As one of ANZ’s ‘Notable Women’, Liz Maguire is recognised throughout the organisation for her skills in two areas that are key to the bank’s future – digital innovation and transformational leadership.
She says she never would have got there without the guidance and support of several strong women, including her mother.
“I’ve been lucky to have some great female role models at work. All the women I have worked for have pushed me a bit, and that has really helped.”
One of her chief achievements has been heading the development and roll-out of ANZ’s goMoney app, which is still the most downloaded of its kind in New Zealand, four years after it was launched.
“Technology has always been the interesting bit, for me. Before I did digital, I did consumer finance, I’ve always been interested in the things that are a bit out there,” she says.
“When I started in digital seven years ago it was this little thing off to the side. Now it’s everything. I’m in the unique position of being at the crossroads of our digital and our staff-assisted channels, looking across all our customer touchpoints.”
Liz, 46, grew up in Mt Roskill, Auckland. She started her banking career after winning a place on Westpac’s graduate programme.
“I was the first child in my family to go to university. I was born with one hand, and my mother was quite pragmatic about it, saying ‘well, you can’t be a typist or a hairdresser, so you’re going to have to use your brain’. I did a commerce degree in labour relations and management, if you’d told me then I was going to end up in banking I would have laughed.”
But something clicked as a result of the Westpac grad scheme and Liz’s CV includes stints at Lloyds TSB and American Express in the UK, and ANZ in both Australia and New Zealand.
She says ANZ, which has a raft of measures designed to encourage equal gender representation and equal pay, “is a great organisation to work for”.
“Notable Women [which focuses on building confidence and capability of senior women] has been phenomenal in terms of giving women some reason to be more visible, with concrete and pragmatic help. A lot of us didn’t know what to ask for, so it’s been great for networking.”
Liz particularly singles out former boss Leone McRae, for whom she worked at both Westpac and ANZ, as a supportive mentor.
“I was a brand-new graduate when I started working for her and she was really good at forcing me out of my comfort zone.
“More recently, my last boss, Kerri Thompson, said she wanted me to work full-time on this big project that I really wasn’t keen on. I really didn’t want to do it, but she said, ‘look, it will be just six weeks, I know you can do it’.”
Liz acquiesced and ended up working on that project – the $100 million transformation of National Bank and ANZ branches into one brand – for two years.
“It was a fantastic opportunity,” she says. “I don’t know why I was so reluctant.”
Despite working in a supportive environment, Liz admits she has struggled at times with imposter syndrome.
“I think all women feel they shouldn’t be at the meeting, at times. I think that’s such a truism for everyone.
“Looking back now, I would have gotten over that faster. I think I should have been kinder to myself.”
Liz and her husband have two daughters, aged 11 and eight. She says it’s important for senior leaders to show their human side and to remember their colleagues have lives outside work.
“When I came back after having my second child, my boss took me aside and said, ‘well, obviously you need to work one day a week from home’. I remember saying, ‘really, can I?’
“Now, when I have staff coming back from parental leave, I say ‘these tips and tricks worked for me, they might be helpful for you’.”
Crucially, she also models the kind of commitment she expects.
“I don’t work long hours. When my kids were small we shared after school care with friends, which made life easier. If you have a crisis at work you stay, but I don’t think you need to work long hours in a senior role. It’s about working smarter, not longer.”
Like reading about Inspiring Women? Click here to read more.