See the Big Picture

In today’s business landscape, the development of business acumen is crucial for graduates to excel and contribute effectively within an organisation. Recognising the significance of this skill set, NAB, in partnership with Lighthouse, implemented a customised Building Business Acumen program as part of its talent development initiative for the 2016-2023 graduate cohorts. This case study highlights the context, solution, and achieved results of the program, emphasising the value of understanding the bigger picture and the impact of graduates’ roles within NAB.

Business acumen consistently emerged as a focal point in conversations with NAB’s executive leaders, as it is a key driver of staff and customer engagement. Understanding the strong correlation between business and financial acumen and organisational success, NAB prioritised the development of Business, Strategic, and Financial Acumen Capability among its graduates. By building this capability early in their careers, NAB aimed to provide an excellent foundation for graduates to navigate their professional journeys within the organisation. The Building Business Acumen program, tailored and facilitated by Lighthouse, was integrated into NAB’s talent development program and delivered annually to approximately 100 graduates in Sydney and Melbourne. Additionally, the program was extended to BNZ graduates, aligning with NAB’s wider enterprise.


NAB’s Early Career Goal was to upskill the graduates’ cohorts with business, strategic, and financial acumen to enable them to understand how the bank makes money, explore the NAB business units through the financial lens, and be able to analyse NAB’s performance in comparison with market competitors. 

The investment is of strategic significance to NAB as the graduates represent the future of the business as the leaders of tomorrow and are dispersed across the organisation.  



The Building Business Acumen program was designed to equip graduates with the core capability of seeing the bigger picture and understanding the value of their roles within the organisation. The program aimed to achieve the following outcomes for participants:

  • Credibility and Influence: Enhancing graduates’ credibility and influence within their teams and business units.
  • Career Growth: Fostering career growth through increased business acumen and executive presence.
  • Prioritisation and Impact: Enabling graduates to identify where to focus their efforts and prioritise tasks based on their impact.
  • Team Contribution: Empowering graduates to contribute to their teams’ productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness.
  • Company Growth: Developing an understanding of how their roles contribute to the overall growth of the company.

The program guided graduates through the exploration of the five fundamental Business Drivers that underpin any organisation: cash, profit, assets, growth, and people. Each driver was presented with its own unique set of key metrics, and participants were shown the interdependence between these drivers. Graduates were taught to analyse their company’s performance through the lens of these drivers, aligning their objectives with those of the executive team and the wider enterprise.

“The workshop is superbly facilitated with rich examples and customisation. Our graduates consistently rate this workshop as the most valuable in their development program.”

Sarah McGlade

Head of Early Careers, Culture, Leadership and Learning
National Australia Bank


The Building Business Acumen program has consistently been regarded as a highlight in the graduate program calendar, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) measurement of participant experience yielded an impressive score of 93, indicating high satisfaction. Feedback collected from the program participants revealed the following sentiments:

  • New Perspectives: The program encouraged graduates to think about the company and industry in ways they had not considered before.
  • Practical Application: Participants appreciated the well-structured program that provided ample opportunities to apply theory to real-life scenarios.
  • Holistic Understanding: Graduates acknowledged that the program broadened their knowledge about their company as a whole, enabling them to see the organisation from a comprehensive business perspective.
  • Invaluable Learning: Graduates expressed gratitude for the program, highlighting that the context and business information provided were invaluable and not typically taught in academic or professional settings.
  • The Building Business Acumen program successfully enhanced graduates’ understanding of the bigger picture and their individual roles within the organization. By equipping graduates with a comprehensive business acumen skill set, nab ensured that its future leaders were well-equipped to navigate their careers, contribute to company growth, and make informed decisions that aligned with nab’s strategic objectives.


The Building Business Acumen program has successfully enhanced graduates’ understanding of the broader organisational landscape and their roles within NAB. By equipping graduates with a comprehensive business acumen skill set, the program ensures that future leaders are well-prepared to contribute to company growth and make informed decisions aligned with NAB’s strategic objectives. The program’s impact is evident in graduates’ improved abilities to navigate dynamic business challenges, foster cross-functional collaboration, and align personal goals with the company’s vision. Overall, NAB’s investment in the Building Business Acumen program has positioned the organisation for sustainable success with a talented workforce ready to lead and innovate.

Mark Emerson

Written by

Mark Emerson


I am passionate about partnering with C Suite Leaders to co-create Leadership Systems that align the Leadership Team to strategy and culture, cascade execution through the Extended Leadership Team, and build capability across all Leaders to deliver outcomes for the Enterprise. My strength is instinctively identifying ‘the next best step’. Let’s discuss how this applies to your team.