Francyn Stuckey, Managing Director for International Transformation at ANZ, knew two things at the start of her career: telecoms sparked her interest and she had to travel. Three banks, three continents, and a number of cities she’s lost track of later, Francyn now has more than a few stories to tell.
The MD at ANZ recently sat down with WERKIN to share her thoughts on mentorship, networking for introverts and her favorite idioms during a virtual Ask-Me-Anything as part of WERKIN’s partnership with WIBF.
WERKIN: Tell us about yourself.
Francyn Stuckey: I’m Francyn Stuckey, originally from Canada and I started out in telecoms as a student, and then became interested in travel. I ended up in London where I spent 18 years, working at Citibank for 12 years, focusing on relationship and account management and then got into technical consulting. I moved to Bank of America Merrill Lynch to create a startup to introduce design thinking into the European Middle East Africa region.
This was a gamble that paid off and translated into a global role. From there, I moved to Hong Kong which is where I am based now working for ANZ, Australia New Zealand Bank, to head up their payments cash management business.
I've lived in Canada, the UK and Hong Kong, working for US and Australian global banks, and also lived in Turkey. I'm very interested in the cultural side of doing business across the globe. I love to travel, which is good if you're banking because you spend a lot of time travelling. I love a good historic site or temple. I love a good night market, or anywhere that I can haggle. I think that if I started my career again, I'd be a professional hagler, because I love it that much.
I love different cultures. I love food. I love people and I love collecting different expressions or idioms. I love the theatre and arts. I'm very interested in volunteering at this stage in my career, doing a lot of work around literacy, education and talent development.
Currently, I'm the managing director of international transformation at ANZ, one of the big four banks in Australia. It's the number one bank in New Zealand, and it's a large regional player in Asia.
I’ve now moved away from transactional banking to institutional banking and it has been an amazing opportunity to see all aspects of an institutional bank in incredible detail. It has given me a chance to redefine my career. It's now put me into the tech strategy space. I will move into a new role that will look at employee experience from a data and digital perspective, from industry 3.0 into industry 4.0 or the new future of industry.
What is the role of the banker in that? What tools do they need? What kind of skill sets do they need? It’s about making sure that people aren't lost with the technology, and can use it as an enabler.
WERKIN: Your passion for idioms as a means of understanding the different cultural spaces you’ve worked in is interesting. What is your favorite idiom is English, and then what is your favorite non English idiom?
Francyn: What I like about the UK is they have expressions for pretty much everything. In Canada, we don't have these colorful expressions, or maybe we do but they're not used as often. One I remember from working for Bank of America, which has its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina is
"He's all hat, no cattle." It means somebody is all talk but they don't have the ability to back it up.
WERKIN: You've been able to combine your interests in travel and change management, with trying out different fields within finance. What have you learned to be able to keep moving?
Francyn: Friends and colleagues say I’m a risk taker. I perhaps have a higher risk tolerance than average, but I am not a person who likes to take a lot of risk. Most of us in finance are well-trained in risk management and risk analysis, weighing up when I'm prepared to take a big risk, versus not take a big risk in my career.
I tend to try and find people within the organization that are also asking questions. Could we do this differently or is there an opportunity? The easiest way to find them is to basically be asking those questions yourself. And from that, I found that's generally opened up doors for me.
Find people doing things you're interested in and ask them questions. I’ve been able to create opportunities through asking those questions and taking risks. Leaving a very great career in the UK to move to Asia was a risk. I wanted to work in Asia. I felt if I didn't make the move in the time frame that I did, I probably wouldn't. I was probably getting too happy and too settled. So you've got to know yourself and know your tolerance level, but then be open to those opportunities.
I mentor a lot of people and they'll say they’re stuck. And I was reflecting on this, at the start of my career, and even when I was trying to do the startup, I had always an all or nothing mentality, I wanted the perfect role, and if I didn't get it, I was a little bit despondent. As I reflect back, particularly in finance, more of our roles are quite big and we have a lot of opportunities to try new things.
In finance, we talk about “side of the desk projects.” You're trying to avoid too many side of desk projects because we’ve got too much to do. But there's lots of opportunity to test things. I used to review and rewrite proposals. I wasn't putting the bank at risk, “I'm going to try this and see if it makes a difference.” I'd put together trends papers. Take those opportunities to say, “Where within your sphere of control do you have opportunities to shape things?”
What are you doing on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that's cultivating where you want to go? I recently did a course at Stanford and one of the professors asked, “What are you really interested in? What is in your diary?” A diary will always tell you what a person is most interested in, and if it's not, then there's a problem.
Step back and ask yourself if you carving out time to create that brand, even if they're really small things. Everyone that I've mentored, they can find small opportunities to reshape themselves, maybe not as fast as they like. These things don't always happen as soon as we'd like them, but we can reshape ourselves in new ways.
