Driving HR With Principles at the Wheel

The following is an excerpt from The 50: HR Leaders Reimagining the Filipino Organization. Authored by Pancho Dizon, this chapter is titled, “Driving HR With Principles at the Wheel.” In it, Ice Mangcoy, the Chief Human Resources Officer & Head of Corporate Services of CIMB Bank is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in digital transformation. 

 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Philippines and plunged the country into quarantine, the business sector took a big hit. Although many businesses closed down, some industries and services considered essential to daily lives remained operational. One sector that stayed open was the banking sector; however, the sudden quarantine caused them many problems shifting to the “new normal.” 

 

One bank that didn’t have much issues adjusting though was Commerce International Merchant Bankers (CIMB) Bank of the Philippines. When banks were having a difficult time shifting to remote work and relocating their systems, CIMB already stood a few steps in front of them. “We didn't reinvent the wheel just because the pandemic happened,” Ice Mangcoy, Chief Human Resources Officer at CIMB. said, “Our systems were really designed to anticipate these things and to survive any form of disruption, not just the pandemic.”

 

CIMB prides itself as a purely digital bank that can survive without the need for a physical branch to serve its customers. Mangcoy pointed out that they were already designed to anticipate situations where they would not be able to go to a physical office. 

 

“When we were told to shift to remote work because of the quarantine, within 24 hours we were the only bank that was able to do that,” Mangcoy said, “One hundred percent of our workforce is basically online already as it is.”

 

Quarantine has made digital banking a necessity and a norm, reducing the need for physical contact. When CIMB began, however, this wasn’t the case; unlike other banks that transitioned from physical banking to digital banking, CIMB came into the field with the goal to be purely digital from the start. Mangcoy explained that their different roots puts them in a peculiar spot, as many of the things they do veer away from what we know as traditional banking.

 

“Knowing the DNA of the bank, knowing that it's digital, everything else has to be digital for me,” she said, “So I have to make sure that the employees know that everything we do is also anchored towards that particular DNA.” 

 

With that in mind, their internal operations and company engagement were then centered around that same train of thought. Before, CIMB held in-person recruitments to increase foot traffic, but Mangcoy said that is no longer the case. Through their virtual recruitment, CIMB gives applicants a peek into the digital lifestyle they can expect to live in upon hiring. 

 

Now they host virtual open houses where applicants literally open virtual doors; one door can lead the applicant to someone who will brief them about the organization, while another door will lead them to the interview. “We’re trying to change the overall experience for our talents, so we’re trying to tour them through our culture,” she said.

 

Aside from their recruitment initiatives, Mangcoy pointed out that their employee development programs are also unique. When it comes to the employees’ training and development, Magnacoy says they decided to forgo mandatory, fixed-paced learning, choosing instead to promote self-paced learning.

 

“With self-paced learning, we allow for people to take their learnings or their development, based on their pace, availability, and their interest level so it isn’t forced,” she said, “Aside from what our regulators set as mandatory to learn during a set time, the development is your own choice.”

 

Mangcoy believes that developing people should be a fun and engaging activity for all. It’s why she likes to introduce fun elements for employee engagement, such as hosting polls and gamifying their interactions. 

 

In addition to their development programs, their communication strategies within the company are also very different. Being a digital bank aiming to change the banking scene, they should also have a good communication system within their ranks. For Mangcoy, an effective communication system can help employees and, in turn, the bank improve. Mangcoy and her team then make sure to properly cascade down any information about new products or updates among all employees through daily town hall meetings so that nobody would be left out of the loop. 

 

“We do this because we want everyone to tell the same story,” Mangcoy said, “Whether you go to the most junior staff, or you go to the most senior person, the story will always be the same and consistent. I think being able to demonstrate or being able to cohesively tell that story makes it a successful product release.”

 

Regardless of the current quarantine situation, the end goal for Mangcoy and her HR team with all these engagement activities is to improve both the bank and the employees’ lives. By introducing CIMB’s employees to a digital world, Mangcoy believes that they would be able to create future-ready leaders for the banking industry while also improving the banking scene in the Philippines. 

 

“The intent is for us to holistically evolve as an organization, and having the people and culture together as one significant pillar necessary for this change,” she said, “Overall, we want to advance both our customers and our society, and be recognized as the forefront, or the challenger bank, transforming the actual banking landscape.”

 

To get more insights from other HR leaders like Ice Mangcoy, please check out the full book, available for purchase here


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