Samantha came to College in 2005 from regional NSW, studying a Bachelor of Economics. Samantha is currently the Executive Manager of Retail Deposits at Comm Bank. She has led a diverse career in finance and has held a variety of different positions in Citi and Comm Bank. Samantha shared with us insights into a career in finance, discussed leadership and talked about memories of College.
Please tell us a bit more about yourself – where are you originally from and where did you grow up?
I grew up in Griffith in regional NSW. It’s still my favourite place on earth and I love to get back there as much as I can! I attended boarding school in Sydney from year nine and then was lucky enough to head to Drew’s for my university years.
What were your favourite memories and what parts of College life were you involved in?
Definitely the connections made with people were my favourite part of College life. I loved that there was a mixed group of smart, motivated people all there in one place – the vibe was always exciting. My favourite memories were the more social aspects such as celebration dinners, formals, and even just coming together for nightly formal dinners – the camaraderie was always there.
How has St Andrew’s influenced your life after College (if it has)?
It sounds corny – but the people have left a lasting impact on my life. 15 years on, not only are many of my friends from St Andrew’s still my closest friends today, it also gave me a strong network which has been of huge help to me professionally and personally.
How did you see the College change for women whilst you were there? And have you noticed any further changes since you left?
As one of the earlier years of women at the College, it was definitely in a transition period. You could see the remnants of history in some of the traditions. Over my time and since, that has dropped away and I love seeing and hearing updates from the College today, including the female Senior Students who have been elected over the years.
Your two younger brothers attended College in the years following you. Did you encourage them to apply? And what was it like to all be at College at the same time?
I definitely encouraged them – including with some healthy banter to not even think about attending rival colleges! It was so fun to all be there together, three years in a row. And the best part was that we built friendships across our shared friends – so we have triple the number of friends than we would have normally! Some of my closest friends today are friends from my brothers’ years.
You are currently the Executive Manager of Retail Deposits at the Commonwealth Bank? Could you tell us about what is involved in your role?
In my role, I’m responsible for the management of our deposit products at CBA for retail customers – think savings accounts and term deposits. It’s an exciting role as it’s the biggest deposit book in the country, so it provides a lot of scope for driving change at scale for improving products, features, services and risks for our millions of customers.
You have held several different leadership positions during your time at Comm Bank. What are some of the most rewarding aspects and challenges of leadership positions?
I really love working with teams, and helping people achieve their personal development goals: that is definitely the most rewarding part, seeing people grow and flourish. The challenges are always there in that you have an idea of what you want to do in terms of ideas and strategy, but you need to optimise those against limited resources, be it people, time or funding. It’s an eternal challenge but one that makes you a better professional.
We also know that you have a young family. How do you and your partner balance your careers with family and life outside of work?
We don’t have family in Sydney, so we make it work from having an equal and shared approach to parenting… and a good day care centre! My husband and I also make sure we prioritise exercise and social catch ups with each of our friends, so that we can keep energised.
What are you reading/ watching or listening to at the moment that you’d recommend?
I just finished my lockdown reading: the highlight was Red Notice, the true story of an American financier in the wild west of Russia’s emerging private market. Without giving the story away, it’s incredible how author Bill Browder’s actions have led to the instigation of “Magnitsky Laws” in most OECD countries around the world, to crack down on human right offenders by applying sanctions to their personal assets.
Do you have any advice for young Androvians looking to enter the financial sector?
Be open to opportunities, and don’t have a pre-defined idea of what working in finance is. Before I starting speaking to people and getting experience in the industry, I thought banking and finance essentially meant investment banking. But there is such a variety of roles and functions out there. I spent my first five years at Citi working with Apple and other multinational clients on their payment systems and strategies: partnering with software engineers in Cupertino was never in my pre-defined view of what finance was! But it was fascinating, and added incredible depth and experience to my career.
Samantha shared some photos with us from her time at Drew’s: