Everything You Need To Know About The 2022 WiBF National Industry Awards

The sold-out event comprising 400 members, guests and sponsors gathered to celebrate the very best of the best in the banking and finance sectors. Susan Armstrong shares all the details…  

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Wibf 2023 National Industry Awards Finalists

The skies may have been grey, but nothing could have cast a shadow over the glorious, sold-out event that was the Women in Banking and Finance (WiBF) National Industry Awards, 2022. Inside the iconic ballroom of the Ivy Sydney, there was an explosion of colour, and the mood was electric, as 400 members, guests and sponsors gathered to celebrate the very best of the best women in the banking and finance sectors. 

To kick off proceedings, first to take to the stage was MC, Sheila Vijeyarasa. The enigmatic executive coach, author and former CFO, welcomed guests, reminding everyone in the room that the day had been a long time coming. The third WiBF Awards to date, but the first in-person event, there was much cause for celebration: “We are thrilled to celebrate this historical moment with all of you today,” she said. After the Acknowledgement of Country, she invited WiBF Chair Diana D’Ambra to say a few words. 

As an independent Board Chair, Diana took the opportunity to thank the WiBF Directors for their continued support and dedication to its purpose. “WiBF is passionate about making a tangible impact,” she said. “Not just increasing the representation of women in key leadership positions, but also promoting contemporary and inclusive leadership across all stages of one’s career.” She announced that WiBF is starting a new and very exciting chapter and invited CEO Stephanie Girard to the stage. 

Stephanie, who joined WiBF in April, revealed to the crowd that there had been a record number of nominations, “which goes to show the growing desire by all our WiBF members to continue to recognise and empower amazing individuals,” she said. 

“Since becoming CEO five months ago, I have met exceptional individuals,” Stephanie continued. “I’m so honoured to have been trusted into this role. I’m really excited to be part of such an amazing organisation – and about WiBF’s future! A special thank you to the WiBF team, our volunteers, our judges, and thank you to all our sponsors for your ongoing support.” 

The perfect segue, the event’s main sponsor Commonwealth Bank of Australia and its Chief Operating Officer of Global Markets, Rebecca Crabb, was next on stage. “When I started in the markets a long time ago, I used to go to the WiBF events and they helped shape my career,” she revealed. “I’ve had some amazing mentors through WiBF, so it’s really great to be here in this position.” 

After congratulating all who were nominated across the 13 categories, Rebecca shared with everyone the Commonwealth Bank’s initiative called the Career Comeback Program, which is now in its third year. Near and dear to Rebecca’s heart, “It’s something that when you’ve been out of the workforce for quite a long time, due to having children, a career break, or taken some time to study, it’s often daunting when you re-enter the workforce. We’ve created a program that goes for 12 weeks, where you’re in a supported environment … with a sponsor … and we work with you through that program. I’m very passionate about this as it brings a lot of diversity into the workplace.”   

It was then onto the very first winner of the day, with Steven Hur, Chief Investment Officer at Wingate, presenting the Achievement in Private Wealth and Superannuation category. He expressed to the crowd that he was “humbled to be given the opportunity to present as a male participant and recognise the extraordinary achievements of women in what is a very male-dominated industry”. He then announced the day’s first winner, Jorden Lam from HESTA Super. 

Next was the Achievement in Retail Banking category, which Jessica Power, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking Australia for HSBC, presented. “After working in banking for over 25 years, I’ve seen the important work that WiBF does, and how with that support women have even better careers in this sector,” Jessica said. The winner of this category was Louise Beazley from Commonwealth Bank of Australia. 

Next up, Lisa Frazier, Chief Operating Officer, and Yien Hong, General Counsel and Company Secretary, of Judo Bank stepped onto the stage to present Achievement in Small Business Banking category. “We recently launched our Judo Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Strategy, of which gender diversity is a huge part in one of our key pillars,” explained Yien. “Which makes these WiBF Awards so important – to recognise the achievements of women in business banking,” she continued. The winner was Soraya Alali from Commonwealth Bank of Australia.  

