We love highlighting the work of women in business. So, we’re sitting down with a wide range of women in business over the next few months to learn more about their work, career strategies and how they got to where they are today.
Christina Kim is a Regional General Manager, SME Banking Westpac. She works with small business enterprises. We asked her about her role, the changes she’s seen in the business climate in the past two years and the importance of career goals.
RUBY: Could you describe your role day-to-day?
I have an operating rhythm. I have allocated daily check in times to meet with bankers (currently virtual), team meetings and daily business operational tasks. My day also includes meeting customers, strategic planning, and meeting with stakeholders.
My days are quite busy, so I also set a weekly time to reflect and a monthly meditation session with the team.
RUBY: What are your current career goals, and have they changed over the years?
I started my leadership journey six years ago and my career goals have changed. As your experience grows, you reflect on what is important in your role. For me, making a positive impact is important. At the start, moving up the corporate ladder was the goal but today, for me, the satisfaction comes from being in a role where I can make a positive difference to my team, my customers, and the organisation.
Coming to SME Business has been the highlight of my career so far. It’s also been really challenging given COVID-19 and lockdowns.
RUBY: What are some key takeaways you’ve learned being a woman in business?
A great support network is important. I’ve met amazing women along my journey who I’ve learned from. Most importantly they’ve given me the confidence and courage to strive to achieve. One thing that’s central to what I do is to always be my authentic self.
RUBY: Were there challenges to overcome to get to where you are professionally?
Being a female building a career comes with its challenges, especially juggling family and ensuring I continued to grow my career.
I’ve been in the financial industry for 16 years. I am a single parent with an 18-year-old daughter. When I started in the industry my daughter was young. It was a juggle and to get to the office there were a lot of early drop offs for childcare. Often, at the end of the day, I’d pick her up and then go back to work after dinner. I chose to work hard and despite the challenges, I have been blessed to work for people who I felt supported my growth from day one.
RUBY: What advice would you have for anyone looking to be in a similar position to you today?
Build your network and surround yourself with supportive people that make a positive impact in your career. Challenges will only make you grow, so welcome them!
RUBY: What are some key observations you’ve made about SME owners’ practices and banking habits when they’ve been most successful?
In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began it forced businesses to look at their operations and strategies. Firstly, many reviewed business expenses. Quick elimination of unnecessary costs was prudent for survival. Secondly, many looked at government grants and bank support measures. They provided a level of relief and allowed many businesses to continue to operate through the pandemic. Pleasingly, we’ve seen many of our business customers survive - primarily because of the operational changes they made in 2020 and pivoting their business to be more COVID-19 proof.
RUBY: What’s one thing a business owner going through hardships due to COVID-19 or lockdown could do?
I highly recommend visiting the ATO to review any current business grants and support programs available in their respective state or territory and to speak to their business banker to review what further support they might be able to access.
Westpac has COVID-19 customer support options. For example, eligible customers may be able to access low-interest rate business loans through the Federal Government’s SME Recovery Loan Scheme. We offer case management support for our small business customers experiencing financial difficulty and business loan restructuring with no fees incurred for eligible products.
We can also refer business owners to financial counsellors or other support services.
Stay tuned for our next Women in Business.