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ANZ China: incredible teamwork as COVID hits


“I'll pack up and take a shower, I'm ready to go at any time." –Sharon Wang


Sharon Wang and Rex Zhang keep fit while living in the office


Shanghai, a city of 25 million people, has been going through a half-city lockdown since March 28 and a full-city lockdown since April 1 as a result of skyrocketing new COVID-19 cases. There have been more than 20 rounds of PCR tests and self-tests for all Shanghai residents since the end of March. There have been zero cases outside quarantined areas reported since April 29. Fortunately, all ANZ China employees are safe and none of them got infection.


The impact has been widespread: fresh food supply is disrupted as shops are shuttered and delivery drivers have been locked down in Shanghai. For our team, the ANZ China leadership team and Shanghai Labor Union coordinated three batches of food delivery to each employee to help with shortages. Recently, food supply has gotten better since governments reopened a lot of supermarkets and food shops.


A few manufacturing companies resumed their production since April 19, including Tesla and Shanghai Motors. The government defined a first batch list of 600+ companies to resume operations with sound Covid control two weeks ago but the financial services industry was not included.



Business continuity maintained


Since late March, all Shanghai based staff have been working from home - except four colleagues from our Technology team.


Danny Huang, Sharon Wang, Rex Zhang and Hang Jian Yang have taken a huge personal sacrifice and are living in the office to ensure business continuity. ANZ’s Talent & Culture and Property teams have been working hard to support the wellbeing of these team members on the daily basis.


With the great help from the China Technology team, ANZ’s Markets and Operations team managed to set up access for several critical trading systems overnight from staff members’ homes, ensuring the delivery of critical services to clients and the submission of all critical regulatory reports on time.


The bank’s Finance team has also extracted essential data to a local hard disk to manage critical regulatory reporting.


ANZ emergency team (L-R) Danny Huang, Sharon Wang, Rex Zhang

ANZ emergency team (L-R) Danny Huang, Sharon Wang, Rex Zhang


Business volumes have been relatively low during the past month in Shanghai as many of ANZ’s clients are in lockdown as well. But the resilient and flexible business continuity response from ANZ China means the bank has managed essential operations smoothly with great help from branch offices outside of Shanghai, service centre hubs in Chengdu, Manila and Bengaluru, as well as offices in Singapore and Perth. This is also attributed to the great coordination between relationship managers, product owners, operational risk and compliance teams and more.



Working from home, living in the office – a timeline


March 27


20:23 - Shanghai municipal government releases an announcement that the Pudong area (the half of the city by the Huangpu river) and Puxi area (another area by the river) will be locked down from March 28 and April 1 for 4 days respectively in two batches in response to Omicron outbreak. The city is not prepared as this never happened in Shanghai even during the first outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020.


21:00 - ANZ China Emergency Management Team convene an emergency meeting to discuss how we respond to this news and how we can manage business continuity. ANZ China’s business continuity plan (BCP) site sits in Pudong area which had been closed a few days earlier. In order to ensure the normal operation of the bank and remote office, and deal with unexpected issues that may occur, the decision is made the best way forward is to organise a capable team to be stationed at the Lujiazui office for critical services. There is only three hours remaining before the estimated closure of all city cross-river roads.


21:25 - Danny Huang, Head of Technology for ANZ China, texts his team to select a core group to come back to Lujiazui office for this critical mission.


21:33 - Several team members put their hands up for the task. “I'll pack up and take a shower, I'm ready to go at any time," one says. Recalling this simple and straightforward response, Danny is still deeply moved by his awesome team members.


23:05 - Danny Huang, Rex Zhang and Sharon Wang crossed the river via three different tunnels to the Mirae Asset Building in Lujiazui where ANZ Shanghai office is based to complete the mission.


People wait for a PCR test at the Mirae Asset Building where ANZ’s China office is located

People wait for a PCR test at the Mirae Asset Building where ANZ’s China office is located


What happened next?

1.     Creative solutions to maintain critical operations


After setting up their camps, Danny, Sharon and Rex cooperated to undertake system operation guarantee work for Australia, New Zealand and China in the early morning on behalf of several critical staff in China who would have been in the office but were locked in their communities. It was quite extraordinary for Technology team members to help with this work.


With the extremely special scenario of the bank's main and emergency office being locked down at the same time, they quickly came up with many contingency solutions and implemented them one by one. The team properly cooperated with the Operations, Finance and Compliance teams to complete the CBIRC 1104 regulatory report, the most important daily reporting for the local regulator.


At the same time, the emergency response team also responded quickly, using innovative methods to solve problems for global market department colleagues (who cannot access systems from home) and set-up connectivity with the Shanghai Gold Exchange, Shanghai Futures Exchange and National Debt Trading Center.


After seeing trading operations of the Global Markets carried out in an orderly manner, Henry Xu, ANZ Head of Markets Operation for China, said he would like to express his heartfelt thanks to our partners in the Technology on-ground team.


The view from ANZ’s Shanghai office - a building reads “I love Shanghai”

1.     Multi-skill team


Because of the extension of the full-city lockdown, the team has continued to live in the office and have had to help with requests from many different teams including for regulatory report submission, transferring client forms, managing company operations and set-up connections. This has all been completed with appropriate approval from Legal, Compliance and department heads and the Technology team have been authorised with permission to conduct this emergency work.


According to the Technology team, living in the office has been tough as no restaurants are open and there is no accommodation in the Mirae Assets building. Instead, the team became innovative to cook fresh food and try to maintain a good living routine with necessary physical exercise as well.


The emergency team enjoy a fresh meal together

The emergency team enjoy a fresh meal together


3.     Supporting each other


Due to the very limited time available to prepare for this amazing task of living in the office, members of the emergency team only brought a small amount of convenience food with them when arriving in the office.


Since March 28, restaurants, convenience stores and nearby shopping malls in Mirae Assets Building have been closed and online takeout has been stopped. While the team members were busy with the quick fix of all urgent tasks, Huang Xiaoguang, ANZ China CEO and Head of Greater China, contacted the restaurant of local hotels for food delivery. Over the next few days, the CEO’s office, Chief Operating Officer, Talent & Culture and Property teams relayed to help order meals for the emergency team.



The emergency team prepare a healthy, fresh meal

The emergency team prepare a healthy, fresh meal


Talent & Culture regularly checked-in with the families of the emergency team and offered help when needed. Outside of work responsibilities, the emergency team also took the initiative to water flowers in the office on a regular basis. The team says they expect the world will still be full of flowers when it returns after the epidemic.


Staff from a peer bank who were locked down in the same area also launched active mutual assistance, sharing both information, and fresh food and snacks to support each other.


Emergency team member Rex Zhang enjoys gifts of his favourite sport to lift team spirits

Emergency team member Rex Zhang enjoys gifts of his favourite sport to lift team spirits


Danny Huang is Head of Technology, China and Elsa Huang is Institutional Corporate Communication Manager for ANZ China


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