With three categories down and 10 more to go, there was a much-anticipated break in proceedings for a very special interview with Deanne Stewart, CEO of Aware Super, expertly conducted by WiBF’s President, Sangeeta Venkatesan

Wibf 2023 National Industry Awards Finalists

Both extraordinary women with stellar careers, the 25-minute fireside chat was a masterclass in human-centered leadership. Deanne shared her thoughts on learning mindsets, gender equality, privilege, and diversity and inclusion. “I heard a great analogy about diversity and inclusion the other day,” she revealed. “Diversity is like making sure people feel invited to the party, while inclusion is making sure they’re on the dancefloor.”  

The self-described “absolute optimist” went on to say, “everywhere I look I see incredible women doing incredible stuff … and this room is a huge testament to that … However, there’s still a long way to go. There’s the role that each and every single one of us in this room has in pulling forward and up as many women as possible. We’ve all got that job and that’s what I call ‘real privilege’. If you’re in a privileged position, you have to use that privilege for good.” 

Full of wisdom, experience, knowledge and advice, the room could have listened to the women talk all day, but alas there were still awards to be announced! So, it was on with the proceedings… 

It was time to acknowledge the remarkable work of the outstanding judging panel, which comprised of Ashley Stephenson, Dr Juliet Bourke, Ian Saines, Peter Cook, Sophie Ray, Sally Loane, Trent Alston, Virginia Malley and Zarmeen Pavri. Each judge was responsible for reviewing the nominees for three categories and, to thank them, WiBF added a new sponsor category this year called the Judges Recognition, sponsored by PwC.  

Wibf 2023 National Industry Awards Finalists

Photo: Chair, President, CEO and Directors of WiBF Board as well as some of the 2022 WiBF National Industry Award judges.

Liz O’Brien, who is a member of PwC Australia’s Executive Board and is the Managing Partner for the Audit Business, said, “At PwC we’re incredibly committed to diversity. While we have made a lot of progress, there’s still so much work to be done and that’s why supporting initiatives like today is so important.” 

The next category on the list was for Achievement in EA/PA role. Sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Victoria Ledda, EGM Operations Technology Institutional Banking and Markets, was welcomed on stage. A new award this year, it was created to “recognise the amazing contribution that our EAs and PAs play in our everyday lives in our companies”, she explained. “We would quite literally be lost without them.” The deserved winner of the award was Cynthia Savage from Westpac Banking Corporation. 

It was then time for Christina Tonkin, WiBF Vice-President and Managing Director, Corporate Finance Institutional at ANZ, to present another new award; Achievement in Operations, Technology or Customer Support. “This is a special award; the inaugural award,” said Christina. “Of all the categories, it’s one of the most significant and challenging areas over the past couple of years for those who work in that sector … The winner is Anastasia Cammaroto from National Australia Bank.” 

May Cai, Chief Risk Officer for Prime Capital, the sponsor of the WiBF Award for Achievement in Regulation and Compliance, was next to be invited to say a few words. “For those who don’t know, Monday (29 August) was Equal Pay Day,” said May. “This is a symbolic day dedicated to raising awareness of the gender pay gap. It currently falls 60 days from the end of the financial year, representing the extra days that women must work in order to earn the same as their male counterparts. This represents a huge global challenge but it’s also an opportunity … to create change, no matter how big or small.” The well-deserved winner was Freeke van Son from Macquarie Group. 

The next award on the list was for Achievement in Professional Services. The category sponsor, The Australian Turf Club, was represented by Melinda Madigan, its Executive General Manager of Commercial, who was invited to say a few words. Melinda shared with the room that for most of her impressive career, she was the only female on the executive team and in highly male-dominated industries. “I proudly made my mark and delivered results by staying true to my personal brand and always maintaining the highest level of professional standards. Surrounding myself with likeminded women and inspiring women like the people in this room today has been absolutely integral.” The winner of this award was Paula Nassif from King & Wood Mallesons. 

