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Real Business : Issue 1 2010
27 "I DIDN'T REALISE THE EXTENT OF THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT WOULD EVENTUATE THROUGH BEING A CPA. I'M ONLY JUST BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND THE RETURNS NOW." LIKE AT MOST FINANCIAL ser vice providers, the management at Suncorp worry about attracting and retaining good people. Star performers will always be in hot demand in good times and in bad. is is particularly the case with young finance professionals, who are very aware they re in great demand. It is a tough market according to Suncorp s Rob Howe, executive general manager, people and performance. Competition for talent has always been fiercest in the financial ser vices industry. "Not only are we competing against other Australian financial services companies for the best talent but, in many cases, against overseas financial markets as well," he says. So, beyond offering extra bucks, what is Suncorp doing to engage and keep their young finance, accounting and business staffers from job hopping as the talent pool shrinks and competitors line up to steal them away? ey must now spend a great deal of time and effort devising effective retention strategies. "We invest heavily in identifying and recruiting talented people, as well as the learning, development and career path infrastructure required to keep them within the organisation," he says. " ese programs are intrinsically linked to the commercial success of the group because it is far more cost- effective to develop your own skilled workforce and minimise turnover, rather than constantly recruiting from external sources." At Suncorp, which has a significant presence in Australia s eastern states, employee involvement is a key theme running throughout its talent management plan. As Rob explains, it is only by truly communicating with employees that they can get a clearer picture about peoples achievements, aspirations and strengths. In practice, this means developing employees by rotating them throughout Suncorp s general insurance, banking, life insurance and wealth businesses to broaden their experience and capabilities. "We have found that the key to attracting and retaining the best people is providing them with challenging and diverse roles and offering clear career paths," says Rob. Krissoulla Anagnostopoulos has fared well under the group s talent regimen. For her, one of Suncorp s insurance arms, GIO, is a natural fit. Nearly five years ago, Krissoulla -- a commerce and accounting graduate from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, with several years of experience at BDO Consulting -- felt she needed a change of pace and joined Suncorp GIO. Her first boss there was a CPA who encouraged her to enrol in CPA Program with CPA Australia. at decision guaranteed her a job as a financial analyst in the insurer s personal insurance (motor) division where she managed the financial accounts. She subsequently moved into commercial insurance where she managed under writing and risk and, most recently, was promoted to head of resources management and finance in the workers compensation division. As a leader, she manages a team of nine people who look after the expenses, management reporting and ironing out any bugs in the claims system. Changing roles and moving into areas she once knew nothing about has encouraged Krissoulla to be fearless about taking on new challenges. ey keep the job fresh. Such job-rotation programs, which balance training with on-the-job experience, have empowered her to cope with anything that is thrown at her. Being thrust into a brighter spotlight by her first two managers -- both CPAs who trusted that she would make an impact right from the start -- provided her with many opportunities to display her skills. "Nothing would faze me as long as I had management support and buy-in from team members," she says. THE CHANCE TO GROW So, how much of Krissoulla s career has been boosted by Suncorp and how much by CPA Australia? Well, Suncorp put her through CPA Program, paid her membership fees and organised additional study and leadership training, all of which helped her add value to the business. But, as she explains, the group definitely expects its top people to take the initiative and to identify areas on which they need to concentrate. "All employees are encouraged to pursue further professional and personal development and appropriate support is provided to enable them to do exactly that," agrees Rob. is ranges from structuring working hours around periods of intensive coursework, through to providing appropriate financial support
Issue 2 2009
Issue 1 2012