Paula Steed is Chief Internal Auditor at ASB, based in Auckland. With extensive experience in the financial landscape of New Zealand, she’s held a number of leading roles in some of the country’s biggest organisations. Before all that, she got her start here at Deloitte. We spoke to Paula about her time at the firm, the unique challenges of the banking sector and her favourite career advice…
What was your role at Deloitte and when were you here?
I joined the Wellington office in February 1998 in the Audit department and I left in December 2007. By that time, I was a Senior Manager in Audit in the Auckland office.
Did you have any memorable moments at the firm?
Lots of memorable moments! One was when I did a short-term secondment to the Dublin office, which was a fabulous experience. Everybody was incredibly welcoming and I found that the New Zealand firm were a lot further ahead in our adoption of methodology, so I had the opportunity to help with the education there, which was great.
Were you offered any strong pieces of advice at Deloitte that you still use?
Definitely. One time, I remember being frustrated with myself because I'd gotten upset about something. Deloitte Partner, Lisa Cruikshank, said to me, ‘it's because you care, and the best people who have come through this place have cared’. The importance of actually caring about what you do has always stuck with me.
Being at Deloitte also taught me to be courageous enough to challenge people. In instances where we had different views to partners, we were always encouraged to actually discuss perspectives and find a resolution. That's been a really powerful lesson as I've gone through the rest of my career as well.
What do you do at ASB Bank?
Since I left Deloitte, I've done a number of roles in financial services - AMP, ANZ and now ASB. The internal auditor role is brilliant because it goes across the entire bank and it's a really unique opportunity to see how the bank works in its entirety.
What are the biggest challenges facing the banking sector right now?
I think the banking sector, both here in New Zealand and globally, is facing a number of significant challenges. In markets like the UK and Australia in particular, people’s trust in the industry has been impacted over the past few years. Coupled with that, there's an unprecedented amount of regulatory change impacting the industry. I think there’s an opportunity for the industry as a whole to work on restoring people’s trust by really focusing on our customers.
What has been the proudest moment of your career?
The things that I've been most proud of have generally been associated with people that I've worked with and seeing them be successful. Over the years, I've had a couple of people who I've worked with really closely and coached them, and they've gone from strength to strength. I'm really proud of that.
The other thing that sticks in my mind, and it’s one of the hardest things about the auditing role, is that often you're telling people things that they don't want to hear. I've been really proud of being able to deliver some hard messages over the years in a way that lands constructively.
What do you do for fun outside of work?
I have three boys, who are 13, 11 and 8, and the oldest one was born while I was still working at Deloitte. They’ve kept me pretty busy with cricket in summer and rugby in winter, but this year I’ve entered the Auckland marathon. This is my first time ever running a full marathon, so any spare time I have is generally spent pounding the pavement at the moment.
That’s exciting! What prompted you to take on this challenge?
I've done running on and off over the years, but this year I'm running the marathon with a friend and both of us for different reasons have had some sort of ups and downs in the last few years. This is our way to call to something that's quite enormous and to stand back and say, we did it.