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The Top Seat In Australian Finance To Be Occupied By A Woman: Meet The New RBA Governor, Michele Bullock

History has been made
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The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has announced a new leader – and for the first time in the history, it’s a woman at the helm.

Today the government revealed it would promote the RBA’s Deputy Governor, Michele Bullock, to the top job.

“[Bullock’s] appointment strikes the optimal balance between providing exceptional experience and expertise and offering a fresh leadership perspective,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a press conference.

Bullock is to replace Philip Lowe who has served as the institution’s Governor since 2016. 

Bullock will step into the role from September 17, 2023.

Here’s everything we know about our new RBA chief. 

(Credit: Getty)

Who Is Michele Bullock?

In 1985, she joined the RBA team and has been with the institution ever since. Previously, she’s been the Assistant Governor (Currency), Assistant Governor (Finance System), and Assistant Governor (Business Services). In 2022, she was made Deputy Governor.

Nearly 40 years since she started at the RBA, she’s now captain of the ship. 

It’s not only the Reserve Bank Board to which Bullock has been lending her expertise. She also sits on the board of Chief Executive Women.

Michele was born in Melbourne, and grew up in Armidale, NSW. As reported by the University of New England, where Bullock went to university, our incumbent RBA Governor went to her local high school and was later accepted to study medicine at the University of New South Wales, but decided to pursue economics at UNE instead.

“As a country girl, I found the idea of going to the big city quite daunting, so staying at home was a good option,” she says. “I found Economics interesting; it was useful in day-to-day life and topical, and it had a quantitative element that suited me because I was quite good at maths. I didn’t have a focus on where it would lead me, but I thought perhaps the public service.”

Who knew, hey Michele?

Why Is Michele Bullock’s Appointment Important?

To understand perhaps why this appointment is important, let’s first get a handle on what the RBA does.

What does the RBA do?

The RBA is Australia’s central bank, meaning it is essentially the guardian of the nation’s financial wellbeing. It influences all matters of monetary policy, issues our currency and ensures our financial market stays as stable and prosperous as it can. 

It’s also the bank of our government, and provides them with similar banking services to what we might see in our own banks (loans, savings, transactions etc.) but on a very different scale.

Michele Bullock and outgoing RBA governor, Philip Lowe (Credit: Getty)

The institution’s influence is woven into, well, basically everything, but there are a few key things you might know it for:

  • Setting the cash rate. You know every time national interest rates go up or down? It’s because the RBA says so.
  • Releasing new currency. When we release new currency, change someone’s head on a banknote, or make our paper money plastic? That’s the RBA too.

Our first female RBA Governor

Finance has historically been a male dominated field. While it’s not anymore (in 2021, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, WGEA, found it was 54.3% women to 45.7% men), women still comprise only 10% of CEOs, 31% of managers and 27% of directors. 

Further to that, financial and insurance services (28.6%) has the second-highest gender pay gap in Australia.

It’s also the first time in history a woman has helmed the central bank. 

Brava, Michele. 

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