Harsh Vardhan

Harsh Vardhan

Master of Business (Banking and Finance), 2005

Current position
Senior Manager, Investor Relations, ANZ

As Senior Manager Investor Relations, I’m part of the Global Investor Relations function for ANZ Bank. My role in Investor Relations is a strategic management role that leverages expertise in finance, risk, communications, marketing and regulatory compliance to support the Executive team (Board of Directors and Executive Committee) in the management of proactive investor relations.

I am focused on effective two-way communication with shareholders (the true owners of the corporation), debt holders, analysts and other market participants to ensure they are fully informed of the Group's strategy and performance, thereby contributing to ANZ’s securities achieving fair valuation.

Amongst other things my team and I are typically responsible for and engage in shareholder and investor meetings, press conferences, roadshows, releasing financial data and markets updates to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), leading financial analyst briefings, managing regulatory relationships around disclosure of financial information, and handling the public side of any financial crisis.

Monash alumni are generous with their time and in sharing their experiences, regardless of the heights they may have achieved in their careers. I’m fortunate to be part of another organisation in the ANZ Bank that acknowledges, appreciates and celebrates such talent.

"Cultivating curiosity will assist you as a leader to adapt to uncertain market conditions (think current environment caused by the pandemic) and external pressures. It will facilitate deeper and rational decision making and encourage creative solutions."

At ANZ, I’ve been provided the opportunity to rub shoulders with, and more importantly, learn from some distinguished Monash alumni – our previous Chief Financial Officer Michelle Jablko was the recipient of the 2020 Monash Business School Alumni Excellence award; and our Acting Chief Financial Officer Shane Buggle was the former Deputy Chancellor of Monash University, to name a few.

I have been a mentor with Monash University across programs for more than a decade now. I’ve been fortunate to forge deep and meaningful connections across geographies, industries and companies. The ongoing association has enabled me to call upon this incredible talent pool at times to seek additional perspectives or expert counsel on topics outside my forte.

I was drawn towards banking and finance at a very young age. Importantly though, the attraction stemmed from understanding and appreciating the value of money. For me, the whole premise of banking (and finance for that matter) was (and is) comprehensible, based on simplistic logic and around the fundamentals of economics. When asked the clichéd question on the choice of career growing up, I’d respond with ‘banker’ without batting an eyelid. More specifically, not just any banker but a banker with the World Bank. It wasn’t the thought of donning the conventional banker pin-stripe suit, but more the naiveté (synonymous with being a toddler) that it had to be the largest bank in the world.

My passion grew stronger as I pursued economics during high school and a Bachelor of Commerce. Then I found out Monash University had a course that seemed tailor-made for my academic pursuits.

A postgraduate degree from a globally reputed institution such as Monash is considered favourably by employers today. In the two decades of my corporate career, all three of my employers thus far (Commonwealth Bank, Qantas and ANZ) are no exception. While the best training one ever gets is on-the-job, I firmly believe that my Master’s Degree in Banking and Finance has helped lay a solid foundation for me to leverage off, has held me in good stead with my former and past employers, and is one that I proudly wear as a badge of honour.

There were four professors in particular, who had a profound impact during my time at Monash, and continue to do so – Professor Michael Skully, Professor Roger Love, Professor Kevin Tant and Professor Steve Worthington. Each a pioneer in their respective field; and thorough professionals who possess true breadth and depth of experience and knowledge, and look at unique and impactful ways of ensuring students absorb every iota of learning.

They were always generous with their time, non-judgmental and inculcated in me the habit of starting everything with (and understanding) the ‘why’. I am grateful for not just the subject matter and expertise they imparted us, but more importantly, the life lessons.

Recruitment has undergone a paradigm shift, with organisations increasingly placing more emphasis on not just a strong academic foundation, but also a more rounded/cultural fit. During my time at Monash, there were ample opportunities for students to also develop and hone their non-academic sides and I for one certainly made the most of this. I was part of the Monash Multicultural Indian Club (an opportunity to uphold the connection with my heritage), and participated widely in the myriad networking opportunities provided by the Faculty of Business and Economics.

Embracing the opportunity to meet and interact with students from diverse cultural and geographical backgrounds, I didn’t just broaden my perspective, but also forged meaningful, long-lasting friendships.

These are my tips for students:

Develop a sense of purpose. Your purpose is the reason you get up every morning. It can guide life decisions, influence behaviours, forge your attitude, shape goals, offer a sense of direction, and more importantly, create meaning. Think about your values, meaningful long-term goals, helping others, the relationships you’d like to nurture, the person you’d like to be, etc. As you reflect on these aspects of your life, you’ll have greater clarity on how your academic pursuits fit into the bigger picture. This clarity will help you be more successful not just during your time at Monash, but throughout life in general.

Cross your comfort zone. In an increasingly competitive and accelerated world, there are rewards to be had by those who take more risks and are willing to step out of their comfort zones. Even though you might feel powerless in situations outside your comfort zone, we have more power than we think. Challenging yourself can help you perform at your peak, trying new things can enhance creativity and embracing new challenges can give you fresh perspectives. Don’t let the fear of failure make you pay a heavy price.

Let curiosity be your guiding star. It is often said that you know a person is smart by the answers they give, but you know they are wise by the questions they ask. The impulse to seek new information and experiences and explore novel possibilities is a basic human attribute. Cultivating curiosity will assist you as a leader to adapt to uncertain market conditions (think current environment caused by the pandemic) and external pressures. It will facilitate deeper and rational decision making and encourage creative solutions.

I would strongly encourage students to explore further and pursue a Masters of Business degree from Monash University regardless of the area of specialisation they decide on. Apart from laying a solid academic foundation, Monash provides students with an invaluable opportunity to be part of and thrive, in a culturally rich & diverse community.

It is not just a place you where you will learn academically, but one where you will grow personally and be set-up to succeed and stand out in the professional world.

True to its mission, Monash does help change lives (through research and education). After all, it did change mine.