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HR Chronicles: Getting ahead isn’t easy

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It’s no secret the banking world can be ruthless in the war for talent. Cassandra Cheng, head of learning and talent development at OCBC Bank, shares her tips on developing talent in a highly competitive industry. 

Banking is a competitive industry and developing and retaining employees is extremely important. Our talent management strategy spans across acquisition, identification, development and retention and the involvement of senior management is the key to this being successful. At OCBC, senior management views talent management as a core component of the business.

A key challenge is to ensure talent is aligned with the strategic vision to achieve long-term goals. To address this, the OCBC executive development programme (EDP) was started in 2006.

This global leadership programme has been extended to employees from our group entities, and senior management also participates in the two-week programme by being project sponsors and mentors. Presentations by cross-functional teams are attended by all senior management members, who will evaluate their ideas and proposals.

High-potential employees are also identified for secondment assignments to our offices around the region and also to our other group entities. This gives employees the opportunity to grow, as well as gain regional exposure.

OCBC’s EDP also helps prepare high-potentials for leadership succession. So far, several EDP alumni have progressed to key positions within the organisation.

One example is Ricky Lim, who will be taking on the role of managing director of BCS Information Systems, a fully owned subsidiary of OCBC. He joined the Group Transaction Banking in 2005 and rose through the ranks to become the head of implementation and client services.

We also understand employees need to be motivated and satisfied in their careers, which is especially true for the new generation workforce, which looks beyond compensation and monetary rewards. Therefore, we are committed to creating a conducive learning environment for our employees.

My advice for other HR peers who might be looking further into their talent development strategies is talent development cannot be left to chance. A well designed and institutionalised platform ensures we stay on course in how we develop our valuable pool of talented people resources.

Second, senior management’s involvement is a critical part of the equation. It sets the tone and demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to develop its people and helping them succeed.

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