Can I get a small simple question?
WERKIN: Haha. Sure, what's your favorite street food?
Francyn: Favorite street food. I generally stick with things that are fried. In China, I had these fabulous chocolate dipped strawberries or apples. So I'll try anything. That's part of the problem. Anything on a stick. I think there's not enough food on a stick for my particular liking.
WERKIN: What are you seeing in the industry with diversity and inclusion? What’s working and not working?
Francyn: I do a lot of work with female talent development. People are starting to wake up to the benefits of diversity.
We used to ask “How do you encourage more females into technical spaces?” We are starting to broaden these conversations. I consider myself in the tech industry, but I don't sit in technology. I don't have CTO in my title, but I run blockchain pilots, I work with the cloud, I work with AI. There are many roles in tech that don’t get as much attention but are needed. If you're trying to encourage a female student to get into technology and she is not necessarily interested in science or math, then it may dissuade her. But she may be interested in visual arts or language, she may be a great UX designer.
There's a much more entrepreneurial mindset these days, and much more around individual branding. People are starting to define value for themselves, as opposed to it being defined for them. This supports organizational diversity and inclusion. Still, we are working against old systems and hierarchies and this change is not going to happen overnight.
WERKIN: What are some best practices to promote inclusion and how do they differ across the countries where you’ve worked?
Francyn: There are some really important policies coming out that can make a difference. For example, some companies are requiring that all interviewing panels must have at least one woman or there must be female candidates on any hiring short list. I'm impressed when I hear leaders, male or female, saying they won't speak on panels where there's not diversity.
Whether it's a mentor or a mentee, or assembling a team, it’s about surrounding yourself with people who are different than you. I have a certain style, I work a certain way, and there will be certain people that I work more easily with, and maybe less easily with. I've learned over time to appreciate working with someone whose approach may be different than mine. Those are the people you’re probably going to learn the most from.
It's easy to be around people that are like us. But I try now to encourage spaces that are more diverse, and helping others to speak up. It’s important to know what your own unconscious biases are and surround yourself with people who will give you honest feedback.
We all like to think that we're doing a great job, but we get tired. We travel a lot. We are cranky. Surround yourself with people that will give you honest feedback and keep you honest.
Regarding diversity and inclusion in different countries, it’s just important to be mindful of different cultural norms and be respectful, encouraging others to speak up without putting them on the spot.
People have different styles, different preferences. The way you pitch an idea or the way you sell yourself or sell an idea, will be different from person to person. Be mindful and adapt. What do I know about that individual, the way they approach challenges or problems? How do they conduct themselves? Are they very direct. Are they a driver? Are they much more analytical?
As a mentor, I see myself as more of a coach as opposed to a leader. It is better to give advice, rather than try to steer mentees. I see myself as a coach, and my role is to listen and help that person figure out the path for themselves because I will be in their life for a short period of time. Help them tap into that instinct or question or opportunity within themselves.
I treat advice as I treat presents. Give it and if they want it, they keep it and if it's not right for them, they don’t. I don’t take it personally if I give some advice to a mentee and they don’t take it. It may not fit for them at the time.
I also encourage people to get multiple opinions. I don't want to be their only source of advice because it helps to have multiple perspectives. Reverse mentoring is an excellent way to get advice. One of my mentees within the bank has taught me all about green finance. She's incredibly passionate about it, so tapping into the passion of your mentee, creates a much more collaborative relationship.
A mentee relationship works best when someone comes with a specific question, challenge, or problem. That helps mentors provide guidance a bit better than just responding to your career narrative. Have a specific goal you need help with.
Meet regularly if possible. If you're speaking to someone once every eight months, it's hard to build trust and get a good sense of the person and know them.
Finally, this relationship is like friends, you need to pick the ones that fit. I've certainly had some amazing mentors, stakeholders, role models, in my career. I've also had some that just don't fit for me. I like that with WERKIN, you have an opportunity to change mentors because it’s important to have a good fit.
WERKIN: What are your top tips for networking? What’s your strategy?
Francyn: I'm a natural introvert. In the digital age, it helps to take advantage of networking tools, going to different events. Oftentimes there's profiles that help you get a sense of who's there which can sometimes make it less daunting, because you may have a chance to make some connections beforehand.
As an introvert, I need to force myself to work the room, move on and collect as many business cards as possible, or use LinkedIn. Ask lots of questions to quickly find out what they're interested in and know them as an individual.
I stay away from the usual “what do you do?” It becomes almost like a job interview. Just ask simple questions on simple topics. I met someone recently on a delayed flight by asking, “where are you heading?” to open up a conversation. It turned out we worked in similar industries in Hong Kong and interested in rugby, as I am. So just ask questions.
And for those that are extroverted, you're probably laughing at all this because you do this naturally. I admire you. I wish I had more of that.