Gail Kelly keeps up the pressure
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Gail Kelly keeps up the pressure

As chief executive of Westpac, Gail Kelly was a trailblazer for women in finance. She learned the hard way about the battle for equal pay. Now she is trying to use her experience to encourage others.


In 2010, Gail Kelly found herself on a list she didn’t much care for. 

The compilation in question was Forbes Magazine’s annual collection of the world’s most powerful women

Appearing on lists was nothing new for Kelly. In her 20 years in Australian banking – first as general manager at Commonwealth Bank, then running the emerging St George Bank and lastly as head of the giant Westpac (which would buy St George on her watch) – she had been on scores of them, graduating from being merely one of Sydney’s ‘most powerful’ people when she was appointed to St George, to one of the ‘world’s 50 greatest leaders’ at the peak of her powers at Westpac.

But this 2010 list was different. Forbes had placed Kelly at eighth. Women like Michelle Obama, Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton were above her, but Kelly was bemused to find herself sandwiched between Lady Gaga at seventh and Beyoncé at ninth.

As one of the world’s leading bankers, her gender notwithstanding, Kelly knew much about the political power trio but admittedly little about the two American pop divas. As the story goes around Sydney banking circles, Kelly even had trouble pronouncing Beyoncé, much to the amusement of her daughters.

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