Quarter of a century of tech revolution – a woman’s perspective
“Technology, automation and data enrichment have developed at such an unbelievable pace. Now ANZ can take all of that and do something incredible with it.”
Natalie Phillips, Initiative Lead at ANZ
ANZ has been in the business of helping people with their money to buy homes and finance businesses for more than 180 years. Yet our business today in Australia is experiencing a time of unprecedented change. Never has the operating environment has evolved more quickly.
Our Australia business transformation continues the work started several years ago to build a bank that is more relevant and responsive to the changing needs of our customers.
I started at ANZ the week I turned 18. It was my first job straight out of high school.
I was a Dispatch Clerk in the Merchant Services department - my job was to attach the metals and plastics to the letters of offers and send them to the mailroom. I used to ferry things to and from the mailroom, and from memory I think I earned something like $14,000 a year!
A career spanning quarter of a century
After my role as a Dispatch Clerk, I stayed in Merchant Services for five or so years and held various roles such as Call Centre Operator, Credit Assessor and Team Manager. From there I moved into a Business Analyst role, which served as a good introduction into delivery and kick started the next 20 years of my career in various project and program delivery roles.
I’ve seen a lot over the years and worked in many different parts of the bank - Consumer Cards, the Australian Call Centre, Deposits, Fraud, Collections, Commercial Products, Small Business and Foreign Currency Accounts. I was also involved in the work on ANZ’s New Ways of Working (NWOW) – shift to agile.
While my formal reporting line was in the business, all of the projects I worked on, or lead required significant technology development and as such formed part of the core delivery team.
I am now an Initiative Lead at ANZ which is similar to a Senior Program/Project Manager role. This type of role develops and manages a plan to deliver the initiative objectives with the key responsibilities being to drive high quality outcomes across squads and vendors, managing the schedule, ensuring the backlog of work is prioritised and maintaining visibility of delivery progress.
Using technology to improve experience
I would say one of the most influential moments of my career at ANZ was working in the Australian Call Centre. At the time I managed a team of 20 project managers and business analysts and we were making changes to processes and systems and supporting new product launches.
Every month we would listen to, and take customer calls. We saw first-hand the impact of these changes, and were able to receive direct customer feedback. I had a call board above my desk, so I was constantly looking for ways to reduce customer wait times and transfers. We made some significant changes to the phone systems and enhanced the customer information available to our colleagues so customers didn’t need to be transferred.
I quickly learnt there is a myriad of ways technology can be used to help improve both the customer and colleague experience - and this has carried with me throughout my career.
Tech - the rapidly changing landscape
Early in my career our technology choices were limited and there were long lead times – we could spend two to three years building things out before they were released. The technology we have access to today gives us the ability to put releases out there faster and adapt quickly.
Rather than speeding up manual tasks with things like macros – there were hundreds of them – we now use technology to simplify processes and automate tasks that are no longer valuable.
And I do remember the many large physical rooms that held servers and databases. It’s astounding to think of the amount of infrastructure we used to have holding all our data. Now, everything is moving to the cloud.
Part of the legacy
It’s exciting that I can spend the last part of my career helping the bank with this transformation.
Technology, automation and data enrichment have developed at such an unbelievable pace. Now ANZ can take all of that and do something incredible with it. I feel like I can be part of that legacy, and that is thrilling!
Customer at the core
A big part of ANZ is about improving the customer experience and for me, the key is being active – when you’re developing a product, a feature, a tool or even a brand we need to actively listen to our customers throughout design, and when it goes to market. We need to provide ample ways for customers to provide feedback and take action.
Customer for me is both the external customer and our internal colleagues.
The love of Tech
I love the whole process of it – seeing how you can take a problem and find a solution for it. I love the creativity and the design element of the work. I love the development element where you can see the solution come to life and test it.
When you think about delivery, it’s not just the technology building the system and the business building the process. It’s all of these things coming together and to do that well means everyone who is part of the team needs to have a shared understanding of the goals…and the challenges.
Natalie with her family
A woman in Tech
The only thing I would say I’ve noticed about being a female working in a traditionally male dominated industry is the visibility – in meetings and as well as the teams I’ve joined over the years. It was common to walk into a meeting that was 90 per cent males with only one or two females.
I never noticed it within the work itself. People used to say that I brought a different perspective to conversations because I was a woman, however over time I learnt it had nothing to do with gender.
It has been amazing to see how many women have entered the industry over the past few years, and on the personal front many of my sponsors and mentors have been women.
My advice to women entering or thinking about entering the tech industry would be:
- Don’t limit your own career options because you’re a woman or a mother - you’re not going to have little children forever;
- It’s your skills and experience that define you, not your gender; and
- Maybe most importantly, it’s up to you to set boundaries.
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