Next was the WiBF Award for Achievement in Business Banking, and Judo Bank’s second sponsorship. Lisa Frazier, Chief Operating Officer, and Yien Hong, General Counsel and Company Secretary, were welcomed to the stage once again. “We believe that many men have helped women along the way, so we wanted to recognise all the Judo men here, supporting us, and all the men in the room today. Thank you,” Lisa said. The winner was Mikaela Rasmus from ANZ Banking Group. 

With only a handful of categories left, the WiBF Award for Achievement in Institutional Banking was next. Sarah Stewart, Citi’s Chief Country Compliance Officer, Independent Compliance Risk Management AUNZ, expressed how delighted she was to be at such a fabulous event before proudly saying, “In 2020, Citi made history – the first Wall Street bank to appoint a female CEO, Jane Fraser. It was also, for me personally, an amazing moment. For the first time in my career, my reporting line to my CEO was made up exclusively of women.” Sarah went on to talk about Citi’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion before announcing the winner of the award – Nancy Tchou from Morgan Stanley. 

It was then time to welcome Ansarada, sponsor of the WiBF Award for Product or Technical Innovator Award. Rachel Riley, Co-Founder and Head of Strategic Operations at Ansarada, was proud to share with the room that her company was founded as 50% female, and even prouder that the technology it provides helps those in banking and finance do what they do best. She was also excited to share that the winner of the award was Sue Ann Wong from Wisr. 

Next the winner of the Rising Star Award was revealed. Madeleine Hoang, Associate Director – Regulatory Change and Conduct Risk at Macquarie Bank, was invited to the stage. She said, “Macquarie is proud of our relationship with WiBF, this year sponsoring the Rising Star Award. This award celebrates a woman in the early stages of her career, who is making an exceptional impact within her organisation … And the winner is, Chelsea Knox from Macquarie.”

For the penultimate award, Deutsche Bank was the sponsor of the WiBF Inclusive Leader Award category. Glenn Morgan, Managing Director and CEO of Deutsche Bank Australia, took to the stage to announce the winner. “What a buzz in the room! It’s just a wonderful, wonderful event,” he said before sharing some news on a “WiBF-sanctioned advertisement”… 

“There is a second event that WiBF does every year and that is the Annual Forum. It will be a limited audience this year, with just over 100 people, and it will be moderated by Adam Spencer, one of the cleverest and funniest people I know. The panel has also just been revealed, and it’s Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, the CEO of Optus and one of Australia’s most remarkable executives; Gabrielle Trainor, one of the most experienced directors this country has; and Lauren Jackson who, in my humble opinion, is possibly the greatest sportsperson Australia has ever produced. We look forward to seeing some of you at the event.”  

It was then onto the winner of the Inclusive Leader Award, who was Faz Goren from Bendigo & Adelaide Bank.  

And finally, the last, but certainly not the least, category was the Diversity & Inclusion Initiative of the Year, sponsored by Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Victoria Hickey, Chief Financial Officer Business Bank, was the final sponsor to take to the stage for the announcement of the winner. “I thought I’d leave you with a bit of an upbeat story around diversity and inclusion. I have the privilege of being the first-ever CFO at CBA in one of the business units, and in about three weeks’ time, the second-ever CFO will be joining me. She has spent the last 10 months on maternity leave and got the job before she left. I think those kinds of stories can make a difference.”  

“So, finally we get to talk about this amazing award and the winners are… Hayley Watson, Shannon Sarow and Shannyn Hammel, on behalf of Bank of Queensland. Congratulations.” 

And with that, the event was over. And what an event it was. Proudly sponsored by Commonwealth Bank of Australia, these awards celebrated the talented women leading by example across Australia’s banking and finance industry, as well as the men, women and organisations working to improve gender diversity across the sector.  

WiBF’s mission is to make a tangible impact on gender diversity in the banking and finance sector, with an emphasis on increasing representation of women in key leadership positions. Congratulations again to all the deserved winners, and a special thank you to all the 2022 National Industry Awards sponsors. 

See you next year. 

Written by: Susan Armstrong is the Founder & Editor of The Suite Collective, a media company committed to celebrating, supporting and informing women in leadership.

Wibf 2023 National Industry Awards Finalists

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Congratulations again to the 2022 Award Winners & Finalists – Watch Promotional VIDEO

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