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The search for graduate talent

We don’t narrow down the field of candidates either by accepting only graduates with a background in finance. We're “degree agnostic” in that sense.”

ANZ graduate program

Samara MacLean, ANZ graduate program 2022


Attracting great talent to ANZ has always been a key focus for our team. We are constantly evolving our offering to not only attract but retain the next generation of leaders – candidates with the right mindsets and capabilities to help take the bank forward.


Graduates are a crucially important group for us and so we put a lot of thought and planning into how we reach out to them. The experience graduates have with us from that first interaction is vital and can lead to a long and fruitful partnership for both parties.

As an example, just this month I celebrated with one of the leaders in my team who started as a graduate with ANZ - 20 years ago. She’s been working with us at ANZ ever since across a variety of roles and business units.


ANZ recently won Most Popular Graduate Employer at Grad Connection’s awards ceremony, up from our fifth position last year. The bank was also awarded Most Popular Banking, Finance and Insurance Employer.


It’s pleasing to see the work we’ve put in to develop this program recognised and we’re in the process of welcoming a new intake of graduates as we speak. We have 120 graduates starting this month, including 66 women. Just under one third will take up roles in our technology programs – a key growth area for the bank.


Our approach to the graduate intake differs from some other organisations slightly in that we take a relatively smaller group of candidates. That gives us the time to really invest in the individual and help set them up for a potentially long-term career at the bank.


Searching for certainty


It also allows us to offer permanent places to our graduates at the time of offer so they can have peace of mind they’ll be staying with ANZ after their graduate placement.


Moreover, we don’t narrow down the field of candidates by accepting only graduates with a background in finance. We're “degree agnostic” in that sense and believe people with different life experience can bring a variety of perspectives to the bank.


We’ve had people join us with backgrounds in science, technology, business, engineering, maths and arts. The main thing we are looking for is people who can listen, learn and adapt. It's really important there is alignment to our core values in our graduates – integrity, collaboration, accountability, respect and excellence


We also look for people who have what you might call a growth mindset. They are always curious and want to remain connected to continued learning. We believe that sets them up for a rich, long-term career at the bank because there are so many opportunities for them to explore at ANZ.



Interview with Samara MacLean, ANZ graduate program 2022


What have you enjoyed most about the grad program?


I have enjoyed the opportunities to learn about three new and completely different areas and roles throughout the grad program; and develop the relevant technical skills for these roles. My rotations were in: platform engineering, product management and software architecture.


What surprised you most?


I was surprised by the varied backgrounds the different graduates have and the different skills and value they bring to the program. This makes for some very interesting graduate coffee catchups!


Any advice for grads starting this year?


My advice would be to never stop asking questions! The more you ask the more opportunity you have to learn as well as discover the type of work you enjoy doing and the skills you want to further develop.



Successful people at ANZ are more likely to create opportunities, deliver what matters and collaborate in a way that means we all succeed together.


This must start with how we approach the universities and potential candidates on campus. We run workshops that help graduates develop some of the skills they’ll need as they enter the workforce.


As they go through the process with us, we're thoughtful about providing them feedback along the way. This mean they're learning as they go and will develop useful skills and experience, regardless of whether they join us or not.


Given how competitive the market is for graduates, we must be clear about what makes ANZ a compelling proposition, but we’re also committed to helping our community by providing value to as many students and graduates as possible. For example, we offer online courses to help students to be job ready and develop data and technology skills via a platform called Forage.


A different approach


We have to be thinking about candidate retention from the outset - from that very first interview. We must approach those interviews not purely from the mindset of assessors.


Of course we are assessing the candidates and coaching them through an interview process. But we are also demonstrating the ANZ proposition by ensuring they have fun and engage with leaders who want to see them succeed.

Providing a fulfilling experience in the interview can be a big factor in their decision to accept our offer compared with others from competing companies.


Another part of that pitch is ANZ’s strong sense of purpose and our community focus. Graduates get to work on meaningful problems that improve the financial wellbeing of customers, help businesses to sustainably grow and move capital and goods around the world. If we get those things right it can have a significant positive impact on the lives of our customers.


And we clearly outline some other key elements of our purpose. We're committed to improving our customers’ financial wellbeing and we're doing a lot in environmental sustainability as well.


These are some of the issues and challenges that can resonate strongly with potential graduates. If they want to have an impact in those fields, ANZ is a place they can make that happen. Another drawcard is we have a significant global footprint and operate across 32 different markets.


All this can lead to a mutually beneficial scenario for both ANZ and the graduates. We bring in the next generation of leadership and vision and the graduates can begin a rich, fulfilling career working on interesting and often complex issues.


Kathryn van der Merwe is Group Executive – Talent & Culture at ANZ