Of all the financial industries, superannuation isn’t usually seen as sexy——that’s according to Michelle Wade, CEO of AvSuper. Because of this, Michelle says, people are often surprised that she, a Gen Xer with previous experience in fashion and music retail, ended up heading a super fund. Certainly, Michelle never thought she’d end up in superannuation either—she studied journalism at university initially—but says it suits her, and she wouldn’t have it any other way now.

“I spent my early career in fashion and music retail sectors,” Michelle says. “I moved to superannuation when I got tired of working nights and weekends, especially Christmas rosters. I was looking for a 9 to 5 desk job and I found I had a knack for super, which was unexpected but pleasing. And since then I have always been looking for more challenges and responsibilities and more interesting work, which ultimately led me to this role.”

Michelle has been CEO AvSuper for the past eight years, starting in the role in 2007 just as the global financial crisis hit. This proved to be a challenge for the industry and AvSuper, but Michelle managed to excel in the role and focused on member services despite the financial market situations. “[!after!], rebuilding was going to have to be part of the job moving forward,” Michelle explains. “But spending the time in helping our members understand the implications on their retirement savings expectations certainly helped. Dealing with the GFC itself was less challenging than it was making sure our members understood the implications and the impact, as well as various other stakeholders like our participating employers.