2019 Vote - Will Spensley Memorial Award for Innovation - PRIVATE SECTOR


We invite all AAGE Full Members (i.e. employer members) to vote for their favourite innovation entry from the selection below.


Each Full Member organisation can only cast one vote and cannot vote for their own organisations. The Finalists for this Award are the employers who received the most votes for their submission.


Please note that the AAGE has not authored any of the following content, and as such will accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies. Entries have been publicised below using the exact wording provided by each entrant.


If the employer has produced the innovation with the assistance of a third party supplier then the name of the supplier is shown.


Please also note that the entries for this award are displayed in order of submission.


Submission 1: Dexus

In partnership with Be Challenged

Virtual Reality Group Task


We wanted to showcase the innovative, fun, forward thinking and agile environment to reflect the Dexus culture to our graduate candidates. Partnering with BeChalleneged, we set up a Virtual Reality Group Task to assess collaboration, problem-solving, teamwork but most importantly to give the candidates a genuinely fun and different experience at an assessment centre. In groups of four, they were given a VR headset, a map and several puzzle clues. We introduced the task to them via a video – which gave them an understanding of the purpose, which was “to escape virtual reality”. 

Then the fun really started…The teams each tentatively picked up the VR headset, and the first team member placed it on their head. Suddenly each team realized that they were in competition with each other as a leaderboard emerged and a countdown style clock started to tick. It took a few minutes for our teams to find their feet, with a lot of laughs and a bit of disorientation! The teams started to collaborate, work together to solve clues and puzzles to get through rooms on the map and get themselves out of virtual reality!  

Cheers filled the room as each team passed their way through the next stages in the game, each member of the group took it in turns to use the VR headset and each candidate experienced the activity.

Feedback on the day and after was fantastic, allowing our candidates to relax and enjoy the time they spent with us – allowing us to really get to know them and give them a taste of what types of opportunities they may encounter with a future career at Dexus.

“The virtual reality experience allowed us to feel more comfortable and hence give a more authentic showing of ourselves”, graduate candidate.

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Submission 2: Accenture

Accenture Open Days


“I don’t have any specific job skills”, “I don’t know how to apply my degree but know I want to make a difference”, these are some of the things that many grads say. We live in an age where there is not just one way a degree can be used. We have listened to students to understand their challenges and have been tweaking our experiences to reflect this. 

At Accenture we have capabilities in strategy, consulting, digital, security, technology and operations, across 40 industries and all business functions. You have this big firm where students can see that there is lot of opportunity. But they have this degree that could fit in anywhere within the business and for students this is really daunting.

To address this challenge, we have introduced Accenture Open Days.

Hosted in our Client Experience Spaces we designed an engaging and educational event focused on demystifying Accenture. The event is a reverse career fair – students come to our offices around the country and experience Accenture. Each of our business areas create and host immersive stands that allow students to speak with grads / leaders about what they do, experience demos and hear about the innovative solutions we are delivering for our clients. 

The event isn’t just about the work we do. We know that students want to be able express themselves, feel included and give back to the community. Our Corporate Citizenship team and I&D communities all host stands. Being “Truly Human” is a huge part of who we are and what we do every day. 

To date we have held 7 events across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra for over 250 students. Feedback from students has been extremely positive and they have walked away feeling engaged and empowered to make the right choice.  


Submission 3: Saab Australia

Subs in Schools Mentoring Program

The Subs in Schools program at Saab Australia forms the bulk of the 2nd year of our graduate program. Subs in Schools is a fabulous opportunity for the graduates to develop leadership skills, soft skills and technical skills in a project centric environment. They must manage multiple stakeholders, their own time as well as the progress of the student project groups that they mentor.


Subs in Schools is a competition run by ReEngineering Australia for students to design and present the best Submarine or Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). Saab Australia Grads mentor student teams from multiple schools with their real and challenging engineering projects. Our graduates provide technical guidance, keep the project on track and push the teams to achieve excellence. Saab supported teams took a clean sweep at the SA state finals in 2018 and achieved podium places at the national level. These results are a credit to the skill and hard work of the teams and their mentors.


In order to provide first class technical leadership, the graduates are primed with courses in competition fundamentals, 3D printing and computer-aided design. We push their boundaries and encourage each graduate to continue exploring beyond the fundamentals throughout the program. Each graduate invariably encounters unique challenges to which the students must apply and hone their own engineering judgement process.


