SUCCESSFUL LEADERS SHARE THEIR STORIES
By PREMA JAYABALAN
Established in 1975, AmBank Group is a homegrown financial solutions group which has carved a niche for itself amidst the many banking groups in the country.
The Group has flourished throughout the years and takes pride in having moulded many talents within the organisation.
Many senior leaders in AmBank Group have been with the Group for over a decade. Throughout its 39 year tenure, the Group has recognised its employees for their years of service and awarded them with long-service awards.
Six leaders from AmBank Group share their journey with the Group so far:
ZARIDA JEAN NOORDIN
Head, Customer Segmentation (Retail Banking)
I started my career as a qualified advocate and solicitor, and then made a career switch to strategic planning in the banking industry when I joined AmBank Group in 2000.
I took on my first role as Assistant Manager in the Corporate Planning & Services department of the pre-merger entity Arab-Malaysian Finance Berhad.
Since then, I have transitioned through five different roles spanning strategy, project management, business development, product development and customer solutions throughout my career before I landed my current role.
One of the highlights of my career was a three-month secondment to Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) in Melbourne (ANZ is AmBank Group’s strategic partner), working in the Deposits division of the bank.
At the same time, an ANZ colleague was seconded in a job swap arrangement to perform my role in AmBank Group, and at the end of the stint, we shared our key learnings from our secondments.
We both learned different ways of running the business and gained insights into how cultural differences can affect consumer behaviour.
AmBank Group has come a long way from its traditional roots as a finance company known mostly for its hire purchase franchise.
Today, it is a fully diversified financial solutions group, providing comprehensive financial solutions for our customers.
One of the best things about working in AmBank Group is the positive working environment. At the core, the bank still remains a non-pretentious, friendly and people-centric organisation.
Over the years, many have asked me why have I not considered joining other organisations. My response is that apart from the working environment itself, I am truly appreciative that AmBank Group has seen potential in me and given me many opportunities to develop new skills and explore interesting areas of growth.
It has been challenging yet exciting to be a part of AmBank Group’s journey.
DATIN MAZNAH MAHBOB
My first day with AmBank Group was on Dec 1, 1983 and I have been with the bank for slightly over 30 years now.
When I first joined AmBank Group, or as it was known then, the Arab-Malaysian Merchant Bank, it was the biggest merchant bank in the country by asset size. Even so, it was a much smaller merchant bank by today’s standards and many of its activities were innovative and new to the market at that time. The bank was very entrepreneurial and I can safely say that my career and the bank grew together.
My first role in the Group was with the Corporate Finance department. Subsequently in 1987, I joined the fledging Portfolio Management department as Equities Analyst.
Back then, there were no computers in the department. Company analyses were done by manual spreadsheets on graph paper.
Years of familiarity with the manual spread sheets and formulae for projections and valuations may have enabled an ability for quicker judgment calls over time.
Having experienced firsthand many bull-runs and crashes since the 80s, I got used to handling portfolios amidst volatility. As a result, we had some happy and satisfied clients along the way.
After three years as an analyst, I became Assistant Fund Manager and went on to become Fund Manager, where I was given my own team to lead.
One thing led to another and I was made Head of Department. Subsequently, the bank allowed me to broaden my exposure to the business side as Head of Institutional Business. After that I returned to a full time investment role as the Chief Investment Officer.
I eventually became the CEO of AmInvest, the funds management business of AMMB Holdings Bhd, which gave me the opportunity to grow the business to what it is today.
JOANNA YU GING PING
Director, Corporate & Institutional Banking
In an industry landscape characterised by the challenges of globalisation, intense competition (from both domestic and international players), increasingly sophisticated products and clientele requirements, I must say that AmBank Group has grown by strides.
It has come a long way, having moved beyond its tried and tested expertise in investment banking to become a truly diversified financial solutions group.
I started my career with AmBank Group in 1995 as an Officer in the Corporate Banking Division in what was then known as Arab-Malaysian Merchant Bank Berhad (AMMB).
Even in those early days, AMMB was a leader in the investment banking (or merchant banking) business.
This, combined with the guidance and trust placed in me by the bank and my superiors, allowed me to gain a breadth of experience in the industry at a relatively early stage. That initial exposure has served me well in my development as an investment banker to this day.
With the various successes I have experienced throughout my career with AmBank Group, the one aspect of the organisation which stands out the most is the close rapport and camaraderie amongst the team in AmBank Group.
This scenario cuts across all levels, departments and business divisions. The unique atmosphere very much mirrors that of an extended family, which I believe is an amazing trait and one that stands out in the industry.
With my recent appointment as an Industry Segment Specialist within Wholesale Banking – Coverage, I am looking forward to continuing to grow and progress with AmBank Group and working together with a team of driven and committed individuals (both within my segment and across the Group).
General Manager, Agency Distribution
AmGeneral Insurance Berhad
I have been in the insurance industry (Kurnia) for the past 18 years and have been exposed to diverse areas, including underwriting, sales, agency and branch management. I have also been involved in planning and marketing initiatives in the area of change management.
