From crowd pleasing cupcakes to leading the Sydney Chapter of the Iress Foundation - what Zita loves about Iress

Zita White is a Product Manager for Xplan CRM at Iress. She started working at Iress in 2015, and joined the team with a background in supporting financial advisers to use Xplan in their business operations. During her time at Iress, Zita’s passion for baking (particularly for Iress colleagues and the Iress Foundation) has flourished and it has now developed into a fully-fledged side hustle. We spoke to Zita about how she aligns her personal values and passions at Iress.

Tell us about your role at Iress - have you moved around while you’ve been in the team?

I started at Iress as a Tailored Solutions Specialist/Advice Efficiency Consultant for Australian clients in a role and team that has now grown into a global function. In 2019, I wanted a new challenge but I didn’t want to leave Iress, so I moved into my current role as a Product Manager, looking after the CRM module of Xplan, a software solution for the financial planning industry.

I work with a team of engineers, business analysts, and test analysts to develop features and functionality. It’s my role to act as the voice of our users and guide the engineering team when designing solutions, which I’m able to do with my 10 plus years of experience in financial planning. I also conduct user research and groom the backlog of work for the team based on current, and constantly shifting, priorities.

Tell us about your work leading the Sydney Chapter of the Iress Foundation - what are you most looking forward to doing in that space this year?

I got involved around four years ago when it was still a relatively new thing at Iress, so it’s been great to be able to watch engagement steadily grow. Along with my equally passionate colleague, Kass Hernandez, we lead a small team of Iress volunteers that search for, plan, and organise opportunities and initiatives for our people. In Sydney, we partner with a social enterprise, Two Good Co., who do a massive amount in supporting domestic violence survivors through the provision of meals and quality personal care products, and re-introducing survivors into the workforce. Our people love getting involved by cooking meals with Two Good Co. that are then provided to local women’s refuges.

I’m really excited that Iress has begun to integrate the Iress Foundation more into the business by incorporating Foundation goals into the company’s three year plan. I’m hoping this will lead to all Iress people seeing their involvement in Iress Foundation opportunities as part of their day-to-day role.

What have you enjoyed most about working at Iress?

Undoubtedly, the people and the culture. I initially joined Iress because I’d heard great things about my potential manager and I chose my current role because I knew that there were people in the product team that I could learn a lot from and be supported to progress my career.

The culture is also fantastic. Iress promotes a healthy work-life balance and provides so many additional perks like office drinks, health care subsidies, shopping rewards, and six long weekends a year.

Tell us about your baking - what’s your favourite thing to make?

I don’t even really know how it started. I think I saw a drip cake one day and decided I needed to make one too. I mostly started with cupcakes but gradually the cakes took over. I’ve created a number of cakes for colleagues in the office (and their children) and on occasion, I also use cupcakes as a way to raise funds for Iress Foundation initiatives.

I can’t see it becoming a business for me, I like the freedom to create what I want and when, without any pressure (and some of my cakes still turn out looking pretty rough too). I created an instagram account @bake_by_night to post my baking pictures, but it’s become a bit neglected since Covid (trying to avoid those Covid kilos). Being back in the office, I hope to get back into it. I love trying out new buttercream flavours and have plenty more ideas in mind, so I foresee a lot more cupcakes in the office in the future!

What’s been your career highlight since you started working here in 2015?

A highlight for me since I’ve been at Iress was when we moved into new offices a number of years ago. Coming from a very segmented arrangement to a bright and open space with lots of areas for people to come together, there was a very big and noticeable shift in the way of working at Iress. The change to the work environment was reflective of the way in which Iress had grown and progressed, and continues to do so. I found myself having more interaction with people outside of my own team because of the layout and openness of our office space. This led to more social interactions with colleagues, which in turn led me to be more comfortable in collaborating with others and approaching people with questions.

How would you describe the culture at Iress in 3 words?

Progressive, casual, connected.

We hear you’re a musical theatre fan. If you were to pick one to recommend to others, which would it be?

Picking just one is like making someone pick a favourite child….so my favourite three are The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and The Book of Mormon. But I also greatly admire the brilliance and intricacies of anything written by Lin Manuel Miranda.

What’s your favourite piece of tech?

I’m a big fan of the Snapseed app. Image editing can be quite complex so I love that it simplifies it, only gives me what I need, and I can use it without instruction. I use it for editing my @bake_by_night pictures and for my newer Instagram page @the_eating_experiment, which I created for the sole purpose of not bombarding my friends with the high volume of food pictures I had been posting.

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