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A chat with industry legend David Gonski

Wednesday 21 October, 2020
by Sarah Valente

As part of The BFSO Young Ambassador Program, my fellow ambassadors and I have received many opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals, experts on ethics and leaders in the banking and finance industry. I was honoured to have the opportunity to meet with ANZ’s outgoing Chairman, David Gonski and to speak with him on all things ethics and leadership. David has an unprecedented career in the industry and as a recent graduate I have been inspired by his achievements and was honoured to share some of my own experiences with him.

Our catch up commenced with warm welcomes via a Zoom chat and a discussion on the arrangements we have both been working under in recent months due to Covid-19. We discussed my experiences as a young ambassador and our coincidence of both studying Business at the University of New South Wales - particularly the fond memories of time spent at the UNSW Roundhouse. Furthermore, we discussed the importance of ethical conduct in the workplace and I sought to understand his thoughts on how we can improve ‘doing business.’ David advised that ethical conduct best be derived from each individual, and that a good corporate culture is founded on the front line, among staff and peers which emanates to customers. He advised that there is still work to be done with regard to the conduct in our industry but we have already made great leaps of improvement which shall continue into the future. The Banking and Financial Services Oath (The BFSO) plays a significant role in this process.

As I was knowingly speaking to a legend in the industry, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask about David’s efficacious career and undeniable leadership skills. We discussed his experiences, from working as a lawyer at Freehills, to his founding of an investment bank and his role as an advisor and chairman at a number of large enterprises. I learned that David saw his strengths as a good risk manager and much preferred to work on projects as a risk mitigator than the creator of new ideas. Once learning this he sought out good opportunities that were challenging and extended his skillset, which led him to his roles as chairman of various organisations. He emphasised the need to steer away from a linear career plan, to live serendipitously and take on opportunities as they come. He reminded me of the importance of praising your achievements, not focusing too heavily on your failures and creating genuine relationships with those you want to work with and learn from.

I thoroughly enjoyed my catch up with David, he was both inspiring, knowledgeable and is someone who certainly emanates values of honesty, integrity and authenticity. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to share experiences and seek advice from an individual of such vast experience in the industry. I’d also like to recognise David for all he has achieved as ANZ Chairman and wish him well on his next adventure and thank him for his support for The BFSO!


There are 1 comments for A chat with industry legend David Gonski.

Re: A chat with industry legend David Gonski

Saturday 31 October, 2020
by Pip
Thank you Sarah for sharing your inspiring conversation with David Gonski. There are some great take-aways for all readers including important reminders that good ethics is the result and responsibility of individuals and a cheerful nod to acknowledging ones own achievements rather than dwelling on failures.

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The Oath

  • Trust is the foundation of my profession.
  • I will serve all interests in good faith.
  • I will compete with honour.
  • I will pursue my ends with ethical restraint.
  • I will help create a sustainable future.
  • I will help create a more just society.
  • I will speak out against wrongdoing and support others who do the same.
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  • In these and all other matters;
    My word is my bond.