2018 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: Quantium

GPCs and rotation optimisation algorithm

Quantium’s Graduate Academy is built in the mindset of ‘data powering possibilities’ as we design, craft and measure bespoke learning pathways for our graduates using an innovative analytics-inspired framework. Our data-driven golden children? The Graduate Proficiency Checklists (GPCs) and the optimisation algorithm which maps rotation placements.  


In 2017 we launched the GPCs, our skill development matrixes guiding our graduates through robust capability development across 250+ proficiency areas, each with tenure-linked targets, evaluating development throughout the 18 month Academy. The skills captured span interpersonal, commercial and core technical abilities; driving consistent development and high performance standards globally. 


To equip our graduates with the experience and learning needed to smash their development targets, we rotate them through different teams to learn diverse techniques and technology. It’s paramount that we move them through the right teams to empower them to address their unmet skills in the GPCs and reach their full potential. Multiply this by 90 graduates (with more joining every few months), and it’s a logistical nightmare! 


Staying true to our data-driven values, we designed a rotation optimisation algorithm to map the ideal placement for each graduate, maximising skill development and overlaying the data with their learning preferences to achieve top results. 


The GPCs and our optimisation algorithm have enabled our business to design and measure the learning trajectory and development of our graduates. These innovations have helped us scale the Quantium Graduate Academy across our growing global footprint, ensuring we attract, develop and retain the brightest young minds in the data science industry on an international scale. More importantly, the GPC has helped us foster an environment that inspire our graduates to seize their potential, and do so in a way where they feel supported, empowered and successful.

Submission 2: National Australia Bank

In partnership with Fusion Graduate Consultancy

Introduction of Digital Assessment Centres at NAB 

Historically, assessment centres have relied on assessors completing notes and scoring using pen and paper. These results are then manually aggregated for an ‘integration’ discussion where all data is reviewed to make hiring decisions. 


At NAB, we constantly look for opportunities to simplify the way we work, and we’ve recognised this archaic and clunky process is no longer viable. 


For our 2019 Graduate Program recruitment campaign, NAB’s aim was to deliver a differentiated, streamlined assessment centre experience. We’ve achieved this by delivering Digital Assessment Centres (DACs) this year. 


Based on NAB’s explicit design guidelines and requirements, a DAC technology platform was developed by SOVA, in partnership with Fusion Graduate Consultancy. Each assessor was enabled with a tablet to electronically record observations, instead of using pen/paper in the assessment centre. This data auto fed back to a central repository for discussion and decision making. NAB was able to assess 473 graduate candidates on their performance in a group activity, presentation and interview in this way, in 21 DACs over 12 days. 


Delivering DACs enabled the following benefits for NAB: 


  • The use of this technology instrumentally streamlined the assessment centre process this year, effectively reducing timeframes by 75% and enabling assessors to get back to their day jobs sooner  

  • The user friendly technology has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from stakeholders. Assessors who weren’t used to tablet technology only required an initial 15min briefing to get up to speed

  • Assessors provided detailed candidate feedback in an easy and non obtrusive way, in a reduced timeframe. This ensured accuracy and reduced human error, resulting in indirect cost avoidance  

  • Data is stored safely, can be retrieved at any time and is legally defensible  

  • More polished, professional experience for our candidates and assessors alike 

Submission 3: Vicinity Centres

Introduction of Digital Video Submission

Vicinity Centres is an ASX Listed leading retail property group with a fully integrated asset management platform. Shopping centres are at the heart of who we are. Our purpose is to enrich community experience; creating unique and relevant consumer experiences and delivering compelling value to our retail partners.


In 2018 we re-designed our Graduate Program attraction and selection process to better tailor our program and brand to the applicant we wanted to attract. A component of this process was a digital submission, inviting applicants to communicate the role their local shopping centre plays in enriching the community through a 90 second video submission. They were asked to talk to how their local shopping centre enriches the community – thinking about how it makes people feel, the purpose it serves, and the value it brings to their lives. The only guideline we gave them was to imagine they’re filming an audition video for a reality TV show and they’d understand what we were asking for.


Submissions were diverse and varied. Some applicants found a quiet spot in the corner of the centre; others were filmed by their friends moving through the centre at peak times; some overlaid soundtracks, others demonstrated high quality video editing skills. Regardless of the presentation, applicants could communicate that they understood the role a shopping centre as more than a retail destination, but a place of community, a place to connect, a place of childhood memories, a place of refuge.


The underlying passion of our applicants shone through making it clear why Vicinity Centres was the right place for them as a graduate. Pushing them out of their comfort zone in a public space we observed their natural communication style, personality, curiosity, innovation, ability to adapt and flex quickly, and their resilience.



















