Diversity & Inclusion @DBS
Stories inspired by employees
Diversity & Inclusion @DBS.
What stimulates someone to step out of her comfort zone? We chatted with Kitty Kwok, GBA team of Institutional Banking Group (IBG), to learn about her journey at DBS.
"Back in university, I attended various talks in the final year of my studies. I remembered that a former Management Associate (MA) shared his experience at DBS during a career talk. He talked about the programme objective in grooming young talents of the bank and also his experience in Institutional Banking Group (IBG). I was fascinated by his sharing and determined to join this business segment when I applied for the MA programme," Kitty said. "Thanks to this structured programme that comes with different trainings, I was well equipped with solid foundation with both hard and soft skills."
Kitty continued, "I have worked in IBG SME team, taking care of small and medium-sized enterprise for almost 5 years and growing from Analyst to Senior Relationship Manager. At that time, more and more sizeable Chinese enterprises relocated their treasure centre to Hong Kong. I found that it should be interesting to explore the business world and corporate finance of these companies. I believed it's a great chance to reinvent my career for continuous growth and development. In trust of my fluent mandarin and skills equipped as relational manager, I took the initiative and raised the request to Alex, Head of Institutional Banking Group, who was very supportive to my application. After a thorough talk with Team Head of IBG Medium and Large Corporate team , I moved in to the team and focus on the business with Chinese developers."
She continued, "Stepping out from my comfort zone, I have to open myself to keep on learning new subject matters. While I was a Senior Relationship Manager in IBG SME team, I worked independently and had high autonomy on client relationship. The clients of IBG Medium and Large Corporate team are more sophisticated and the deals come with more complexity. I have to be very diligent in both on-the-job and off-the-job training in order to catch up the tasks."
Kitty did not stop there. In 2018, she came across another opportunity – the newly set up Greater Bay Area (GBA) team. She was interested in this new role as this could further expand her horizons. However, this move brought some waves to her as she had to face the differences in the working environment and also the different working approach comparing with her previous team.
Facing all these changes, Kitty kept an open mind to embrace the change and the diversity of the new team. "The business of Chinese real estate ("CRE") team and GBA team is a bit different. The CRE team mainly had loan business with clients who are private-owned enterprises, while the GBA team has more trade business and SOE (state-owned enterprises) clients. And being a GBA team lead, I had to lead both HK and SZ team facing challenges of bridging cultural difference and compliance vigilance. I encouraged the HK team to embrace the challenge of joining the GBA team which can broaden their horizon and banking knowledge. My trade knowledge picked up in SME team allows me to tackle relevant pitches in the GBA role and provide sufficient guidance to my GBA team. On the other hand, I gradually shaped the onshore team to adapt a more robust and upbeat business momentum to accelerate business realisation. HK colleagues also learn from SZ colleagues for better relationship building. I also had to be humble and not be ashamed to ask questions and seeking advice from my teammates and various partners when facing these changes. With these, we complement each other and work out to be a great team. I am happy that I can quickly establish good rapport with the team. We are very busy and tense in the credit case preparation as it involves huge amount of budget, so we need to do a lot of preparation. After finishing the key credit meetings, we don't forget to the "E" under our PRIDE! values - Everything fun. We celebrate with big feasts with ice-cream, bubble tea and afternoon tea. My teammates complain me for these feasts as they have gained weight. Apart from this, we also have some other activities like lunch gatherings, birthday celebrations, and cross-function team building and mingling before the pandemic. Though we cannot physically meet each other as frequent as before right now, we continue having our activities virtually.
On top of equipping the business knowledge, Kitty also learnt new soft skills in the new role. "During the shift from SME team to large corporate team, I learn to be patient and to embrace failures. As the deals are more sophisticated, it usually takes much longer to cultivate the relationship with clients and to work out the deals with them. It's totally different comparing with the swift play in IBG SME team." Kitty shared. "The changes of roles across and within the business segments broadened my horizon of different industries. This also enriched my corporate finance knowledge, and developed my credit and many soft skills dealing with clients and different stakeholders. Since being laddered to a team manager, I have to build up my people management skills on coaching and motivating my team as well as thinking strategically to drive business. We should account for our own career and never hesitate of seizing or even creating opportunities for both self and the bank's development."
In DBS, the month of March is designated to be International Women's Month. This is an opportunity to recognise the contribution by our female employees and learn how we can forge a diverse and inclusive working environment. As a working-mom, Kitty shared with us her experience. "Before Covid, I travelled to Shenzhen 2 days a week to work with my team there and meet our clients and partners. After taking up the GBA role for a year, I was pregnant. I am grateful for the support from my husband and family. I also want to thank my manager for their support and consideration. During my pregnancy, my manager encouraged me to take taxi instead of public transport while travelling in China and would also invite me to join the company car when travelling with them."
"Before being a mother, I used to work late in office. But now, I usually leave office by 7pm so I can spend some time with my son before he goes to bed; and if needed, I can work again when he's asleep. I do appreciate for the bank's support to us for the flexible work arrangement which we can work from home, especially during the pandemic. The bank does provide us with various equipment like laptop, VPN, and digital platforms which I can handle the tasks via mobile devices," said Kitty. The bank announced a series of transformation initiatives in Nov 2020. Under the Distributed Workforce model, hybrid work arrangements will be implemented giving flexibility to our people for working remotely up to 40% of the time if their work nature applies.
Kitty also shared with us her insights for work-from-home & work-in-office. "I find that the team can work efficiently while working from home. They are very disciplined and responsible for conducting their tasks on time with high quality. For myself, I arrange my routine for handling the paper work, like preparing proposal and presentation, when I work from home so that I can be more focused and efficient. I can even spend some time with my son during lunch time too. For those days I work in office, I can host or attend meetings in the office environment, as well as visiting clients."
At the end of the chat, we asked Kitty to use one word to describe her life in DBS. She replied, "Ever-learning! I like all the challenges I've encountered during my 12-year career at DBS. I'm still learning thrillingly every day! This let me grow and develop continuously with the bank together."
*Group photo was taken before the pandemic.