Caterina Nesci, La Trobe Financial’s Executive General Manager, Director of International Partnerships & ESG is a passionate builder of brands and an advocate for women’s financial wellbeing. At the The CEO Magazine’s 2021 Executive of the Year Awards, she has been recognised for her contribution to helping communities as Corporate Responsibility Executive of the Year.
"I actually can’t believe it," Nesci told The CEO Magazine moments after winning the 2021 award. "I actually never thought it would happen.
"Just to be a finalist is beautiful. Everyone’s doing beautiful things and to be among those people, I didn’t think I would win. I’m very humbled – I’m really happy."
When Nesci joined La Trobe Financial in 2010, she brought to the table experience working with some of the industry’s top financial institutions – Morgan Stanley, BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered – where she leveraged her marketing skills to promote these big brands.
Working in Hong Kong also granted her a deep understanding of how to adapt and embrace another culture, which has made her more resilient and open to a diverse society and the advantages it brings. She believes that the more diversity there is, the better equipped teams are to solve problems in the finance industry.
According to Nesci, her source of inspiration is Nelson Mandela. "Against all odds, and also being thrown into jail, he kept his belief and continued his journey – inspirational," she says.
During her 11 years with La Trobe Financial, she’s held various positions that have enabled her to fulfil her biggest achievement: writing the company’s first environmental, social and governance framework, as well as managing a number of projects as Head of its Charitable Foundation. Prior to this, Nesci pursued one of her greatest passions – building brands – as the leader of the marketing team.
Ten years on, La Trobe Financial was recognised as a successful brand with offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and Nesci was tasked with building the company’s international partnerships and ESG credentials.
"We believe that our corporate responsibility will contribute to better outcomes for our planet and for our investors." – Caterina Nesci
Since 1952, the company has been committed to placing corporate responsibility at the heart of the business, and Nesci has continued to nurture this commitment. "We believe that our corporate responsibility will contribute to better outcomes for our planet and for our investors," she shares.
In keeping with La Trobe Financial’s guiding principle of ‘others before self’, its Charitable Foundation was established in 1978, allowing employees the opportunity to give back at its annual ‘La Trobe lend a hand day’ through community service, volunteer projects and mentoring. In her leading role with the Foundation, Nesci is responsible for managing projects across sustainability, education, health care and sport.
"The Foundation’s objective is to make an impact and meaningful positive difference in the communities we serve," she explains.
In addition to managing philanthropic donations worth more than A$16.2 million for emergencies like bushfires, COVID-19 and flooding, the senior executive also launched a six-month campaign last year that aimed to help women take control of their finances.
Partnering with The Australian Women’s Weekly and Better Homes and Gardens, the project aligned with one of La Trobe’s key objectives: financial literacy. As the daughter of Italian immigrants, taking charge of her finances is something that was instilled in Nesci from a young age and she hopes to empower other women to do the same.
"I am also a passionate advocate of women leadership and the company’s representative of the Australian Red Cross’ Society of Women Leaders," she reveals.
As a result of these achievements, Nesci was invited to join La Trobe’s Executive Committee to help fulfil the company’s business objectives.
In light of the various roles she’s assumed over the years, it’s only natural that Nesci’s approach to leadership would reflect the breadth of her experience. "There are many qualities required for different styles of leadership," she notes. "But to inspire someone plants a seed for new ideas, new beginnings and what can be achieved."
And that’s one of the reasons she believes the Executive of the Year Awards are so important. "This event helps to inspire future leaders," she adds.