For graduates who want to learn how to navigate the workplace of the future, HLB’s Management Associate (“MA”) Program is the ideal place to start. The Bank’s entrepreneurial heritage and focus on growing the business through a sharp focus on customers’ needs and digital strategic initiatives – simplifying and personalising banking – enables candidates to develop fundamental and transferable skill sets with fast-track progression opportunities to management levels.
Since the launch of the 21-month MA Program in 2017, 27 graduates have been successfully placed in eight divisions in various roles. With the MA Program now in its fourth year, we took a moment to sit down with Justin Ooi (“JO”), Proposition Lead in the Digital & Innovation Office, and Tiu Jia Hui (“TJH”), Assistant Manager, Global Markets, from the first intake of graduates for the program to share their thoughts on their time in the MA Program.
Why did you choose the HLBB MA Program and what was the most exciting part of it? JO: I was attracted to the program’s framework of 70 percent learning on the job, 20 percent learning from others, and 10 percent structured training. I was confident that the program would offer the experience I required. What excited me most about it was that we were embedded into real, ongoing projects to lead and drive business and transformational impact. Each project came with challenges and outcomes that have influenced my career greatly.
TJH: I was attracted to the fact that the HLB team were open to new ideas and all that they were doing to make banking effortless for customers through their mission to become ‘digital at the core.’ I felt that this was something I could relate to very strongly. I have to agree with Justin that there is a diverse range of opportunities at HLB – outside of our projects we were also able to organise employee engagement activities, for example, expanding on our creative and project management skills. This helped us develop our soft skills such as empathy and self-awareness, leadership capabilities, and role or division specific knowledge.
What do you think was your biggest takeaway from the MA program? JO: Presenting an entire project outcome to the CEO and his management team. The CEO and senior management team interviews all candidates during recruitment; within the MA Program they serve as mentors and also endorse and review all projects that are built upon business priorities and they decide on the permanent roles in which we are placed into at the end of the MA Program – I have never seen such commitment in any other similar graduate program.
TJH: The exposure and visibility are invaluable; candidates not only get to rotate and work in multiple divisions to drive project goals but our achievements and efforts are recognised across the entire division and bank wide. For example, I was the first MA to come up with Halal Food and Renewable Energy Industry Handbooks to help our Business & Corporate Banking Account Relationship Managers establish new business relationships in industries that are new to them.
Justin, there are also regional opportunities as an MA and you were involved in the launch of HLB Vietnam’s digital bank proposition and worked in Vietnam for this project. Can you tell us about your experience with this and how it provided a different perspective into your career as well as the industry? What do you think is the benefit of such regional opportunities for an MA? JO: In my second rotation I was assigned to help in the rollout of what is now our new HLB Connect Vietnam app for Hong Leong Bank Vietnam (“HLBVN”), which has been instrumental in growing HLBVN’s customer base by six times. The Vietnam experience enabled me to work with teams of a different cultural background, understand in-market consumer behaviour, and how to work within local regulatory frameworks to ensure compliance of the product and proposition. I am now able to assess opportunities and gaps in these areas from a regional viewpoint. On top of that, the assignment provided me valuable international connections that have been of great benefit to my current role.
Tell us about your current role and what’s the most exciting aspect about it? JO: I am now working in the Digital & Innovation Office, with a secondment to Vietnam as both a project manager and an assistant product manager to help HLBVN launch a new loan product. Under the Personal Financial Services (“PFS”) team, I lead the end-to-end initiation, planning and development of the entire project and work closely with local risk, compliance, finance, credit, legal, digital, business and IT teams in the day-to-day development of each piece of the product and proposition.
One of the most exciting aspects about this role is the fact that I get to work in a developing market with a new team. The second most exciting aspect is that I have the opportunity to work with the Head of PFS in the development of a new product proposition.
TJH: I am now working in Global Markets – Corporate Solutions. My day-to-day responsibilities include observing the FX market, advising clients on their hedging needs, and facilitating FX bookings for corporate clients. Our division works closely with other departments (i.e. Business Banking, Trade Financing, Branches etc) to ensure that our clients’ financing and FX needs are well served.
Every day is a whole new day in Global Markets – especially during this pandemic-led period where theoretical assumptions are constantly being challenged and volatility spiking across asset classes. My job requires me to stay sensitive to market movements and to analyse trends and correlations to give better advice to clients. Mastering the art of selling, building trust and maintaining relationships with a wide range of clientele is both challenging and interesting.
Do you have any advice for graduates who want to apply for HLBB’s MA Program? JO: Be open to learning, grasp all the opportunities and tasks given to you, and be proactive in reaching out to people for answers/solutions etc. In a nutshell, learn to be agile!
TJH: Stay curious and never stop learning during or even after your MA program.
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