Westpac to re-skill workforce; resolves to face new digital era challenges

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Westpac, Australia’s first bank with a range of innovative financial packages that meet personal, business or corporate banking needs of customers is on the fast-track.

The bank is preparing for a revolution in IT working practices by cutting out traditional hierarchies and re-equipping its workforce with the skills to survive and thrive in a digitally disruptive world.

In the words of the Westpac CIO, Dave Curran, the new-wave strategy and bank’s plans aim to provide existing staff with the tools and training needed to adapt to 21st Century working practices. “In a slowly changing world, we approached resourcing by hiring people and augmenting their resources by sending them on courses, like leadership and PowerPoint training. But when their core skills ran out, our refresh model was to make them redundant and hire new people. Clearly, this was not ideal for the worker and, over time, has become more costly and less efficient for an enterprise. In a world of digital revolution where changes are happening fast, this model is unsustainable and is already straining at the seams.”

To help bring about this paradigm shift in banking technology and operations, Westpac is fast-setting up TechU, an internal IT University as a key component of its LearningBank online training programme.

The platform provides 2500 modules and primers on new developments in computing and agile delivery. Curran says that 40% of the bank’s tech team in Australia is already using agile methods for delivery and 100% in New Zealand.

Known as a bank that has been around for ages, the biggest challenge of the turnaround management is to transform the work culture from a ‘19th Century governance structure’ that uses traditional command and control hierarchies, and to convince at least 65% of the workforce aged 35 years and over, to embrace a new way of doing things applying digital technology and newgen systems.

The change-strategy is clear. Explains Curran, “We can’t simply wait for the workforce to be taken over by millennials – it’s going to be too late. We also can’t just wait for 30 per cent of jobs to be automated. Workers will (and should) be here for quite some time and to support this, we need an agile workforce that is willing and able to adapt, change, and embrace the opportunities of the digital revolution.”

At the end of the day, customers will get the added benefit of today’s Fintech technology-backed banking services delivered with the strong, solid foundation of the great Westpac banking tradition which dates back to the 1900’s.

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