Why senior bank executive Michelle Winzer decided to go back to school

Michelle Winzer was already a General Manager at Commonwealth Bank when she made the decision to go back to school for an MBA. Now she's the Chief Executive of one of its competitors.
Originally from Buccan in Queensland, Michelle first established herself in banking at Westpac before moving to CBA, where she worked in senior roles across retail, sales, business banking, distribution and executive management. 

In 2010, Michelle became CBA's General Manager for Melbourne. Although successful in that role, Michelle felt she needed more. 

“The beauty of the MBA is that it offers a broad range of business topics within the program, and, as you progress your career into more senior roles, it's vital that you're across all aspects of business.”

The 18-month schedule of Melbourne Business School's Senior Executive MBA program aligned with the support Michelle wanted to give her son while he was in high school.

“My youngest son was about to go into Year 10, so I knew that I would be finished with my MBA by the time he goes into Year 12, when we’ll need the whole family on deck.”

Taking on new challenges

The opportunity to apply what she learned from her MBA to her work was also attractive.

“The MBA changed the contribution I could make. There were now different approaches I added to discussions and, each time I came back to work, I had a deeper insight into things.”

Michelle’s willingness to learn by moving into different areas of banking and studying an MBA paid off in spades when the Bank of Melbourne recruited her to their top job. 

“I’ve always said that as long as it challenges me, then I should take the opportunity. I put myself in uncomfortable situations where you can grow from opportunity, and I've had fantastic support from my husband in making every opportunity a success. It’s been really important to have the courage to take on different roles.”

International experience

A highlight of the Senior Executive MBA program for Michelle was studying overseas in Germany, Indonesia and Silicon Valley, which exposed her to international thinking around executive challenges.

“What was interesting was learning about the things those businesses need to consider in their own country.”

Another highlight was the excitement she caused at the WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Koblenz.

“Winzer is a German name, and they were very excited to have a Winzer from Down Under in class.”

Building confidence

Michelle believes the personal development part of the program enabled her to approach the job interview at the Bank of Melbourne with confidence. 

“The key things you need to demonstrate leadership capability are a desire to grow and a unique way of looking at things. The MBA helped me to do just that.”

Now, with more than 30 years of experience in banking, Michelle is leading the industry, and is proud of the direction she's steering it in. 

“What I'm most proud of with Bank of Melbourne is that we make sure to support and help improve our customers personal situation. And that's absolutely our driver, no matter what the situation.”