One of Australia’s corporate leaders has offered some surprising advice for how to succeed in the world of business.

Westpac CEO Gail Kelly says passion and commitment are what you need to get ahead.

James Finlayson reports.


Ms Kelly, has been at the helm of Westpac Bank for three years.

She’s overcome considerable obstacles to make it to the top in this highly competitive world, especially after moving from South Africa as a young mum with four children under the age of four.

Gail Kelly, Westpac CEO: “I was going to move from being in a role where I’d never ever run a line business like this before into running one, and from day one there was no transition or anything else, just from day one you’re going to be it and it was a business as I’ve indicated I knew nothing about at all.”

Ms Kelly admits living in the moment and focussing on the task at hand is essential, even though it can require a balancing act.

Gail Kelly, Westpac CEO: “You’re in the moment for that child at that time 100 per cent, not like I used to be with my board papers under one arm and my son out on the field there, on the cricket pitch and I’d say to someone let me know when he bats.”

Ms Kelly stressed the importance of positive attitudes, courage and thriving on change – something she says helped her pioneer through the apartheid era.

Looking ahead, Ms Kelly says that having more women in executive positions within ASX 200 companies is something she supports.

James Finlayson, QUT News.