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Paving a new path for Skills Development in the digital age

According to the findings from our 2022 Marketing State of Play Report, there is a major skills gap in the market that is hindering the progress of many organisations – and broadly speaking, this is not being properly addressed in industry.

This years study has found that only 34% of leaders surveyed agree that data literacy is strong within their marketing and digital teams, while only 61% of leaders stated digital literacy is strong, despite both customer data strategy and digital transformation both being in the top 5 strategic priorities for brands to tackle over the next 12 months.

Addressing the skills gap within teams and the industry is not an easy solve as years of under-investment plagues the industry. Brands have shied away from up-skilling their teams – instead attempting to hire their way out of the problem. In fact, the study has found even in 2022, 41% of marketing teams don’t have a dedicated budget to upskill their teams – and of those that do, the vast majority are investing less than $1,000 per team member. This is despite the fact that many of these same organisations are willing to throw millions of dollars at media and marketing initiatives but will invest little in the way of ensuring their teams are equipped to make that investment count.

So, what is best practice in market when it comes to addressing the current skills gap? We recently sat down with Kate Young, Head of Customer Centricity and Capability at ANZ to discuss the exciting programs ANZ have implemented to build capability and skills within their team, and the changes they have already made to the organisation.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about the learning and development program that you have been establishing at ANZ?

A. Since joining ANZ, I’ve been tasked with leading the development, growth and capability uplift of our marketing team, ensuring they are future-ready and prepared through up-skilling and re-skilling programs.

We believe that marketers have always needed to be competent in a range of disciplines including economics, statistics and behavioural science. However, for modern marketers to be successful now and into the future, they also need to be competent in data and technology to leverage the way we live and connect with each other digitally and bring value to customers. Keeping this in mind we created two sets of programs which together ensure that ANZers and Marketers have skills to be future-ready.

Brand Academy: The program focuses on building core customer-centric capabilities and common language and understanding (what we call the ANZ Way) across all functions in ANZ globally. The Brand Academy includes application-led workshops incorporating best of thinking within and outside the organisation on: Creating Propositions, Integrated Marketing Campaigns, Media Planning, Discovery and Insights, and Personalisation. Open to all functions within the organisation, more than 1,000 ANZers have completed the program driven by word of mouth and interest in the program.

Marketing Masters: This is a self-guided program. The team initially sought to identify global best practices and industry-leading emerging trends to determine which capabilities build future-ready, commercially minded marketing industry leaders. From there, a capability framework consisting of 19 core customer-centric capabilities. The framework defines each capability across four Levels of Mastery to detail what performance on the job looks like (according to a Level of Mastery) and the requirements of each role type and by job grade. To date 90 per cent of marketing personnel have assessed their capabilities across and created a learning plan with their people leader.

Each individual commits to dedicating a minimum of 16 hours over 12 weeks. The program is expected to uplift capability by 10 per cent.

Q. What was the catalyst for ANZ to create the programs to build capability and skills?

A. The Marketing function has been on a transformational journey to be responsible not only for the reputation of the bank but also to deepen customer relationships and accelerate revenue growth. The Marketing function realised it could play a bigger role in supporting the broader customer-centric ambitions of the company by accelerating the capability building of its own function.

We want to develop a world class marketing function, where people join ANZ knowing they will develop their skills whilst on the job. To deliver personalised and customer-centric marketing, we need to utilise the technology and data available to us now. That means the traditional skills a marketer needs to expand. The emphasis on harnessing and interpreting data is leading this change and we want our marketers to be at the forefront of this.

Q. When designing the program, what are some of the principles you have adopted to guide your approach?

A. Marketers across industries face the same challenges: adapting to changing consumer demands, and maximising the use of new technology and data to personalise experiences for consumers. Although the marketing theory remains the same, the tools look vastly different. Recognising this rapid rate of change, we considered global best practice to deliver leading programs that result in modern marketers upskilled for today and tomorrow’s needs.

The future demands a different skill set to cut through and deliver to customers emerging expectations, the changing competitive landscape and a world where an abundance of data is at the hands of consumers. How marketers operate in our digitally connected world means they must be able to maximise AI, personalisation and customer-centric approaches.

