Why Suncorp Bank is introducing virtual classrooms

by John Hilton07 Apr 2016
L&D Professional chats to Ed Cooley, Executive General Manager, Talent and Planning, at Suncorp Bank for his insights.

LDP: Is your training more about face-to-face learning or e-learning?

EC: We offer a mix of learning options like workshops, e-learning, webinars, conferences, as well as on-the-job development too. We take a blended learning approach to designing development options, combining formal learning, some coaching and some on-the-job learning.

At the moment we are launching virtual classrooms. It is something we are particularly excited about. One of our business challenges is that our people are geographically dispersed across Australia and New Zealand, and so face-to-face classroom learning is not always possible or desirable. 

In the flexible virtual classroom participants use their phone, headset and web cam to interact with a facilitator and fellow learners. These sessions are generally short - around 60 to 90 minutes in length - and are designed to be interactive and engaging. 

Suncorp’s willingness to embrace new technology is exceptional. Mobile phones and tablets enable us to provide learning that fits into people’s everyday lives. No longer are you locked to your desk or the classroom, you can be participating in learning while you’re on the bus or at home. It’s about giving more flexibility to our people to learn in ways that best work for them.

LDP: How important is mentoring/coaching to Suncorp?

EC: Mentoring and coaching at Suncorp is incredibly important and is a great way to support and grow our people. We have both formal and informal mentoring and coaching at Suncorp and we encourage people to build relationships, and to share their skills and experiences, for the benefit of others. 

LDP: What do you find are the most interesting aspects of L&D?

EC: At Suncorp, we have an agile approach to building and deploying development solutions, so we can get them to market just-in-time. It’s a good challenge to have so our learning remains relevant and accessible to our people when they most need it.

Also, our learning strategy is carefully aligned to Suncorp’s Strategic Workforce Planning, so we are always thinking one, three and five years out. We are considering what world-class development our employees need now and in the future, to meet not just current business needs, but future needs too.