To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, this week we will be bringing you a series of guest blogs from leading senior females in Leadership. They will be discussing their success, career defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what Deanne Stewart, CEO, at MetLife, had to say.
Deanne Stewart joined MetLife in Australia as Chief Executive Officer in July 2014. Deanne is focused on leading the MetLife team to challenge the way life insurance is provided in Australia, delivering the fastest, easiest and most caring experience for customers and partners. She is also passionate in her belief that a strong culture and clearly defined purpose drives business success. Deanne joined MetLife from BT Financial Group (BT) where she served as General Manager for Super, Marketing and Direct based in Sydney. In this role she led a team of approximately 700 professionals that covered BT’s superannuation business, marketing and digital teams, online trading and direct channels. Before that Deanne served as their General Manager, Customer Experience and Marketing, where she oversaw BT’s entire Customer Experience, Operations, Marketing and Digital. Prior to BT, Deanne served as Managing Director, Head of International Private Client Businesses for Merrill Lynch Investment Management Inc. Before this, Deanne worked as an Engagement Manager for McKinsey and Company in London. She has a Bachelor of Commerce, Finance & Marketing from University of NSW, Australia, and an MBA from Yale School of Management, USA - Fulbright Scholar.
What factors do you think have been critical to the success you have achieved in your career?
There have been several things that have been critical to helping me in my career. Surrounding myself with great people that are driven and really care, truly learning lessons when things don't go to plan and having people that I can genuinely trust and turn to for advice and support are the greatest force for me.
What initiatives have you experienced within an organisation that you believe have helped you?
Initiatives such as enabling me to have an executive coach, 360 degree feedback sessions, and formal training courses on critical areas such as executive presence, have all helped me refine and improve my leadership skills, awareness and ability to communicate.
Can you highlight any career defining moments?
Two key moments come to mind. The first one was when I was 30 and my boss (COO) backed me to run an International Business Unit, when I didn't believe I could do it. He backed my potential before I did. The second was taking on my current role as CEO at MetLife Australia which gave me the opportunity to really live my purpose which is to create a working environment where people really thrive (not just survive!).
What advice would you share with females on how to progress their careers within Leadership?
Remember that to progress in your career you need to focus on three key factors:
2) executive presence
I have found many women nail number 1 but often forget numbers 2 and 3.