AGSM graduate Anushka Weeratunga, named a Boss Young Executive 2016

Monday, 9 January 2017  Features

AGSM graduate Anushka Weeratunga, named a Boss Young Executive 2016, reflects on how his MBA has helped him successfully navigate through disruptive innovation.

Q: You are Executive Director Cashflow Transaction Services, CBA. Tell us what you do.

A: My team and I are focused on the distribution of transactional banking products to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Customers use them every day to receive money, pay suppliers and manage their everyday banking requirements.

Internally, I’m accountable across the bank and our customer segments, so most of my days are spent making sure we’re meeting everyone’s needs, from local fish and chip shops to some of Australia’s biggest brands, now and into the future.

Q: What are some of the challenges of the role and how do you overcome them?

A: Our team supports a vast customer base, and we provide services that are critical to their ability to do business. So I think making our service invisible is our biggest challenge. Internally, balancing various stakeholders across the business can be challenging when deciding what features and enhancements to support, how to roll out compliance changes and managing the flow of changes to our front line sales staff.

We need to ensure changes are deployed without fatiguing the teams or confusing our customers, so we have to stay on the ball – connected to our customers, across the technologies and in touch with the rest of the bank.

Q: What are the most important things you learned during your MBA and how have they helped you get to where you are today?

A: I have an academic and professional background in finance and funds management so I was confident with the numbers side of the course.

I think the main thing I learned is that diversity of thought is a crucial factor for success. I got the opportunity to mix with people from different industries, with different experiences and perspectives, which helped me to think beyond how I traditionally thought; it gave me a new frame of reference.

Q: Why did you decide to do an MBA?

A: I was interested to learn about management and the softer skills. Dealing with people, understanding HR and especially marketing – how and why we can win customers – were all things I wanted to understand better. The MBA was the best way to sample those disciplines, to bring cohesion to tie it all together into a single skill set.

The second part of the decision was to network. I wanted to get to know a cohort with different ideas, different backgrounds and experiences – I was a knowledge sponge! And finally, I promised myself I’d do it by the time I was thirty as I didn’t want to run out of time.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering embarking on an MBA what would it be?

A: My one piece of advice is to think carefully before you do the degree, with three things in mind:

  • You should understand why you’re doing it, because it’s a big commitment and you need to be intrinsically motivated
  • Educate yourself about it, so you understand what’s involved and how the course works; you can get lost in the process otherwise
  • It’s helpful to talk to as many people as you can who’ve already done it, so you can be comfortable with the demands it’ll make on you and the people who’ll need to accommodate you.

I’m a practical person and I found that having thought about these things before I began was a big help.

Q: As we enter a new decade of disruptive innovation, what does the future of leadership look like?

A: In the coming years, five generations will share the workplace and the leadership opportunity resides in bringing together a diverse workforce. The workplace is no longer one of physical proximity, so leadership will be about adapting and accommodating – being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Most importantly, leaders will need to assimilate various sources of information and come to a cohesive output. But if you have a moral ‘north’ and know who you really are, you can work towards that – everything else will be a secondary choice. I think values based decision making is going to be successful for all leaders in the future.

Find out more about Boss Young Executives 2016