Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Unleash as its AWS skills guild in Australia

Lauren Benedict, Cloud Community Lead at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is an Australian better big bank which offers unparalleled services to more than two million customers in over 500 locations across Australia.

In 2020, the bank unveiled Unleash, its new cloud strategy.

The strategy aligned its transformation investment with revenue growth intending to reduce complexity, build digital capability, and deliver new services for banking customers.

The transformation includes the migration of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s digital applications, customer facing websites, and open banking services to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

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.

This led to more than 50% of the Bank’s developers trained in cloud, and accelerated 32 apps in 30 days migration program 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. 

The AWS Skills Guild program kicked off in June and will run through December 2021, with multiple training classes monthly, as well as informal events every three to four weeks.

The program will train more than 700 staff across business and IT functions.

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. 

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s 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.

Establish a culture of learning

Led by cloud champions it aims to help support employees throughout the cloud journey.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank aims 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 excitement and maintain momentum for transformation projects over time. The Bank aimed for 15 champions to host 12 informal events throughout the program.

Instill cloud confidence

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank aims to instill clod 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.

Build employee engagement and satisfaction 

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank targets engagement by building excitement around Unleash. Motivated people are integral to defining and driving cloud innovation success.

The bank’s developer team designed program SWAG, set incentives to attend training and get AWS Certified, and scheduled community events to build excitement.

They will track employee engagement and satisfaction throughout the program.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank training to build cloud skills

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Unleash features both formal and informal expansive learning opportunities for employees in technical, banking, risk, finance, and culture sectors.

“Training for both our technical and non-technical staff is crucial as it facilitates collaboration between technical and business teams, and creates a common understanding of cloud.”

“Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s cloud-fluent business professionals, will collaborate effectively and contribute to achieving 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 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 of utmost importance in fostering understanding of 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 and as a result, it’s important our people are familiar with, and understand the cloud-based environment.” 

“This responsibility extends beyond technology roles as knowledge of the cloud, its uses and the control environment it can provide, is vital when evaluating key business decisions.”

“Given the sheer number of service seetings available on a cloud platform, it is critical business stakeholders understand the tools available to support workloads moving to the cloud.”

“This understanding will in turn be very essential in helping to 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, systems operations, security engineering, and advanced developing. 

AWS instructors with deep technical knowledge teach all these private virtual training courses.

Trainers teach groups of 20-25 employees using 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.

One of the first events is a Game Day, which is a collaborative learning exercise that tests skills in implementing AWS solutions to solve 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.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Unleash is 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 helps to identify and cultivate skilled professionals to improve cloud operations, drive innovation and it’s a tangible goal for employees to work towards together.

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,” said Ms Benedict.

“A successful AWS Skills Guild establishes a culture of learning, supported by cloud champions to enable continuity to maintain momentum for transformation projects over time.”

“We are excited to collaborate with AWS to drive cloud innovation,” concluded Ms Benedict.