Some people spend their whole lives never really knowing their purpose or recognising where their true passion lies but when I reflect on my career and the experiences that have lead me to where I am today, I suppose you could say I’m one of the lucky ones.
From a very early age, I can remember knowing I wanted to be a banker and in many ways it seemed like my path had been chosen for me.
It wasn’t the thought of donning the conventional banker pin-stripe suit that drew me to banking, it was an understanding and appreciation for the value of money and how it could help people that appealed to me.
I guess I’ve always been driven but for me it’s more than simply being ambitious. It’s about a sense of purpose and sharing what I’ve learned to help others on their own journeys.
Let curiosity guide you
There’s a saying I once heard which has always stayed with me: ‘you can measure a person’s intellect by the answers they give but it’s the questions they ask that demonstrate their wisdom’.
Actively cultivating your sense of curiosity allows for deeper, more rational decision making and inspires creative solutions – that’s where the magic happens.
Curious thinking helps us succeed even in the most difficult and uncertain times - such as those we’ve recently experienced with the global pandemic. So, let your curiosity guide you, let it be your northern star.
Push yourself outside of your comfort zone
While it’s natural to feel uncomfortable in situations outside our own comfort zone, that’s where I believe our greatest power lies.
Some of the best opportunities have emerged for me when I’ve taken risks and stepped outside my comfort zone, like when I relocated to Australia to study.
Pushing your boundaries doesn’t only apply to huge life decisions though, challenging yourself to try new things everyday offers a fresh perspective and can reveal opportunities you never knew existed.
Wear your stripes, embrace your scars
Past accomplishments and accolades might help to get you noticed or even earn you a seat at the table but it takes a strong leader to reveal their vulnerable side, admit when they’ve made mistakes and recognise how they’ve grown from those experiences.
When leaders are vulnerable, it creates a safe space for their teams to try new things, to be creative and to innovate.
Find a mentor and be a mentor
Navigating your career can be intimidating and overwhelming. Regardless of where you are on your career path, establishing a connection with a mentor is one way to overcome those barriers and is a very enriching experience.
Whether it’s sharing insights that help you problem-solve, a listening ear to share your ideas, or an ally who will give you the push you need to take a risk, a mentor can be an invaluable support.
Equally as important though is the idea that good leaders create leaders. So if you’ve benefited from being mentored, go ahead and be a mentor to someone else. There’s no greater feeling than seeing others succeed.
Never eat lunch alone
We spend so much time working in front of a screen or on video calls and it’s easy to fall into the habit of eating lunch alone to take time out for yourself.
One of the best ways I’ve found to get to know someone is to break bread together. It’s the reason I routinely set up coffee and lunch catch-ups each week.
While some of the more traditional types of networking can seem forced or artificial, a coffee catch-up is a relaxed way of getting to know someone.
It creates the space to share your own story and, in return, you’re likely to learn about new things, find out what’s happening in another part of the business and even get on someone’s radar – the possibilities are endless!
Develop your own sense of purpose
Your purpose is the reason you get up every morning. It guides your life decisions, influences behaviours, shapes your attitude and goals and, most importantly, creates meaning in your life and your work.
It was my passion that first attracted me to Australia to study a Bachelor of Commerce (Banking) at Monash University - although, I must admit the thought of kangaroos, koalas and watching lots of cricket also made moving to Australia an enticing prospect!
University life gave me the opportunity to focus on my passion for banking and to meet and interact with students from different cultural and geographical backgrounds. It was a chance to experience a diverse range of voices and viewpoints and I learnt from that.
Those early experiences certainly shaped who I am today. They gave me direction and the opportunity to develop my sense of purpose, which continues to guide me in my life and work.
Seeing those around me living their own purpose and achieving great things gives meaning to my work as a banker and is what continues to inspire me every day.
Harsh Vardhan is Senior Manager, Investor Relations at ANZ