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The NAB Academy: on the frontier of learning

31 May 2011

The NAB Academy: on the frontier of learning Image

By Sarah Murray

NAB has embraced a learning culture with the recent opening of its Academy flagship site at Docklands.

With cutting edge programs and facilities, Docklands may be NAB’s education headquarters, but employees right across the country are participating.

NAB general manager strategy and innovation, Maria Tassone, said: “The Academy was established to help our people learn, build their capability and connect with one another. It was created to challenge employees to think differently, realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.”

And to achieve this, they certainly have done things differently. As well as the Academy’s flagship site at Docklands, there are another four physical sites located in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, and they are by no means run-of-mill classroom or meeting room spaces.

According to Ms Tassone, NAB has designed the sites to be conducive to learning.

“The physical sites were designed to be a place of discovery. All spaces offer different types of experiences founded on the underlying principle of transformation,” she said.

For the Docklands site, not only is there a prevalence of natural materials such as lots of timber, there is also a dial-a-mood soundscape system that provides pre-recorded music to create different levels of energy and moods for facilitators to use throughout the day.

Other features include a “virtual” Australian landscape projected onto the walls and floor in the lobby and main atrium area. As you move through the space, further virtual worlds alter slightly to reveal different views, such as looking through a window, or birds and butterflies will fly up and gather around.

“Careful thought has been put into how the design of the site can transform minds and open them up to discover different possibilities,” Ms Tassone said.

But, while the Docklands site demonstrates NAB’s commitment to learning and development, the Academy encompasses a whole learning philosophy of which the physical sites are only one part of delivering its learning culture.

In addition to the physical sites, NAB uses a mix of online learning sites and virtual learning and collaboration technologies, such as Quick Learn. It has integrated a range of “market leading” learning programs, courses, tools and technologies so staff can learn, share knowledge, network and work.

The online component, known as The Academy Online, is essential to the success of the Academy as it allows employees in even the most far-flung regions of Australia to participate.

“In an organisation like NAB, where we have 25,000 people based all over Australia, we felt it was important that our learning and development offering did not exclude our people based in regional or even rural areas,” Ms Tassone said.

At this stage the Academy is only accessible to NAB employees, but there are plans to engage the community and NAB customers. So far, the Docklands facilities have been opened up for NAB community partners.

These visits have included:

  • Disadvantaged kids visited to gain an understanding of work life as part of the Foundation for Young Australians program;
  • A pilot school holiday program was run over Christmas for employees; and
  • An international book launch for Scores on the Board by Bill Lang, which was attended by The Harvard Business Club.

Ms Tassone said that investing in their people, culture and reputation was a strategic priority for the NAB.

She said: “The Academy is setting our business up for the future by giving our employees the opportunity to build their capabilities within NAB rather than having to externally or in other organisations.”

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