Ansuya Naidoo, BNZ Head of Indian Community Banking joined the Bank on arriving from South Africa 15 years ago. She shares her take on switching countries, Indian businesses and the charms of ‘Rotovegas’.
What was the hardest thing to adjust to in New Zealand when you arrived here 15 years ago?
Lifestyle, both personal and professional. New Zealand has a very relaxed lifestyle and quality of life has far more value, which is very different to South Africa. The pace was much faster there, and adapting to the more relaxed pace was challenging.
What has kept you in New Zealand since then?
The culture is rich and invigorating; people are friendly and very welcoming. I love the clean and green environment.
You are involved in BNZ’s Title Sponsorship of the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards; what have you learnt from that experience?
The Indian community appreciates the Bank’s participation, and our involvement supports our goal to help New Zealanders to be good with money. The Indian community has a lot to offer to New Zealand businesses and I am proud to be associated with this growing community.
Why do so many Indian New Zealanders seem to do so well in business?
Most of the businesses are family run. They are passionate and focused on their businesses. They are also quite creative and not afraid to take risks under challenging circumstances.
In what ways does the New Zealand Indian community differ from the South African Indian community?
It is a fair-playing field in New Zealand. In South Africa, Indian businesses thrived under challenging circumstances, restlessness, insecurity, violence and sanctions. That has improved vastly over the last decade.
As a South African-born Indian Kiwi, do you think New Zealand is dealing well with its increasing ethnic diversity?
Absolutely, there are more and more opportunities being made available, and personally, I did not see this as an obstacle in my climb up the corporate ladder.
What could we do better?
New Zealand was one of the first countries to provide equal opportunities for women. We should take credit for opening the doors.
You are an advocate of diversity within companies. Why do you think it is important?
Different backgrounds and experiences bring important new perspectives. Our customers are not a homogenous group and this needs to be reflected in our organisation and our culture. New Zealand is ahead of most other countries in terms of its democratic approach to these issues. This was evidenced earlier this month when BNZ was named Supreme Winner at the ‘White Camellia Awards’ organised by the UN Women New Zealand, the Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Trust, the Human Rights Commission and BPW New Zealand. Last year, BNZ was one of five organisations in the world to win a ‘UN Women’s Empowerment Principles Diversity Award,’ which is a real win for New Zealand.
How will you be celebrating Diwali?
With the people I work with and whom I consider to be my extended family. I have arranged a morning tea and will be serving Indian delicacies and sweet meats.
What is your favourite destination for a holiday in New Zealand?
Rotovegas; I love the buzz, hot springs and Polynesian Spa.
I am a jetsetter, so anywhere where I have not been before. So far, my favourite places have been Alaska and the Rocky Mountains. I love the glaciers and dogsledding was quite an experience!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Helping clients to realise their dreams. Seeing satisfied customers is very rewarding
What changes do you expect in banking in the next decade?
Huge strides in improved and advanced technology.
How would you like to see New Zealand change in the next decade and beyond?
New Zealand is rich in natural resources and we can achieve much by building a strong economy around this. We should also be providing for our ageing population.
The views expressed are those of Ansuya Naidoo and do not necessarily represent those of BNZ or its related entities.