Women in Business Leadership – Gail Kelly to Retire

It would be interesting to know what Westpac Group’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director has planned for the next step in her career now that she’s handing over the reins of the banking group.

For 11 years, Gail Kelly she has consistently been a trailblazer. First, for being the first woman to have led a Big Four Bank, and second for encouraging more women at Westpac to take on more leadership positions. When Gail, 57, first joined Westpac in 2008, the number of women leaders was as low as 32%. This has increased to 44%… and is still climbing.

Gail is involved with a number of other organisations, holding positions as a board member with some. She has also been CARE Australia’s Ambassador for Women’s Empowerment since 2011 where she plays a major role in promoting the positive impact of investing in women and girls in developing countries.

Ms Kelly has achieved many other titles for herself, including being one of the only two Australian women to make the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women list in 2014. She is also Australia’s highest paid banker and the best paid woman.

She has had what seems like an amazing career journey that has taken her from teaching in Zimbabwe, to becoming a bank teller, to chief executive officer of one of the ‘Big Four’ Australian banks. In 2013 she was overseeing approximately 36,000 employees in Australia, New Zealand, and around the world, plus global assets of A$677.5 billion.

Sadly, when she retires in February 2015, Gail would be leaving us with only six other female chief executive officers in the top 200 companies listed on the ASX (she’s being replaced by senior Westpac executive Brian Hartzer). Hopefully her work and the work other women leaders are doing can help boost the numbers.

Three Tips from Gail Kelly on Leadership:

Step up, if you want to climb the corporate ladder. “Back yourself. Be prepared to have a go. Be prepared to put your hand up, before you even think you’re ready for a role.”

Trust the people around you. “There are people out there who want to support you. Ask for the opportunities, dig deep when those opportunities come your way and have a go.”

If gender equality is your priority, make it known. “It’s up to every leader to call out gender equality as a key priority for their organisation. It takes more than just words; you need a clear plan with measurable outcomes.”

Share your leadership tips and stories

Do you have tips for other women who are looking to climb the corporate ladder? Or maybe a story about how you made it to the management or executive level?


Image attribution: feminaust.org

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