With all this in mind, we are seeking to upskill our people for today whilst building a roadmap to reskill our people for the future when we will predominantly go to market through AI, automation and machine learning.

Q. What has been some of the tangible outcomes you are most proud of?

A. The growth in employee engagement within ANZ is what I’m most proud of. In the 2021 annual ‘My Voice’ employee satisfaction survey, staff feeling they have access to growth opportunities saw an uplift of 13% from 2019, and staff also feeling that “someone in the organisation has an interest in their growth”, is up 21 percent from 2019. Employee retention has also lifted as a result since the program launched.

In addition, we target a 10% YOY uplift in capability which we are achieving. We’re becoming better marketers which means better products, services and experiences for our customers.

Our Brand Academy program has also been endorsed by the Australian Marketing Institute. From an employee-value-proposition (EVP) perspective, we are becoming known as a great place to have a marketing career.

Q. Dish the dirt, we are sure this hasn't all been easy. What problems or key issues have arisen along the way and what advice do you give to people who are embarking on a similar project?

A. No it hasn’t been easy – but it has been extremely rewarding. Trying to align an enterprise marketing team across multiple divisions and geographies on a consistent model and approach was challenging and took an immense amount of stakeholder management and engagement. We have needed to be very clear with our team around the new levels of mastery we expect them to demonstrate on the job, along with clarity and transparency around the expectations of what ‘great’ looks like. This is a major change management project to support the up-skilling program.

An ongoing focus is maintaining momentum and engagement. COVID presented challenges where we could not connect in person with teams to engage and drive our change management program, but also because temporarily our Brand Academy program was put on hold. Realising COVID was here to stay, we transitioned our Brand Academy to virtual which has yielded outstanding results.

Another of the hardest elements about building a capability building program and academy that trains people in a very digitally led world is that, well, things change too quickly. Take for example an emerging capability area like Personalisation – it's evolving at such a rapid rate, as you design the training programs, it’s almost redundant in that the capability has already emerged to the next level.

We will continue to provide the tools, but our people have to take accountability and ownership for their careers, and need to continue to prioritise learning, growth and development ongoing.

ANZ CMO Sweta Mehra regularly comments that capability building is a lifelong journey. To succeed in marketing, you must be a lifelong learner.

Q. There are so many skills a modern marketer needs in today's world - how do you prioritise which skills, team members need to ensure they aren't trying to become masters of everything?

A. Rather than a broad knowledge and one speciality, marketers are going to need to be deeper in maybe three or four areas and broader in many more. The skills needed by marketers are fast evolving and marketers need to make sure they keep up.

Critical for us has been building deeper capability around data and insight generation. Along with strategic planning, measurement and reporting, we have worked on programs to close these gaps. And of course, resilience is important for marketing. We’ll have setbacks at stages, we need to be prepared for this and navigate a path forward to overcome these challenges.

Q. Not everyone has the size of team ANZ has or the budgets to invest in learning and development to the scale ANZ is. What are some of the key takeaways for brands of any size who are looking to re-tool and build high performing teams in a rapidly changing market?

A. The first step is getting clear on where your gaps are and where you want to focus. For us we are anchored around 19 capability areas, but in any given year we may be more heavily invested in 1-2 areas. It’s better to be focused on fewer areas to develop than trying to solve everything.

For organisations smaller than ANZ, there are ways that they can start building capability in their teams. Look for already developed courseware, online learning through providers like LinkedIn Learning, and reading case studies. Attending free webinars are also great options that can be readily deployed and in a cost efficient way.

Engaging with various industry associations is a great way to participate in initiatives cost effectively. Industry associations are also great for marketers to get involved with, providing a range of support and initiatives for marketers to grow their skills. I would also encourage organisations to look at how they can build capability on the job by way of coaching, stretch assignments, and sharing best practices.

This is an ongoing process of up-skilling and re-skilling. Technology and opportunities are regularly changing. Committing time to invest in yourself and your team will pay off into the future.

Download your copy of the 2022 Marketing State of Play Report here:


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