Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Fast track to management

by Aldric Chau

Vincent Chow (right), assistant vice president, organisational development
human resources, markets and banking, Asia Pacific;
Janice Chan, generalist, human resources, markets and banking, Hong Kong
Photo: Johnson Poon

Management associates require all-rounded skills

At a large enterprise like Citi, with its global reach and billions of dollars to look after, having the right people in charge is paramount — that's why it puts so much emphasis on staff training and development.

One of Citi's largest training programmes is the management associate (MA) programme, which nurtures young graduates to be the group's future leaders. The MA programme has been in existence in Hong Kong for more than two decades, though it is continuously being developed to remain as the best for graduates.

Janice Chan, generalist, human resources, markets and banking, Hong Kong, Citi notes the multiple goals of the programme. "The philosophy of the MA programme is to offer young graduates who are keen in pursuing a career in the industry a platform to learn and grow," Ms Chan says. "We groom these young talents from an early stage in their banking careers with an ultimate aim to build the pipeline of our future managers and leaders." With a strong belief that young graduates can bring in a lot of energy and new thinking to the organisation, Citi is committed to investing heavily in its graduate programmes.

Head start

The MA programme begins with a three-day orientation. Vincent Chow, assistant vice president, organisational development, human resources, markets and banking, Asia Pacific, Citi says that the orientation gives management associates an overview of the organisation and the opportunities to meet various business managers and colleagues. Classroom training follows and is conducted at Citi's regional training centres in Shanghai and Manila.

Flexibility is a key feature of the programme, allowing management associates to gain exposure via rotational assignments across a wide variety of businesses during the first year. "Some banks and financial institutions require candidates to have a business background or professional qualifications. We take a more open approach instead," says Ms Chan. "We welcome graduates from a range of academic disciplines from local and overseas universities. Some of our management associates came from an engineering, psychology, legal, and even medical background."

After six to seven weeks of classroom training, management associates rotate through various departments to obtain hands-on experience and knowledge in a spectrum of fields, which help them build a concrete foundation. Afterwards, they are given the opportunities to practise what they have learnt in the real world as the programme concludes with a job placement.

Mr Chow and Ms Chan, both graduates of the MA programme, say that the training and the job placement have provided them with a wealth of practical experience. They particularly value the mentor and buddy system, which helps to guide management associates towards further development at Citi. Under the system, every management associate is assigned a mentor and a buddy, who are best able to offer advice and support. A mentor is usually someone in a senior management position while a buddy a recent MA graduate. The relationships often continue long after the programme is over.

"The Programme is designed to provide young talents with a comprehensive view of the company's business as well as a head start," Ms Chan remarks.

Essential qualities

Since MA programme graduates are expected to advance into senior management positions, they must possess essential qualities such as an upbeat attitude, enthusiasm and determination to succeed in the banking industry. They should also be dedicated and willing to go the extra mile, and eager to learn and take up leadership positions.

Communication skills are also indispensable. A large part of their days will be spent interacting with frontline staff, various supportive groups and clients. Therefore, they must be able to work well with different parties. In addition, a good sense of team spirit plus creative thinking and problem solving skills are essential as management-level staff are always required to be innovative and solution-oriented.

Both Mr Chow and Ms Chan advise that interested candidates should be fully prepared for the interview and during which demonstrate their willingness to learn and to work hard. "You'll never run out of learning opportunities at Citi," Ms Chan notes.

Apart from the highly recognised MA programme for local and overseas graduates, Citi also offers various training opportunities for undergraduates, including its young fellowship and internship programmes. Citi is dedicated to identify, nurture and develop talents, providing them with promising careers and help them create a bright future.


Taken from Career Times 09 November 2007
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