Alumni Spotlight - An interview with Bruno Crasti


Bruno built an impressive 34-year career with National Australia Bank (NAB), working across a range of roles and functions. Commencing in front line banking, Bruno moved into asset finance, collections within commercial leasing and corporate banking. He then built expertise in the risk management function, where he spent almost 12 years, and capped off his career with NAB within the impaired asset team. In 2018, NAB announced a significant restructure as it moved towards a digitally focused bank. Bruno saw this as an opportunity to change direction and accepted a voluntary redundancy, leaving in April 2018. We recently connected with Bruno to learn about his transition.

As you started your career transition process, did you have any thoughts or ideas of what your next career move might look like?

At a very high level, yes. At that stage I had already had a discussion with one of my network connections about a potential concept for my own business. But it was very, very high level and conceptual at that point. I didn't know if I was going apply for jobs in the marketplace, I just didn't know at that point what I was going to do.

At the start of your transition I imagine you focused on finding some clarity about what you wanted to do. What were some of the key learnings from those early sessions with your coach Monika?

Very early on we had a look at my CV. Because I had been at NAB for 34 years, I had probably touched my CV occasionally but I hadn't spent any real time on it for 15 years. Directioneering had an expert on LinkedIn, Victoria Pollock, and I had a session with her and it was incredibly helpful in getting my LinkedIn profile up to date. At the same time I was working alongside my career coach, Monika Goertz, on my CV – I would say punching it into shape, as it was a pretty ugly document, and now, it's a much shorter and much more valuable document. As validation of the value of those activities, within a matter of maybe two weeks, I started receiving messages from recruiters.

You mentioned your own business, tell us a little about that.

Yes, that business did eventuate. With a lot of coaching and guidance from Monika, I did decide to give that a go. But I will say the reason I decided to give it a go, was I started to realise just how many opportunities were in the market. Before I started, it was concerning for me not knowing what roles might be out there. However, I started to see there were many opportunities. Given the coaching from Monika I developed the courage to start up my business. Because of the networks and the connections that Directioneering had, Monika was able to introduce me to a number of people that were able to help me with different aspects of the business. I found that enormously beneficial because I was able to bounce things off people in the industry.

So you started networking and tested your business ideas with people in the market?

When I first started, I wasn't sure whether the concept would have any appeal, so with Monika's support I was able to demonstrate my idea to a number of people, and they all expressed a high level of interest in it. So that gave me the confidence to push ahead.

When you say support Bruno, I'm curious. What sort of support really helped you to facilitate those connections?

It was about how I present myself, how I present my ideas, but on the actual business itself, it was also about how I might go about doing it. So, it wasn't just about testing whether the idea had appeal, but how might I go about putting it together, even from a technical perspective.

Also, while this was going ahead, and bearing in mind that I hadn't decided that I was formally going to go ahead with my business, I was also getting advice from Monika about job opportunities in the market. All of this was happening at the same time and it was starting to give me a very very comfortable sense that there were far more opportunities in the marketplace than I ever would have thought when I was still sitting within the NAB.

Monika helped me to understand that after 34 years, the skills and experiences I had were very valuable skills and sought after. When you sit in the one organisation for so long, you tend not to identify that.

That's an interesting reflection Bruno and not an uncommon one. When meeting people in the market, what skills and experiences did you see in demand?

So, for me, it would be because I'm a little older, my mid-fifties, it was the steady head on the shoulders that people really valued. The people that I was talking to were all in business banking, and the risk area. To have someone like me who had been in a large bank for thirty years and spent a lot of time in the risk area was very valuable to them. It was really the experience, the people leadership skills, the technical skills and an understanding of risk in a business banking environment that was very valuable to people.

Bruno after evaluating opportunities while your business idea was bubbling away in the background, what gave you the confidence to decide to focus your efforts on your own business?

After I had been working with Monika for a couple of months and had seen how many opportunities there were in the market, I realised then that if I embarked upon the business and if it didn't work out, there were still plenty of opportunities in the market and I could get a reasonable job.

So, tell us about your business Bruno.

It's a business banking risk assessment online tool. It was designed as a business; it was designed to sell subscriptions to my assessment tool. I also developed 11 training modules complete with technical papers, but the key focus was the risk assessment tool. With Monika's guidance, a lot of people I was put in touch with were able to have a little a bit of input into how it might look, how it could be designed and how it could be launched. So that gave me confidence to say, let's do this, let's concentrate on it full time, which is what I did. For about 18 months, right up to today.

I imagine there was a huge learning curve building this business, what are some of your main reflections?

For me, there is no doubt that I made a number of mistakes, but it was to make sure that even when you made mistakes, not to let them drag you down. I learnt very early on to trust my instincts and to trust the ability and the experience that I had built up over a number of years. Like I said before, when you sit in an organisation for as long as I did, it becomes easy to fall into the trap of thinking that nobody else would want or value what you do or how you think and that was clearly not the case. So, very early on, it was to trust my instincts and trust my own abilities.

Are you still running that business?

I developed it to the point of marketing it to a number of potential subscribers, when, quite unexpectedly, an offer was made to me to buy it from me prior to its official launch. Not only have I accepted the offer, but during the negotiations, also quite unexpectedly, other opportunities arose that saw me take up my current full time role. The whole thing was quite unexpected. I had planned to launch the business, run it for a few years, build it up and maybe sell it down the track.

So, I now work with Judo Bank. They call themselves a challenger bank. They are solely focused on helping SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). I work in their risk area, heading up their impaired asset area.

What are some of the lesson's you share with our alumni?

The main thing is to have faith in your own abilities. Trust yourself. I had to learn to trust myself and my instincts, rather than say this is too hard and too risky and I should just go out and get a job and forget about this. It was that. It was the importance of talking to people like Monika and others in the industry when things weren't going right. Some of it was technical rather than mental, but it was also important to reach out when my headspace wasn't right. When I was starting to get a little bit down when things weren't moving quickly or in the direction I thought they would, it was important to reach out to people and have a beer or a coffee with them to reset my mind.

The main thing for me, trust yourself.