Guest Blog - Women in Data & Technology: Emma Hartwell, Commonwealth Bank

Ripesh Damania 11.04.2019

At Morgan McKinley, we are passionate about supporting women in Data Analytics and Technology. Emma Hartwell from Commonwealth Bank takes part in our blog series to share her success stories, career-defining moments and what advice she would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career.

Emma_Hartwell.jpgProfile: Emma studied Commerce and work in IT Audit and IT risk at Deloitte for over 7 years in Australia and Canada before moving to the United Kingdom to build on those skills in a global pharmaceutical company.

When she returned to Australia she worked in Finance Systems and Business Intelligence at Vodafone before moving to Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) in 2010.  Whilst at CBA she has worked in Program Delivery, Strategy and Performance in the Analytics and Information area before taking on ownership of the Finance, Treasury and HR systems for the Bank.

What do you attribute your success to?

I did not start out trying to be successful, I have been very fortunate to have people in my life who have supported me and sponsored me.  No matter what task I take on the objective is to always do a good job, focus on doing the right thing and success comes on the back of it. One of my key traits would be that I am very organised; there is nothing I enjoy more than taking a messy and complex problem that needs to be solved and looking at how to break this down and planning how to best to tackle it. I never went out looking for sponsorship but my advice is that if you do everything you can to get things done, use your interpersonal skills to engage with a variety of people at all levels, treat everyone equally and with respect, not be afraid to influence and demonstrate the traits which matter to you, sponsorship will find you.

Have there been any career-defining moments?

There have been a few along the way.

  1. I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting and took an internship with Deloitte. I started out in the mailroom initially but was then given a supervisor in the IT Audit team and this was my first exposure to the world of technology. I really enjoyed using my accounting skill set within the IT Audit team and when the internship finished, I was offered a graduate IT Audit role with Deloitte. Normally you would need to have a degree in Technology to qualify for the graduate position within IT, but someone saw that I had solid transferable skills and took a chance on.  If this had not happened, I don’t know if I would have ended up in technology.  It also means that I hire based on future capability not on domain knowledge or demonstrated experience.
  2. The second career-defining moment was in my current role at CBA, I joined the business as Executive Manager and had no desire to be General Manager. I still remember that phone call from my Executive General Manager at the time saying, someone will be calling you, be open to their offer.  I had no idea what the context of the conversation would be but when I got the call, I was told that I was being appointed into a GM position. I don’t think I would have applied for the position, but yet again someone believed in me and gave me an opportunity.  I have clearly demonstrated since then I was more than capable of doing the role.  
  3. Lastly, I have had to deal with a very difficult stakeholder in one of my roles. This stakeholder was very challenging, knew what buttons to push and left me feeling very frustrated. In the end, I had a conversation with a male counterpart who made me go through the reasons why it was affecting me and we talked through making more conscious choices when interacting with that difficult stakeholder.  That conversation has made much more conscious about personality styles that I find challenging and how to manage that in future interactions.   

What advice would you give to other females looking to pursue a career in Technology?

  1. Don’t be worried about the perception of asking for something directly; if you are not confident and or extroverted, find a way to ask that is true to you.  Don’t be someone you aren’t.
  2. Make sure you are having conversations on a regular basis with your manager in terms of where you are at and if you are open to new opportunities
  3. If you continue to deliver outcomes with integrity and respect you build a brand and reputation which proceeds you.  If may feel slow but ultimately you will be successful.
  4. Make sure if you feel you can do the job you apply for the position, you don’t have to tick 10/10 boxes
  5. Put your hand up for opportunities that will give you more visibility; be smart, pick ones where you are passionate about and you know you can deliver well.

To hear from other inspiring women in the Data and Technology space, please click here.

Ripesh Damania's picture
Director | Technology & Analytics
rdamania@morganmckinley.com.au