BA grad, Tessa Maye, working from home

Facts & figures

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  • *2020 QS World University Rankings

Arts grad at work: Digital customer experiences at Commonwealth Bank

21 July 2020
Unique skills lead to more employment options
After securing a graduate position at CommBank, Bachelor of Arts alumna, Tessa Maye, has gone from strength to strength within the corporate, recently landing a role as a Digital Product Owner, demonstrating the value and employability of a Humanities degree.

Having as many options as possible, and being on the lookout for opportunities as they arise, are the reoccurring themes so far in the 2017 graduate’s promising career.

Choosing to major in Theatre and Performance Studies and Management – an unexpected combination of disciplines – within her Bachelor of Arts degree, immediately placed Tessa Maye on a unique path.

It also provided her with options.

Graduating with a distinct, creative skillset has enabled Tessa to work seamlessly across different professional contexts within the banking industry. As a Digital Product Owner at Commonwealth Bank, she uses her analytical skills to understand the needs of customers and has the communicative tools to work with technologists and translate these insights into technical solutions.

My Arts degree taught me the power of thinking, challenging existing assumptions and the importance of taking into account diverse points of view in order to drive innovation. These are the skills that allow me to succeed in my role.
Tessa Maye, Bachelor of Arts graduate

Tessa's advice and insights

The most valuable thing I learnt in my Arts degree was to ask questions.

We need to understand and unpack why things have been done the way they’ve been done. And critically ask what could we do differently?

Without this we risk a homogenous corporate sector who ask the same questions and build experiences and products which are misrepresentative of society and what they want to see. 

Without collaborating with people who have unique life experiences, culture and areas of study to our own we lack the different perspective we need for organisations to grow and succeed.

A Humanities degree exposes you to a range of areas across disparate fields so you can have breadth in your knowledge before focusing on an area you are passionate about.

This exposure to areas, some of which I had never even heard of before university, is one of the wonderful benefits of studying the Humanities.

...Becasue you have no idea where they may take you!

Every option is a potential opportunity for growth and development, learning what you don't like is just as important as what you do. Also, the people you work with are just as, if not more important than the work you do - surround yourself with people who push you to be a better version of yourself.

Why did you choose to major in Theatre and Performance Studies?

In high school I felt like the options at university were endless and I wanted an opportunity to see what I would enjoy most before I decided what to focus on. I've always believed that if you are passionate about something and have an eagerness to learn and ask questions, that is where you will thrive.

Drama class was my favourite subject in high school, so Performance Studies felt like a natural choice when I started university.

How did a Theatre and Performance Studies major come to work at CommBank?

I definitely did not expect to be working as a Digital Product Owner at the Commonwealth Bank!

I applied for a graduate position at CommBank in my last year of uni on the advice of a friend. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for work so I wanted to start my career somewhere with lots of different career paths and a safe place to fail fast and try areas I wouldn't have thought of before.

This is what a graduate program is all about! My grad program was 18 months in the Retail Bank and I did rotations in strategy, credit card acquisitions, branches, call centres and human centred design.

The graduate program was an absolute highlight with countless opportunities to step out of your comfort zone, hear from talented speakers, attend conferences and really accelerate your career. After my grad program ended, I was fortunate to secure a full-time role in the team I had enjoyed the most, Human Centred Design. 

Human Centred Design is an in-house creative consultancy specialising in driving customer outcomes that better our customers' financial wellbeing. We partnered with specialist colleagues to use design, research, behavioural economics and data science to create impactful, measurable experiences.

Just recently I became a Digital Product Owner which gives me the opportunity to put the skills I have learnt so far into practice.

How do you use the things you learnt in Theatre/ Performance Studies in your work at CommBank?

Performance Studies is much more than what you typically think of when you hear drama or theatre - it examines both everyday performances of ritual, politics, sport or gender to more traditional forms of theatre.

Taking from fields as diverse as anthropology, sociology, cultural studies and history, my studies and research taught me to open my eyes and ears to the many facets of life that play out in human beings in every context.

The things I learnt majoring in Theatre and Performance Studies come into everything I do: I’m designing for people, I’m designing experiences for our customers.
Bachelor of Arts graduate, Tessa Maye

What does a day in the life of a Digital Product Owner look like?

My role involves creating digital experiences, features and products for our customers in the consumer finance space (credit cards, personal loans, personal overdrafts). As the product owner it is my job to work with business and risk teams, continuously being the voice of the customer.

The other part of my role is working with the technology delivery teams to translate what we want to create and to work with the team to understand how we will technically deliver it. My job involves constantly balancing trade-offs - customer experience, speed to market, business impacts and risk, just to name a few.

The University of Sydney is Australia's leading university for graduate employability, ranked first in Australia for the past five years. In 2020, we also moved up one place to rank fourth in the world in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020. Click here to find out why.

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