Ross McEwan praised FINSIA and NAB colleagues for the work done on the Career Qualified in Banking (CQiB) program at our final event of the year.
NAB Chief Executive Ross made the comments during a fireside chat with FINSIA CEO and MD Yasser El-Ansary F FIN at the VIC/TAS Regional Council members annual dinner.
Ross also covered a wide range of topics, including the 2023 economic outlook, cyber threats, social housing and climate change.
Rounding off the Q&A with a question about the reasons for putting all 34,000 colleagues through CQiB program, he reflected on when he first arrived at NAB.
Ross said: “As I wandered around the organisation, I realized we had really great bankers, but once you stepped away from your bankers, most people didn't know what the business was about.”
Highlighting the fact that 35% of the business in technical roles - as well as other parts of the business in non-banking roles – he said CQiB was introduced to give everyone a better understanding to instil capability and pride.
“I thought we could professionalise and make people understand what banking was about, they would be proud.
“So I made the call and said all 34,000 - it was 32,000 at the time – of our people would go through a qualification program. That would at least help them understand what banking was about.
“Some people thought we'd gone a bit mad, but I thought we could actually give something to our colleagues. Something they would be proud of. and would also give them a base education across our bank that was beneficial to everybody.
“So we set off on the path with FINSIA, who did a fantastic job - thank you.
“We've got 9,000 through, and we'll get thousands more this coming year.”
Confirming that he had recently passed, Ross jokingly said that “if the boss has passed” then everyone can.
But acknowledging the rigorous nature of the course, he added: “I thought it was a good experience to go through. It was amazing.
“And I've got to tell you, it was not easy doing it, and I've had lots of my senior team going, "It wasn't easy."
“But I think it's good for the organisation.
“We've got two senior leadership programs, one of them is Career Qualified and the other one is One Leadership Program for the Bank, and I'm going to push them because I think they make a difference over the time.
“That's the reality. It is about professionalisation, and now bankers can go from Career Qualified to whatever level they choose to, and we encourage them to keep going and be the best they can.
“I think this is a competitive advantage for NAB, that we want the very best in the marketplace.”