‘We are both iconic brands in Australia. Everyone in Australia thinks they own a piece of us. What we do matters to them and has influence.’ – Shayne Elliott, CEO, ANZ.

This comment resonates with me as it highlights the important role that Telstra and ANZ play in the community.

Recently, Telstra and ANZ joined forces to hold a cross-industry development day for graduates, and I was lucky to be one of them.

The summit gave us the opportunity to network not only internally with Telstra graduates, but also externally with ANZ graduates, in tandem with access and exposure to a myriad of senior leaders.

We were fortunate to hear from ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott and Group Executive, Institutional – Mark Whelan. We also heard from Telstra EnterpriseGroup Executive, Brendon Riley.

It was great to get such senior support from leaders at both companies, affirming not only the importance of the relationship between Telstra and ANZ, but also in graduate development.

Three key themes emerged from the graduate summit were community, culture and digital. It also helped with our understanding of:

  • The roles telecommunication/technology and financial institutions can play in the community in which they operate;
  • The importance and relevance of cultivating a positive corporate culture and its impact on our organisation’s success.
  • The opportunities and risks posed by a changing digital landscape, and how large organisations like Telstra and ANZ can respond.

Here’s what I learnt:


A company’s reputation is always important, but the standard of what customers expect has gone to a whole new level. Mark Whelan,  Group Executive, Institutional ANZ says, ”I’ve seen so much change in the last 3 years, compared to the last 27 years. It’s picking up pace and going to continue this way. It’s inevitable that companies will make mistakes, but it’s how they respond that matters.” He emphasised that companies “need to listen more than they talk.” To complement this insight, Brendon Riley, Group Executive, Telstra Enterprise mentioned that “a common thread that connects us all together is trust – at the end of the day trust is your brand.”


ANZ and Telstra need to change in order to successfully deliver outcomes to customers. This can be seen through the adoption of ANZ’s ‘New Ways of Working’ and Telstra’s ‘FWOW’ (Future Ways of Working). Kath Bray, Agile Transformation Lead ANZ says , it is a new way to work, not another strategy- it’s simply bringing to life the strategy, and aids in operating collectively. Kath says we need to eliminate micro management from the top down, as there is no space for this in the future. She added that disruption to the traditional understanding of career paths will occur, as this cultural shift will erode layers and hierarchy. Furthermore, Ben Burge, Executive Director, Telstra Energy passionately sold the premise of bringing your whole self to work, and questioned why our Monday face was different to our weekend face, and the importance of fully embracing your colleagues for all that they are Monday to Friday.


Alan Huse, Head of Transaction Banking Australia and Pacifc ANZ discussed how the channel experience is evolving, through the likes of concepts such as Apple Pay. Suggesting that the plastic card will become secondary in the future, as paying with a device will be primary. Michelle Bendschneider, Executive Director, Global Products, Telstra Enterprise discussed that many organisations outsourced a lot of capabilities such as IT over the last 15 years, as it wasn’t deemed to be strategic. Businesses are now rebuilding their muscle, to re-architect their businesses for the digital era.

Here’s what graduates thought of the day

“The thing that I got out of today was surrounding partnerships. It was something that all of the speakers talked about. With partnerships, and working together there are lots of things that we individually do really well as businesses, and if we work together we can capitalise on that.” – Andy Dixon, 2017 Telstra Graduate.

“The highlight of the day for me was getting to meet some of the Telstra graduates. It was really good to expand that network, and get a better understanding of what Telstra gets up to.” – Hugh Bailey, 2017 ANZ Graduate.

In addition to gaining an insight on the three key themes, the most common feedback received at the end of the day was regarding how similar our two organisations are, despite operating in different industries.

As graduates, to be exposed to such senior leaders, in an intimate setting- was an enriching experience we feel fortunate to have been a part of.

Learn more about Telstra’s Graduate Program.