In 2016, Deakin University and Bendigo Bank launched Deakin University Community Bank® - an Australian first which invests profits into Deakin. The partnership not only offers banking benefits to Deakin students, staff and alumni, but also enables both institutions to learn from each other. Here one of Bendigo Bank’s rising stars and Deakin alumna Kylie Douglass shares her career lessons. Kylie never thought she would end up in finance, yet she has seen incredible success in her position as State Manager for NSW and ACT.
Interview with Kylie
Can you tell us about your time at Deakin? Is there anything you especially remember?
The best thing was the wonderful level of support from all of the teaching staff. Despite being an off-campus student, the staff, the online tools and resources made study easy. I was in charge of how I studied. There was more of a personal touch – and that’s saying a lot from an off-campus student!
What has been your journey since finishing your course? Briefly outline your career path prior to your current role.
- Sales and Distribution Manager NSW-ACT – Bendigo Bank
- Senior Manager, Retail Sales – Bendigo Bank
- Online Distribution – Bendigo Bank
- Head of Call Connection – Bendigo Bank
- State Manager NSW-ACT – Bendigo Bank
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
Without a doubt the people around me have been my biggest influences. My Mum helped shape me and all the internal workings of who I am. I have been fortunate to work with some great leaders, and some not so great ones, in my career so far. It is certainly true that you learn different things from both.
I would not have had the confidence to even apply for some of the roles that I’ve gone for over the years had it not been for the confidence my degrees have given me.
Have you always wanted to pursue the kind of career you have embarked on? If so, when and how did you realise?
Absolutely not. If you told me when I completed my HSC that I would work in banking, I would have laughed in your face. Instead, my passion for banking and finance has been more of a slow build.
It is also a passion that wouldn’t exist if I didn’t work for MY bank - Bendigo Bank.
Bendigo Bank does it differently. Sure we retail banking products but we do way more than that by giving back to communities in a sustainable way. Some days I feel like I work in philanthropy. Some days I feel like I work in a bank. But every day I feel like I’m ‘doing good’. That’s the difference – and it makes getting out of bed every day something to look forward to.
People really make your world for me. The reality of Bendigo Bank is – it is just filled with amazing people. People that you really learn from.
What advice would you give graduates wanting to pursue a similar profession?
I applaud any graduate who knows what they want to do. Being sure of your career choice at a young age can be a distinct advantage. But, for those less certain, I would simply say that you don’t need to know everything yet. You have time.
Instead, it would be my advice to:
- Enjoy the journey and take every opportunity as it comes.
- Make sure what you do aligns with your values.
- And surround yourself with people who impress you and that you can learn from. That doesn’t always mean you need to like them either!
If nothing else – safeguarding yourself by surrounding yourself with really, really good people that you respect and who have the same values as you is either going to help you be a better person in life and/or help your career trajectory.
What do you believe Deakin University has shown you/given you as a person?
My learning experiences with Deakin have taught me a lot about discipline.
While completing my Bachelor Degree, I remember being totally perplexed by a disappointing mark. Despite my paper having many notations from my tutor about how good the content was, I was marked poorly because the content didn’t relate to the marking criteria. That marked a lesson for me in making sure I understand the expectations of those around me and how to work effectively in different situations. Essentially, ‘it’s not all about me’. Glad I learnt that lesson early in the piece.
How would someone describe you?
I asked a close colleague of many years and she said, ‘You are always generous with your time and support of others, yet you also closely guard your own privacy. You’re interested in what makes every person unique, and you work hard to help friends and work colleagues realise their potential. You are empathetic. Exacting. Ambitious. Loyal. And lovely.’
I swear I didn’t pay her.
Is there any advice you would give to a person who is starting out in your career?
Just be patient and get the basics right.
What is something that amazes you?
The things people miss right in front of them while they’re investing unnecessary energy in uncontrollable people and things. It’s a hard thing to be present but so rewarding.
What are some funded projects that are significantly memorable to you?
Probably one of the most memorable – and it’s a very personal one – is the sporting facilities at Strathfieldsaye in Bendigo. When I first went to Bendigo, Strathfieldsaye was a game changer for me because all of a sudden you saw what was these very basic sporting grounds absolutely turned into this mecca of sports and recreation – and all of that based on the influence of Bendigo Bank and the way that we do business and our model. It all just really clicked about the enormity of the impact that working for this company could have.
Contact Deakin University Community Bank®
If you have a project or idea you want funding for, or you want to hear about the benefits and discounts available to you from Deakin University Community Bank®, please contact University Relationship Manager Ashley Wijey.