over a range of industries including, investment banking, professional services, consulting, retail & constitutional banks and, data & technology.
Students then had the opportunity to rotate between two sponsor tables of their preference, for their main course and dessert. “The chance to talk one-on-one with business leaders was really valuable as we could learn about their experiences and ask for their advice,” a student attendee shared.
The highlight of the night was Deanne Stewart’s keynote speech. Deanne Stewart joined First State Super as the Chief Executive Officer in 2018. She has more than 20 years of leadership experience in financial services in superannuation and insurance sectors in Australia and internationally. This includes years as Managing Director with Merrill Lynch Investment Management in New York, and as an Engagement Manager with McKinsey and Company in London. She graduated from UNSW with a degree in Commerce (Finance and Marketing) and holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management as a Fulbright Scholar.
Imparting her wisdom with the audience, Deanne divided her experiences into two parts: the experience part, wherein Deanne explores different fields of business, and the leadership part, wherein Deanne takes on leadership roles at Merrill Lynch, Metlife and First State Super.
Having once been in the stage of being an experience gatherer, Deanne explained that it is best not to focus on finding the “perfect role” as a fresh graduate, but rather, explore more about the professional world. After graduating, She joined BT, where she had four roles in the five years she was there. Her various roles allowed Deanne to gain different experiences and an in-depth understanding of operations within the company.
After receiving her MBA from Yale, Deanne pursued a career at McKinsey & Company. She drew attention to the ability to handle complex problems and present the solution with simplicity. Problem-solving, using tools, frameworks and partnerships, was proven to be important in the latter part of Deanne’s career development.
Deanne proceeded to take up leadership roles at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where the essence of experiences she had transferred to leadership. The importance of accepting one’s flaws from peer and subordinate feedback was emphasised. Deanne further explained that rather than blaming others, one must use feedback to improve.
Deanne also emphasised the importance of family and well-being while working. She suggested that going lateral or backwards may not necessarily be a bad thing. She reminded the audience that reflection and self-awareness are ways to derive a purpose to work towards. For Deanne, her purpose is to make a difference, to contribute to the Australian culture and society. To achieve her goals, Deanne decided to become the CEO of MetLife, where she balanced her credibility, executive presence and sponsorship. These are the three characteristics that make a person a leader.
To Deanne, She Means Business is a vision and a future that is not far, as she sees the demand for more women in the Australian business environment. Deanne believes that everyone can make a huge difference in the community.
The night ended on a high, with students’ minds brimming with new ideas and information about the various industries and firms. A highlight was hearing Deanne talk about her experiences and the lessons she learned from trying many different roles, switching industries as well as balancing family with being a successful female CEO. This definitely gave both students and young professionals another perspective on all the possibilities in their career.