Gail Kelly - 50 Years of WBS
50 Years of Memories at Wits Business School
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Gail Kelly

Current title
Board Director, Woolworths Holdings; Member of the Group of Thirty


Course at Wits Business School
Master of Business Administration, 1986


A defining moment in my career

Connecting the dots of a career with the benefit of hindsight, the pivotal elements quickly become apparent. One of these was my Wits Business School MBA. I entered the school as a member of the 1985 full-time class as a young woman of limited business experience. Mine was an arts degree with majors in history and Latin. My first job – a Latin teacher. Next job – a teller at the SA Perm. The Wits MBA transformed my skill set. It gave me courage to compete, to be the best that I could be. I learned to synthesise information, to analyse a complex situation, to articulate a point of view and to lead a team. I learned to prioritise and be comfortable with ambiguity. I learned that the business of business is more than business.


This “connecting the dots” exercise reveals how my career took off from this point, with significant leadership roles coming before I was ready for them. But somehow I coped. In my last executive role as CEO of Westpac Banking Corporation during the years of the global financial crisis, I drew heavily on my business school training, honed by years of practical experience. How easy it is now for me to see how one pivotal experience builds on another. I am grateful for them all.

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