On 18 June 2012, the Corrs Sydney office co-hosted a cocktail event with The Crescent Club, with Cameron Clyne, CEO of National Australia Bank (NAB) as the guest speaker.

The event attracted professionals from the Australian-Muslim community and Corrs was represented by partners Andrew Messenger and Michael Chaaya, and lawyer Emma Higgs.

Michael Chaaya welcomed guests and noted Mr Clyne’s active engagement with the community, appearing at several recent events. This was followed by an official welcome by Talal Yassine, Managing Director of Crescent Wealth and co-founder of the Crescent Club.

Cameron spoke about his approach to his role as CEO of one of Australia’s most established financial institutions. He spoke enthusiastically about the importance of customer satisfaction, having identified that reputations would be the new battleground for financial institutions in the wake of the financial crisis. The key to this includes staff engagement as well as connecting with the community. Cameron highlighted that any improvement in engagement and satisfaction, no matter how incremental, was a successful outcome when addressing cultural change from within an organisation as well as how the organisation is perceived externally.

Cameron also shared with the audience various experiences in his career. He encouraged members of the audience to not be too rigid in their approach to their own career journey, emphasising that the path is shaped by factors both within and outside one’s own control. Cameron revealed the self-reflecting questions he considers when assessing a potential career opportunity, believing they have always led him to make good decisions.

During question time with the audience Cameron was asked how he reconciles the “top-line” management approach he had been speaking about with the pressures on CEOs to achieve “bottom-line” results. Cameron explained that addressing top-line management challenges would ultimately lead to opportunities to create sustainable bottom-line results, and that without this inclusive approach improvements in the bottom-line are achieved in isolation and probably unsustainable. He cited the success of the NAB’s “break-up” campaign which was, in part, driven by the feedback he had received from staff about the management decisions the staff found difficult to justify to their customers.

In a similar vein, questions were raised as to whether, in practice, CEO’s could achieve cultural change given the short period of time they could potentially be at the helm. Cameron confirmed his belief that change could take place in a short period of time and cited various improvements he had seen during his three years with NAB. In his view, CEO’s could generally benefit from knowing when it is the right time to leave the role, as often value can be damaged when a CEO stays in the role for too long.

Cameron was also questioned on his views regarding bank profits and whether it is fair to perceive these as disproportionate in light of recent crises. Cameron welcomed debate in this area, however warned that the debate needed to be holistic and include discussion about the impact on other areas of the economy if banks were to reduce their profit margins. He cited the example of the impact a reduced margin would have on dividends, which in turn would affect superannuation funds.

Corrs was delighted to co-host the event and congratulates The Crescent Club on another successful event as part of the Executive Series networking program.

About the Crescent Club

The Crescent Club is a non-partisan and non-sectarian group dedicated to expanding business and social opportunities within the Muslim Australian and broader community. Bringing together Muslim and non-Muslim business people, entrepreneurs and young professionals, The Crescent Club is active in helping to develop business and networking contacts for our members and friends.

The mission of the Crescent Club is to promote a place where there is an opportunity to meet others, learn from Australian thought leaders in a warm business and social environment and to keep its members informed on vital issues and work for the betterment of the entire community.

Left to right: Michael Chaaya Partner Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Andrew Messenger Partner Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Cameron Clyne CEO National Australia Bank, Talal Yassine Managing Director Crescent Wealth

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