Throughout my attachment with the organisation, I have had the privilege of receiving invaluable support and training. This has enabled me to rise up to my current position today and motivates me to continue to increase our achievements.
I am very enthusiastic to now be a part of AmBank Group, following the acquisition of Kurnia Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad by AmG Insurance Bhd. I am glad to say that we have fit in well. Each business unit in the Group works together as one big family towards strengthening our overall entity as a Group.
In my opinion, AmBank Group has always placed importance on customers and it continues to do so with a wide range of innovative products and services. Its business divisions offer both Conventional and Islamic financial services.
AmBank Group has definitely come a long way since its inception and has fared above expectations as Malaysia’s premier, preferred, diversified and internationally connected financial solutions group, taking pride in growing the future with our employees and customers.
It has always placed importance on management of human capital and staff career development as well. With my current fit in AmBank Group’s business and my passion in insurance, I foresee an exciting career with the Group.
I aim to continue my efforts into contributing towards bringing the business of AmBank Group to greater heights. After all, we are “Your Bank, Malaysia’s Bank, AmBank.”
GANESH KUMAR NADARAJAH
Group General Manager, Strategic Planning & Investor Relation
I joined AmBank Group in 2000 as a Manager in the Corporate Planning & Services department. Prior to joining AmBank Group, I had spent almost 13 years in finance and consulting.
The Group has very much facilitated my transition from manager to my current role. It has enabled me to passionately pursue my endeavours to help transform the organisation to one with greater capabilities. This involves dealing with ideas, people and financials – three of my personal favourites.
Throughout my tenure in AmBank Group, there have been a few significant leaders who have inspired and given me opportunities to be who I am today. These leaders are those who have manifested the bank’s values. They are good role models and encourage others to grow and excel in what they do.
AmBank Group has grown remarkably well since its early days. Today, the banking group is reputed to be a well-balanced, diversified and consistent performer. We have taken the hard road to success. We always reflect on ourselves and challenge ourselves to come up with ways to perform better.
One memorable moment which stays close to my heart was when our Group Managing Director received the Bank Of The Year Award for AmBank Group last year in London. It was a significant accomplishment for all AmBankers!
When he came back to the table, he passed the award plaque to me. Holding it, I felt that it was a reward received due to all the hard work invested by the people of AmBank. It is all about the people of AmBank Group and their efforts towards pushing the bank to greater heights. On a personal note, it was also very meaningful for me because I was involved in submissions to the awards committee.
Senior General Manager
Head, Strategy & Transformation Programme Director,
My journey with AmBank Group started in 1997. The Group has remained relevant to me due to three sustainable conditioning factors: it provides relevant opportunities, appropriate eco-system support and encourages personal growth.
My career started in sales, marketing and credit followed by operations, collections and recovery. In the initial years, the bank enrolled and supported me in the inaugural batch of the professional certification in credit – the Certified Credit Professional (CCP), corporate banking.
As I progressed in the Group, my exposure expanded to other disciplines including programme management, change management, human capital development, technology, innovation and strategy.
Each domain has been challenging and rewarding in its own way. Whilst I was the General Manager, we built and led the Talent Advisory Council for Retail Bank – a brainchild of our Managing Director, Retail Banking and Chief Human Resource Officer.
In 2011, I was approached by a few senior leaders of the group to take on the role of Programme Director for AmHorizon, which was a strategic initiative of the Group, to replace our core banking system (with AmBanCS). Leading the AmHorizon Programme is undoubtedly the most meaningful role I have taken on to date, arguably the riskiest one too.
AmHorizon is largely technology driven but business-led/-focused. I was very nervous then as the world of technology was new to me. I researched extensively and consulted numerous industry specialists to equip myself with the necessary knowledge.
This often lasted into wee hours of the morning and weekends. What motivated me to keep going was the mentoring, wise counsel and support of the board and senior leadership of the Group, plus the many AmBankers who believed in the AmHorizon vision.
As a believer in people, building a good team was another challenge – I started with a small team of technology skilled staff but needed more with various disciplines. Due to the limited talent pool in the country, my search extended as far as Australia and Slovakia.
After two years of the team’s hard work and dedication, it was an immensely fulfilling and emotional moment for me when senior leadership of the Group declared on Nov 17, 2013 that AmBanCS was ready to go live the next day on Nov 18, as planned.
As I continue my role as AmHorizon Programme Director into Phase 2 of the programme, I have taken on an expanded role in Retail Banking as Senior General Manager, Head of Strategy & Transformation. All credit goes to AmBank Group’s connective values and inspirational leadership.
I am forever appreciative.
For career opportunities with AmBank Group, please visit ambankgroup.com/amcareer . Click here to read more articles like this!
Prema was a former team member at Leaderonomics. As a travel enthusiast who loves connecting with people from all walks of life, Prema believes that everything thrown to us by life enhances our development.