Sally Bruce

Top exec Sally Bruce on getting flexibility right

Banking business woman Sally Bruce shares her thoughts on being a top executive and getting workplace flexibility right.

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AMP Managing Director Sally Bruce is a New South Wales country girl at heart who’s been through business ups and downs, but she’s also someone who thinks many of us are thinking about workplace flexibility all wrong.

Sally witnessed her parents finance related stress when the family transport, mining and concrete businesses fell on tight times, often linked to lack of bank funding when it was needed most.

In The Constant Investor podcast, her childhood experience shaped her decision to pursue a career in financial services and taught her the importance of finding balance when blending family and work life, something her parents did really well.

Now, with over 25 years in the banking and financial services industry, Sally is recognised for her track record in consumer finance, change management and commitment to maintaining a work-life balance for herself and her team.

But family comes first.

Inspired by her parent’s ability to strike the often elusive balance between personal and business commitments, Sally prioritises her family as number one.

This is the reason she’s in full support of flexible working hours for her staff.

“We’re thinking about flexible working hours in the wrong way.

We think about the discount of full time it is, the management overlay, what they won’t be able to do and will they let you down” says Sally.

In her experience, flexibility plays out in the exact opposite way. The result of her decision to agree to any employee’s request for flexible working arrangements paid off.

“You get paid in loyalty, in commitment, in great passion.

“I’m a real believer that it’s very difficult to be your best at work, if you can’t be your best at home, flexible arrangements are an enabler to that”.

As a team player, she struggles with the common perception that chief executive and managing director roles are islands and oracles.

“These are absolutely at odds with who I am. Work is a team sport for me. I’m sixth of six children, I’ve never done anything on my own, I’ve never eaten a meal on my own!” she laughs.

She doesn’t hesitate in pointing out CEO’s aren’t necessarily the smartest people in the room “I’m as smart as the people around me, the team is a brains trust” she says.

It’s not her role to tell people what to do, instead she thinks of herself as a conductor of the team orchestra, bringing ideas together and facilitating action.

“It’s a dated perception to see these roles as the guy who issues orders and it all falls into place.

“It’s much more participative than that, it takes the wisdom of many to get it right”.

Getting it right when it comes to delivering ultimate customer service means always keeping the customer’s experience top of mind.

CEO’s and MD’s without a disciplined approach of staying close to the customer will lose sight of what’s really going on.

She may be the managing director of AMP but Sally doesn’t leave the difficult conversations to the call centre.

Making outbound calls to customers and engaging with them directly around their experiences, negative and positive, is a way to keep her finger on the pulse.

“We are always looking and learning to be different, to be better” says Sally.

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