While many international and local banks offer training programmes that can fast-track candidates to elevated positions within the company, few of them spell out that the real objective is to identify and train future country chief executives.
ANZ, with its 175 years of history, has a training programme that includes two years' structured learning and job rotations. Participants are moved around the region and placed in key development roles to ensure their suitability for senior leadership.
"Generalist bankers have the benefit of a centrally managed career, with the long-term intention being to prepare individuals for future country chief executive roles at the bank," says Anouk de Blieck, ANZ's general manager of human resources for Asia Pacific, Europe and America. "Success will be partly measured through retention and progress towards the end goal of readiness to take up a country chief executive role in about 15 years' time."
However, before rushing to send out an application, some serious soul searching is required to reflect on whether one is suited to the demands of the job and its implications on one's lifestyle. The roles may be in any of the 32 countries in which ANZ currently operates and participants are expected to remain globally mobile for at least 15 years, or until their first country chief executive posting. Overseas opportunities are an important part of the work experience where a large proportion is gleaned via moving across borders and sharing experiences.
Generalist banker Mary Man, who is on the programme, has spent considerable time in Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand. She advises applicants to make sure they enjoy change.
"Because of the nature of the programme, candidates do not stay in the same place or job for long. If you are looking for stability, you may want to think twice before applying. But if you are looking for challenges and lots of learning opportunities, this will be a perfect programme for you," she says.
Candidates must also be able to hurdle cultural challenges, as they need to work with people from numerous countries. The bank has about 48,000 employees and serves around eight million customers globally.
"Adjusting to new cultures probably has been the hardest part so far," says Man . "The best way to overcome this is to keep an open mind and have an adventurous heart."
Apart from a sense of adventure and cultural agility, applicants should be broad thinkers and have strong emotional intelligence as well as a high IQ, says De Blieck. They will have to conform to the bank's values of integrity, collaboration, accountability, respect and excellence, she adds.
ANZ, headquartered in Melbourne, prefers applicants with two to five years' work experience, a university degree and a commitment to general banking.
The 15 accepted trainees will then start their four six-month rotations in February, joining 26 others already undertaking training at one of the six regional centres, including Hong Kong. Training covers institutional banking, risk management, operations and either retail or commercial banking.
"We guarantee one international placement in the first two years, and after that, we expect [the applicant] will move every two to three years to different countries," De Blieck says, adding that the placement manager uses performance benchmarks.
Every rotation includes a week-long leadership forum hosted in Melbourne and run by the Melbourne Business School. This is followed by the ANZ Leadership Pathway, whose design factors in each step in the leadership ladder that participants will take.
To guide them, generalist bankers have access to ANZ leaders and mentors and professional and personal development opportunities throughout their managed career.