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Q&A with Sharon Cheng, head of human resources, DBS Hong Kong

How is DBS repositioning itself as a digital bank?
Being the first bank in the world to concurrently hold three prestigious global best bank honours at the same time (‘World’s Best Bank’ by Euromoney in 2019, ‘Best Bank in the World’ by Global Finance and ‘Bank of the Year – Global’ by The Banker in 2018), DBS is always at the forefront of leveraging digital technology to shape the future of banking. From day one, we are driven by the belief that there are no limits to what we can do, and how far we can go, so that we can get more out of life. 

In the fast-changing business environment, we continue to tackle the challenges via transformation and innovation in order to succeed. We are taking a holistic approach to re-imagine our human resources strategies and processes.

With the strategic direction to embrace the digital world and help our employees to live fulfilled – be the best they can be, drive change and make a difference – we start with innovating our recruitment technology by positioning DBS as an Employer of Choice, leveraging digital-data-science to attract and select the best-fit candidates, and creating an optimised onboarding experience. 

What L&D initiatives has the bank use retrain staff to embrace a digital mindset?
DigiFY – a digital curriculum designed for our employees to stay abreast of the ever-changing digital landscape through upskilling. This helps to equip our people with relevant digital capabilities to live empowered in the digital age.

Content on DigiFY is curated by internal DBS or external industry experts. From the basic concept of agility, Big Data, journey thinking and risk & control, to digital technologies such as AI, blockchain and chatbot, our employees are empowered to learn at their own time and pace. These seven skills spread across the three levels of competencies: Novice, Novice Plus and Intermediate.

With the DBS Learning Hub Mobile App, DBS employees can search and enrol in DigiFY modules and other eLearnings on their mobile devices at their own time and pace.

Are there some roles you would need to get in fresh talent to fill?
To groom young talents to be future leaders alongside the bank’s digital journey, we have introduced the Graduate Associate Programme for young talents who have just graduated with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in any discipline.

During the two-year programme, our graduate associates will be provided with opportunities to develop in-depth banking knowledge, particularly in technology & back-office operation. They will learn to appreciate the different functions across the bank and gain the network with senior management who will mentor and guide them in their development with DBS.

How has DBS boosted its brand to become more appealing to candidates?
Being a candidate’s first touch point with us, DBS careers site has been revamped, optimised and treated as our employer branding powerhouse.

We embed our PRIDE! value (Purpose-Driven, Relationship-led, Innovative, Decisive, Everything Fun!) and Employee Value Proposition (be the best, drive change and make a difference) into our employer brand by developing both branded and unbranded content on social media to share the market recognition that we’ve achieved, our participation in leading events, as well as our pleasant work atmosphere. 

We also transform our employees, especially our talent advisors, into powerful employee advocates – our employees are encouraged to tell their very own DBS stories and experiences on social media. For example, our management trainees unveil their career development journey and joyful work environment in DBS whereas our thought leader talk about how digital transformation unlocks a whole new level of customer experience, and our data scientists share their awesome experiences. These stories, using videos and photos, are being put up on social media to get candidates excited about joining DBS.

What’s something outstanding DBS has achieved with its onboarding experience?
We are taking a holistic approach to re-imagine our recruitment strategies and processes. Human-centred design concept is adopted and helps us re-define our on-boarding experience, with focus on seamless processes that provide greater flexibility to new hires and expedite their assimilation to the bank in a joyful journey. Every step of the recruitment, from application, accepting the offer, pre-join activities to first day orientation are now available online and on mobile platforms.

At the offer stage, we understand candidates may encounter difficulty coming to our office during office hours, therefore we launched e-Offer so that they can review and acknowledge the letters of offer at their convenience. This saves their time and effort in attending a contract signing session.

To further enhance the onboarding experience of new joiners, we have prepared ‘New Staff Onboarding Tips for Hiring Managers’ to give them a step-by-step tool to engage their new employees and enable them to start their journey smoothly. 

What effective talent acquisition strategies has the bank implemented?
DBS is committed to providing a joyful candidate experience throughout the recruitment process. We employ a diversified pool of recruitment channels including professional associations, social media platforms, academic institutions, job fairs, referrals and search firms. 

Apart from posting advertisements on our career website and job search engines, our recruiters proactively reach out to candidates via LinkedIn, eFinancial Careers and JobsDB candidate databases to attract them to join us. Innovative channels such as Video Job Description featuring existing staff demonstrating job requirements in a lively way and campus talk via YouTube Live Stream are used to attract candidates’ attention.

We also leverage technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) at various stages of the recruitment process from application, document collection, candidate engagement, interview arrangement and on-boarding, to create a candidate experience that is convenient, flexible and efficient.