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Evangeline Chua, Citi Singapore

Building your employer brand with the Millennials



Gathering 50 top regional chief HR and senior business leaders at a three-day business retreat forum, the exclusive HR Innovation Leaders' Summit will happen from September 9-11. Get involved.

With the Millennials’ tendency to start planning their careers early in life, Evangeline Chua, Citi Singapore’s head of human resources, writes about the company’s campus engagement strategy that has benefited nearly 600 students in the past two years.

Engaging the future workforce is a key building block for tomorrow’s success. At Citi, we believe the Millennials or students in tertiary institutions today must be empowered with knowledge and guidance to make informed career choices.

This belief forms the key pivot of Citi’s campus engagement strategy.

As the largest banking sector employer with some 10,000 individuals, Citi is committed to nurturing talent for Singapore.

To better understand the needs and aspirations of the Millennials, Citi actively engages with the students and career services offices of various local universities.

Through ongoing dialogue, we learnt the Millennials tend to start their career planning early, and want to gain first-hand insights into an industry or a company before making their career decisions.

However, even though their school curriculum covers banking and finance, there seems to be a lack of appreciation of the financial industry and the full spectrum of services and products it offers.

Additionally, we realised there is a gap in the engagement between employers, and the first and second-year students in local universities, as most employers only start engaging undergraduates in their penultimate and final years of education.

To address the evolving needs and growing number of Millennials entering the workforce, Citi affected a paradigm shift in the way we thought about engagement with university students.

We believe the way forward is to start engaging and attracting talent early in their tertiary education in order to be the preferred employer brand amongst them.

Senior Citi bankers can provide mentees with career guidance (not necessarily on the banking sector), identification of skill gaps, and open doors to different networking opportunities.

With that in mind, we reviewed our graduate recruitment strategy and launched two new programmes to address the needs of the under-served first and second-year students – the Citi student mentoring programme and the Citi banking 101 foundational programme.

The Citi student mentoring programme, modelled after Citi’s own internal career development mentorship programmes, enables student mentees to gain access to senior Citi bankers.

They can provide them with career guidance (not necessarily on the banking sector), identification of skill gaps, and open doors to different networking opportunities.

Some of them even arrange for job shadowing for their mentees.

Our mentors find this programme very refreshing and some even benefited from the reverse mentoring.

For the Citi banking 101 foundational programme, through our conversations with undergraduates, it was evident that not many had a clear understanding of a bank’s functions other than their initial exposure through university modules.

While some companies have job shadowing or business-specific talks, there was no existing programme in the industry with a comprehensive scope to address the knowledge gap in the student community.

With this background in mind, the idea for this programme was conceptualised.

Held over two weeks during the summer break each year, participants have the opportunity to take part in intensive seminars, where 16 banking modules are taught by experienced Citi bankers.

At the end of the two-week programme, participants are required to present their team project to Citi senior executives.

Held over two weeks during the summer break each year, participants have the opportunity to take part in intensive seminars, where 16 banking modules are taught by experienced Citi bankers.

Both programmes have received a lot of positive feedback since their launch two years ago.

One key factor to their success is having the full support of Citi’s senior management team, who participated as mentors, speakers and attended the various networking sessions.

Another contributing factor is the close collaboration between the HR team and various departments across the franchise.

This was done in many ways, be it getting Citi volunteers to give their time to mentor the aspiring students or getting subject matter experts to develop and teach content for the student audience.

Many Citi bankers willingly give their time to be involved in these meaningful initiatives.

Today, Citi is proud to share that these programmes have started to reap rewards, not only in terms of brand-building, but also in terms of recruitment metrics, where nearly 600 students have benefited from both programmes since the launch in 2013.

Our recent win at the Asia Recruitment Awards 2015 is again a testament of Citi’s recruitment efforts and strategy heading in the right direction.

With the entrance of the Millennials into the workspace, it is essential for employers to start engaging with them at campuses to better understand their needs and preferences so as to ensure their successful assimilation into the workplace.



Gathering 50 top regional chief HR and senior business leaders at a three-day business retreat forum, the exclusive HR Innovation Leaders' Summit will happen from September 9-11. Get involved.

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