Let staff think like upstarts: Tharman

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and DBS chairman Peter Seah talked about digital and technology disruption in their speeches yesterday at the opening of DBS' new learning centre.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and DBS chairman Peter Seah talked about digital and technology disruption in their speeches yesterday at the opening of DBS' new learning centre.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

It is a way for large firms to stay competitive, says DPM

Large firms should encourage their staff to think independently as a way of staying innovative and competitive, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.

He said at a DBS Bank event: "What our large companies have to seriously think about doing is having that porosity of borders - within the organisation and outside - that allows for ideas to come in and out of the organisation, and to develop that upstart culture within a large and successful organisation."

Encourage employees to think like upstarts, who develop ideas outside the box, not just as members of a successful organisation, he added, as history has shown how such organisations have had "their meal taken away from them by new players".

Mr Tharman was speaking at the opening of DBS' new learning centre, called the DBS Academy, in Changi Business Park. The 40,000 sq ft centre will be used for training sessions and programmes.

DBS conducts more than 10,000 training sessions each year. They include courses such as leadership development programmes based on scenarios and digital masterclasses.

Digital and technology disruption was a common theme addressed by Mr Tharman and DBS chairman Peter Seah in their speeches.

The Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies noted it is an exciting and challenging time, with fintech firms muscling in on banks by providing similar services at a lower cost. He highlighted robo-advisers in wealth management that have taken off in the United States, as well as crowdfunding.

Mr Seah said: "Advances in technology are redefining the way businesses... are conducted today. At the same time, as Singapore gears up for its transition into a smart nation, we need to arm our workforce with the skills and mindset needed to thrive in this fast-changing landscape." He announced the bank's new initiative, called DBS SkillsFlex. It involves Singapore employees ranked up to the senior associate level getting $500 worth of DBS SkillsFlex credits each year. They can use them for 10,000 courses in the SkillsFuture credit course directory and 50 courses by NTUC Learning Hub customised for DBS.

Mr Tharman said: "Banks and financial institutions are being disintermediated, but it means you have to be part of the same game of disrupting existing ways of doing business, offering a better or cheaper product for the customers and growing our people at the same time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2015, with the headline 'Let staff think like upstarts: Tharman'. Print Edition | Subscribe