Looks that Work: ASB's Anna Curzon

By Zoe Walker

Anna Curzon, ASB's general manager of marketing, talks dressing with intent, keeping stress at bay and entrepreneurial success.

General Manager of marketing at ASB, Anna Curzon, photographed in the new ASB building in North Wharf. Picture / Babiche Martens
General Manager of marketing at ASB, Anna Curzon, photographed in the new ASB building in North Wharf. Picture / Babiche Martens

The Woman: Anna Curzon
What She Does: General manager marketing ASB
What She Wears: Feminine tailoring, energetic colour, pieces from local designers including Kate Sylvester (pictured wearing above).

Tell us about your job, day to day.
I often wake up early - 5.30am - to nail the remaining emails from the day before, read and set up my intention for the day. After sharing a solid breakfast with my family, and my daughter has left for school, I head into ASB's new home in the North Wharf Building down at Wynyard Quarter.

The bulk of my time is spent with people; whether it's a stand-up meeting with my leadership team, a steering meeting on an important project, meeting customers, or a briefing with our agencies. I also book out times in my diary for "drop-ins", so people from across the team can touch base if they want to present a concept, discuss an idea, or just want a second opinion.

Back at home, once my daughter is asleep in bed, I'm usually back online for an hour or so. I also like to use this time to do my thinking - daydreaming and reimagining the future. It's also quiet time to read - I'm inquisitive by nature and get energy from research, blogs and opinions.

Having time to re-focus is so important, to understand what is impacting communications from an emerging channel perspective, and also to spot key trends or changes in the rhythm of our customers' lives, so we can continue to design experiences with them in mind.

The best career advice you have received?
Believe in yourself. If you don't, why would you expect others to?

Tips for young women and up and coming female entrepreneurs?
• There will be times when you feel like you're the only freak in the phone book. You'll look around the room and you'll feel unique - it might be because of your point of view, it might be because of your gender, or even where you grew up. But embrace that, because all the smart money is on growing diversity of thinking in business, to ultimately grow New Zealand's GDP. So keep going. Your country needs you!

• Invest in yourself. Starting a business or putting your hand up for big career opportunities takes time and energy. You're not doing yourself, the people you are leading or those who have invested in you any favours by pushing your health and wellbeing to the back seat. Ironically, [rock legend] Janis Joplin summed this up well when she said, "Don't compromise yourself; you're all you've got." If only she'd taken her own advice!

• Spot the friction and focus on it. In my experience, great entrepreneurial thinkers notice points of friction in experiences and figure out ways to remove it. At ASB this may be replacing 12-digit bank account numbers with a mobile number or Facebook profile as an easier way to pay via our mobile app. Or if you're Sarah Blakely of Spanx fame, you turn $5000 into US$1 billion by noticing that women all over the globe were going to great lengths to soften up their curves under their favourite frocks.

• Ask for help; you don't have all the answers on Day 1. In fact here's a newsflash; you never will.

• Be inquisitive, ask questions. It shows a willingness to learn, and demonstrates that you care.

• Remember to breathe when you're nervous.

• Never raise an issue without being ready to communicate options and your recommendation.

• Visualise the future you want, and write down your intentions for the day.

• Notice where you get your energy from and follow it.

• Surround yourself with people that will challenge and stimulate you.

How do you deal with stress in your busy role?
We all have pressure in our lives, no matter what we're doing (I'm sure many parents who are at home with kids would attest to that!). But I try to make a choice as to whether I'm going to let that pressure turn into stress. So to keep stress at bay, I run, read and meditate. I try to notice what's triggering stressful situations, and jot down my thoughts along the way.

It can be so revealing to see what we're saying to ourselves without even realising it. But the stories we tell ourselves can have the biggest impact on our state of mind, and ultimately our success. So we may as well make them positive. Having a good sense of humour and not taking yourself too seriously helps as well.

Hanging out with my daughter certainly keeps things in perspective. I know she will be my greatest legacy, and there's nothing like being told off by a 6-year-old for colouring over the lines to put you in your place!

How do you dress for work?
My style has been described as feminine, tailored and sophisticated. I think about the people I'm meeting throughout the day, and how I'm feeling. I love the impact that colour can have on your energy. For me that might means a pop of colour through a blazer, a block colour dress, or a fabulous shoe paired with a more conservative piece liked a fitted black dress or slim leg pant.

Do you favour any designers or stores for your working wardrobe?
Kathryn Wilson has rocked my shoe world over the past few years. She really understands great design - such a beautiful balance of form and function (no matter what your shoe size is, she'll make you feel like Cinderella). Kate Sylvester, Juliette Hogan and Carlson are among my most coveted designers, and I find Saba is great for classic pieces to pair with a more unique item.

It's excellent to see the local design industry going from strength to strength with so many more innovative and talented designers coming up in the ranks. I recently had the pleasure of meeting two entrepreneurial fashion designers at a working lunch, Kiri Nathan, and Tamara Mitchell (Lolla-Jane), who are enjoying great success in New Zealand and internationally by following their bliss.

I will often browse online stores when I'm looking for something specific, to get a sense of what's in the market, especially as I don't have much time to cruise the shopping strips.

I was asked once to attend a black tie function at the last minute, and promptly found a dress from a local designer online (thank you, Google), who had it couriered to me within an hour - a Cinderella-type experience. I foresee this happening more with busy women who can't get into stores, and it's a service model worth further exploration.

How do you stay stylish in a corporate environment?
By being confident in my own style. I'm lucky because at ASB we have a really modern work environment and we've all moved on from the traditional view of the "pinstripe suit banker". To suit the environment we work in, I like to mix classic parts of my wardrobe with fresh, trending pieces. I am also inspired by the people I work with all over the organisation, as well as the fashionistas in my wider network. It's great to see the diversity, not only in thinking, but also in style.

Do you believe in the idea of power dressing - clothes exhibiting power and strength?
I believe in dressing for confidence. What you wear plays a significant part in your communication strategy, so be thoughtful about it. Dress with intent and with respect for the audience you're addressing. But at the end of the day, nothing is more magnetic than someone who is confident and comfortable in their own skin.


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