Old Cheltonian, Mr Mike Smith OBE (Leconfield, 1973-75), visited College to take part in an interview-style talk for the Economics and Business Studies students. Mike recently retired from the position of CEO at ANZ Bank, having previously been the President and CEO of HSBC, and is Chairman of the Australian Bankers’ Association and a member of a number of international, economic, and financial advisory councils. Four Lower Sixth students Chuen Leik Low (L6, Xt), Catriona Zimmern (L6, Ch), Ellie Jones-Perrott (L6, A) and Dan Stoianov (L6, Xt) asked him questions about the causes and ramifications of the 2008 financial crash, the regulation and behavioural economics of banking, and the possible implications of Brexit on the UK financial sector.
Dr Graham Mallard commented, “College is immensely privileged to host the eminent Old Cheltonian, Mike Smith. It was a rare opportunity to hear from such a leading figure in the world of banking, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience of over 130 students from College, Cheltenham Ladies College and Sir Thomas Rich's and staff.”
Mike delivered interesting and thought-provoking answers to the students’ questions, including a few about his career choices and what it was like to meet Vladimir Putin! He also recalled his time at College, explaining how it still has the same special atmosphere but the buildings have been rejuvenated and there are now many more girls in a truly co-educational environment. Mike is very keen on promoting women in business and is part of a group of CEOs called Male Champions of Change, who use their individual and collective influence to bring the issue of female representation in leadership to the forefront of the Australian business agenda. Mike increased the female executives in his bank from 30 – 42 per cent in eight years, although he stated that until that level was 50 per cent, they couldn’t claim success.
Mike also described to the students how he didn’t know what he wanted to do when he first tried banking but was lucky to find that he immediately liked it. His overall message to students was to do what they enjoy and that a traditional education at College provides students with the experience and curiosity that will help students find interest and opportunity in whatever they do.