How DBS Bank is future-proofing its workforce

by John Hilton17 Feb 2016
A key objective of the L&D initiatives at DBS is to groom employees to deal with future challenges, according to Khoo Teng Cheong, head of learning and development, DBS Bank.
In this context, creating an innovative and digital mindset among employees is one of DBS’ key priorities.  
“With traditional banking models undergoing changes brought about by mobile, data and social advancements, we believe the key to the bank’s continued success lies in them embracing a digital mindset,” said Khoo.
“For example, since 2010, DBS employees have actively led and participated in projects with research and analytics experts from A*STAR and SMU in jointly established research labs to develop new and innovative products and services.”
Additionally, DBS Bank is the first organisation in Singapore to build hackathons into their talent development programme, with employees creating prototypes alongside start-ups.
“These hackathons serve as a sandbox for employees to experiment like start-ups, and utilise lean start-up methodology and human-centred design to identify and act on opportunities quickly, said Khoo.
In September 2015, the bank launched the DBS HotSpot Pre-accelerator, a three-month programme to help digital start-ups grow their concepts into prototypes.
This involved a group of DBS intrapreneurs who were given the opportunity to go on a paid sabbatical to work on their prototypes. 
DBS Academy
Last year, the bank launched the DBS Academy, a 40,000 sq ft learning centre for employees across the region which Khoo said has the latest innovation in learning center design and learning methodologies.
“The flexible and configurable learning spaces encourage more experiential learning and experimentation, while staff can engage in small group discussions and peer-to-peer learning with the breakout rooms,” said Khoo.
He added that connected classrooms enable virtual learning and sharing across the key markets and international centres.
The DBS Academy also offers courses that focus on training through scenario-based applications, and programmes designed to ramp up digital competency within DBS.
These courses will include broad-based digital master classes, as well as specialised programmes such as social media marketing, big data, etc.
SkillsFlex programme
The DBS SkillsFlex programme aims to help build a talent pipeline not only for the bank but for the industry, explained Khoo.
This involves Singapore employees ranked senior associates and below receiving SGD500 DBS SkillsFlex Credit annually.
They will be able to apply the credits to 50 courses customised for DBS by NTUC Learning Hub, each specially tailored to focus on areas that are relevant to their fast-evolving work environment today.
This includes personal development, future skills (social intelligence, computational thinking and new media literacy), languages and hobbies & craft. This group of employees can also choose from the 10,000 courses in the SkillsFuture Credit Course Directory.
Integrating with ecosystem players
It is increasingly important that employees get the relevant exposure and integrate with ecosystem players, said Khoo.
Other than the workshops and hackathons that bring together employees and startups, spaces in the DBS Academy will also be made available to their partners such as the SMEs and social enterprises, who are also among their customers.
“We believe the innovative learning approaches will be beneficial to everyone we work and interact with,” he said.
Customers at the heart of it
Khoo explained to L&D Professional that DBS employees are trained in Human Centered Design, which enhances the management, design and delivery of customer journeys, as part of their commitment to putting the customer at the heart of the banking experience.
The future
With the exponential adoption rate of many different technologies, DBS Bank needs to assess its L&D impact on a multi-generational workforce, said Khoo.
“One of the key focuses will be to help all employees embrace the digital world and adopt an innovative mindset,” he said.
“We believe that learning will go beyond the classroom, and there will be a move towards ‘future-proofing’ and providing employees with experiences that will help them gain new perspectives and be more forward thinking.”

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