Subs in Schools is an exemplar program built on continuous innovation, and dovetails perfectly into the Saab Australia Graduate Program. This capstone project combines STEM outreach with graduate leadership development in a complex project environment. This is a great opportunity for current and future graduates in Saab Australia to develop and grow their capabilities.  



Submission 4: Quantium

Probably the best grad podcast...ever!


At Quantium we always look to push the boundaries delivering breakthrough solutions for our clients. So why should talent attraction be any different? This year, our Graduate Academy team launched a podcast named ‘Probably the best grad podcast…ever’ dedicated to providing graduates and interns insight into the minds of recruiters. The podcast is available on all podcast streaming services and after 11 episodes in 4 months, has achieved over 1300 listens. The podcast also peaked at 12th place for the category of Australian Careers.  


The podcast came to fruition after noticing there was no passive forum for students to seek advice from the people that hire them. Working with students and graduates, our Graduate team witnessed a significant gap in candidates understanding of what each stage of the recruitment process was built to test and how candidates can excel through the process. Similarly, there are huge amounts of growth and development that happen throughout the first few years of their career and the podcast explains tips and tricks around how they best navigate this period e.g., making great first impressions, and how they can bring their whole self to work. 


The goal for our podcast is to provide current industry insight into what graduate recruiters look for in graduates and interns and what to expect as they start their first professional role. More passively, we also hope that the casual and open nature of the podcast will speak to and attract candidates to Quantium’s culture. Finally, we wanted to provide females in the market the ability to connect with the Graduate team without needing the confidence to approach us directly. 


Submission 5: Allens

In partnership with Pro Podcast Production

Allens Confidential podcast


Graduate recruitment in Australia is competitive, with future graduates telling us they make decisions based on the 'quality of the people', as this is what sets firms apart. Unless you've met those people, however, it is almost impossible to know what that means. In 2018, Allens developed a podcast, Allens Confidential, together with two graduates (and former clerks) to provide students with real insight into life at Allens. 


High-achieving students are typically time poor. Podcasting allows us to provide information about Allens in an informal, authentic way, while allowing prospective clerks and graduates to engage with our people when and where it is convenient.  


In each podcast episode, hosts (and best friends) Geneva and Roseanna interview Allens staff about their life and work. The diversity of interviewees (who come from every level of seniority and practice area) and the energy of the hosts account for much of the podcast's success. Once prospective clerks themselves, Geneva and Roseanna skilfully empathise with students and ask questions they remember wanting answered, bringing a people-centric approach to the 'opaque' world of commercial law.


Not only is Allens Confidential the firm's first podcast, it is the only podcast created by any Australian graduate legal employer. Within a week of its launch, the podcast ranked 13thon iTunes in the Australian business category. 


Seasons One and Two exceeded expectations, and Season Three is in development. As at 15 July 2019, the total number of downloads was 6,185. Downloads during the sixty days following release have also been high, often reaching between 450 and 500 downloads per episode, in that period. For example, our episode 'Innovation: what are firms really talking about?' was downloaded by 483 unique users.


All episodes can be accessed via Allens' website, PodBean, iTunes, Spotify and are promoted on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.


Submission 5: EY

Twelve graduates, twelve weeks - not your typical audit graduate journEY


GradLab is EY Assurance’s transformative answer to delivering value add audits to our clients. Twelve graduates with diverse backgrounds - including the traditional Accounting and Finance, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and Arts - participated in GradLab, to look at how they could turbo charge the use of data analytics and robotics in their audit engagements.


Robotics and digital analytics are increasingly important skills in helping EY clients solve their biggest challenges so it is important that our auditors are skilled to do this.


Our 12 auditors underwent an intense boot camp blending technical learning on robotics, data analytics, with training in agile ideas and scrum methodology, before applying their new digital skills and mindsets to client challenges. 

In just three months, the team implemented 127 analytic and robotic tools in engagements with 34 of EY Oceania’s largest clients, helped over 100 different engagement teams to implement analytics and robotics and clocked up to over 720 hours of learning and CPE credits for 250 Assurance team members. 


GradLabbers are pioneering the use of new technologies in Assurance through initiatives such as crypto club and knowledge sharing in areas such as blockchain which will help fuel the development of new Digital Trust service offerings in the market.


The team have collaborated with start-ups, leading to multiple business development opportunities in Research & Development Tax, Assurance and Transaction Advisory Services. GradLabbers have also actively given back to the community, running a hackathon and drawing on Design Thinking methodology to improve the processes and formulate new strategies for return on investment the Sydney office’s local focus charity.

