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Issue 24 - January 2016

Under the spotlight: Di Ennis


Diana Ennis, Senior Manager – External Dispute Resolution Teams, never really had law as her first choice. She always dreamed of doing something with food but in an age when food was not the career it is today, she opted for an Arts/Law degree at the University of Melbourne.

"I wasn't really sure where I would end up after finishing my law degree," said Di. "I always loved languages and thought about the diplomatic path but when I was offered articles I thought it was best to get admitted and then decide. In those days everyone who graduated got articles which unfortunately is not the case now.

"When I graduated, I joined Allens (formerly Allens Arthur Robinson) and worked in their commercial litigation department – I really loved the work because I dealt with a wide range of commercial disputes and learnt so much about various businesses and how they ran. It was particularly important to be well prepared and understand the facts and evidence needed when briefing counsel and running a trial. I was really fortunate to be one of their first litigation lawyers to return on a part time basis post maternity leave in the late 1980s. After our second child I was appointed Senior Associate and moved into a recruitment and training role working closely with the staff partner. In those days law firms did not have an HR department – but I guess that says a lot about my age! At a time when working in the law part time was not common I felt fortunate to have an employer support me through three 'bouts' of maternity leave – although paid maternity leave was very uncommon.

"In the late 1990s my father passed away and his loss made me question what I wanted to do. Call it a mid-life crisis or an urge just to be mum without juggling ten things at once, I decided to take time out of the paid workforce and spend time at home with our three children who were still very young. I feel very privileged to have had that opportunity.

"When the children were all settled in school, I decided it was time to go back to paid work. I missed the working environment, conversing with colleagues and the challenge of problem solving. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew what I didn’t want to do. So with those vague parameters, I contacted a friend who ran a recruitment consultancy and she told me about a case manager position with the Australian Banking and Investments Ombudsman. I didn’t know much about ombudsmen schemes back then - when I graduated from law they did not exist! My first three months were challenging to say the least, with no computer or typing skills! However, I loved the type of work and the people I worked with, and that remains the same about my job today."

Since 2003, Di has moved from being a Case Manager to Team Manager and her current role as a Senior Manager. She feels her journey working actively in resolving disputes has given her a number of advantages to understand our stakeholder needs and the challenges external dispute resolution schemes face.

This is particularly useful in her current role. As Senior Manager across the Investigations and Resolution Group, she is responsible for the day to day management of banking and finance, general insurance and investment and advice disputes. This includes ensuring consistency of approach in deciding disputes and that we are delivering a timely and efficient service to our stakeholders. "We deal with a lot of disputes where the parties are in very difficult personal or financial circumstances. It is always really important to ask yourself how you would feel if you were in their position. The power of listening cannot be underestimated." Di also enjoys the challenge of her management role: "No two days are ever the same and you learn to expect the unexpected".

Di is looking forward to the New Year ahead. "2015 was a really busy year for our investigation teams. My team managers and staff did a wonderful job embracing the changes to deliver a better service to our stakeholders."

Outside of work, Di’s life is filled with family, food, and wine. As for hobbies, Di finds she has little time for hobbies at the moment. "I'm too young for golf, and I don’t like lycra so cycling is out. I really like photography, so maybe that can be a project for this year."