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A day in the life of…
Graduate Strategy Development at Commonwealth Bank
Cynthia Vaikunthan graduated with a Bachelor of Law/Bachelor of Business from University of Technology Sydney in 2016 and is now Graduate Strategy Development at Commonwealth Bank
I wake up to the dulcet tones of my alarm screeching out ‘Morning Flower’ in its busy and persistent attempt to wake me up. Its 6:30am. I think to myself just 5 mins longer…
15 mins later…. I begin slowly dragging myself out of bed and the day begins….
There is no better way to start the morning than dancing to power ballads to get through my morning routine. You said it Aretha, ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T’. I even make it 5mins early to the train station and get a seat on the train!
While on the train I flip through my emails to get a head start on my day. I catch up on all the latest news and emerging trends in technology and innovation. Every good strategist needs to stay up to date!
I meet some of my friends, who are also grads, for a quick morning coffee and chat, before heading up to my desk. I take a glance outside my window. 180-degree views of Darling Harbour, the sun reflecting off the sparkling water…. I’m lucky to enjoy this view every day! I open my calendar to check my schedule. Back to back meetings; it’s going to be busy, but I am ready.
I assume my role of ‘Huddle Master’ for the Strategy Development team. I call out ‘Team Huddle’ and my team take their posts around our Visual Management Board to discuss weekly work items. Board Paper, Thought Leadership pieces and designing and workshopping projects across the Business and Private Banking’s (BPB) business units are all on the agenda. Exciting times ahead for the team!
I have a video conference with members of our Agribusiness Innovation team. We workshop ideas to implement new tools for our frontline teams so that they can connect remotely with our customers. Roles are allocated and designs are created to take to our partners, a major software consultant.
Straight after the conference I have to rush off to a meeting with the strategy and operations team committee. We discuss planning and actions for our extended team meeting coming up. It’s all about team building so we have games, trivia and role playing. We’re also planning a great line up of speakers from the Financial Crimes, Sustainable Change, Productivity and of course Strategy Development teams. Each of us are left with actions to follow up on.
I grab a quick cup of tea before joining a question and answer think tank. The attendees are frontline team members from across the business, including Regional and Agribusiness, Small to Medium Enterprises, Corporate Financial Services and Private Bank. Q & A gives us some great insights into the areas for improvement within our processes and systems, for our people and customers. Definitely some food for thought there….speaking of food, my stomach is rumbling.
I have lunch with the other graduates from across the Bank, as we catch up on work, love and life, before going for a nice walk around the city. I make a quick pit stop at Haighs chocolate for a mid-afternoon coffee-caramel chocolate pick me up!
I quickly grab another cup of tea, before dialling into a conference call with my interstate and Sydney-based Business and Private Banking graduate colleagues. We plan and map out our next steps in preparation for our ‘Succession Planning’ presentation to the Senior Leadership team in late November.
After a morning of meetings I am back at my desk. I have a chat to my team about our favourite Avengers (Captain America has my vote!) before settling down into some desk research for the latest BPB Insights thought leadership piece on the ‘Workforce of the Future’. My reading on the train this morning on technology and innovation trends definitely came in handy!
As I write the ‘Workforce of the Future’ article my manager calls out ‘Team, we need to talk’. The executive committee meeting is tomorrow, so we come up with some ‘hard questions’ that the Board will get asked by relevant stakeholders. The reason we do this is to try and find holes in our strategy that we can then plan and work towards. We come up with 20-30 difficult questions to put together in a pack for our Executive Committee so they are well equipped. Now back to the ‘Workforce of the Future’ article….
The article is coming together nicely, when suddenly my team send through an urgent request, ‘Cynthia, the Executive General Manager, needs some competitor analysis on our tech advantage for the Board Paper.’ ‘How long do I have to do it?’ I ask. ‘We need it done by close of business today please, the meeting with the executive committee is tomorrow.’ I hustle and multi-task between calls with Finance and Strategy teams across the business, read through competitor media releases and annual reports, while collating, analysing and modelling data and put together a PowerPoint pack to submit.
Success! I complete the pack and email it. I grab a quick cup of tea before going on a walk and talk meeting with my manager to go through my development plan. We discuss my short-term learning, development and career goals as well as my vision for my career. Not only a manager, but also a mentor and friend, I feel I can count on him to point me in the right direction to achieve my long-term goals.
Back to my desk and I complete my Workforce of the Future’ BPB Insights article. I send the article to my team for feedback in preparation for it to be published and circulated across the business next week.
It’s been a big day, but it’s not over yet. I quickly pack up my things and say goodbye to my team, before attending this month’s Grad Talk on Digital Citizenship. We hear from inspiring speakers from across the Bank telling us about mastering and sharing digital capabilities to work more productively and collaboratively. It’s so great to be a part of this community where we can share and learn! After the talk, the graduates stay back for the networking event which includes drinks and canapés with our business leaders.
What a day! I head home with my belly full and a big smile on my face after a great night of learning and networking. I still have enough energy for a quick gym session, though it definitely feels like a weights day, not a cardio one- thankfully I’ve hit beyond my step quota walking between meetings. Then I’ll unwind in front of the TV and head to bed. Looking forward to another action packed day at work tomorrow!
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