"We are committed to growing our own timber by promoting life-long learning through reskilling and upskilling programmes. With our industry undergoing transformation even before the COVID-19 pandemic, equipping our people with a growth and customer-centric mindset and data and digital innovation skills remains a long-term priority."
Mr Wee Ee Cheong
Deputy Chairman and CEO, UOB
Building a future-ready workforce
We make learning and development a top priority so colleagues are best prepared for what lies ahead. In 2020, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of Better U, our Group-wide learning and development programme.
Better U was the first initiative in Singapore covering soft skills as well as digital and data skills to receive accreditation by The Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF). Our flagship programme starts with a 12-week foundation course designed to help colleagues develop five core competencies essential for the digital era:
As the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to most face-to-face training programmes, we quickly adapted our Better U foundation programme from being a partially classroom-based course into a fully virtual one so colleagues could continue with their learning journey while meeting COVID-19 safe management measures.
We explored how the use of technology could replicate the interactive experience of holding in-person workshops.
The resulting virtual curriculum features a one-day kick-off workshop conducted by course facilitators followed by a series of guided online learning activities including discussion forums, polls and video assignments, to keep learners engaged and to enable peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.
In 2020, we:
converted Better U into a fully digital course;
launched Phase Two of Better U and introduced learning tracks on data analytics and project management. These are two areas essential to future employability and for colleagues to stay ahead of industry developments;
extended Better U beyond Singapore to mainland China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam;
received the Human Resources Director Asia Innovative HR Teams 2020 Award for our innovative use of technology in developing the Better U foundation course programme; and
received the IBF Inspire Award 2020 in Singapore for providing learning programmes including Better U to help build an adaptive workforce in the digital age.
As at the end of 2020, more than 10,400 colleagues across the Group had attended the Better U foundation programme, with close to 80 per cent of them participating in the virtual course during the COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2020, we hosted a visit for two Singapore ministers to learn more about Better U and other training and development programmes by the Bank.
"We are very happy to see banks like UOB spending a lot of effort to grow their own timber, as they say, to grow their own people, upgrade their skills, so they can be ready for the new roles in the new financial services sector."
Singapore Minister for Manpower Mrs Josephine Teo and
Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing
"I would like to thank UOB for launching Better U as it is a timely programme to prepare us for the digital future. The changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic make this programme even more relevant to us and made me appreciate the programme more."
Ms Winnie Chua
Vice President, Group Retail
Promoting lifelong learning
In addition to Better U, our learning and development programmes include:
Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for branch colleagues in Singapore to prepare them for future roles in the financial sector. The programme was developed in collaboration with Workforce Singapore and IBF. In 2020, 94 per cent of eligible branch colleagues participated in the PCP. We also started extending the PCP to human resources (HR) colleagues in 2020 so they could learn to adopt digital tools for better efficiency and to free their time to focus on more strategic responsibilities such as providing HR advisory to the business functions;
Technology in Finance Immersion Programme provided by IBF and Workforce Singapore where mid-career individuals attached to our Bank undergo skills conversion to develop their talent in emerging areas such as cloud computing, cybersecurity and data analytics in the financial industry; and
Customer Relationship Management course for UOB Asset Management (UOBAM) colleagues in Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand to enhance their digital capabilities in engaging and deepening relationships with customers.
Specialist training and personal development
UOB Finance Academy to equip colleagues in the finance function with technical and soft skills to become leaders in their field. Participants learn more about risk management, regulation and liquidity management. They can also choose to develop specialised skills in areas such as asset and liability management and project management;
Sustainability Academy for UOBAM colleagues across the region to learn the fundamentals of sustainable investing. We partnered investment company, Robeco, to provide training. UOBAM was the first financial institution in the world to offer Robeco’s Sustainable Development Goals Investing module as a training course;
Training in environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics for our business leaders in Thailand to deepen their understanding of sustainability principles and to embed ESG considerations in all aspects of their work;
Cross-Function Mentoring Programme in mainland China where senior managers and technical experts across front, middle and back offices help selected colleagues in acquiring cross-departmental knowledge and skills to further their careers in the Bank; and
UOBTalks leadership series in Indonesia where the management team would share their experiences and advice on being a successful leader and bringing out the best in others.
UOB Indonesia Banking Management and Certification programme to equip branch managers with holistic knowledge across managerial, technical, operational as well as risk and governance aspects of banking. The programme was developed in collaboration with Indonesia’s Banking Development Institute;
Multi-Skills Programme to upskill all frontline business colleagues in Thailand, starting with colleagues working in our branches. As at the end of 2020, more than 1,000 branch colleagues had been trained to take on both teller and customer service job roles;
Lead Reviewer Training programme for all internal auditors across the Group to learn new audit assessment approaches, to strengthen their competencies and to sharpen their focus on auditing strategic and business risks; and
Art of Service Recovery programme in mainland China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand for our colleagues to be skilled in resolving customer issues and turning difficult situations into positive outcomes.
In 2020, we invested about
in training programmes for our colleagues.
Taking charge of our own learning
At UOB, we encourage colleagues to take ownership of their learning journey. For example, we give them access to LinkedIn Learning where they can choose from more than 16,000 online courses covering diverse subjects including strategic thinking, problem-solving techniques and time management for their development needs.
