Bank Negara Malaysia wants a special kind of recruit: People who can plan with their head and execute with their heart so that ordinary people are both protected and provided for.
A score sheet of straight As is desirable but they are looking for applicants with inclination towards nation building.
“You must understand the business we are in and ask yourself if you are going to be effective in serving the nation,” says Mohd Adhari Belal Din, Assistant Governor at Bank Negara Malaysia, who oversees Bank Negara’s Strategic Human Capital, Strategic Management, Human Capital Development and IT Services Departments.
“Even if you are scholars at the age 19 or 20 years old but if you have this kind of perspective, then you will do well with us. You will be working with the country’s best. You will work on national policy and how it affects every single person in the country. Our people need to thrive in a business environment that gets more and more complicated with every passing year,” says Adhari.
Only 20 years ago, people would say that new hires needed to be analytical (able to break down a problem into smaller parts). Then, new hires were expected to think conceptually (see the big picture). Later, these two merged into “strategic thinking” and “strategic insights”.
For Gen Y and Z, it’s called “integrated thinking” and take note, soon this, too, won’t be so novel. “It will be the baseline expectation,” says Adhari. “What this means is having a drive for excellence, organisational understanding, working collaboratively and horizontally, being able to think in an integrated manner, working well with others and being able to mobilise a workforce.”
It also means that recruiters are looking for future leaders, who are technically competent and have a natural ability to engage with their colleagues, as well as communicate with the outside world.
“In the past, staff mostly focused on the tasks they were told to do,” says Kristina Rai, Director of the Strategic Management Department, “And they were experts at their own job. Today, you must know your domain and know about other people’s domains, too, and consider the impact of your actions on others.
“You must know science, economics, history and society and be really well read. Many think Bank Negara is a specialist organisation. Actually, it is an organisation that specialises in addressing the many issues facing the country.”
What’s more, global finance is facing more disruptors today than ever before. For the generation coming into banking and finance, being tech-savvy is a baseline expectation. Much of the disruption has its roots in technology.
Says Kristina, “The big question is how we handle all this, find our balance and know our priorities. It’s great that we can do well with technology, but we need to balance this immersion with the ability to be self-aware, articulate well and connect with others. It’s good to be tech-savvy, but does the outspokenness on Facebook mean you are principled and bold enough to lead a team or inspire a whole workforce? The great potential of technology must always be anchored to the right principles and the good that it brings to people’s lives.”
“We know that there will be many uncertainties in the future and we believe diversity will prepare us for that,” says Kristina. “We are prepping Gen Y and Z to lead a diverse no-formula type of generation that will be in the workplace soon.
Diversity at Bank Negara is already visible: Women make up 42 per cent of Senior Management, 57 per cent of Managers, 58 per cent of Executives. About 62 per cent of workforce are Gen Y and Z. Adhari says, “We also want an international perspective in our brainstorming and planning, so that every policy we create is well rounded, on par with global practices, and human in every way. We are a thinking organisation; that’s the nature of our work.”
Clearly, the next generation of executives must arrive at the workplace with an open mind and a diversity of ideas. “They’ve got to understand the decisions made by their predecessors, so that they can manage the present situation,” says Kristina. “This takes a lot depth and strength to appreciate the value of other people’s work, the history, and the present day, plus the impact on the future.”
At the end of the day, she says, it will always be about serving people. “This is why it’s a joy to work with young people. They communicate with ordinary Malaysians with passion. They take new technology to rural places and figure out how to bring banking services to places where there isn’t even an ATM. They put their heart into it.”