Submission 4: Saab Australia

Saab Graduate School

Saab Australia has developed an innovative program titled Saab Graduate School which forms a part of the two year Graduate Program.


Saab Graduate School involves graduates participating in a four hour session, held fortnightly, over the first 12 months of the program. Graduates come together in a classroom environment to undertake a mixture of self -study, collaborative teaching and learning, curriculum teaching and hands on practicals to help the graduates absorb and practice new skills.


The School provides learning and development in a number of competency areas which has been categorised into three learning groups, Knowing my Business, Knowing my Skills and Knowing Myself (see diagram attached).


There are a number of outcomes from Saab Graduate School that Saab Australia hopes to achieve, however, the main desired outcome for each cohort is to teach them the required habits and instil a culture that inspires them to be intrinsically motivated to continually learn and improve throughout their careers.  


The innovation comes from creating a generation of graduates that will become the seed to inspire others to seek to continually learn and improve in order to meet the challenges of both today and tomorrow. 


 “The Saab Graduate program exposes graduates to a variety of domains such as Maritime, Civil Security and Mixed Reality through graduate (school), affording them a unique and rewarding holistic business perspective while also helping shape where they would best fit within Saab.”– Daniel Stone, 2nd Year Graduate Software Engineer




















Submission 5: PwC

In partnership with Entegy

PwC's Canvas Career Jam: Reimagining assessment centres through technology

Each campus recruitment season PwC welcomes thousands of students and graduates into our offices nationally to take part in ‘PwC’s Canvas Career Jam’. Once known as an ‘assessment centre’, we’ve reimagined this process to create a digitally-led experience that truly reflects PwC’s innovative and collaborative culture. Pushing beyond the boundaries of traditional assessment centre frameworks, we harnessed technology and digitized our process to make it more efficient and personalised than ever before for both candidates and PwC staff.  


To achieve this, we designed a smartphone app to digitally guide candidates and assessors through the experience. The app provided a space for students to connect with each other prior to the day, provided them with bespoke information on each office location and content on how to best prepare, offered the opportunity for us to share content via the feed, and replaced the need for physical assessment guides. Most significantly, it fostered a more effective recruitment process as the app aggregated assessor feedback in real-time and ensured data integrity in the process. This meant our recruitment team were able to run multiple events with over 100 candidates each, and most notably were equipped to turn around nearly 1000 job offers in just five working days following the events.


How did we go?

·        99% of students rated the experience as positive

·        100% of students would recommend PwC as a place to work after attending the event

·        83% favourable score from the students on using the app

·        88% favourable score from PwC assessors


By implementing an app-driven process we were able to create a digitally immersive candidate experience that helped students to unleash their potential and have fun in the process.

Submission 6: GM Holden

Holden TRACK program

At Holden, we’re always on the lookout for great people who aim higher and go further. We recognise the need for diverse talent within a team, to ensure we develop the best cars for the Australian and global market. 


Within engineering, we know that graduate students may not have Holden at the top of their preference list, so we’ve had to tap into what they want and need – the opportunity of a lifetime. 


So, we launched TRACK – a three-year graduate program offering the best and brightest engineering graduates the chance to work with world-class engineering teams at Holden in Melbourne and at our parent company, General Motors, in the United States. 


One year in Melbourne, followed by two years in Detroit, with support from the GM Holden family, gives these graduates invaluable exposure to the inner workings of advanced automotive engineering on a global-scale


We’re committed to developing our people at Holden, and offering them the best opportunities to thrive, that’s why we’re willing to lose these 13 graduate engineers to General Motors with the hope they’ll return to us as world-leading engineers.


These graduates come from a variety of engineering disciplines including propulsion, design, mechatronics, electrical and mechanical – academic talent is not the defining factor, we’re seeking big-thinking engineers who share our vision for mobility of the future.


We can’t wait to follow these students’ global engineering journey – the possibilities for them to grow are endless.

Submission 7: Transurban

De-mystifying the Graduate Application Process - Video Campaign

The Transurban Graduate Leadership Program was developed in 2016 to attract, develop and grow the next generation of Transurban leaders and functional experts. We knew we wanted to position ourselves as an employer of choice for Graduates and thought we did a couple of key things really well that our graduates would benefit from and mean their time with us would leave them with skills and tools they would build on throughout their careers. 

