The Bank We’re Building: Kathryn van der Merwe

Kath van der Merwe

ANZ Group Executive Talent & Culture and Service Centres Kathryn van der Merwe

The Bank We’re Building brings together the things that collectively define ANZ – our purpose, our strategy and our culture. Over the past five years, we’ve made great strides, simplifying the bank and helping customers take advantage of opportunities as well as supporting them through challenges.


In this new series, hear directly from ANZ’s Executive Committee their thoughts on building culture, living our purpose and building a better bank for the future.


You can browse the full series here.


For me personally, the bank we're building is a really helpful frame for what we're trying to achieve and how we're going to get there. I love that it brings clarity and simplicity. And in an industry that's in flux - there's lots of change we're responding and adapting to - we've got a clear path. But our mission of improving the financial wellbeing and sustainability of our customers is important and so I also feel personally inspired by the bank we’re building.


In Talent & Culture we’re focused on ensuring as a bank we have the capabilities and culture required for the bank we're building. We recently simplified our culture expectations and outlined the three behaviours we need from all of our people. Obviously, we need all of our people to behave in line with our code of conduct and values but they are our non-negotiables. It we’re going to win, then we need everyone to ‘Create, Deliver, Together’.


I think the biggest change for us as an organisation is the increased focus on “deliver what matters” It means we need to get clear on what we’re trying to deliver and why, make tough trade-offs and focus on the few things that are going to make a difference, then work together to deliver safely at pace


Focusing on delivering what matters within T&C has led to much better quality functional planning conversations. We’re very mindful that the business has limited capacity to absorb change, but also that we have a finite capacity within our team to do the work. We start by getting clear on what the business needs most from us, then we challenge and debate the longer list of priorities to ensure we land on those few things that will have the biggest impact. There’s always more we want to be doing, and it’s tough to pause on initiatives we’re passionate about, but we know we do our best work when we focus on a few things and work together to deliver them. In our recent all-staff survey our team told us that some of our processes are getting in the way so we’re also taking the time to understand how we can clear away bureaucracy and time wasting activities to help our teams deliver at pace.


Measuring culture is never easy. But having clear and simple expectations also makes it easier for us to understand if we’re making progress. If you take something like delivering what matters, then we can evaluate the value being created through the work, as well as measuring the pace of delivery.


While we’re shifting focus onto our three new behaviours to support the bank we’re building, we’re building on top of a really solid foundation of our values and new ways of leading that has been strengthened over the last few years. This is really about a shift in emphasis vs throwing everything out and starting again. Getting really good at these behaviours will be our focus for the next few years, and we’re aligning our people processes like recruitment and performance around them, so it’s really important that all of us spend time understanding and practicing them.


Kathryn van der Merwe is Group Executive Talent & Culture at ANZ


Find conversations with ANZ’s Executive Committee on the Bank We’re Building series page


more from this series:

The Bank We’re Building: executive perspectives

In this new series, hear directly from ANZ’s Executive Committee their thoughts on building culture, living our purpose and building a better bank for the future.

The Bank We’re Building: Antonia Watson

ANZ Group Executive and CEO New Zealand says simplification of the Kiwi business has created a platform for future growth.