Why ANZ is partnering with the AMI on marketing skills development

Filling the crucial skills gaps that exist today across marketing teams and those needed as AI, personalisation and customer-centric approaches dominate go-to-market strategies drive significant skills investment

It’s a conundrum facing many marketing leaders right now: How do you upskill marketing teams not just in capabilities necessary to the job today, but also emerging skillsets required in an age of mainstream artificial intelligence (AI)?

It’s a question ANZ is getting a step closer to answering after becoming one of the first Australian organisations to gain endorsement of its internal Marketing Masters and Brand Academy programs from the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI).

The financial services giant has become only the second Australian organisation to be officially endorsed by the AMI alongside Dulux Group. Under the partnership, ANZ marketers who complete endorsed learning modules and programs will earn points that can be put towards a Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) accreditation. They’ll also gain access to mentoring programs plus further training and learning opportunities presented by the association directly.

ANZ head of customer centricity and capability, Kate Young, took up the newly created role in 2019 to spearhead these upskilling efforts. The mission was to address the regularly changing make-up of a top performing, modern marketer in a customer-centric world and oversee a team dedicated to capability uplift across the enterprise.

“It was about recognising what that capability roadmap looked like from a maturity perspective, but also what we were going to do to drive deep engagement with our people,” Young told CMO. “When you’re undertaking something like this, quite a large element of it is change management. We are trying to gravitate the entire marketing function across the enterprise around a new set of capabilities, new levels of mastery we expect them to demonstrate on the job, much more clarity and transparency around the expectations of what ‘great’ looks like, and more detail around how to have great career at ANZ and pathways that exist. It’s a big undertaking to drive that transformation.”

ANZ has devised 19 capabilities and created four core modules internally under its Marketing Masters and Brand Academy programs to date. These include creative and campaign development; media planning and buying, creating propositions; and discovery and insights using data and data-driven storytelling. Young’s team is gearing up for the launch of a personalisation module in February 2022.

For capabilities not covered by internal learning offerings, ANZ guides teams to self-directed curriculums from a curated library of learning options including courses from S4K, LinkedIn Learning, webinars and case studies.  

The AMI partnership comes in the third year of this program of work. Young described it as an evolution of what ANZ is doing, both validating its curriculum while building the next level of maturity. To get endorsed, ANZ’s offering was put through a rigorous vetting process using independent AMI partners.

“It provides additional opportunity for marketers to take these learnings and growth to the next level. And to stretch and achieve excellence in terms of marketing now and into the future,” she said.  

Young noted 93 per cent of ANZ’s marketing team are engaged with its program. “What is more impressive are the metrics we’re seeing around employee satisfaction. People are saying ANZ is a great place to have a marketing career, they feel supported and engaged, and it’s somewhere they continue to learn, grow and future-proof skillset,” she said.  

Where marketing competency is going

What’s clear to Young, however, is that any upskilling program can’t just take into account gaps existing today. It’s also critical employers like ANZ understand emerging skills required in the next few years as AI, machine learning and digital become part of the fabric of society. To better gauge these, Young dived into a 'Future of Marketing’ project last year.

“That helped us understand we weren’t just looking at critical capabilities of top performing marketing today, but also that we need to think through what the changing profile of a marketer is going to look like,” she explained. “We’re taking almost a two-speed strategy – how people can be awesome in the role today, but also how we build a strong roadmap for upskilling and reskilling capabilities we need to put in place for tomorrow. How do we prepare marketers for a world where they will be more heavily relevant on AI and machine learning?

“We’re proud we are approaching capability from both angles: Today as well as starting the journey on what marketers need to be doing one, two and three years into the future.”  

Again, Young saw the AMI partnership as key here. “We believe partnership and collaboration enables us to pressure test our thinking around the future roadmap, but also work with someone that can support our strategy and journey and elevate it,” she said. “It will help us build scale and momentum more quickly.”

Taking accountability

ANZ’s large-scale response to the marketing skills crisis is not surprising. It’s been made increasingly clear across the industry that traditional methods of building rigorous marketing prowess, such as tertiary education, cadetships through pure-play marketing organisations such as Procter & Gamble or Unilever, or learning programs from associations, are inadequate in a modern marketing context.

Young agreed many programs haven’t gone far enough to filling the marketing skills gap existing in Australia right now. From an execution perspective, this has meant organisations like ANZ have had to pioneer that work and “do a lot the work ourselves because it hasn’t existed”.

“The rigour and investment hasn’t been there into marketing skills,” she said. “We looked at other global companies when we established this program as we didn’t feel there were good examples locally of that level of investment. We felt a lot had been lost.

“And when we launched this [ANZ] program, some of this was brand new for staff. We had some 10 years into their marketing careers who had never been invested in like this before. It’s quite unique. In the past, there was a lot of fragmentation and inconsistency around how ANZ approached capability building.”  