Feedback from the graduates in our program indicated that whilst they were applying to graduate positons there were still a lot of unknowns in the graduate application process across the industry and that there wasn’t a lot of interactive media/information readily available; so we set out to de-mystify our process, give advice, tips and tricks and to place some faces to our Graduate Leadership Program – namely Caitlyn Van Rheenan (Graduate) and Morgan Dijkstra (Graduate Program Manager)

Armed with an iPhone, lapel mic (discreetly hidden) and a determination to connect with as many grads as possible, we scripted and produced a four piece video series. The videos each focused on a key topic our grads had identified that they would like further information on:

  • The Application Process

  • Our Tailor-Made Development Program

  • Flexible Work & Diversity Matter

  • You’re Not Alone In This Process (Buddies & Mentors)


We shared these videos through a targeted social media campaign which resulted in around 41,000 views on FaceBook and LinkedIn. Applications to our program increased to our highest number since program inception and the campaign generated a lot of conversation during assessment centres. 

Our program has gone onto being awarded the Transurban Annual Diversity Award and receive nominations for most popular Graduate Program of the year.


Submission 8: REA Group

A chatbot for graduates before they start at REA Group

We were looking at ways to better engage grads in the crucial time period between acceptance letter and their start date. So, when the idea of creating a chatbot surfaced, we jumped straight on it, because we know digital solution ideas can come from all corners of our workplace and life – not just the ‘tech folk’. 



This bot we now call ‘Gradbot’ will answer the burning questions grads have about their program and will share information about upcoming meetups and hackdays. It reflects our determination to keep things real and take risks, and mirrors the great experience already delivered in our REA Group grad end-to-end recruitment process. Gradbot has REA’s authentic communication style, which is what candidates tell us they find so refreshing about interacting with us.   



So far, Gradbot has answered the number one question our new grads ask: “What should I be reading and what tech should I be familiar with before my start date?”. It also delivers key company content around our grad program details, helping them achieve a smoother transition into the business. 



Gradbot prompts for feedback after periods of inactivity so we’ll be able to serve more relevant content for future releases. So far our new grads have offered feedback that Gradbot is ‘fully sick’, ‘rad’ and ‘awesome to see REA Group walk the talk in regards to having fun while learning’. Gradbot helps them feel even more prepped, supported and ready to hit the ground running, while giving the business really useful insight into our graduate needs prior to them starting. 

Submission 9: Accenture Australia

Agile Recruitment Process

The simplified application process and shorter cycle time ensures that candidates receive a faster outcome. In addition, all candidates now attend a group assessment event.

Candidates either attend a one-day Accenture Adventure event focused on business and soft skills, or a four-day Bootcamp that gives students the opportunity to learn, whilst showcasing their technical skills. Both events give students the opportunity to get to know Accenture at a deeper level, experiencing what it is like to work for Accenture, whilst networking with Accenture people to learn more about our culture and core values, allowing candidates to try before they buy.


The outcomes to date have been:

  • Recruitment cycle reduced by half

  • Candidate screening time reduced from 3 months to 3 weeks

  • Increased productivity - double the number of graduates recruited at this point as at the same time last year

  • More highly technical graduates recruited

  • Positive candidate feedback

Accenture is pivoting to the New. 

Our business and the market in which we are operating in is ever changing. The Accenture Graduate recruitment team is embracing this and have completely redesigned our recruitment process.


The intention – a digital, yet personalised and high touch process that provides a seamless candidate experience, consistent for all graduates. Instead of running one long recruitment process with a 2-month application window, we have implemented an agile process – running three 12-week recruitment cycles each year. This means we can (and have) change/d the process after each cycle, allowing us to make improvements.


As well as designing this process with the business in mind we also wanted to design something that had the candidate experience at its core. It’s their feedback that has mainly influenced the recent tweaks in the process. 




Submission 10: Project Everest Ventures

Leadership Cycle

This has once been affectionately referred to as the self-licking ice-cream.


There is nothing remotely similar to this experience opportunity to provide students experience, confidence, community, exposure, and value.


The bonds developed between people through this journey spark passion, provide the environment to understand an individual’s “why”, while creating a wave of impact through education and international ties. 


1. A student comes on board as an intern (Trekker), goes overseas (Timor-Leste, Fiji, Cambodia, Malawi) with us for one month working on a project to alleviate poverty. These projects aim to set up social businesses, a viable, sustainable business that addresses a social issue. 


2. They can then apply to be a Team Leader, the training for this role is an accredited Cert III in Leadership, they then return back to country with their own team of 9 fellow students to lead.


3. Following that, they can apply for Senior Leadership – they undergo Senior Leader Training and return overseas. These students fill the Second in Charge then Group Leader roles and are responsible for up to 50 other students in a developing country, along with 5 projects to incubate. Huge responsibility and autonomy.


4. If Leadership isn’t your calling, you can move from Interning to Business Development Training and become and Business Consultant.


5. Everything post experienced Team Leading is a paid role, so you’re finishing your degree, and in the university breaks you’re travelling overseas with an international incubator, working on projects to address the United Nations Development Goals – while building your personal experience portfolio in paid employment.


