Corporate Banking

Continuous flow of talent

by Charles Mak

Kathy Wong (second from right), assistant vice president & client manager, Premier Banking
(from left to right) Irene Chan, Dillys Leung, Andy Au-yeung and Hillway Pun, management trainees
China Construction Bank (Asia) Corporation Limited
Photo: Wallace Chan

Banking institutions pull out all stops

A wealth of top employers are on the outlook for highly motivated individuals who have the potential and are prepared to excel in the banking and finance industry. China Construction Bank (Asia) Corporation Limited is a case in point.

Kathy Wong, assistant vice president & client manager, Premier Banking, China Construction Bank (Asia) Corporation Limited was among the first who completed the bank's management trainee (MT) programme with flying colours.

"The programme offered me challenging work assignments complemented by a range of learning components, combining practical work experience with formal training," Ms Wong recalls. "From day one, we received ongoing support from colleagues and mentors who furnished us with ample opportunities to develop skills and assume multiple responsibilities within the bank."

Stringent criteria

While some employers use psychological and aptitude tests to aid in selecting their ideal candidates, the bank adopts a more pragmatic approach, probing candidates' potential via a three-stage screening process. In particular, short-listed candidates go through an initial written test. Those who scored well then progress to a group discussion session, which is designed to scrutinise their analytical, organisational and communications skills before they reach the final interview with a panel of managers who handpick only the cream of the crop for the MT programme.

In addition to impressive scholastic record, the bank looks for indications of leadership qualities such as problem-solving and decision-making capabilities. "A great team spirit is also essential," adds Ms Wong.

Dillys Leung, one of the 17 management trainees recruited last year confirms this. "I believe I was chosen for my self-confidence, presentation skills, and charisma," Ms Leung says. "It is also important that we demonstrate a willingness to learn and the determination to go the extra mile to achieve both the bank's goals and our career aspirations."

Learn the ropes

Selected candidates then go through a two to three days' induction programme, which includes an introduction to the bank's vision, missions and values, corporate functions, plus details of career development options and staff benefits.

Hillway Pun who is also a management trainee, notes that the programme consists of a yearlong diversified training schedule. "Soon after the induction, classroom sessions begin," he explains. "Aside from technical knowledge, softer skills like customer support and enquiry handling are also on the agenda." Games, role-plays and lectures are incorporated into the classroom setting, supporting the development of higher-order professional skills.

To prepare the management trainees for future supervision functions, the bank arranges them to expose to various duties in an array of areas within the bank.

"Such attachments exercises enable us to perform various functions on the frontline before moving on to other assignments," another management trainee Andy Au-yeung says.

Under the bank's mentoring system, trainees enjoy superlative support and regular progress checks with supervisors and managers. Review sessions are conducted on a regular basis to ensure these trainees are equipped with the right skills, behaviours and knowledge to progress.

"A mentor has a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience to share, helping trainees confirm their aspirations and boost their confidence," says Ms Wong.

Rainbow's end

Upon completion of the programme, management trainees work closely with their immediate supervisors and the human resources department to secure a position best aligned with their interest and skills, giving them a kick-start to a fruitful career. With a solid career development plan drawn up, successful management trainees embark on a journey, which is paved with possibilities for vertical movements within the bank.

"To succeed, trainees need to take the initiatives to develop a broad professional acumen and personnel management skills. A positive mindset and a commitment to their own developments are also key," cautions Ms Wong, whose career is furnished with top professional recognition such as the Hong Kong Management Association's Distinguished Salesperson Award.

The bank's MT programme is destined for fostering growth for top-notch universities graduates who look to assuming administration, operation and management roles within the bank. Ms Wong emphasises, "An annual review is conducted to ensure the MT programme meets the ever-changing business environment and global economic situations."

Irene Chan, another management trainee agrees, "We are given infinite learning opportunities and great support. I'm confident that a rewarding career is ahead of me."


Taken from Career Times 07 March 2008
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