GradLab is helping EY to build the highest performing teams by rethinking the way people learn.

Submission 7: Schneider Electric

Strengths-based Recruitment & Innovation Hack 



In 2018 we realised that we were not getting the best results using the traditional sourcing and assessment approach for graduates and interns. 

  • Assessment tool was SHL Aptitude Tests – however this wasn’t telling us anything new and not assessing cultural / behavioural fit. 
    (Fixed Mindset approach vs Growth Mindset approach)

  • Clinical process and rigid environment - caused distrust and discomfort around being assessed with students feeling overwhelmed during the assessment centre

  • Half day Assessments – not enough time for them to relax and show their true selves

  • Traditional approach was not aligned with our internal philosophy of positive psychology and flourishing employees


Solution & Outcomes: 

In 2019 we decided to take a bold approach to graduate and intern recruitment, which incorporated strengths-based assessments founded upon neuroscience and a Hack-a-thon to activate the innovation mind-set!

  • Introduced Strengths-based Online Assessment – pre-screening (Cappfinity) 

  • Students receive a Strengths Feedback Report – great value add!

  • Strengths Workshop at the start of the Assessment Day – help candidates channel their strengths 

  • Strengths-based Interviews – Growth Mindset approach, consistent scoring & eliminated unconscious bias

  • Hack-a-thon used to assess candidates - Opportunity for candidates to learn about our technology and customers. Working collaboratively to solve a business problem

  • Candidates get the opportunity to pitch their ideas back to the business

  • Full Day Assessments allowing assessors more opportunity to observe over a longer period & build trust!

  • Better outcomes and higher calibre of candidates


Submission 8: REA Group

AI chatbot to support recruitment 

  • Our chatbot achieved an 83% reach with our final stage candidates, 

  • with an 87% open rate when the chatbot initiated conversations, 

  • and a 25% click through rate to external content we included like videos and links to our tech blog. ​


Off the back of strong engagement with our chatbot as part of our post offer engagement strategy last year we decided to experiment with a recruitment focused chatbot experience in Facebook Messenger. Recognising our typical target audience has a significant preference for consumption of dynamic online content, we knew we had to create an experience that included a healthy dose of memes, trending giphys, and meet an expectation for rapid responses to their grad recruitment questions. We set out to design a fun and engaging chatbot experience for our potential candidate pool.


Our prototype design was tested with our current graduates and after some refinements to the chatbot’s AI to enable rapid and more relevant responses we released the chatbot to our candidates. It’s built to present all relevant content to prospective grad program candidates. We’ve designed a conversation logic path that includes organizational information, insights to the different markets we operate in, industry info, every little bit of detail around our grad program, how our program delivers on expectations, a quiz that includes content from our community programs, a bunch of fun easter eggs, and clear answers on our recruitment process, the timeline we target, and it includes tips for each of our recruitment stages.  Importantly the conversational tone of the chatbot reflects our graduates and is built with specific content our graduates wanted to know before they applied to our program. Our chatbot is now a key channel in our recruitment activities.

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Submission 9: Toll Group

In partnership with Fusion Graduate Consultancy

Creating a truly global graduate program  

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The context: 

Purchased by Japan Post in 2015, Toll has undergone a huge transformation over the past two and a half years, including the development of its Graduate Program.


With an ambition to grow internal talent, the program started in Melbourne and Sydney in 2017 with an intake of 14. Three years later and recruitment numbers have grown by over 200% with graduates. 


The innovation:

Toll’s innovation is the unique structure of its graduate program. It now operates in six countries through Australasia and wider Asia. We understand to be a unique example of a truly global scheme that’s all centrally managed by a single resource in Australia.  


With such geographical disparity, budgetary constraints and limited local support, Toll’s campaign was entirely digitally led. At its cornerstone was the effective use of social media. This allowed Toll to market the program (through programmatic techniques) in a highly targeted and cost-effective manner whilst having the ability to measure ROI.  


Recruitment was executed utilising strategic suppliers through online channels that allowed a customized experience. End-to-end recruitment (except for the final assessment centre stage) was managed virtually and executed within 6 weeks from application close to offer. 


The learning offering harnesses the global spirit of the program with graduates from all countries convening centrally at points through the program to be upskilled, share cultural experiences and learnings. All graduates joining Toll all have an opportunity to elect into a global rotation.  


The outcomes: ​

A diverse cohort of circa 50 graduates will join Toll this Winter supporting the organization’s desire for home grown talent. 