6. Students are able to cycle around these leadership opportunities and ultimately become CEOs of the projects they set up in country. They would own equity in these businesses. 

Submission 11: QBE Australia

In partnership with Fusion Graduate Consultancy

Reimagining QBE’s graduate onboarding experience

In recent years, QBE’s renege rates for graduates post offer have exceeded 25%.

This figure was unsustainable, so this year QBE reimagined its graduate onboarding experience.

Past graduates told us that we didn’t engage with them post offer and failed to properly engage them through induction and their development. 


QBE’s vision is ‘to be the insurer that builds the strongest partnerships with customers’. Forging these partnerships starts from within, so we got to work on creating an enhanced graduate experience, driving increased interaction with our graduates.

From offer to induction and beyond, we used technology to connect our graduates with QBE and each other nationally: 


  • Launched a custom-designed online graduate portal to:

    • Share key information including our latest QBE Strategy Podcasts

    • Host discussion forums that encouraged two-way communication

  • Connected graduates through video introductions

  • Development webinars post induction created opportunities for our graduates to reconnect throughout their journey


QBE personalised the onboarding experience:

  • Connecting graduates with buddies to support their transition

  • Sending ‘Welcome Packs’ to interstate graduates to make their trip to Sydney for induction seamless


Cultivating connections with The QBE Foundation early was key. Many of our 2018 graduates reported their favourite part of the onboarding experience was the induction team challenge, where they partnered with The Kids Cancer Project, to write and illustrate their own books which they will present to children in hospital.


Through delivering innovative communication solutions and personalising the onboarding experience, we increased retention of graduates following our offer. 


Only 5% of candidates reneged their offer for our 2018 graduate program. 

Our 2018 graduates said: 

“It has been phenomenal.” 

 “It’s definitely not the insurance experience I was expecting.”

Submission 12: EY

EY Data Science Challenge

Organisations worldwide are using advanced analytics to overhaul business strategies – in fact 70% of leading companies, according to the EY-Forbes Insights report, High Stakes, High Rewards. And this is creating demand for data scientists.  As part of our commitment to building a better working world, the EY Data Science Challenge is our first student competition aimed at testing the prowess and skills of the next generation of scientist superstars.

Students entered the Challenge individually or as a team of two via a competition platform. Students were provided with a data set containing macro-economic information over the last 30 years across the globe. Their Challenge was to:

  1. Understand the key drivers and influencers of employment levels globally

  2. Demonstrate how quality of life is affected by macro-trends

  3. Predict the quality of life measures globally

Entrants could utilise any technologies and/or methodologies they felt would be most appropriate for the Challenge and could make up to five submissions per day during the competition period. The Challenge was evaluated primarily on the accuracy of predictions of their best submission against the known hidden actual values. A public leaderboard was available for all participants to view throughout the competition period.

The top five entries, with the best prediction scores, were then required to present their findings to a panel. The top three entries, as judged on the day, were announced at an awards dinner - attended by EY people and partners, and university faculty - and received the following prizes:

  • 1st place: an internship in the EY Data and Analytics team, plus $5,000 

  • 2nd place: $2,500 

  • 3rd place: $1,000

Submission 13: Westpac Group

In partnership with Gallup

Assessing Culture Fit - A scientific Assessment

Cultural Fit. How do you measure it? How to assess it? We wanted to get it right. 

We all have our own Values – which are important to us. If we work in an organisation that doesn’t align with our values, could we truly be happy there? 

At Westpac Group, we recognised a gap in the Graduate Recruitment Framework. Our hiring efforts where focused on selecting the brightest, most innovative minds, without considering candidates cultural fit. 

It was time to take a different approach. We wanted to hire Graduates that have the right cultural fit, who are passionate about serving our customers and are aligned with our Values; not only to uphold these values in our business practices but to ensure the Graduates we hire will be motivated to professionally succeed with us. 

In 2018 we introduced The Gallup Culture Fit Assessment to the Graduate hiring process. The assessment was at the forefront of the recruitment process, allowing us to weight importance on cultural fit, not academic excellence. 


In partnership with Gallup, we engaged more than a thousand key executives, managers & staff in a large research, investigation & validation process across the Westpac Group. The aim was to create an assessment that measures the degree to which a candidate aligns with Westpac's aspirational culture and predicts whether they will be a good cultural fit for the organisation. 

Using scientific assessments we aim to measure candidate’s innate capabilities and explore their natural reoccurring patterns of thought, feeling or behaviour - in relation to the aspirational culture of Westpac. The questions aligned to our refreshed vision, service and risk culture and focused on Westpac’s Five Values: 

Integrity, Courage, Achievement, Service and One Team.