When Lim Wyson completed his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations, he was unable to pursue his tertiary education due to lack of finances. So he decided to start work immediately as a clerk at OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Berhad. Now, 30 years later, Lim has come full circle and is Head of Consumer Financial Services at the very same bank where he first began working.
Throughout his career, he worked in several banks gaining experience in the wealth management industry before re-joining OCBC Bank, this time at its headquarters in Singapore in 2000 as the head of the wealth management. Four years later, he was assigned to the Malaysia office to lead the consumer financial services division, his present portfolio.
“I’m quite fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in many roles within the bank. What I learnt is that there are plenty of opportunities available. All we need to do is basically raise our hands to avail ourselves and give it a go. I was fortunate enough that my supervisors always encouraged me,” shares Lim.
“I also benefitted from having a group of colleagues and a network of seniors who were very open in sharing their knowledge with me. In projects, when you have to work with someone more senior, you have to pull your weight. At the same time, when you participate in certain conversations you really understand why things are done a certain way. This is how I gained a deeper understanding of my work.”
A CHANGING INDUSTRY
In his current role, Lim oversees a workforce of about 1,500 people across a network of 46 branches in Malaysia. A large part of his time is spent meeting colleagues across Malaysia and Singapore as well as planning upcoming activities for the year as well as the next three to five years. In addition, he also tackles the day-to-day challenges within the bank and its branches.
He shares that today's banking sector is no longer the same as it employs people from a myriad of different backgrounds. “There is a misconception that only if you have a finance or accounting qualification can you enter the banking industry. That doesn’t ring true anymore. We now take graduates from various disciplines. This is simply because banking has become a lot more vibrant and encompasses a wider range of roles. We have people with backgrounds in design, marketing, retail, engineering and so on. So regardless of your education background, today, you can apply for a role in a bank,” Lim says.
He stresses that, more than one’s qualifications, it is one’s attitude on the job that is of paramount importance; executing a task to the best of one’s ability, regardless of whether it is a mundane one or something exciting, is what he looks for in his people. “Your university degree shows your aptitude but your attitude on the job is what it is all about and what we want to see,” he adds.
Lim’s advice to graduates? Simple and to the point: Don’t be picky.
“You don’t know what you don’t know. The best thing to do is not to be too picky on the choice of organisation or the role. What is more important is your curiosity to learn and ability to take on challenges.
“One thing that is also important is to be grateful for your past, regardless of whether it was good or bad. And you have to do your very best in the present and plan for the future,” he says.
PREPARING THE OCBC BANKER FOR THE FUTURE
For young graduates looking for opportunities within the banking sector, there is OCBC's Graduate Talent Programme — a 24 months structured programme designed for fresh graduates who are keen on pursuing a career in banking regardless of their education background.
"Importantly, people gain exposure to senior members of the organisation because of the nature of the projects they are assigned to. Not many organisations provide this opportunity for fresh graduates,” says Lim.
OCBC also provides in-house training programmes in collaboration with well-known schools for staff who are earmarked for promotions to equip and empower them to take on the next level in their career. This is one of the initiatives that has given the bank its reputation for having a nurturing environment.