A trailblazing figure for women in the Australian financial services sector, Holland joined ANZ Bank as treasurer for domestic markets after working in derivative markets, and in 1990 took up executive and restructuring positions at the Cooperative Group and the Hindmarsh Adelaide Group.
Holland was named South Australian Executive Woman of the Year in 1992, before becoming general manager of IOOF Australia Trustees, with a charter to incorporate the trustee arm more fully into IOOF’s group operations and to launch the company’s new master super fund.
She studied at the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, before joining Arthur Andersen in Britain, then one of the world’s big four accounting firms, as head of turnaround consulting.
Holland went out on her own three years later, working with private equity houses in the UK, to turn around their underperforming companies. Her roles have ranged from advisory through to CEO and chairman in more than 17 countries and more than 20 sectors, including Irvin Aerospace Canada, Bowater Building Products and, at one point, Everest Home Improvements.
“I think part of my success has been that I am a woman, and I’m Australian,” she says.
“Australians are very forthright. And when people are in times of concern about their roles and jobs and somebody is telling it straight… they will go the extra mile.
“I think that the trick is to win the hearts and minds of people. And I think being an Australian helped me do that – I couldn’t be pigeonholed in terms of British class or education – and I was a woman.”
Holland says Australia in many ways is Britain’s “new best friend”, with the historic trade deal – although still to be ratified – providing a significant shift in the way the UK had traditionally done business.
John McClusky, chief of National Australia Bank’s UK arm, said recently that the UK was ripe for investment from Australian funds looking to fuel the transition to net zero.
“The UK remains very appealing for investment across infrastructure, renewables and property at the moment, and there are plenty of opportunities for Aussie investors in private markets to deploy capital,” he said.
Australia’s largest super fund continues to increase its presence in London as it scours the market for investment opportunities.
The $230 billion fund AustralianSuper, whose 2.3 million members account for more than 1 in 10 of the Australian workforce, plans to increase the number of staff in its London office from 38 to 90 by the end of 2023, as it hunts for deals in infrastructure and private debt.
“We have some very big members, but we have smaller ones. And we have start-ups, we cover the whole range.
“Britain very much relies on the fabulous and prolific SME market. And the SMEs we’re seeing coming from Australia to the UK are very keen to expand here. And the chamber’s sole raison d’etre is to connect companies and help them succeed.”