Interbrand Australia names Paola Norambuena as Strategy Officer

23 October 2018

Global brand consultancy Interbrand have announced that brand communication executive Paola Norambuena will be firm’s new Chief Strategy Officer in Australia.

Paola Norambuena’s appointment means that the new CSO will leave her base in New York and return home to Australia. Starting off her career as the Marketing Manager for Seafolly Australia, Norambuena went on to direct big names in the branding world such as VB Concepts, Prahna Marketing & Strategic Services and Eventive Marketing.  

In 2006, Norambuena joined Interbrand’s Verbal Identity – the consulting firm’s identity design and corporate/consumer brand strategy arm – as Executive Director. By 2015, she moved into the position of Interbrand’s Global Chief Communications Officer working out of the firm’s New York office. 

She has worked with some of the world’s largest companies including Microsoft, Intel, the Bank of America, General Motors, while also having been involved with the Sydney Olympics. “Paola brings unique global insight to the power of brand experience, having been instrumental in driving brand and business growth for numerous brands internationally over the years,” said Interbrand Australia CEO Nathan Birch.

“It’s great to be bringing in such great talent from all around the globe after achieving significant growth this year, including having created a number of exciting new brands, grown businesses, and developed innovative brand experiences locally and globally.”

Interbrand Australia names Paola Norambuena as new CSO

Birch continued; “In a time where traditional strategic levers for unlocking growth are becoming less effective, brand experience is, in some cases, the only opportunity for brands to be distinct in an increasingly competitive market. As the world’s most respected brand consultancy, we are uniquely positioned against both agencies and consultancies to deliver this.”

During her time with Interbrand, Norambuena has developed the firm’s digital marketing, content strategy, partnerships, and thought-leadership efforts. Included in this is acting as a publisher for the firm, with works including Best Global Brands – the annual global analysis – as well as the creation and launch of Interbrand Breakthrough Brands platform. She has also worked as the publisher of

“The best part of any brand work is its direct and positive impact on the business itself – certainly, financial growth and expansion, but just as important is its impact on the business’ people and their relationship with the company,” said Norambuena, commenting on her appointment. 

“That’s the power of great branding – it’s an asset that builds a business long term. Interbrand has been my home for 12 years in New York, and it’s wonderful to now be joining such a talented Interbrand team in Australia that is primed for further growth across some iconic Australian brands.”

In related news, ex-Interbrand consulting leader Manfred Abraham’s newly founded consulting firm BrandCap has just opened its first office in the Asia Pacific and second outside the UK. Focused on the huge market inside China, the new office located in Hong Kong offers clients creative thinking designed to transform organisational performance.


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Commonwealth Bank working with McKinsey on massive job cuts

16 April 2019

The Commonwealth Bank could be set to cut up to 10,000 jobs and around $2 billion in costs according to reports, with the bank working on the plan with McKinsey.

Driven by new CEO Matt Comyn, who was appointed to the helm last year, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is said to be mulling a plan devised in conjunction with global strategy and management firm McKinsey & Company to axe up to 10,000 local jobs – saving about $2 billion in operating costs. It continues the close relationship between the bank and the consultancy dating back for more than 15 years.

The largest employer among Australia’s Big Four banks, the potential cuts could see an almost 25 percent reduction to its approximate workforce of 44,000, the CBA’s headcount then dropping below the ~34,000-strong staff at National Bank. The plan is also reported to include the shuttering of 300 of its 1000 branches around the country, although as customers shift to online banking the closures are not unexpected.

“My understanding is that the story is good and there has been a plan underway,” said Your Money’s chief reporter Leo Shanahan of the reports which first surfaced in The Australian (Your Money was formed through a partnership between Nine and NewsCorp subsidiary Australia News Channel). With its potential ramifications for the government’s hopes in the upcoming federal election, the reporting from Murdoch’s stable provides an unexpected twist.

“Matt Comyn has been wanting to shut branches in particular for a while and cut costs at the bank. There is broadly a plan underway over the next few years for [this cost-cutting] to happen,” continued Shanahan on Comyn, who replaced former McKinsey New Zealand head and global partner Ian Narev as CEO last year following the anti-money laundering breeches which saw the bank fined a record $700 million.Commonwealth Bank working with McKinsey on massive job cutsComyn has since broadly criticised his predecessor at the recent Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking and financial services sector, which stemmed in part from a Four Corners report on the profit-at-all-costs culture within the CBA’s financial planning division, but the bank’s relationship with McKinsey apparently remains strong – having dated back to before Narev’s arrival and featuring other close links.

In 2003, the CBA brought in McKinsey for an ongoing “benchmarking” project to cut $500 million in costs – with 600 staff said to be in the retrenchment cross-hairs at the time following a significant reduction in the years prior. McKinsey has continued to serve the CBA in the years following, and had throughout the 80s and 90s advised all of the NAB, Westpac and the ANZ on various cost-cutting and re-organisational measures – including saving Westpac from potential collapse.

Meanwhile, CBA’s Group Executive for Retail Banking Angus Sullivan, who will be responsible for overseeing any strategy to close branches and let go customer facing staff, was like Narev a former partner in McKinsey’s New York office, spending nine years with the strategy firm before joining CBA in 2011. Former CFO Rob Jesudason is also among others a McKinsey alumnus, while the leadership team of the CBA’s strategy division continues to feature a number of ex-McKinsey consultants.

For the Commonwealth Bank’s part, it has described the reports of a mass redundancy – which The Australian contends were meant to be kept secret until after the election – as “unnecessarily alarming” and “misleading”, while reiterating the need to manage costs. McKinsey meanwhile traditionally refuses to comment on matters concerning its clients, although the firm recently committed to greater transparency following a series of its own public image issues.

The financial sector accounts for nearly a quarter of Australia’s $5 billion management consulting spend, with the Big Four professional services quartet Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and EY in recent years all scoring multi-million dollar contracts with the big Australian banks – particularly around the areas of digitisation. McKinsey, meanwhile, was last year brought in by Telstra on another $1 billion cost-cutting program.