New CBA chief chose GEMBA to hone leadership skills

The new CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Matt Comyn, once described the University of Sydney Business School’s Global Executive MBA as a ‘great’ program that stood out from others in this country and around the world.

Mr Comyn, who recently replaced Ian Narev as the head of Australia’s largest bank, enrolled in the 18 month program in 2012 with a view to improving his leadership skills.

Matt Comyn
Matt Comyn

“As a senior leader in the Bank, I am hoping to get some practical skills and improve my own careers journey,” he said in a video interview recorded at the time. “I am also hoping that I can take some of the things that I learn here and potentially participate in the overall leadership development of the executive staff of the Commonwealth Bank.”

He was not disappointed with the program. “The perspectives I have been viewing leadership through are not things that I have considered before,” Mr Comyn said after joining the Global Executive MBA.

Mr Comyn’s decision to enrol in the Business School’s Global Executive MBA wasn’t taken lightly. “I did a lot of research, I talked to a lot of people, I looked at the rankings of global schools and I looked at all of the Australian university,” he said in the interview. “For me, Sydney University was the standout in terms of structure and modular format.”

Comparing the program with others of a similar type, Mr Comyn said that, “it is really suits a more experienced type of leader than some of the more traditional MBA programs in this country”.

“For me, the thought of having to sit through a traditional MBA course and repeating some of the stuff I have already done in my undergraduate study was really of no interest,” he added “This is really a great balance of looking at things through different perspectives as well as being able to apply it in a really hands on way.”

At 42, Mr Comyn is the youngest CEO in CBA history. And yet, he has already had 20 years of experience in banking - business, institutional, retail and wealth management, and has significant technology expertise.

He joined the Commonwealth in 1999 and later ran the share trading platform CommSec. In 2012 he was appointed Group Executive Retail Banking Services.

The online news service, Business Insider, has described Mr Comyn as “a major force in transforming traditional banking services, growing the number of active digital users to more than six million customers, including more than four million Australians who log into the CommBank mobile app every day”.

“Under his watch, customer satisfaction increased to its highest levels, achieving a number one rating for the first time in January 2013, and sustaining this for 51 of the 60 months since,” Business Insider reported.

The School's GEMBA program consists of five, two week modules undertaken in Australia, the United Kingdom, Israel, the United States and India.