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Dell: Don’t settle for the status quo, It’s time to change it up


Penny Dell


ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd.

Have you got your own personal Board of Directors? No? Me neither.


But I’ve come to realise how much I am missing out on by not having one.


This came to me while spending a week with a very special group of wāhine toa from across New Zealand’s public and private sectors.


In our time together these women showed incredible strength and vulnerability, challenged me, and made me laugh so hard I cried.


We’d come together on a week-long Trans-Tasman Business Circle study tour to explore the themes of ANZ’s Watch Women Win report – how a lack of confidence, fear of judgement and a fear of failure hold many women back – and what we can do to change this.

Antonia Watson, CEO, ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd.


To help us explore these themes and challenge our thinking we heard from a range of inspiring speakers; including Vodafone CEO Jason Paris, Sport NZ CEO Raelene Castle, Director Rob Campbell, Māori business leader Traci Houpapa, Broadcaster Miriama Kamo, Dame Patsy Reddy, Girl Boss founder Alexia Hilbertidou, Sharesies CEO Brooke Roberts, Olympic gold medallist Emma Twigg, White Fern Amelia Kerr and our very own Antonia Watson.


Hearing from the speakers and the time spent with these exceptional women taught me so much, but there were three things that really resonated with me.




We all need allies, but to be our best we need to go further. We each need our own personal Board of Directors. 


It took me a while to get my head around this idea; in the same way a company has a Board to ensure shareholders’ interests are protected and maximised a personal Board does the same, but their purpose is to maximise you.


The directors are the people you rely on for a different perspective that genuinely want you to develop and succeed. They aren’t a cheer squad that always agrees with you, that won’t challenge you and motivate you to be your best.


I’ve had, and still do, have mentors and as it turned out so did many of the speakers despite their impressive careers.  I’ve never thought of my mentors as a Board, but I will now.


"Get your own Board of Directors...  [they] are the people you rely on for a different perspective that genuinely want you to develop and succeed. They aren’t a cheer squad that always agrees with you, that won’t challenge you and motivate you to be your best."

Penny Dell, Treasurer, ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd.





Too often we see successful people and we set about copying them.  I have certainly been guilty of it, I’ve even been called out on it in a job interview (eek!).


Listening to these amazing speakers I learnt there isn’t some secret mould you need to fit to be successful. Each had a unique experience they shared about becoming who they are today.


They spoke about topics ranging from purely professional to the most painful personal stories. 


What unified them all was that they were unique, authentic and passionate in what they spoke about. Many hinted at imposter syndrome and some called it out as something that never goes away.


I’ve certainly let my imposter syndrome hold me back in the past but I now know that even high profile hugely successful people still get it.  It’s not going away. It’s ok to acknowledge it but don’t let it hold you back. 


Say YES to opportunities that come your way.




Don’t settle for the status quo or how it has always been. Everyone can make a difference.


To quote one of the tour speakers, “If you want to get opportunities not many others get you need to make decisions not many others make.”


When I joined the ANZ Treasury team in 2018 I was breaking the mould.  I was to be the only female in the team.


It was an awesome team (still is) hence why I said yes to the opportunity but I wondered why was I the only one? Were females not interested in Treasury careers?


I am proud to say our team is now gender balanced. I’ve had plenty of great women put their hand up for roles in the team.


I believe the Watch Women Win report holds many of the answers as to how we can change things up – visible female role models play an important role in building a supportive culture.


We should never settle for how it has always been.


After spending a week with such an amazing group of emerging wāhine toa I know the future for women in leadership roles is bright. 


Each of us have committed to being out there, being visible, taking on opportunities, challenging the status quo and being our unique authentic selves.


As for why we laughed so hard we cried – well, I’m going to leave you guessing. In the time-honoured tradition of these types of getaways, all I can say is “what happens on tour stays on tour!”


ANZ's Watch Women Win Report

There’s a huge amount of work to be done to find ways that enable, empower and encourage women to fulfil their professional or personal aspirations and dreams, which uplifts us all, socially and economically.

Watch Women Win

It’s time for all New Zealanders to feel it’s no longer unusual for a woman to succeed in any way she chooses – and be championed doing so.

A gold medal for confidence

ANZ CEO Antonia Watson visits Cambridge to talk to Olympic gold medalist Emma Twigg about what is driving, and also holding back, women from success. The Watch Women Win report found that confidence, fear of failure and being judged are the main factors holding many women back. The results really resonated with me because I have experienced some of those things. I know first-hand the importance of encouragement and support, and how important it is to have visible role models. This year we’ve decided to explore the findings of our Watch Women Win report with a fresh generation of leaders and influencers - to learn from their successes and hear what they think has held them back or helped them. We want to shine a light on their achievements and share their stories. I also want to take what we learn and apply it in my own sphere of influence, using their insights to help change our business for the better.