Skillsets, culture, ecosystems: why PEOPLE are the key to success in a digital-first world
Eileen Nah, Head of Future Smart and Leadership at OCBC shares her thoughts on how banks can best prepare for a fast-changing digital future.
How can banks futureproof strategies to thrive in a fast-changing digital landscape? Many would argue to have technological capabilities as one of the key answers to this question, but Eileen Nah from OCBC believes that it’s people and the development of future skillsets which will truly futureproof strategies for banks. Find out more in this exclusive interview.
If incumbent banks had to prioritize 3 areas to transform in order to ‘futureproof’ digital strategy, what would they be, and why?
Many would argue to have technology as one of the key answer to this question. I don’t disagree with this. But it’s obviously not it. And we all know that this might take the bulk of the investment budget and attention, such that everything else might have to take a back seat.
For a sustainable digital strategy, there need to be a balance in the investment. Depending on your business imperative, incumbent bank or not, your priorities might differ. But one area remains a constant, in my view, and that is PEOPLE.
In PEOPLE, I would further break down into 3 areas of prioritisation – the Leaders, the Employees and the Ecosystem.
Leaders: Leaders drive organisations. They can make or break an organisation. Incumbent banks come with a strong foundation of doing business for years. Whether an organisation can survive and thrive for a long time depends largely on its leaders. How they lead, inspire and motivate people. How they plan, stay nimble and lead their people to execute to the strategy. How they behave authentically, make the right decisions, in good times and bad times. And are they physically, mentally and emotionally strong. All of these matters, to the continued success of the business. Organisations need to invest in the ongoing development of its leaders that can drive the right values and culture for the organisation. And it needs to build a strong leadership pipeline that can sustain the business as the world evolves.
Employees: Employees too, can make or break an organisation. But does all organisations place the interests of their employees as a top priority? Do they truly care for the overall well-being of its employees? Are they willing to continuously invest in the development of future skills such that they stay relevant? And do they keep them engaged, motivated and excited? The ones that do wins the game. The reason is simple. Employees who have a great sense of pride and belonging for the organisation, who have the right competencies and mindset, will go all out to protect and win for the organisation.
The right leaders, with the right employees, make a strong culture that enables an organisation to thrive. Together, they will do the right thing for their customers and the business. When you achieve the right mix, the rest will usually fall in place. This is good, but is this enough?
Ecosystem: In today’s world, ecosystem engagement is just as important. In Ecosystem, I mean your external network. They can be your partners, suppliers, regulators, collaborators, or even your competitors, or to-be competitors. It is important to be aware of who they are, where they come from, and invest in understanding and working with your network. Investing in the ecosystem, and being part of the ecosystem, is one critical component not to be neglected.
When Leaders, Employees and the Ecosystem come together, they can be a powerful formulae that benefits not just the organisation, but also the society at large, as the world transforms.
“When Leaders, Employees and the Ecosystem come together, they can be a powerful formulae that benefits not just the organisation, but also the society at large, as the world transforms.”
What skillsets will banks need to nurture in order to succeed in tomorrow’s digital world?
There are so many thought pieces about skills of the future. And they all makes sense, depending on your context. Question is, which ones are the most critical to your organisation?
Everyone has their own answer.
In my view, I value the following three skillsets most, combined with a personal value, or mindset.
First, Critical Thinking, with Initiative
Critical thinking is probably one of the most sought after skill across industries. It is the ability to analyse information or a situation, and be able to make quality decisions. Critical thinking requires initiative, and may not come naturally to everyone, even when they possess the necessary intellectual capacity to do so. It depends on the individual’s background, upbringing, or even social norms. Critical thinking has to be self-initiated, self-driven. Its requires the person to have the discipline and desire to take action ie. initiative. When critical thinking is combined with initiative, it becomes a powerful skillset and attribute.
Second, Adaptability, with Resilience
Everyone knows the importance of being adaptable. But how long can one stay adaptable, and be motivated to always adapt, especially when change is happening so rapidly? To be truly adaptable, one will need to be able to learn quickly as situations change, and be able to take appropriate actions accordingly. This can be tiring, and exhaust resources. Thus, it is critical for one to learn to be resilient as well. Adaptability, combined with resilience enables one to become stronger.
“Everyone knows the importance of being adaptable. But how long can one stay adaptable, and be motivated to always adapt, especially when change is happening so rapidly?”
Third, Collaboration, with Open mindedness
The world is increasingly connected, more so now than ever. Lines are blurred and no one man or organisation can do everything themselves. This in turn makes collaboration a key skillset not to be neglected. However, when does true collaboration happen? Or is it just lip service, or a win-lose situation? Collaboration requires open mindedness. You need to listen, observe, ask questions, be curious, and embrace different perspectives. When you are open minded, true collaboration can happen, and win-win outcomes can be created.
“You need to listen, observe, ask questions, be curious, and embrace different perspectives.”
What are you most looking forward to at MoneyLIVE APAC this year?
It has been a long time since the pandemic where we get to meet experts and practitioners in different domains face to face. This conference is a great opportunity to network and to take conversations to the next level.
Eileen Nah, Head of Future Smart and Leadership, OCBC
Eileen Nah possesses over 20 years of experience in specialised domains, including leadership, learning and talent development, culture transformation, values embedment, digital mindset, competency development, customer and relationship management.
Her extensive experience and deep insights in the human capital development space has enabled her to lead teams to achieve many trailblazing breakthroughs and successes. The key responsibilities include the transformation of the culture, enablement of the workforce and strengthening the leadership pipeline for the future.
Want to hear more from Eileen? Join her at MoneyLIVE APAC on 13-14 September 2022 at Suntec Singapore.