Rising to Success

Cindy He, Manager at ANZ’s Industry and Innovation Team, recently joined WiBF CEO, Stephanie Girard on the “Banking and Finance Leaders Shaping the Industry” podcast, diving into her remarkable career journey and her recent achievement as the winner of the 2023 Rising Star Award.

WiBF’s 2023 Rising Star
Cindy was announced as the 2023 WiBF Rising Star last September at the prestigious WiBF National Industry Awards in Sydney. The judges described her as an inspiring young woman, an innovative thinker and upcoming leader. Despite her early career stage, Cindy is already regarded as a blueprint for the future of banking and finance within her organisation.
Expressing her gratitude, Ms. He shared the exciting moment of receiving the award while on vacation in Bali, creating a memorable and proud experience for her and her family.

“My whole family were just jumping up and down and also just very proud of me and that was one of the greatest feelings ever,” said Cindy.

A Diverse Background
The conversation then shifted to Cindy’s diverse career journey, starting with her early volunteer roles in broadcast radio at the age of 15. Cindy shared her experiences reporting on pop culture, news, and youth issues in Cantonese Chinese, showcasing her early passion for communication and journalism.

I ended up doing this volunteer position at the local radio station, reporting on pop culture, the news and youth issues in Cantonese Chinese. That was an incredible experience for someone at 15. While I was doing that, I got approached by SBS Radio Australia, to take on another role voicing children’s stories for their Cantonese program. So, I was doing the news sometimes and other times voicing little animal characters for children’s stories. You may not think it’s relevant, but it trains you with speaking, elocution, and language. That was also extremely useful later in life,” Ms He shared.

The discussion continued as Cindy elaborated on her background in arts and law, majoring in Asian studies and delving into topics such as the legacy of World War II and media history in East Asia. She emphasised her curiosity and love for science fiction, her experience being a published author of a science fiction short story during university, and why science fiction has helped her think outside the box – to be creative and forward-thinking in other aspects of life.

A Taste of Global Business
Stephanie then explored Cindy’s transition into law and her subsequent admission as a qualified lawyer. Cindy detailed her internship with AusTrade, working at the Australian consulate in Guangzhou, China, which provided insights into global business, trade and diplomacy.

“I was working with Australian diplomats promoting bilateral trade between Australia and China and that was incredibly insightful because that was part of Government, but it also gave me a true first taste of global business and how fast things move in that area,” Cindy said.

From Graduate to Leader
The conversation circled back to Cindy’s entry into the banking industry through ANZ’s graduate program in institutional banking. She recounted her varied experiences in different rotations, highlighting her journey to the innovation team within transaction banking. She emphasised the importance of adaptability and interest in navigating the dynamic landscape of the banking industry, especially amidst rapid technological advancements.

Delving into her personal values, Ms. He highlighted the significance of embracing failure and setbacks, as well as the importance of mental resilience and communication skills.

Understanding and Acceptance
Reflecting on her career challenges, Cindy discussed overcoming doubts about her unconventional background and learning when to celebrate achievements. She stressed the importance of showcasing skills and experiences gained outside of banking to colleagues, emphasising the unique perspective brought by a multidisciplinary background.
Ms He elaborated that many ambitious women can have strong perfectionist tendencies, which means being mentally prepared for occasional setbacks and challenges is critical to mental resilience.

In the final segment, Cindy offered advice to her younger self, encouraging more frequent outreach and communication, especially in the virtual work environment that emerged during the pandemic. The podcast concluded with Cindy sharing her passion for science fiction, her love for reading and learning, and her engagement in extracurricular activities, including advisory committees and volunteering for multicultural associations.

To listen to Cindy’s podcast episode click below:

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