Chris Thng (centre) with the team who came up with Sky, a robot who helps free up credit services officers' time by up to 2 hours every day
I sometimes think I must have been a professional juggler in my previous life.
For the last few years of my life, I have had a knack for multi-tasking.
When I was doing my National Service, I took night classes at a private university to better prepare myself for my undergraduate course at the Singapore Management University (SMU) which was to start after NS.
As a result of those extra units I took during my two-year NS stint, it opened up a chance for me to pursue a Masters degree at SMU instead of an honours degree.
I took up this challenge – a more advanced and specialised course – and just like that, my intended academic plans took a whole new direction.
Midway through my SMU course, my old juggling habits kicked in again.
In July 2017, I took up the Management Associate (MA) programme at Bank of Singapore.
For the past year, I have been finishing up my Masters while rotating within different departments in the bank.
I will finally graduate from SMU this month (July2018) and continue with my career at the bank after that.
I intend to put my multi-tasking days behind me now, graduate from the Management Associate programme and focus on growing together with the bank.
Exposure to different roles
I must admit that before I joined the bank, I didn't know much about Bank of Singapore.
But I saw an advertisement for the bank’s graduate programme and I thought why not just apply. I was intrigued because it was one of the few private banks offering such an opportunity.
Over the last 12 months, I have been attached to Credit Services, the Chief Operating Officer’s office, Credit Risk as well as the Lending Product and Credit Structuring department.
Being exposed to so many departments in such a short time made me realise how everything gels together in a bank.
How a bank works
Before joining the bank, I always marveled at how banks could run so smoothly.
I soon found out that there was indeed plenty to marvel over. It involves a lot of people working together and a strong management to keep things ticking. All it takes is one hiccup in the entire chain for the process to be delayed, which ultimately affects the client.
My one-month stint at the COO’s office was particularly useful.
During the attachment, I joined in a change project where the COO’s direction was to advance the bank’s digital journey. The particular project I was assisting with was streamlining all of the bank’s manual processes to make things simpler, faster and digital.
To do this, I had to speak to different departments in the bank, figure out their work processes, gather data and assess the suitability, priority, benefits and lastly, how they could be streamlined not just in silo, but together with the other relevant departments.
That month exposed me to many departments in the bank and provided me with a good grounding in understanding the roles of the various functions and the interlinks between each.
And during my stint at Credit Risk, I got a real sense of what risk meant to a bank.
I learnt the concept in school, of course, but it was high level and generic. In the bank, you see what it means in detail, specific terms and the potential impact it can cause.
No better time to learn
During my stint as a MA, I was given tasks that were akin to a full-time staff.
I never felt like I could not do anything because I was ‘just’ a MA. In fact, I was given the opportunity to explore other areas on top of the day-to-day work such as taking part in projects, attending meetings and being assigned on various ad-hoc assignments.
My bosses and colleagues at the various departments trusted me to take on tasks and guided me along the way.
Sure, I made mistakes. For example, while processing credit applications, I missed out some checks and so on.
But my supervisor was always patient and took the time to walk through with me processes which I was unfamiliar with as well as the exceptions to look out for.
Mistakes are a good thing, to a certain extent.
It helped me to learn the hard way.
But it also meant that I would not forget the mistakes I made.
I realised how important my work at the bank was. It was a tricky role with a steep learning curve. You are dealing with millions of dollars and that’s when it hit me – that what I do can either create a positive impact or negative impact.
And of course, the latter should be avoided at all cost!
So I have to put in my best effort, learn from my mistakes and strive for growth.
The future of banking
With my background in business and IT, I was especially interested in how the bank incorporated automation into its processes and had the chance to be involved in a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) project; from getting my hands dirty with the actual process configuration, to developing related materials such as posters, videos and even being invited to represent Bank of Singapore at OCBC’s FutureSMART event and OCBC’s School Outreach Initiative.
At Credit Services, my colleagues came up with a robot named Sky, which worked tirelessly throughout the day to process credit related reports.
This automated process, helped to free up Credit Services officers’ time by up to two hours every day by reducing the manual and repetitive work they used to do.
With Sky taking over these processes, it allowed them to use the extra time to focus on more bespoke aspects of their work, be involved in more projects and enhance the work-life balance.
In addition, to this, I was also given the autonomy to experiment with other solutions to bring about positive changes to the department.
In my spare time, (yes, I inevitably fall back to juggling) I play around with programs to see if I can come up with solutions that could help to simplify processes and make processes more efficient.
Knowing what I want
My year as a MA at the bank has benefitted me a great deal.
When I first started this MA programme, I never expected to be exposed to so many opportunities and experiences.
I have a better sense of how the bank functions and the role they play in this well-oiled machinery.
By trying out different departments, I also got a chance to see what I enjoy and understand myself better in terms of my strengths and weaknesses.
For my next milestone, I am looking forward to graduating from the Bank of Singapore’s Management Associate programme.
Will I still be juggling?
*Bank of Singapore’s first batch of five Management Associates ‘graduated’ from the programme this month. At the same time, a second batch of five associates have just started their year-long journey last month. The programme aims to give young graduates a holistic view of how various departments function within the bank and how they all work together. Each associate rotates through at least three business units primarily within their department and are exposed to intensive classroom and on-the-job trainings. There will also be a week-long attachment in our overseas location to experience how the various functions operate under different regulatory landscape.Disclaimer applicable to recommendation
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