Money Moves

Fast-track development for future leaders

by Ella Lee

Virginia Ng (right), vice president; Debra Poon, manager, recruitment, Greater China, DBS Bank (Hong Kong)
Photo: Lewis Wong

Major corporations must ensure the training they offer graduate recruits is up to the minute, which explains why DBS Bank has recently revised the management associate programme (MAP) it first introduced in 2004.

One significant change has been to make the MAP more intensive by shortening it from two years to 18 months. This includes two months of campus-style learning in Singapore for management trainees from around the region followed by a series of job attachments in the home country.

According to Virginia Ng, who is vice president of DBS Bank (Hong Kong) and responsible for recruitment in Greater China, the fundamental instruction in banking and finance topics will continue, but there will be a greater focus on building management and leadership skills.

Each management associate will have an individual development plan and undertake at least two job rotations in a specific area such as consumer banking, wholesale banking or enterprise banking, or technology and operations.

Ms Ng says that a "buddy" scheme was started this year at local level to involve middle managers and former trainees and allow them to share their experience with new joiners.

"Trainees are assigned a regional buddy who, for example, can help them to network when they are in Singapore, as well as a local buddy to help with more day-to-day issues during job attachments," she explains. After completing the MAP, trainees are then paired with a mentor, a senior executive who provides practical advice for future career development.

Starting in 2006, the HR department in each country will appoint a local programme manager to offer additional support for management associates. Debra Poon, will fill that role in Hong Kong and says she will be a coordinator and counsellor, maintaining close contact with all the trainees.

"We are there to take care of problems, answer questions, get feedback and offer any assistance," Ms Poon says.

The MAP is open to graduates in any discipline and accepts both local and overseas applications. Candidates who have been working for less than two years since leaving university are also welcome to apply.

DBS Bank aims to recruit 30 to 50 management associates in the region this year. However, Ms Ng emphasises that the quality of candidates will determine the final number. Last year, over 2,000 applications were received in Hong Kong, but fewer than 10 associates were finally hired.

She notes that, after the MAP, the usual career path is to become a manager and, subsequently, team leader and unit head with increasing management responsibilities. It is also possible to move into different areas and develop more generalist skills. This can include overseas assignments which are always seen as an invaluable way of gaining exposure and advancing career aspirations. Promotions and career paths are not confined to one country, since there are also chances to relocate to the bank's head office in Singapore, as well as to other fast — growing markets such as the mainland and India.

Taken from Career Times 22 September 2006, p. A2
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