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8 Sep

Westpac Group’s recruitment program Tailored Talent

This month we caught up with the team at Westpac Group to discuss their autism hiring program Tailored Talent, delivered in partnership with Specialisterne Australia. Applications for 2020 are now open.

Tell us more about Westpac Group’s recruitment program Tailored Talent.

Tailored Talent is Westpac Group’s flagship autism hiring program, delivered in partnership with Specialisterne Australia. The program flips our traditional recruitment process on its head – allowing candidates to demonstrate their capabilities through a series of role-related workshop activities rather than relying on formal interviews and psychometric tests, which are known to create challenges for people with autism.

How did the program come about?

We know that many people with autism possess an impressive range of skills that are in high-demand within our organisation – they are often highly analytical, have very strong problem solving and technical skills and high levels of perseverance and attention to detail. A great fit for many roles within Westpac Group that we often struggle to fill or retain.

However, we also know that typical recruitment processes can make it challenging for people with autism to find suitable employment. So, in 2017 we decided to partner with Specialisterne to design and deliver a program specifically dedicated to hiring people with autism, in a way that suits their style and preferences.

As a result of the incredible outcomes of the 2017 program and strong advocacy from our leaders, we are delighted to be launching a second intake of the Tailored Talent program in 2020.

What type of roles are available in the program?

We had a strong interest in taking on Tailored Talent participants and as a result a wide range of roles have been identified for our 2020 program. Our Group Technology area is the major sponsor of the program, with roles on offer in our Cyber Security and Software Development and Testing teams. Roles are also available in other areas of our business including Finance, Compliance, Data and Analytics in our Institutional Division. Specialisterne worked directly with our business to help us evaluate the roles and work environments for suitability for the program.

What support do autistic individuals receive when in the program?

There are several layers of support we include for program participants to set them up for success and help them navigate their work and career with Westpac Group.

  • Before successful candidates start with the Group, their people leader and team complete autism awareness training to better understand how they can create a supportive environment for their new colleague. People leaders also complete a 1:1 readiness discussion with Specialisterne to ensure they are aware of individual communication styles, work preferences and any adjustments their participant may require.
  • When participants start, they complete an immersive induction program to welcome them to the Group and are involved in the Thriving at Work training program offered by Specialisterne.
  • Each participant is paired with a buddy on their team who helps them get set-up successfully in the team and acts as their day-to-day confidant.
  • Participants are also matched with a mentor from outside their team who provide guidance on navigating their career and development at Westpac.
  • Individual coaching is also available to participants and their people leader through Specialisterne over their first 12 months in the business.
  • Regular cohort activities, such as monthly lunch and learns, are scheduled to allow program participants to connect and learn from each other’s experiences.
  • The Program team also provides ongoing support to participants throughout the program.
  • Beyond these dedicated channels of support, all participants enjoy the fantastic employee benefits offered by Westpac Group, including flexible work arrangements, generous leave options and health and wellbeing resources.

There was a recent article about Gavin Burton’s placements at BT. Can you share some of his story.

Gavin was amongst the 8 individuals with autism who joined our inaugural Tailored Talent program. He started his employment with the Westpac Group in our BT division in February 2018 at which point this area of the business was doing a lot of data analytics and data migration work. His leader, Mark Franklin, saw Gavin naturally gravitate towards this type of work, but he did not predict at the time that Gavin would have the impact that he did.

Working on BT’s flagship wealth management platform, Panorama, Gavin increased the accuracy of data and found new tools to improve and automate the complex migration work to a degree that had not been seen before. On his own initiative, Gavin built an analytics dashboard for the platform that is now a vital component of how the team deliver work, and it has improved outcomes for customers interfacing with the platform exponentially.

Before joining the program, Gavin graduated in the top 5% of the state and completed a four-year civil and structural engineering degree with first class honours, but despite this, he struggled to find suitable employment. He took a leap of faith applying for the program and relocating away from his family in Brisbane to take up his role in Sydney.

Now, over 2 and a half years later, he maintains it was the right decision and so does his leader in BT, noting that Gavin is “easily one of the most valuable people on the team”.

Applications are now open for the Tailored Talent 2020 Program, what is the process for autistic individuals to apply?

For more information and to the apply for the program, visit  or apply directly through the Specialisterne Application Portal before Tuesday 29 September 2020.

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