For Australia’s largest business bank, National Australia Bank’s (NAB) global mobility programme (GMP) comprises five policy types of assignments and permanent relocations – group initiated assignments, employee initiated assignments, short-term assignments, group permanent relocations, and employee initiated permanent relocations.

Generally, assignments span up to three years, with about a year’s worth of extension. In the past financial year, more than 200 NAB employees were a part of the programme.

Dora Christophidis, NAB’s global mobility programme manager, describes the goal of GMP is to cross-skill employees and empower them with greater capability to assume leadership positions in the future.

“We give our international assignees (IAs) the opportunity to live and work overseas, develop great global capabilities and eventually, share their newly developed skills and experiences with their business units back in their home country,” she says.

This is reiterated by Andrew McCasker, NAB’s GM for private wealth Asia, who is in the fourth year of his international assignment. “The opportunity to be exposed to cultural differences, while undertaking business has made me more aware and understanding of people’s views and beliefs,” he says.

IAs, such as McCasker, can come from most parts of the bank, including product specialists, markets specialists, and support function specialists from finance, marketing, people and risk. Support for IAs include tax assistance preparation, various insurances, home and school search, orientation programmes, cross-cultural briefings and reverse culture shock support, spouse assistance, temporary accommodation and other allowances.

NAB’s mobility programme is also open to employees from Asia looking to relocate to Australia for greater exposure and career development.

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Iris Lo, NAB’s regional events specialist, based in its Hong Kong branch, relocated to Melbourne in October 2015 on a short-term assignment. “Having a comprehensive individual development plan, supportive people leaders and team members have made this secondment possible,” she says.

Driving this mobility strategy is NAB’s extensive effort to identify the most appropriate candidates – people who have a global mindset and resilience associated with change to be able to integrate smoothly into a foreign environment.

In delivering the GMP, NAB ensures policy benefits and allowances are benchmarked for market competitiveness, while the design is consistently reviewed by external consultants.

Moving forward, NAB plans on improving its outreach, as well as enabling more women to participate and take on higher-level roles on assignment.

At the same time, NAB continues to focus on fine-tuning its repatriation efforts to ensure IAs can integrate back into their home country’s business unit seamlessly after their assignment. This can be achieved by using more effective assignment tracking, management and reporting closer monitoring or support of the relationship between the IA and the home business.

Kate Colley, NAB’s head of people for Asia, says: “Economic links between Australia and New Zealand, and Asia are important and growing rapidly and we must ensure we have the right talent to ensure we can successfully execute our business strategy.”

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