Improving bench strength by preparing high-potential talent to step up

The Brief

Maximus has been immersed with Telstra since 2013. As one of their master vendors, Telstra engaged us to design, develop, and deliver a range of talent development, leadership development, and cultural change solutions.

The relationship began when Telstra approached Maximus to work with them on talent acceleration. Their goal was to build an internal pipeline of leaders who were ready to move Telstra forward by helping high-potential general managers to transition to executive roles.

To achieve its 2020 goals, Telstra needs purposeful, authentic leaders who can drive transformation. From a pool of 2,000 high-potential candidates, they had identified the 26 most likely to achieve this. Our job was to equip these top 26 with deep strategic and market understanding, the courage to challenge the status quo, and the confidence to energise their people.

Our solution was an intensive, world-class 12-month experience that was so successful, we have delivered it to three separate cohorts so far.

“By far the best, most disruptive learning experience I have ever been involved with. It was incredibly inspiring — theoretical and practical at the same time.”


Maximus’ Telstra General Manager Talent Acceleration solution balances business and individual learning objectives and aligns with Telstra’s Leadership Capabilities of customer focus, personal leadership and strategic leadership. To make the program aspirational and exclusive, we created its own brand: The League.

We designed the experience to be immersive, intense, confronting and challenging. Since 2013, the content has evolved in line with Telstra’s needs and participant feedback. However, the basic framework and approach has remained the same.

Each general manager goes on an individualised learning journey as part of a diverse cohort drawn from different Telstra functions and geographies. The core of the program is a number of residential experiences in Australia. The year culminates in an immersive overseas study tour that connects participants with world-renowned academics, thought leaders, and disruptors.

The content balances theory with application and uses multiple interactive delivery platforms. In between residentials, participants receive one-on-one executive coaching and work on real business opportunity projects.


Maximus has run The League three times for a total of 76 participants, creating an internal pipeline of leaders with the right skills to help the organisation reach its 2020 goals.

A total of 45 general managers have been promoted so far, 31 of whom have became directors. Telstra also benefited from the direct application of what participants learned, with nine business unit strategy reviews conducted using the new tools and methods.

Of the 33 strategic and operational business opportunities developed during the program, four high-impact projects were presented to an executive panel, one with a 7-year projected profitability (NPV) of $33 million.

Overall, participants rated The League highly for both its individual and organisational benefits. They awarded the whole program an overarching score of +100 in its second year and +95 for the third year.