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Digital capability expands reach to inspire a new generation


“Don’t be intimidated by others you see; understand what you bring because it is valuable. It may be different but valuable.” - Kathryn Van der Merwe, Group Executive, Talent and Culture at ANZ


For some young people, breaking into the job market can be difficult - especially if they’re experiencing disadvantage. They may lack the connections, role models and aspirations to explore their potential career options and job opportunities.  This is where inspiring employers can help.


ANZ Treasury supports The Smith Family’s Work Inspiration program, an employer-led initiative that ensures young Australians have a positive, meaningful and inspiring first experience of the world of work.


The program helps young people to successfully navigate the transition to work by building career knowledge, broadening their perspectives and developing aspirations. For many young people facing disadvantage, acquiring this knowledge isn’t easy.  Representation matters and having the opportunity to hear stories from a diverse range of people who’ve paved successful careers can make a big difference. 


Digital delivers more


While the program was delivered in-person pre-COVID, our ANZ Treasury team recently worked with The Smith Family to create an adapted digital Work Inspiration program to ensure students didn’t miss out on the opportunity in these challenging times when in-person is not always possible.


Wendy Field, Head of Policy and Programs at The Smith Family, explains The Smith Family was concerned about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people in need.


“When COVID hit, we were really worried school closures and lockdowns would mean those students who most needed support with career pathways through our Work Inspiration program would miss out yet again,” she says.


“Funding and support from ANZ meant we could quickly move to adapt the program to an online version. It wasn’t perfect first off but we have continued to build on what we learned so we have a sustainable digital option for our students in these uncertain times.”


Going digital meant ANZ team members of all levels of seniority from across the organisation ran several sessions for students. That allowed more than 60 students from all around Australia to participate in the program.



The Smith Family has been working to improve the lives of children living in disadvantage for 100 years and has become a modern, dynamic, evidence-based organisation helping children in need create better futures for themselves through long-term support for their education.


Practical skills and knowledge sharing


Sessions delivered by ANZ team members included a discussion of personality types and how they can be utilised in the workplace to assist with self understanding, as well as practical tips including resume writing, interview skills and applying for part-time roles.

Kathryn Van der Merwe, Group Executive, Talent and Culture at ANZ shared her advice on starting out.


“Don’t be intimidated by others you see. Understand what you bring because it is valuable. It may be different but valuable,” she says.


The students also heard about the different careers available within an organisation like ANZ and participated in a special ‘Careers Happen’ session where ANZ executives spoke about their career journeys and shared stories and advice with the future workforce.

Adrian Went, Group Treasurer, encourages students to focus on what they enjoy doing: “You will ultimately do better. There is a correlation between engagement and success in work.”


And Farhan Faruqui, Chief Financial Officer at ANZ, advises students to “have a courageous mindset - be bold, take opportunities; back yourself with conviction”.


Being involved in the Work Inspiration program allows us to play a small part in giving students the opportunity to be inspired, broaden their perspectives and develop aspirations when they need it most. It also helps us better understand the challenges many of these young people are facing.


If you’d like to support The Smith Family in their work to prevent students falling further behind due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can make a donation through ANZ Treasury’s unique fundraising page: ANZ Treasury Donate (thesmithfamily.com.au)


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