Young took pride in developing a formal program, happening periodically over an annual basis while encouraging marketers to engage in additional learning personally. “When you make this a process and program, you drive that deep engagement,” she added.  

AMI CEO, Narendra Prasad, is another who believes the industry hasn’t done enough to elevate marketing skillsets. He agreed the association is one of the parties that needs to lift its game around robust marketing skills development and programming.

“At the moment, we look at people, assess if they’re capable then we give accreditation. But we don’t have a program like the CPA in accountancy that builds members to that level,” he said.

Because of that lack, Prasad said several in the industry are doing specific training as it relates to their industry or business.

“The good ones who get the importance of marketing and building those skills and do these programs. The third group are then just hiring these people. The industry itself hasn’t put it together, us included,” he said.  

Fresh research by AMI makes plain the need for structured training of a very high standard to progress marketing careers in Australia, Prasad continued. As it endeavours to put more structure around skills development, AMI is also looking at who has what, where it’s strong and encouraging them to do more.

“What people are saying is there are so many different things, so corporates and others get members to pick from different choices. And it all depends on what they’re doing. There is no structured program like ANZ, which says to be a solid marketer you need these skills, and these are the sorts of things you need to learn to cope with various situations in market,” he said. “We’re now trying to put that into practice. Endorsing programs such as ANZ’s is one part of that.

“You will see soon AMI will have something for the corporates who don’t have the capabilities of ANZ that still helps them with that marketing pathway.”

In terms of accreditations, AMI has given the tick to 19 university degrees from Bachelor to PHD level with Macquarie University, Curtin University, RMIT University, University of Queensland and others.

It’s not just industry that needs the accountability push. For Young, partnering with AMI is another step towards driving cultural change at an individual level around learning, growth and development.

“This goes along with the need and recognition that I as a marketer have to keep investing in myself,” she said. “The rapid rate of change has too often seen us not investing in people. You have that coupled with technology and changing customer expectations around brand, availability of data, intermediaries and all these things. Suddenly, the need for upskilling in marketing is absolutely critical. We need our people to recognise that. While we will provide the tools, people have to take accountability and ownership.

“With AMI, things like having accreditation of the academy takes it to the next level. It’s not just ANZ saying it’s a great program, it’s external recognition, it’s robust and at the right level.”

The skills mix

As to what the skills mix for top performing marketing teams looks like, Young said it’s not just about technical marketing capability but bringing in more non-marketing skillsets.

“These are really important, especially as we go to market through AI and rely more on personalisation and our martech stacks. The ability to bring in non-tech capabilities such as empathy, ethics and auditing for bias – we are going to see these capabilities become essential,” she said.

“Those will need to be blended those with deep data, tech literacy plus skills you’d expect any astute marketer to have.”  

Technically, areas ANZ has been underweight are around emerging capabilities such as personalisation, data analytics and “the ability to understand and read data in a way to generate hypothesis and identify growth opportunities”, Young said.

“ANZ traditionally has played further down the value chain and been more go-to-market and communications focused,” she said. “We’re now seeing the need for marketing to transform and evolve. It’s the journey our CMO, Sweta Mehra, has been on to transform marketing at a bank. This work is supporting that effort.

“If you truly want to be a business making decisions through a customer-centric lens, the role of marketing needs to look different from what it did 5-10 years ago where success was judged on different criteria.

“Building deeper capability around data and insight generation, as well a strategic planning and prioritisation has been critical, plus measurement and reporting – closing that loop and being able to interrogate strategies. That’s where we have seen the gaps and where programs have focused.”  

Read more: The senior-junior skills gap in marketing

Report: The marketing skills in demand in 2021

Of course, creativity is another critical attribute, Young said. “Resilience is another really important one for marketing: The transformation journey isn’t easy, and you have to be prepared for a few knock backs, to influence, navigate and push forward for what is right for the customer,” she said. “Then it’s about things like empathy and ethics, which are going to be essential.”

Through all of this, giving ANZ marketers more external focused is key. “ANZ is a big place, and people can become internally focused at times. Working with the AMI gives our marketers the ability to become better involved in the industry, build better networks and through mentoring gain a broader perspective then to challenge the way things have been done at ANZ,” Young said.

The question of whether ANZ is preparing people for an exit from ANZ is an obvious one.

“It’s a reality we can’t influence,” Young responded. “We believe we have an obligation to employees while they are with us to help develop them. By doing that, we hope they feel ANZ is the right place for them at whatever point they are in their career. But there are huge skills shortages out there. Personalisation skills are only one of these things hard to find. It’s also why we’re already preparing marketers for a world that looks very different in 2-3 years’ time.”  

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