Training Top 125 Best Practice: Navy Federal Credit Union’s Talent Optimization Pipeline

The selective six-month development program was designed to strengthen the credit union’s talent pipeline and address current and future talent needs in the organization’s Information Services Department (ISD).

Navy Federal Credit Union’s Talent Optimization Pipeline (TOP) program is a selective six-month development program designed to strengthen the talent pipeline and address current and future talent needs in the organization’s Information Services Department (ISD). All employees who have a minimum of six months of service and have an interest in a career in information services were eligible to apply. 

Program Details

The ISD TOP program was piloted in 2017 to enhance internal business practices integral to achieving membership and marketing goals. The program aimed to accomplish this by engaging members of Navy Federal’s Millennial workforce by offering team members fast-tracked lateral opportunities into ISD via the TOP program.

Employee interest in the development program was high—more than 200 employees applied for eight positions in the inaugural class. Participants came from non-ISD business units and maintained their pay and grade level for the duration of the program. The experiential learning pilot included: 

  • Technical training
  • Certificates and simulations
  • Soft skills training
  • Presentations/discussions with key members of 44 internal ISD services (including the CIO) about how services operate individually and as a unified whole within ISD
  • One-on-one coaching with experienced team members and leaders
  • Multiple cross-training opportunities in ISD service groups
  • Temporary ISD work placement for the duration of the program for regular ongoing develop-in-place assignments


The TOP program has been effective in achieving its three key objectives:

 1. Recruit and select early career ISD talent: TOP selection for the pilot program had a 3.4 percent acceptance rate, with eight selected participants out of 238 applicants spanning eight of nine business areas. Program participants’ final engagement scores averaged 4.8 out of 5, providing an early ISD retention gauge;.

2. Develop through comprehensive, structured training: At the end of the program, participants reported performance and career-readiness scores averaging 93 percent out of 100 percent. These scores increased regularly from an initial average of 22 percent. Cross-training experiences received an overall rating of 9.5 out of 10 and were key in placement selection.

3. Placement within ISD to meet key needs: All eight participants secured positions in ISD. Placement was dependent on participant career goals and preference, organization need, and ISD service team’s interest in the candidate. Final placement positions included four engineers, two managers, and two analysts. ISD service areas included Database, Network Engineering, Middleware, Infrastructure Systems, Application, and Project Management.

An additional cohort of eight participants went through the program in 2018.


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