Those were the first public comments from ANZ Bank’s new country head for Cook Islands, as she arrived fresh off the plane from Australia yesterday.
Bernadette Shaw, who will have responsibility for the bank’s retail and commercial banking business in the Cook Islands, is no stranger to the Pacific region nor to warm places.
She worked in Papua New Guinea for five years, then following that with two years in the humid Northern Territory.
She’ll be glad of such gritty experience – because ANZ Rarotonga has had its share of challenges. In 2004 the bank manager was kidnapped from her home at knifepoint and taken to the bank to open the vault. The robbers were never caught.
Then this year, ANZ Cook Islands was named in a major US ‘Wolf of Wall St’ style fraud case, when Beverly hills stockbroker Todd Ficeto wired $15 million to the bank before it could be seized by federal crime investigators.
Shaw said her first thoughts after arriving in Rarotonga were “how really beautiful a place it is.”
“It’s my first trip here and I’m had a really warm welcome from the bank. The staff are energising, a great bunch of people.”
She said her challenge is to find out “how the ANZ can contribute to this country”.
Shaw reports to Bernie Poort, ANZ Regional Country Manager for Samoa, Cook Islands and Tonga.
Poort said: “I’m pleased to welcome Bernadette to our team and look forward to working together to build an even stronger business in the Cook Islands.
“Bernadette is an experienced commercial banker who has successfully led large regional businesses with high staff and customer engagement.
“She is looking forward to moving to Rarotonga with her young daughter and becoming part of the local community,” Poort said.
Shaw explained that her six-year-old daughter Anna – a child she adopted while working in Papua New Guinea – will be arriving soon and will be attending St Joseph’s School.