The Road To Success

by Mel Sim

Team member, Strategic Management & Corp Services RHB Islamic Bank, Mohammad Naim bin Mohammad Faizal’s advice on how to build one’s career in finance? Stay curious, keep learning, and utilise your experience and knowledge to suit the industry’s current needs.

“The satisfaction of success doesn’t come from just achieving something but struggling well to accomplish it!"

Many people go through university not knowing which career path to embark on. This was what Mohammad Naim faced while in university. Having a love for numbers, he eventually sought valuable advice and switched majors to Financial Engineering, a subject which bore much interest closer to his heart. As a fast paced and competitive industry, Naim knew he had to be diligent and focused if he wanted to have a career in finance. “I realised that the satisfaction of success doesn’t come from just achieving something but struggling well to accomplish it!” he explains.

Being chosen as one of GRADUAN®’s ambassador for its annual career fair, Naim was given the opportunity to oversee a notable bank’s booth, which eventually opened the doors and landed him in the PMO’s office as an intern. Upon graduating with a Masters in Finance from the UK, Naim joined RHB’s Management Associate Programme. “Had I not made that leap of change, my life would have been different,” says the ambitious associate.

With a keen interest to know more about the bank’s nature of business, Naim knew he wanted to explore more in this field. The programme provided him with exactly that. The Management Associate Programme is a two-year programme rotated across four different departments for a duration of six months each. It consists of Corporate Banking, Corporate Finance, Corporate Finance (Indonesia), and Mergers & Acquisition. Associates are encouraged to continuously learn, which allows room for improvement, as well as gain different perspectives along the way by rotating through the different departments.

As challenging as it was for him, Naim comments, “I learned to adapt to different scales and ways of doing things, and I had to make sure that I had the required skills and knowledge to perform as effectively as possible within the context of each new role.”

To Naim, the most unique part of the Management Associate Programme was the regional experience and exposure he obtained while in Corporate Finance (Indonesia) and the mentoring programme, which he turns to for inspiration and encouragement every so often. It is believed that mentors play a significant role in career development well beyond the early steps of one’s career journey, and it seems to be true for Naim. “My mentor once said, reflect and remind yourself that an accurate criticism is the most valuable feedback you can receive!” he says.

For those who aren’t as fortunate or were not able to acquire these advantages through a management associate programme, Naim recommends that they read up on these careers choices, speak to people knowledgeable in the field, think about how your values and goals can line up with the particular career, and then start by accepting an internship, work hard enough that somebody would be willing to mentor you, and lastly, focus on what you have at hand and make it worthwhile.

“If you work hard enough, you’ll get one of those opportunities to prove and present yourself; it is up to you to make an impression!” Naim says. And indeed he did to the CEO of RHB Islamic, Datuk Adissadikin, right before graduating from the programme! Now, newly seven months into his current role with RHB Islamic, Naim is currently working on transforming RHB Islamic into a value-based bank in line with Bank Negara Malaysia’s agenda in the form of the Value Based Intermediation. His role revolves around establishing strategic initiatives, managing divisional priorities, and assisting in establishing key strategic partnerships that the bank can leverage on. Moving away from traditional banking, RHB Banking Group is always looking to grow in areas where they can thrive and focus on building scale through an agile way differentiates them from the rest.

As for the banking industry today, banks are building for the future – digital platforms to deliver more information to consumers and provide effective tools at their disposal. Because of this, it will be an advantage for future candidates to have a solid grasp of knowledge in technology. “It is not about learning tech for the sake of it but utilising what you learned in university and applying it to today’s digital age,” Naim explains.

On the topic of today’s working style, Naim encourages one to incorporate curiosity and to constantly look for ways to learn something new when the opportunity arises. He also advises those keen on following his career path to list their training and experiences, think about current job prospects, learn and absorb all they can, always be open to new skills and knowledge, and be adaptable to change! “Stay current about the trends in the industry and join professional associations to discover options and expertise, and jump onto networking opportunities,” says Naim.

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