AWS Training and Certification Blog

AWS Skills Guild empowers National Australia Bank staff with cloud innovation

The AWS Skills Guild is a comprehensive enablement program that helps large enterprises with their transformational objectives—both technical and cultural—by building cloud fluency across the business, including at the executive level, driving collaboration and partnership with the technologists and accelerating AWS adoption.

Back in 2018, National Australia Bank (NAB) was one of the first organizations globally to embark on this type of comprehensive skills enablement project. Two and a half years later, NAB has trained more than 7,000 staff and supported more than 1,300 employees to become AWS Certified. By investing in developing cloud skills within their organization, NAB experienced a shift in how their employees think and talk about the cloud and AWS. The investment also led to concrete business benefits, such as increased workload migrations, improved productivity and efficiency for cloud projects, and innovations using AWS Cloud services.

This success aligns with the recent enterprise survey from Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), which found that organizations employing AWS Certified staff see a variety of benefits. The study shows that AWS Certification can help organizations build and troubleshoot faster, improve security and deployment time, better innovate with AWS Cloud services, and attract and retain skilled cloud talent.

We caught up with Matt Cobby, the NAB Cloud Guild leader, to discuss the benefits of upskilling a large portion of their team.


AWS: What spurred NAB to create the NAB Cloud Guild?

Matt: We’ve been working with AWS since 2013, and in 2018, we embarked on a massive people-enablement project: a cloud guild. We set out to adapt and change the way we were using cloud technology, with the goal of reshaping our workforce for a digital future. We aimed to create a workforce of builders by creating technology career pathways. For the first time, we focused on enabling cloud skills for our employees en masse.

AWS: You’ve now had an active skills guild for over two and a half years. What have you achieved during this time?

Matt: We’ve trained more than 7,000 staff to help them build cloud skills, and over 1,300 individuals have achieved AWS Certification to validate those skills. With this large community of AWS Certified employees, we’ve seen a cultural shift as well as business benefits. We’ve accelerated our cloud adoption and business transformation by identifying thousands of workloads to migrate to AWS. By supporting AWS Certification, we’ve enabled our employees to be more engaged, more productive, and more innovative. Our systems have better availability, which ultimately benefits our customers.

AWS: How did COVID-19 impact your guild program in 2020? Were you able to continue training employees?

Matt: Previously, we focused a lot on in-person cloud training, but in 2020, we faced a challenge as we shifted to virtual training due to COVID-19. We found virtual training delivery enabled us to reach more employees. We were no longer constrained by the size of a room or location of a learner. As a result of this virtual shift, we trained over 1,000 people on AWS in 2020.

AWS: A recent enterprise survey from ESG shows that AWS Certification can help organizations attract and retain valuable cloud talent. What has your experience been?

Matt: Investing in people enablement has led to higher retention of cloud staff. We’ve found that employees who are AWS Certified have a higher retention than those who aren’t certified. We’ve also found that investing in AWS Training has helped us attract new engineers who weren’t previously working in the financial services industry previously. We believe that investing in our people encourages them to stay, and it also attracts outside talent.

AWS: How has your skills guild evolved as more of your staff upskill?

Matt: At first, we were focused on getting as many people as possible trained on AWS Cloud fundamentals. As the cloud knowledge among our staff grew, we shifted to building deeper knowledge within our technical teams. Most recently, we’ve focused on training our engineers in more advanced cloud topics, and we’ve encouraged them to pursue professional and specialty AWS Certifications. In particular, we want our engineers to hold the AWS Certified Security – Specialty certification, because security is one of our top priorities.

AWS: You’ve invested in training for both technical and non-technical staff. What benefits have you seen from encouraging employees in a variety of roles to get trained?

Matt: It’s important to have both business and technical staff trained and certified with AWS. It helps everyone speak the same language and stay in sync. We’ve been able to move beyond educating folks about the benefits of the cloud to having conversations about cloud innovation. Our business leaders recently set up an innovation hackathon to tap into the creativity of our team.

AWS: Can you give some examples of recent AWS projects that benefitted from having well-trained cloud staff?

Matt: Migrating NAB Connect, our business banking platform, to the AWS Cloud has led to improved security, scalable capacity, and improved platform resilience and reliability for customers. With a large team of AWS Certified staff, we’ve been able to roll out updates to the NAB Connect platform faster.

Also, in 2020, with COVID-19, we faced the challenge of moving our in-person call center staff to Amazon Connect. We had AWS Certified engineers so we were able to flip to home-based call centers quickly and effectively. Our team was ready to take on this challenge because we invested heavily in training and pushed our engineers to pursue professional- and specialty-level AWS Certifications.

AWS Training and Certification can help your organization develop your team, innovate in the AWS Cloud, and transform your organization. Learn more about how to empower your team through cloud training and contact us to get started.