Application numbers is existing countries increased by 50%. 


Over 50% of hired graduates were female and speak second languages. 


2020 will bring further country expansion plus new technical streams to accelerate the growth of internal talent. 

Submission 10: Atlassian

Building belonging into a redesigned internship program, Atlassian style! 


Our approach to redesigning an intern program tailored to Gen Z

To create a more engaging internship experience, we sought to understand this generation’s motivations and generational mindset.

Key characteristics of Generation Z that we focused on include:​

  1. Growth mindset

  2. Socially defined

  3. Value autonomy

  4. Ethically minded


Growth mindset

Generation Z places high value on learning opportunities. We incorporated:

  • Individual projects based around the interns interests

  • Weekly brown bag sessions to provide exposure to key leaders across functions

  • Weekly 1:1s with managers and a tailored Trello growth plan

  • Technical Bootcamp classes where interns can delve into any technical topic

  • Opportunities to work flexibly post-internship


Socially defined

Gen Z seek meaningful relationships with their peers. We fostered connections through:

  • Pre-joiner Facebook groups

  • A highly interactive first day experience, finishing the day with an Escape Room.

  • Monthly socials, Atlassian-wide events such our Family & Friends Day

  • Weekly intern lunches, board games & drinks and an Intern slack channel.

  • Meet and greet with our Founders! 


Value autonomy

Generation Z are highly autonomous and independent. We;

  • Created an Intern social committee who managed their own budget 

  • Provide a flexible workplace environment (no dress code, opportunity to work anywhere in the office, 20% time. 

  • Opportunity to work on live production code from day 1.


Ethically minded

Generation Z want to make a difference in the world. Our interns:

  • Participated in volunteering events to support non-profits such as Sanctuary Australia Foundation and National Computer Science School


Outcomes & accolades

  • We were voted #3 best internship program in Australia, by AAGE

  • 85% intern to grad conversion rate

  • A high number of referrals from our intern class

  • We created our first Intern video to publicise these changes for our future cohorts!





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Submission 11: Westpac Group

In partnership with Host/Havas

Graduate Career Matching Tool 


It’s a world of choice at Westpac! 


We appreciate that choosing a Graduate Program can often be a daunting and overwhelming task, particularly when the program website is full of business-talk. 


This year Westpac Group took their Graduate Website to the next level and included the addition of a new ‘career matching’ quiz to allow candidates to make an informed decision on which Graduate program to apply to, based on their interests. The tool allowed candidates to swipe right if they would love to ‘Build innovative technology solutions’ or swipe left if ‘understanding world markets’ wasn’t for them (as an example!) 


The interactive quiz then displayed suggested programs to apply to, based on their interests. Candidate experience is always a priority and this fun, interactive quiz no doubt made an overwhelming experience somewhat easier. 


Submission 12: PwC

Reimagining PwC’s candidate experience through neuroscience and AI 


Each year the PwC Campus Recruitment team are challenged by how to efficiently manage an increasing amount of student applications while maintaining the delivery of a personalised candidate experience. In 2019, we continued pushing beyond the boundaries of traditional assessment frameworks by harnessing cutting-edge technology to make our processes even more effective, personalised and engaging - for both applicants and our staff.


How we did it

We used mobile enabled neuroscience-based games and artificial intelligence (AI) to create five skill profiles that represented our key business areas. Leveraging the data from candidate game-play, we matched students to career opportunities based on the compatibility of cognitive, social and emotional patterns. This meant no CVs or transcripts were required!


The impact

Our data-driven approach improved hiring efficiency and significantly increased conversion ratios. It also helped to remove unconscious bias related to gender, race or socioeconomic status. With a unique data set and an increased ability to manage talent pools more creatively, our team were able to help students learn more about themselves through a personalised trait report.

We also harnessed the data to refresh our final assessment experience - Career Jam - by tailoring the assessment to the five key skill areas. Bespoke content for each event was also delivered to candidates and assessors via an interactive app, ensuring a robust, holistic experience for all involved.


The stats

  • 96% of candidates reported an exceptional assessment experience 


  • 84% of candidates preferred our online assessment to others 


  • 97% of candidates would recommend PwC as a place to work 


  • 20% decrease in operational spend, despite an increase in applications


By implementing a tech-focused, gamified assessment and a tailored final assessment, we innovated a personalised candidate experience that encouraged students to unleash their potential while having fun in the process and created successful hiring outcomes for our business.

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