Not only is it Friday, but it’s another Women In Media profile! Meet Jo Kelly, head of marketing, brand and PR at UBank. Not only has Kelly been critical part of UBank’s re-brand, she’s also the human equivalent of WebMD and one of this year’s B&T Awards Judges.
How would you describe your job?
My job is incredibly interesting. I get to shape, develop and grow the UBank brand that changes the face of banking in Australia. I’ve been with UBank for nine months, before this I was head of marketing AMP Wealth Management New Zealand.
What’s your day to day like?
An average day I go to the gym or I go swimming, then I go to work. The day is usually a combination of meetings with the leadership team which is all about working on strategy for our business and working with my own team to execute that strategy.
What do you love about your job?
It’s varied, it’s interesting and it’s just an amazing opportunity to move away from a traditional banking environment and position us as a fintech (financial technology) but with the goal to be the overall goal to be the most referred brand in Australia. It’s pretty lofty and big, but it’s a fantastic thing to focus on.
What’s the most difficult part?
I think the most difficult part of any job is the challenge of working with people that choose not to be there but are physically still there. Any job is amazing when you can motivate and lead people to take them where they need to go, the hardest thing is having people who have checked out but have chosen to physically remain and then dealing with consequences of that. There’s ways of leading that process as well, but I think it can be very challenging because it impacts on teams and culture as well.
What motivates you?
A challenge. The opportunity to be working in what was originally considered a traditional environment but being able to reshape the way people think about it. I’ve worked in some fairly conservative organisations but this feels like it’s wide open for opportunity. To be able to think about partnership, the future and how we’re going to grow this business. Of course, great people. I’ve got a great team of six, colleagues, we’re all very focused on the same thing.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
I came over here from New Zealand to lead the re-brand of UBank. There were challenges along the way but we were really fortunate that we had a really strong brand positioning which was ‘Just The Bank You Need’. Plus, we worked with amazing agency partners. I certainly didn’t have too many challenges getting that across the line, in terms of positioning that with my colleagues, with NAB our shareholder. So we’ve really focused on being an independent, challenger brand that means we’ve dropped the ‘backed by NAB’ against our branding. I anticipated a lot more push back then I actually got which was pretty lucky. I haven’t had a lot of major challenges which has been great.
What’s different in your role today compared to when you started?
It’s a much tighter focus on our strategy and where we’re taking the business. We have a very clear vision about where we want to go. Our leadership team is all focused on getting there. It’s a very open and honest relationship with our colleagues, it’s not like I’ve seen in other places where it can be top-down dysfunctional.
What’s been your favourite job in media?
I’m really loving the job I’m doing right now, I’m really happy to be doing this. I went into advertising when I was 35 and ended up running an advertising agency in Wellington. It was very small agency, but we were pitching against the big agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi and Clemenger, and winning pitches. That was pretty cool to be able to start a business and within six months winning pitches against those guys. It was challenging because if I didn’t bring in the business, no one got paid.
What would be your ultimate role?
I know what I’ll be doing next. It will be outside of this and working in a people development role, an inspirational leadership role helping people to reach their potential.
What’s your proudest professional moment?
Doing things I never thought I could do and trying things that I never thought I would be able to do. One of those roles was leading the retail bank for Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) where I had a team of 500. I turned it down initially because I thought it was a full on numbers role, I didn’t think it was suited to me but I took it on and it was very, very rewarding.
I’m fascinated by all things medical; medical procedures, surgery, diagnosis. I started reading my mothers medical books when I was young, and I haven’t stopped. I watch surgery on YouTube. I have medical books, medical illustrations and encyclopedias. Maybe I was a closet surgeon or a doctor at some point. I just find the human body really interesting, how it works and what causes illness.
If you were CEO for the day what would you differently?
I don’t know. We’ve got an amazing CEO, she’s really young and dynamic. I think she does a lot of the leadership things really well. When she’s here, she’s on the floor talking to people, she gets involved and is connecting with people all the time. I think that would be hard to beat.
I think there’s amazing power and usefulness in feedback from others. It can be really interesting, if you open yourself for that feedback what people will actually say to you and how it makes you feel differently about yourself and what you can do differently. Most people know are reasonable could at self-reflection but there’s nothing like getting feedback from others and asking people what you can do differently. I don’t see it as ‘criticism’, that’s a negative way of looking at it, ‘feedback’ puts in the context of it just is positive or negative.