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Hard work’s just one part of the answer...

06 June 2013

We connect to people everyday.

We build relationships.

We work with people, utilising each other and what we have to offer. In other words, we network.

We live in a world where everything’s about networks. Take the Internet – shorthand for the technical term “internetwork” – it’s the computerised version of what we do on a personal and business level.

I believe that to achieve anything, especially anything meaningful, you need to build relationships with other people who can help you. Sure, you have to want to work hard at it, but hard work on its own just isn’t the whole answer.

Let me give you a few examples – all of whom you can find on Ruby.

About a year ago, Brian Hartzer, Chief Executive of Australian Financial Services for Westpac, introduced me to an English friend of his, ‘Mrs Moneypenny’.

A former investment banker, Mrs Moneypenny is an author (she wrote for us on Ruby back in December 2012), who also writes a weekly column for the Financial Times FT Weekend Magazine.

Dubbed by MoneyWeek, “the only person who can make finance funny”, Heather McGregor, as she is known in the wider world, is my doppelganger – my separated-at-birth twin.

We look similar; we’re built the same; we’re around the same age; we share a love of Anya Hindmarsh handbags, it’s in our blood, which is why it wouldn’t surprise me if we shared a bit of DNA… but what really gets me is how similar we think.

“There is no such sentence as, ‘I can’t do it’,” Heather pointed out in a recent FT article. “The sentence needs one word to finish it – ‘I can’t do it alone’.”
Success, you see, comes from more than just hard work. You have to build “social capital”.

Loretta Napoleoni, this month’s Ruby of the Month, is another example of building social capital for the benefit of all.

Loretta and I met some years ago now through the Sydney Writers Festival (SWF) when Loretta agreed to present at a private function for some of our customers. Westpac was an SWF sponsor. What she had to say about the state of the world economy and her Rogue Economics theory was so compelling I decided she had to speak at a women in banking summit I was involved in in the UK later that year.

Her presentation just so happened to fall on the day of the crash and, as Lehmann Brothers went under the media went wild. Loretta was inundated with requests for interviews. Loretta had predicted much of what was unfolding in front of our very eyes and its proximity was scary: one day a delegate was there at the banking summit, the next day they were out of a job.

Loretta then came to Melbourne Writer’s Festival, where we again caught up and by the time she agreed to be the keynote speaker at the Global Banking Alliance’s 10-year anniversary in Washington, we were firm friends.

Now we catch up with each other whenever time and place allow.

It’s a similar story when I think about ABC journalist, author and 7:30 presenter Leigh Sales, and our 100 Women of Influence winner, Sam Mostyn.

Leigh was a facilitator at an SWF event (there must be something in that festival’s water) I attended a couple of years back. I loved her so much I asked her if she’d come and speak at one of our lunches about her recently released book On Doubt. She did. Then when I heard she’d landed the plum job of interviewing my all time favourite pin-up, Hillary Clinton, in January this year, I began to plot when next I could secure time out of her busy schedule for her to come back and talk to us all. The fruit of that labour is another lunch with Leigh and I’m sure there will be more.

As for Sam (Mostyn), we met at an APEC Women’s Conference in Port Douglas and have been firm friends ever since. Sam was also the winner of the Board/Management 100 Women of Influence award at our inaugural Westpac AFR 100 Women of Influence awards in 2012, and featured on Ruby as our ROM in February this year. Sam is speaking at a lunch in Melbourne about her extraordinary career.

Friends help one another and our networks grow.

On July 1, nominations open for the 2013 100 Women of Influence awards. I recommend building social capital. Nominate people you believe should be in contention and bring your thoughts on who and what makes a great woman of influence to the table. Along with increasing personal and industry profile, getting involved brings with it the benefit of building credibility individually, as well as at a community and business level. It’s a great event celebrating diversity.

I’ve been going global too in the social capital construction stakes: visiting Brazil and Dubai in the past month as a guest of the World Bank. My topic, no prizes for guessing, has been the female economy and how it can be nurtured for the good of the whole.

Slowly the world is catching on to the importance of women – the significant role we can and do play in the community, economically, socially and financially.
Driven in part by the growth in the Small Medium Enterprise market, banks, such as Itau, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil (and the largest bank in the Southern Hemisphere), are keen to hear how we’ve handled the issues and the potential of the female economy at Westpac over many years. Our experience is viewed as world’s first.

I know Australia often punches above its weight, as they say, because I’ve been lucky enough to experience the effect of those punches on many levels, including the work we do globally at the GBA. It’s impossible not to feel proud about our ability to build relationships that work hard and deliver.

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  • Jennifer Bailey

    Jennifer Bailey 7 years ago

    I couldn't agree more Larke, over 30 years in Recruitment has proven over again how important strong, respectful networking relationships improve not just your working life but your whole life in general.