We launched the U-Learn virtual learning festival in Indonesia in 2020 to promote self-directed learning among our Indonesian colleagues. The festival took place over six days where external speakers covered various topics including customer service, digitalisation and leadership. In total, 2,150 colleagues participated in the festival.
In 2020, we held a digital learning campaign called Learner of the Month to encourage colleagues to continue upgrading themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our colleagues in Vietnam completed 659 courses online during this one-month campaign.
The enthusiastic reception by our Vietnamese colleagues led to a follow-up campaign called The Best Learning Team. Colleagues in various business and support units across Vietnam banded together to participate in this campaign.
Winners for both campaigns received tokens of appreciation from the Bank in recognition of their proactive efforts to improve their skills and capabilities.
Challenging colleagues to think creatively with AI
To nurture a culture of digital innovation, the Innovation Workgroup spearheaded by Group Channels and Digitalisation and Data Management Office (DMO) organised the Bank’s first regional artificial intelligence (AI) hackathon called Regional AI-deathon 2020. The year-long AI-deathon was an experiential learning programme which had elements of competition so colleagues could also have some fun while developing their skills on AI and data analytics.
Some 800 colleagues from across the Group formed cross-functional teams and submitted 135 proposals involving real-life work challenges for the AI-deathon. A total of 24 teams were shortlisted for mentoring by business leaders from across the Group, technical experts from DMO, as well as external industry professionals for design thinking and prototyping. They also had access to AI courses online to deepen their knowledge in this area.
The teams presented their final proposals virtually to a panel of judges comprising business leaders across the Bank. The top five teams showcased their winning ideas at the Singapore FinTech Festival and Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology in December 2020.
Building a strong pipeline of future leaders
Leadership development is a key focus for UOB. We continually seek to improve our internal processes to ensure we are securing and nurturing the best talent to lead and to sustain our growth. Besides identifying colleagues with leadership potential across the Group to accelerate their professional development, we also search for high-calibre and early-career talent from across the world.
We started a series of virtual Leadership Masterclasses in 2020 to support the continual development of our senior leaders.
Topics discussed at the masterclasses included the building of business ecosystems, evaluating the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and sharing views on how COVID-19 vaccination drives by countries around the world will speed up the recovery of the global economy;
Each session was led by a business leader, academic, author or scientist; and
The average number of participants per session was 980.
Leadership Acceleration Programme
As part of succession planning and leadership renewal, we established the Leadership Acceleration Programme (LAP) in 2019 to identify and to nurture future talents. We also formed a Development Council to provide career coaching to these high-performing colleagues.
400 colleagues were assessed through a series of online aptitude tests and scenario simulations for LAP in 2020. This was a 60 per cent increase from 250 in 2019; and
100 colleagues from all levels were selected for LAP as at the end of 2020, with the aim of reaching a maximum of 200 participants over time.
Management Associate Programme
Our Management Associate (MA) programme enables us to attract high-calibre and early-career talents from across the region. Selected candidates are exposed to various business operations locally and regionally for an in-depth understanding of UOB’s operations and culture, as well as to develop skillsets for a fast-track career at the Bank.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, in 2020 we switched from physical assessment centres across the region to conducting our assessments virtually.
The move to virtual assessments made it more convenient for candidates to interact with our MA assessors as both parties no longer had to travel to our physical assessment centres;
We selected 58 fresh graduates from 28,000 applications received for our MA programme. The programme is run in mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand; and
As at the end of 2020, we had 100 MAs across the Group.
Leading self, people and teams
Our flagship leadership and managerial skills training initiative is called Leadership Right By You (LRBY) and comprises three programmes – Leading Self, Leading People and Leading Teams. These programmes are conducted by external consultants to equip colleagues with competencies to perform effectively in their roles, regardless of their positions as individual contributors or managers.
We started LBRY in 2017 and in 2020, converted the in-person courses into online courses for colleagues to continue to develop themselves during the COVID-19 movement restriction periods. In 2020, we also added into the curricula tips on remote working and how to lead teams virtually to make the course content more useful for colleagues during the pandemic.
As the courses were online, we were able to extend our reach to colleagues more widely and increased the intake of each course cohort. Since launch, more than 3,800 colleagues have completed the various LRBY courses, of whom 42 per cent participated in 2020. More than 90 per cent of LRBY participants rated their courses four and above on a five-point scale for course and trainer effectiveness.
In 2020, LRBY initiatives received the following industry recognition:
Gold award for Excellence in Blended Learning from Chief Learning Officer;
Silver award for Best Use of Blended Learning from the 2020 Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Learning Awards;
Bronze award for Best Unique or Innovative Leadership Development Programme from the 2020 Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Learning Awards; and
Bronze award for Excellence in Leadership Development from Human Resources Online’s HR Excellence Award 2020.
Besides LRBY, we also set up leadership academies across the Group for our people managers.
For example, we set up a Greater China Leadership Academy to support our talents in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The programme helps junior-level people managers shift from being individual contributors to competent people managers and assists middle-level people managers to deepen their leadership skills.
Different activities such as football games, role-plays, group discussions and sharing sessions by senior leaders were used to help participants learn more about teamwork, problem-solving and effective leadership.
"LRBY is a key building block in the professional development journeys of our colleagues. It provides targeted learning for individual contributors, first-line managers and managers of managers to hone their skills and to inspire them to trek their own paths to success at UOB."
Mr Dean Tong
Head of Group Human Resources, UOB