As companies around the world grapple with an economic slowdown, some are scaling back operations and moderating expectations for the coming years.
Not UOB. The Singapore bank is hiring for 500 roles, particularly in tech, as it surges ahead with plans to become a key platform for seamless regional transactions in ASEAN and China.
“We want to be ahead of the competition,” says Chee Sun Kwan, UOB’s Managing Director for Group Technology and Operations. “Our long-term expansion is important – people want to join a company that not only provides job stability, but also offers exciting and fulfilling cross-border opportunities in a sector that touches the lives of everyone in the region.”
The appeal has been intensified by UOB’s recent acquisition of Citigroup’s consumer business in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, which will significantly increase its presence in the Southeast Asia region.
It’s a development that talent has noticed, Kwan says: “The Citi deal comes up in a the vast majority of the conversations we have with candidates.” With its strengthened presence in Southeast Asia, those who join UOB will have the opportunity to build its digital capabilities in the region, gain international exposure, and take on job rotations in Singapore and beyond.
Local, global candidates wanted
To scale up operations, UOB is seeking candidates from Singapore as well as abroad, along the entire experience spectrum – from fresh graduates to experts – to fill a range of positions in cutting edge sectors such as blockchain, cloud computing, data analytics, UI/UX, machine learning, and software engineering.
Some pioneering programmes staff can work on include enhancing UOB’s financial supply chain capabilities, developing a new payments platform and digital channel for corporates, making regional cross-border transfers available 24/7, and rolling out the bank’s world-class digital channels and service capabilities across Southeast Asian markets.
“Other banks run systems for each country, but we have a strong, seamless regional platform that allows clients, who have extensive cross-border operations across ASEAN and China, to expect a consistently high level of service,” Kwan explains.
The bank’s size and diversity provide numerous opportunities to work across teams to achieve success, he adds. The ideal candidate should have a strong technology background, and is passionate about pursuing innovating to improve the customer experience.
Adds Kwan: “It's not just an engineering challenge, but also understanding business demands and the client journey.” With the rapid pace of tech development, candidates will be challenged to stay at the forefront of digital transformation in an exciting, fast-paced and highly competitive landscape which is constantly evolving.
Job rotations and growth
While UOB has a Singaporean talent core, it also boasts staff from over 25 nationalities. This international workplace enables staff to be immersed in a diverse and enriching environment at the forefront of global financial technologies and capabilities.
Apart from regional job rotations, UOB also offers staff opportunities to change functions. The bank recognises that talent today seek richer career growth, says Kwan, who had undergone a mid-career transition himself.
“Employers always assume candidates want to go deeper into their role, but we don’t believe in making staff do the same thing year after year,” he adds. “We give our people diverse opportunities to grow new capabilities.” For example, an experienced Java programmer looking to move into a role working on artificial intelligence, machine learning or blockchain can sign up for career conversion programmes within UOB with the full support of the bank.
As part of its ethos to develop talent internally, UOB this year also launched a 12-month technology development programme, equipping talent with under two years’ experience with the skills to enter in-demand sectors such as cybersecurity and software engineering.
Beyond flexible career pathways, another major draw is the bank’s long-term commitment to investing in digital capability, which sets it apart from other employers, like fintech firms.
“We’re an established and trusted player in the region, and ours is a sustained investment in building future capabilities. That’s something that’s really attractive to jobseekers,” says Kwan.
While it doesn’t operate like a fintech startup, UOB offers perks that can rival them, such as mental wellness days, Flexi-2 which gives employees two hours off every month to attend to personal matters during their work day, as well as reimbursements spanning a range of holistic wellness-related expenses including medical screenings and Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment, childcare and dependent care centre fees, health- and fitness-related programmes to vacation expenses. It is also among the first banks to formalise a remote working policy: it now allows staff to “work anywhere” for two days a week.
This package of benefits, combined with the bank’s massive regional ambitions, are what gets Kwan out of bed each morning. “There's an energy, a passion when you come into the office,” he says. “You see people excited about coming to work to drive digital innovation together.”