CEOs and Senior Business Leaders often discuss that most of their people are professionally competent – i.e. they understand the responsibility of their role and do a pretty good job at it but there is a distinct lack of their people understanding the strategy of the organisation, the competitive dynamics of their industry or how what they do functionally affects the overall performance of their company.


NAB Graduate Program


Building Business Acumen

01. The Opportunity

NAB recognized the importance of enabling their graduates to accelerate their success through providing an understanding of the bigger picture of how the bank functions, the drivers of profit and performance, so that they could apply themselves practically to the organisation’s biggest challenges and opportunities. NAB aimed to bridge this gap and provide Graduates with a foundation of core business understanding and ability to link NAB’s goals and strategy to sustainable profitable growth.

02. The Solutions

As part of their Early Careers talent development program, NAB and their regional subsidiary BNZ, partnered with Lighthouse to customise and facilitate Building Business Acumen programs with the graduate cohorts from 2016-2021. Around 100 graduates have attended events in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland or Virtually each year. The program has been refined each year to continuously improve based on insights from each year’s successful program.

The Graduate Business Acumen workshop is a two-day journey designed to build commercial acumen in the context of NAB. The workshop provides tools and processes to equip Graduates to make better decisions aligned to NAB’s money making process and strategy. 

NAB and Lighthouse have also curated an Executive Challenge which gives the Graduates the opportunity to work in syndicates over six weeks to apply their strategic, financial and business acumen. Syndicates are assigned a topic relating to the Future of Work in NAB. Each graduate completes a strengths profile and undertakes further development in: High Performing Teams, Design Thinking, Agile Methodology, Data led Decision Making and Mastering your Presentation.  The challenge culminates in the best syndicate solutions being delivered to a panel of NAB’s executive Leadership.

NAB made a further investment in this key group by piloting the Lighthouse Career Navigation program – a proven process to help emerging talent create their Career Compass.  This Career Compass enables this talent to better connect with NAB’s culture and, critically, take ownership for their own career within the bank.  Engagement and retention are expected outcomes being tracked.

03. The Results

Some of the key outcomes realised from the graduate program have included:

  • Laying a foundation of core business understanding upon which Graduates can build specific functional skills.
  • Consistent NPS results over 90 with the Building Business Acumen program the highest rated by nab Graduates on their entire Graduate program
  • Finding greater engagement, alignment and collaboration for the achievement of company-wide goals
  • Understanding of the changing customer, competitor and business environment
  • Increased retention through a holistic learning experience tailored to the desires of the current Graduate cohort
  • Enabling greater workforce diversity by providing business and financial capabilities for Graduates outside traditional finance backgrounds
  • Building engagement and self-directed career navigation:
    • Career Direction: Grads are 55% more comfortable defining their Career Direction​
    • Career Drivers: Grads are 46% more able to discuss their Career Drivers and Motivations​
    • Career Barriers: Grads are 49% more capable of identifying their Career Barriers​
    • Career Plan: Grads are 28% more confident developing their Career Plan​


Graduates have rated the program with consistent positive NPS score of over 75

04. Participants Feedback

“…It’s just not something you ever get taught. This type of context and business information is invaluable..” NAB Graduate Participant

“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
Senior Consultant, Graduate Strategy, NAB

Lighthouse Group