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Three ingredients – and 40 years - for an exciting career

Vishnu Shahaney working for Grindlays in the late 1980s

Pic: Vishnu Shahaney working for Grindlays in the late 1980s

It was 1980 when a young Vishnu Shahaney started his career at Grindlays bank in Calcutta, India. At the time, Vishnu attributed this starting point of his career to the bank paying well, having a good brand and offering decent training opportunities.


Fast forward to 2022 and Vishnu is now retiring following a four-decade long career across a wide variety of roles at Grindlays and then ANZ after the bank’s acquisition of Grindlays in 1984.


“You learn so much from customers, you build such great networks, you build friendships.” – Vishnu Shahaney


I recently caught up with Vishnu, who will leave the role of Country Head Singapore, South East Asia, India and Middle East, to discuss his diverse career choices, the importance of self-awareness and learning from the tough times.


ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott, Vishnu Shahaney and CFO Farhan Faruqui in Singapore

Pic: (L-R) ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott, Vishnu Shahaney and CFO Farhan Faruqui in Singapore


Vishnu and I have worked together for a very long time and I have personally seen how passionate he has remained about his customer relationships over that period. He is still in regular contact with customers from even his time many years ago in Australia, which I really admire.


According to Vishnu, the jobs that have always excited him have had three key ingredients – customers, profit and loss, and a large team of people.


“I've always believed banking is a people's business,” he explains. “You learn so much from customers, you build such great networks, you build friendships. And you can always count on them to support you when you need… It's the most interesting part of the job.” 


Vishnu in his Singapore-based office

Pic: Vishnu in his Singapore-based office


Vishnu says he has definitely experienced challenges in his career but he has always tried to find lessons from the tough times.


“When you make a mistake, you learn from it,” he says. “The first big blow up I had was (when) I was a trainee looking after the branch. There was fraud committed in that branch and I almost lost my job. That wasn't pleasant and it had a personal impact on me.”


But Vishnu says he learnt from the mistakes he made across his career and began to see the positive opportunities from a challenge.


“If there isn't a problem in the role to solve, after a while the fun goes out of it,” he says. “The learning element and the satisfaction of doing something that's added value to the organisation. To me, that's been the most exciting part of my career.”


Vishnu with the bank’s Indonesia team

Pic: Vishnu with the bank’s Indonesia team


On his personal development over the course of his career, Vishnu says he spent a lot of time trying to learn more about who he was as a person and a leader early on.


“I'm very self-conscious so I know my strengths and I absolutely know my weaknesses and areas for development,” he admits. “I've always spoken up for the things that matter so that taught me a lot of self-awareness.


“Also, when my personal values and the organisation’s values aligned… that made a huge difference.”

I’m very pleased to say Vishnu believes we are currently doing “a splendid job” articulating the values of the organisation.


Vishnu has had a massive impact on the bank throughout his career and I’ve been personally very grateful for his loyalty and advice over the years. And, of course, I wish him all the best after four decades at ANZ.


Shayne Elliott is CEO of ANZ


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