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Breaking the Bank-ing Stereotypes

Posted on 2019-08-01 09:24:00

A banking job may not be a typical choice for a young graduate of today, but Asmeeta Sidhu shares the unexpected learnings and growth opportunities she has gained with RHB Bank since joining its Management Associate programme.

Calling it a “steep but rewarding learning curve”, she says the programme not only expanded her knowledge about the different facets of banking but provided her with opportunities to interact with many senior members of the bank, and as a result, developed her confidence.

Bubbly, chatty, and confident, 26-year-old Asmeeta Kaur Sidhu may not fit the traditional mould of someone who works in a bank. However, the Credit Research Analyst with RHB Bank’s Group Asset Management division, admits that her passion for numbers is what led her to this path.

“I love numbers because I find it easy to understand,” she says with a big smile. “My mother’s side of the family are predominantly doctors so I was expected to go down that same path. But I kind of broke that mould and decided to pursue numbers instead.”

Having completed her double degree in Mathematics and Finance in Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, in 2016, Asmeeta returned home and was attracted to RHB’s Management Associate programme because of its unique approach.

“Graduates are rotated every six months in four different departments, and can actually select which pillar of the bank they want to be placed in, unlike many other programmes that focus mostly on retail banking,” she says.

During her two-year stint, Asmeeta decided to explore asset management (strategy), retail banking (strategy), equity investments and fixed income investments, but the highlight of the programme was the opportunity to do a regional rotation in RHB’s Indonesian office for six months.

Calling it a “steep but rewarding learning curve”, she says the programme not only expanded her knowledge about the different facets of banking but provided her with opportunities to interact with many senior members of the bank, and as a result, developed her confidence.

“If you’d asked me to do this interview two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to. But the exposure we gained in the two years, the people we got to meet and interact with, the confidence rubs off on you for sure. We may be the bottom of the food chain but we got linked up to the top of the food chain! And I noticed this change in everyone who joined the MA programme, not just me,” says Asmeeta, who is also the current president of the Toastmaster’s International group in RHB.

Before she joined RHB, she had carried out two internships. Her first, as a business analyst in a local accounting firm, exposed her to the role of being a consultant, some elements of which she applies in her current job. Her second role was as a franchise and wholesale intern for a fashion and retail brand in Hong Kong, where she learned all about the franchise business and the importance of customer service.

In her current role, she is tasked with conducting deep dive analysis on the financial health of companies and making recommendations to fund managers for investments. She is also required to monitor the performance of existing investments and flag any changes in their business that could affect the bank’s position.

“I basically get paid to give an opinion!” she jokes, when asked about what she enjoys about her job. “I get to meet people and tell people what I think. Our job revolves around having discussions with people, meeting people from different industries, finding out what they do, and it’s all so interesting!”

Part of her job requires her to be at the forefront of the latest news and regulatory developments, and in order to do so, Asmeeta uses technology and her phone to her advantage by downloading various news apps as well as having discussions with peers to gain more insight.

She shares that one of the biggest challenges for her since starting on her professional journey, has been learning to accept criticism.

“I would initially shut down and get upset when I received negative feedback, and this happened a lot in my first rotation. Thankfully I had a really good bosses and mentors who have slowly coached me to accept criticism and encouraged me to ask for feedback every step of the way. Working has definitely changed my perspective on feedback, on how to accept it, and how to deliver it constructively as well,” she says, and adds that she has been fortunate to have bosses who accepted her flaws without judgment and gave her time to overcome them.

On her toughest days, Asmeeta puts things in perspective by recalling the words of wisdom from her first boss in RHB: “He told me something like, if you wake up one day and realize that you dread stepping out of bed, then take a moment to re-evaluate your choices and don’t be afraid to change your path. Always do what you love, no matter what that may be.”

By Hyma Haridas


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