Money Moves

Grooming tomorrow's leaders

by Sophie Leung

Management programme provides young recruits with professional edge in banking
Photo: Johnny Kwok

Success in the banking industry depends on more than simply satisfying customer needs. It also relies heavily on maintaining trusting relationships between the bank and its clients and among employees. For staff to provide outstanding customer service, it is crucial that they have the support of their colleagues.

Recognising this, leading Asian bank DBS has incorporated the relationship element into its 18-month fast-track career development programme for budding bankers. "The opportunity to network at different levels helps our new colleagues to explore opportunities for collaboration across departments or regions. This is crucial in their career progression within the group," notes Blanche Chan, senior vice president, head of human resources, Hong Kong, DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited.

The bank's management associate programme (MAP) focuses on honing participants' interpersonal and relationship skills. Associate trainees are assigned "buddies" to share experience and knowledge with them, while programme managers provide support and career guidance; and dedicated mentors offer guidance and advice on longer-term goals and career direction. The trainees also meet senior managers and other trainees during a range of programme activities.

"In addition to all that, the human resources team works with the management associates to ensure their smooth rotation around business units," Ms Chan notes. The MAP usually kicks off in July with two months of campus training in Singapore, where local trainees and those from overseas countries including mainland China and Hong Kong are provided with an excellent regional networking platform. The curriculum is designed to equip talented recruits with essential financial and professional skills.

Regina Choy, one of the management associates from the 2007 intake, recalls that she found it exciting to meet with colleagues from different cities. "We made friends and teamed up to engage in cross-regional activities," she says.

Apart from focusing on education and relationship building, the MAP also provides on-the-job training so that trainees get hands-on early in their careers.

"Field exposure is essential for associates to gain confidence in their managerial and operational roles," Ms Chan explains. "Unlike other programmes, ours requires associates to handle real customer profiles."

The MAP targets recruits who are good team players passionate and committed to developing a career in the banking industry. "We are looking for aspirants who have the confidence to excel," Ms Chan stresses. "Aside from all the other requirements, it is crucial for participants to value relationships and treat each other with integrity and respect, which are DBS core values."

The programme, which was launched in 2003, recruits about 50 trainees annually from across Asia including 15 to 20 from Hong Kong. New graduates from a range of backgrounds and young professionals with a year or two's experience may apply.

Management associate Rex Yuan says he was attracted by the bank's young and energetic image. "The bank develops at a healthy and rapid pace and I would like to grow with it, making the most of my career as a young professional," he remarks.

All associate trainees join DBS in analyst positions in departments identified on the basis of their individual strengths and aspirations. Once they complete the MAP, they are promoted to the next managerial level.

A class above

  • Specially designed curriculum equips recruits with financial and professional skills
  • Networking platform helps trainees to explore opportunities for collaboration across departments and regions
  • Individual strengths and aspirations weighed and valued

Taken from Career Times 05 September 2008, p. A2
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