On starting her new role in the pandemic, Michelle says she was very lucky to have some time in the office in between lockdowns but she is keen to be able to return in a more meaningful way soon.
“I’ve learnt a lot during the pandemic, in terms of how to be visible when you're [at home] and taking the effort to get to know people - to get on the phone and talk to people,” she says. “I do think… it’s only when you're back in the office that you realise what you [have been] missing.”
Michelle says, although Transurban is a very different business to ANZ, there are many things she learnt in her former role that have benefitted her in this new step.
“There's a lot that's similar in terms of [being] a balance sheet-driven business and getting across the complexity of the balance sheet and stress testing - all the normal things you do in a bank,” she says.
“The biggest difference is the really physical, tangible nature of [Transurban’s] business. You can actually look out the window and see [a new structure]. You can see the difference we're going to make in the city with this new asset."
Michelle also pointed to the focus on “customers who have character” as a lesson she learned at the bank.
“It's [about] what you do for the longer-term and being there through good times and bad, being very open and transparent in your relationships - I think that’s really important.”
Michelle says when she joined ANZ in 2016 she was worried about not knowing some of the more technical aspects of banking but she worked hard and learnt those. She will take the same mindset into learning about road transport and infrastructure.
Having personally worked very closely with Michelle over her time at ANZ, I know she’s an extremely hard worker who does her homework and is extremely diligent so I have no doubts she will take on her new role brilliantly.
Michelle also explained the benefits she found from having a more diverse team at ANZ – a lesson which has stuck with her in building her team at Transurban.
“[ANZ] has a presence in more than 30 markets and had very diverse Executive Committee,” she says. “There was a lot of diversity in terms of backgrounds - whether it's business background, academic background or geography. Growing up in investment banking, I hadn't seen the benefit of that as much.”
On the risk on taking a new role in an unfamiliar industry, Michelle says it was really important for her to ask lots of questions to make a call on what could be a “risky” decision.
“I am quite conservative but I've also been willing to back myself,” she says. “I know I work really hard so I will learn and find a way.”
Michelle says she asked herself key questions such as whether she is working with people who have strong values, whether the work is interesting and whether she can bring value and then learn the rest.
I know Michelle will do a really good job at Transurban –an interesting company with lots of opportunity and challenges.
Shayne Elliott is CEO of ANZ