Executive Education Is Now a Key Element of Corporate Strategy-Developing Leadership, Attracting and Retaining Talent, and Promoting Innovation

By Atlas, Ilana | Journal of Banking and Financial Services, October-November 2004 | Go to article overview

Executive Education Is Now a Key Element of Corporate Strategy-Developing Leadership, Attracting and Retaining Talent, and Promoting Innovation


Atlas, Ilana, Journal of Banking and Financial Services


Leadership is fundamental to people Engagement

In an increasingly knowledge-based economy and with a shortage of talented individuals, the development of our leaders and the quality of leadership within Westpac (both at corporate and team leadership level) is critical to our people's work experience. It is also fundamental to Westpac's ability to deliver on its promise as an employer of choice.

Leadership is a key determinate of our people's level of motivation and commitment to the organisation and ultimately their intention to stay with Westpac. This goes to the heart of Westpac's philosophy that--complete people mean satisfied customers mean happy shareholders. Our people's level of engagement with Westpac and how they perform is determined largely by how they are led and what is valued.

We've made a considerable effort to improve the quality of our people's leadership experience focusing on how our leaders lead their teams. We intend to build on this and continue to enhance the quality of leadership enterprise-wide

The talent shortage

Like other sectors of the economy, there is a shortage of exceptional talent within the financial markets and Westpac faces an ongoing challenge in finding the right people who are capable of performing at an outstanding level. Currently, there are particular shortages of financial planners and audit and risk management specialists and, in recent years, the number of experienced lenders has declined significantly.

Historically, bank employees developed lending skills through experience as they progressed through a variety of increasingly complex roles. As managers now tend to move more readily between institutions, this kind of professional and skill development often needs to be enhanced by in-house credit and lending education. This places increased pressure on both employers and business/finance educational institutions to provide graduates with practical skills in areas such as balance sheet analysis and business fundamentals.

Recruiting high performers

In general, Australian universities produce very high-quality graduates with the knowledge and skills that allow them to succeed in the corporate environment. More than 90 per cent of the students who join Westpac's Graduate Program have completed their qualifications in Australia. Students have a wide variety of courses to choose from and they tend to be very discerning about the different specialties they choose to study.

Cooperative programs that are set-up by universities and sponsored by various employers provide students with exposure to the corporate environment while they are studying. These cooperative programs include work placements as part of the degree, allowing the students to apply theories while they are learning at university. They also give the employer that is sponsoring them access to high-performing graduates who may then join their Graduate Programs on completion of their studies.

Westpac recruits both specialists and generalists, depending on the business unit and the particular role required, and we provide training to all of our people. Almost everyone recruited for management roles has a degree (or higher) qualification, but not necessarily in banking and finance or a related business discipline.

For particular projects, we tend to recruit specialist project managers as team leaders and then recruit subject matter specialists from within the business. If the required skills and experience are unavailable internally we contract out the role or hire consultants.

Blended education and training solutions

Westpac uses a wide range of education programs including induction and role-based programs, skills development programs, and compliance and product-related courses. The bank uses internally developed and facilitated programs as well as a wide variety of external courses.

When partnering with external education/training providers Westpac looks for a deep understanding of the nature and role of our strategies and business as well as knowledge of our values and ethics. …

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Executive Education Is Now a Key Element of Corporate Strategy-Developing Leadership, Attracting and Retaining Talent, and Promoting Innovation
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