Bendigo and Adelaide Bank in Australia Unleashes its AWS Skills Guild

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Australia’s “better big bank,” services more than two million customers in over 500 locations across Australia.

In 2020, the bank unveiled its new cloud strategy. The strategy aligned its transformation investment with revenue growth with the intention to reduce complexity, build digital capability, and deliver new services for its banking customers.

The transformation includes the migration of its digital applications, customer-facing websites, and open banking services to AWS. In order to accelerate these plans, the Bank required new cloud skills on its team to effectively architect and maintain these new cloud environments, as well as instill a culture of cloud innovation. 

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank worked with AWS Training and Certification on an upskilling plan, which included a month-long training blitz to get its staff trained on foundational and intermediate cloud topics, such as cloud essentials, architecting, and developing. The success of the training, which saw more than 50% of the Bank’s developers trained in cloud, led to an accelerated “32 apps in 30 days” migration program, designed to get the bank migrating workloads into AWS at scale.

According to Lauren Benedict, Cloud Community Lead at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, the Bank looked to grow the program with the launch of an AWS Skills Guild, a comprehensive skills enablement program designed to build cloud fluency across an organisation.

“Following the success of the initial training effort, the AWS Skills Guild team worked with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank to design ’Unleash,’ which aims to invest in our people and unleash their potential through building cloud confidence,” said Ms Benedict. 

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Skills Guild program kicked off in June and will run through December 2021, with multiple formal training classes each month, as well as informal events every three to four weeks.

The program will train more than 700 staff across business and IT functions before the end of the year.

The program is a fantastic example of how an organisation can address a skills gap on their team to achieve their new business and technical cloud strategy. Here’s a closer look at Unleash: 

Program Goals

Setting specific program goals and measures of success is an important first step of any skill building initiative. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank set three goals:

1.       Establish a culture of learning, led by cloud champions, to help support employees throughout the cloud journey. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank established goals to grow the number of cloud champions on its team, and gave those champions the opportunity to lead events and earn recognition. Champions help build initial excitement and maintain momentum for transformation projects over time. The Bank aimed for 15 champions to host 12 informal events throughout the 6-month program.

2.       Instill cloud confidence, with the intention to build digital skills across the wider business, including both technical and non-technical stakeholders. Organisational cloud fluency builds a common cloud language that empowers collaboration and removes barriers to success for innovative technology projects across the organisation. The Bank set goals to train 700 technical and non-technical employees, with an additional goal of getting at least 100 of their technical employees AWS Certified.

3.       Build employee engagement and satisfaction by building excitement around “Unleash”. Motivated people are integral to defining and driving cloud innovation success within an organisation. The team designed program SWAG, set incentives to attend training and get AWS Certified, and scheduled community events to build excitement. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank will track employee engagement and satisfaction regularly throughout the program.

Training to Build Cloud Skills

“Unleash” features both formal and informal learning opportunities for employees in technical, banking, risk, finance, and culture teams.

“Training for both our technical and non-technical staff is crucial, because it facilitates collaboration between technical and business teams, and creates a common understanding of cloud. With cloud-fluent business professionals, we can collaborate effectively and contribute to our organisational objectives,” said Ms Benedict.

Katie Sim, Senior manager Operations and Productivity, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, who participated in one of the first formal training classes as part of ‘Unleash’, said the new training program will go a long way to uplifting internal conversations about cloud.

“Cloud services are – and will continue to be – an integral part of achieving the Bank’s transformation goals.

“This training will help upskill all staff regardless of role or previous levels of exposure to cloud technology. The content is really useful in helping understand cloud fundamentals, the benefits, and how the technology is used to keep our customer data secure. All areas of the business are key to the advancement of our cloud strategy on some level and as a result, it’s important our people are familiar with, and understand the cloud-based environment. 

“This responsibility extends far beyond just technology roles as knowledge of the cloud, its uses and the advanced control environment it can provide, is vital when evaluating key business decisions. Given the sheer number of service configurations available on a cloud platform, it is critical business stakeholders understand the tools available to support workloads moving to the cloud, which in turn, will help instill confidence in the effectiveness, design, and operation of required controls,” Ms Sim concluded.

In terms of formal training, the program will kick off with training for business and technical staff to build foundational cloud skills.

AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials covers cloud concepts, core AWS services, security, architecture, pricing, and support. The program continues with intermediate and advanced courses for targeted technical staff, such as Architecting on AWS, Systems Operations on AWS, Security Engineering on AWS, and Advanced Developing on AWS. AWS instructors with deep technical knowledge teach all these private virtual training courses. Trainers teach small groups of 20-25 employees using a mix of presentations, peer discussion, and interactive labs. This private training allows teams to build skills and solve challenges together.

Formal training courses are important, but informal events every few weeks can help employees put these new skills to use in an engaging, low-pressure setting. For example, one of the first events in July is a Game Day, which is a collaborative learning exercise that tests skills in implementing AWS Solutions to solve real-world problems in a gamified, risk-free environment. This is a completely hands-on opportunity for technical professionals to explore AWS services, architecture patterns, best practices and group cooperation. In October, an Immersion Day, delivered by an AWS Solutions Architect, will feature hands-on labs to learn about AWS Services. It’s an in-depth approach to help technical experts learn how to best leverage the AWS platform to unlock business potential and meet key objectives.

Just the Beginning

Towards the end of the program, the focus will shift to preparing for AWS Certification through exam readiness workshops and group study sessions. AWS Certification can help organisations identify and cultivate skilled professionals who can improve cloud operations and drive innovation, and it’s a tangible goal for your employees to work toward together.

To finish off the program, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank employees will prepare for an AWS DeepRacer league. AWS DeepRacer is a fun and interesting way to put machine learning skills into practice. At the event, employees will build models in Amazon SageMaker and train, test, and iterate quickly and easily on the track while competing against colleagues.

“The first six months of “Unleash” is just the beginning. A successful AWS Skills Guild establishes a culture of learning, supported by cloud champions, to enable the team to continue to maintain momentum for transformation projects over time. We are excited to continue our collaboration with AWS to drive cloud innovation,” concluded Ms Benedict.

Learn More

Interested in learning more about AWS Skills Guild? Learn about how you can jump-start your cloud transformation to achieve powerful, measurable, and sustainable results here.

Andrew Cresp

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Matthew Giannelis

Secondary editor and executive officer at Tech Business News. Contracting as an IT support engineer for 20 years Matthew has a passion for sharing his knowledge of the technology industry.

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