Lisa Gray Financy

Breakups that boosted a woman’s career

Finance executive Lisa Gray shares her success tips and explains why taking a sideways step can be the best career move.

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Breakups can be ugly. But if brilliantly executed, they can shake things up for the better. That’s how it has been for the career of high-powered businesswoman Lisa Gray who’s not afraid to take risks.

In 2011, and as former head of retail banking at National Australia Bank, Lisa led the award winning, NAB “break up” campaign.

Nowadays Lisa is chief executive of the $47 billion Victorian Funds Management Corporation and is known for her ability to transform companies and lead complex cultural change.

In her interview with The Constant Investor Lisa shares her tips for success.

She believes that developing leadership skills as early as possible is critical to successful transition from technical roles to management.

“One of the things I’ve seen so often with people is leaving it too late to get broader experience and leadership experience.

“Sometimes you need to go sideways, but have that conviction in yourself and belief in yourself that ultimately you will achieve the sorts of things you want to do” she says.

As a example, when Lisa was running the MLC’s insurance business it was reporting to the global group executive, she had a chance to move into banking which technically was at a lower reporting level.

But she took that risk in the hope it would open up a whole range of new opportunities.

“I think from a career perspective, and life generally, having as many choices and options as you can serves you well, so I’ve always tried to do different types of roles or move laterally or diagonally to do that.”

Great leaders are decisive and willing to pivot in a different direction if circumstances change.

“There’s decisiveness in a business context and a personal context” says Lisa.

When it comes to being decisive from a business perspective, she suggests framing it as thinking on choices not decisions.

“People can get a little white line fever around making a decision, they feel locked into it.

“Instead, think about things as making a choice, when you make a choice it’s based on the best data you have at that point in time.

“We can always make a new choice down the track if new data comes along or the context changes.

“Anyone is qualified to make a choice, as long as they’ve got the data and strategic context.”

When it comes to financial decisions and investing, Lisa’s advice is simple;

“Ideally you want to set yourself up early as a long term investor and look through the cycles.

“It’s about being diversified and being clear on what your goals are at the end of the day.

“Some may be short term but hopefully most are long term, stick with that plan” she says..

To that point, Lisa cautions it’s about finding balance, not focusing entirely on long term financial goals.

“You do see some people only look to the future and miss out on life on the way through. It is about how much you’re going to tuck away to have fun. At the end of the day, I certainly work to fund my fun!”

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