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Commonwealth Bank

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Kyle Leong

I really enjoyed my internship experience when I was a university student. So, I wanted to give back by helping the next wave of Indigenous graduates.

Kyle works for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as an Indigenous Career Acquisition Consultant. His speciality? Helping young Indigenous graduates find a job that’s culturally and professionally fulfilling.

What did you study and where?

I studied a Bachelor of Business majoring in Finance and Management at Queensland’s University of Technology (QUT).

What is your background? Do you identify with a particular tribe or people?  

I am a proud Koko-Berra man from Kowanyama, a small town in far north Queensland. However, my childhood was spent between Cairns and Brisbane.

Did you face any obstacles as an indigenous student? If so, how did you overcome them?

I had to deal with the belief among some of my fellow students that I wasn’t an actual Aboriginal, and that I was only pretending to be Indigenous to receive “benefits and free university”.

This could be hurtful, but I dealt with it by using humour and patience. For example, I might jokingly point out that plenty of non-Indigenous students also received youth allowance. Alternatively, I would enter into open discussions of my family history and explain how different social policies have affected Indigenous communities and families since settlement.

Was your indigenous identity ever advantageous?

It is always an advantage. I am a part of a culture that has been around for thousands of years, and we can all learn a lot from Indigenous communities. Thanks to my heritage, I’ve been blessed with friends and family across the country. When it comes to my career, I think my background allows me to offer a unique and valuable perspective.

Can you describe your experience so far at the Commonwealth Bank?

I started as a graduate in 2015 and received world-class support and professional development. I’ve been provided mentors, given opportunities to try different roles and participated in passionate discussions of my future career path. All in all, it’s been a very positive experience.

What’s your current position?

I am an Indigenous Careers Acquisition Consultant at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

What does your role involve?  

I assist Indigenous entrants to the Commonwealth Bank’s 17 graduate recruitment programs, and also support Indigenous interns. It’s my job to build internal and external relationships to ensure that the opportunities we offer Indigenous Australians are compatible with various academic backgrounds and potential career pathways. This means liaising with managers, universities, interns and community partners. The students and graduates I support work in a variety of divisions, including technology, marketing, human resources, institutional and business banking as well as agribusiness.

Why did you choose to become involved in coordinating internships and traineeships for indigenous students?

I really enjoyed my internship experience when I was a university student. So, I wanted to give back by helping the next wave of Indigenous graduates. I see it as a way for me to make a positive change in the Indigenous community.

Do you have any advice for indigenous students who might wish to pursue careers in the corporate sector? Is any of this advice specific to banking?

Many corporations, including the Commonwealth Bank, prioritise the recruitment of individuals whose values are aligned with their own. While they don’t expect graduates to be experts, they do look for evidence that applicants have researched their target job and can demonstrate some genuine passion for the work it entails. So if you’re an ambitious graduate, I strongly recommend that you:

  • Thoroughly research your prospective employer
  • Emphasise whichever values are held by both you and the organisation
  • Never underestimate the value of authenticity - recruiters can tell when you’re pretending to be something you’re not.

How can Indigenous students go about looking for relevant internships and graduate programs?

There are three key resources for Indigenous students who are looking for entry points into the corporate world. First, if you’re interested in a specific company, it’s a good idea to contact them directly and ask if they offer any programs or scholarships for Indigenous applicants. Second, you can access a service like CareerTrackers, a community partner that works closely with many Australian corporations. Finally, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of university support services and careers centres. They can help you to find an opportunity that suits your interest and career aspirations.