Saturday, December 19, 2009

DBS to be run by Indian Foreign Talent

Subject: DBS to be run by Indian Foreign Talent

DBS chief's mantra: Do everything

THE newly installed DBS Group Holdings' chief executive, Mr Piyush
Gupta, was in a reflective mood during one of his first public
appearances as head of South-east Asia's largest bank yesterday.

As he ruminated on his widely varied banking career, he hinted that
DBS staff might expect to be assigned a wider range of roles under his

Speaking to a group of students, he warned of the limitations of
aspiring bankers aiming only for glamorous front office jobs.

To illustrate, he spoke of his professional journey and offered
personal insights into banking as a career.

'As a general rule, when I hire, I want people to have the capacity to
do a lot of different things,' he told tertiary students in a packed
auditorium at Singapore Management University. 'I hire people for (a
long-term) career, not for jobs.'

Mr Gupta, 49, a veteran Citibanker appointed as DBS CEO last month,
said young people wanting to work at banks often confine themselves to
the more glamorous front office roles such as investment banking and
corporate finance.

They eschew back office operations, such as accounting and payroll,
thinking these roles may be less interesting.

However, this is the wrong mentality, stressed the Indian-born banker,
a permanent resident here who has applied for Singapore citizenship.

He said that when he first graduated with a Master of Business
Administration degree from the Indian Institute of Management
Ahmedabad, he was given a back office role within Citi and wound up in
technology and operations for four years.

Rather than despair, he found plenty of opportunities to learn in
those roles.

'Working in operations and technology, you learn how things actually
work. To me, the experience was invaluable.'

He also recalled that he had worked at a small Citi branch at Kolkata
during the early stages of his career and had to juggle all sorts of
roles - from sitting at the teller counter to calling corporate

'It doesn't sound sexy, but the ability to allow you to connect the
dots is invaluable,' he said.

Mr Gupta, who has dabbled in a wide range of roles, from transaction
banking to corporate and consumer banking, praised firms where
employees are given the chance to move around within their

'I've had 21 different roles in 28 years,' said Mr Gupta, who spent 27
years at Citi before leaving for DBS.

'In my previous company, you could move anywhere you want. So in my
current company, I hope that is something I can institute.'

He was part of a panel comprising high-powered financial executives
including ANZ Singapore's chief executive Bill Foo and OCBC Bank's
head of global treasury Lam Kun Kin.

Lion Global Investors chief executive Daniel Chan, a panel member,
said a humble attitude is very important for those entering the fund
management business.

'If somebody comes and says, 'I've got this degree or training and
know it all', that is a dangerous starting point.'

When hiring analysts and fund managers, Mr Chan looks for candidates
with a healthy dose of scepticism and a questioning mind, clear
thinking, an ability to work with numbers - and the art of good

'A lot of people don't communicate well or express their ideas
clearly. A lot don't write well either.'

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