It’s natural to sometimes wonder about the chances of someone from a small country making a mark on the global stage. Well, a local girl can indeed dream big, and achieve ambitious goals too, just as Ms Chan San-San, has done.
Her employer, multinational bank Citi, invests considerably in its employees’ learning, development and career progression, and San-San, who’s now heading Wealth Management and Segments at Citibank Singapore, is maximising all opportunities to bridge new frontiers.
GLOBAL ROTATIONS, GLOBAL LEARNINGS
Having identified San-San’s potential when she joined in 2003, Citi began preparing her early in her career for larger roles in the organisation.
San-San was part of the Management Associate Programme, where she was given local and international job rotations as well as structured training and mentorships. There was on-the-job training across multiple functions, from foundational to specialised knowledge. The broad exposure, as well as Citi’s global network and diversity, provided her with global mobility as well as learning opportunities.
“I find myself constantly learning from the best every single day, not just from my colleagues in Singapore, but across the different countries in the region,” said San-San, adding that working with the deep talent pool in Citi has helped to sharpen her thought process.
San-San’s job rotations have enabled her to not only experience the different functions in the bank, but also develop a global perspective. For instance, she spent six months in New York City as part of Citi’s Global Talent Associate Programme in 2005, during which she learnt more about the bank’s business, alongside representatives from offices around the world.
In another stint, also in New York in 2015, she worked with the global wealth management team there, and contributed to the development of Total Wealth Advisor – a digital tool that was launched in various markets across the Asia-Pacific.
One of the things that makes me very proud as a Singaporean working here is that ideas from the Singapore teams are often used as pilots for Asia and globally.
– Chan San-San
Back in Singapore, she was identified to participate in the bank’s Leadership Enhancement and Accelerated Development or LEAD programme, which focuses on grooming high-potential employees in Singapore. Since 2017, more than 200 staff have benefitted from LEAD.
San-San was also earmarked for the bank’s INSPIRE programme. The two-year programme provides personalised development for potential future leaders to enable succession management in the bank.
And the learning never stops – just recently in June, San-San attended a Citi-sponsored Wharton programme for wealth managers, held in Beijing. A month later, she attended the advanced version of the same programme in Philadelphia. “I look forward to enhancing what I know and applying new skills to how I do things, so that I can share my learnings and enrich the skillsets of my team too,” San-San said.
A CULTURE BASED ON RESPECT AND DIVERSITY
Citibank Singapore invests in training for employees across the board. Last year, it launched the Core Consumer Banking Skills training programme, accredited by the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore, to equip its staff with skills to stay abreast of the rapidly transforming financial industry. Some 1,600 staff, from frontline to operational and managerial roles, have benefitted from the training.
Building the right culture is also key to the bank’s success, and creating an inclusive work culture based on respect, diversity and meritocracy has always been a top priority.
San-San, who has a 10-year-old girl, credits her good progress at work – and her success at balancing motherhood and a demanding career – to the open and inclusive culture at Citi. She recalled the early days of motherhood, where she was allowed to work from home on Wednesdays. She could be present for her daughter while still fulfilling her duties well. “With technology, I could still join meetings, make conference calls from home and work just as effectively,” San-San said.
Mr Fabio Fontainha, head of Retail Banking for Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa, agrees that the right company culture is important for fostering employee growth.
“We want to build a collaborative culture that celebrates our diversity and enables us to engage with one another more effectively – at work and beyond.”
Citi employs 9,000 people in Singapore, the vast majority of which are local. As Singapore continues to grow in its importance as a financial hub for the bank, San-San hopes to continue helping her team shine on an international scale.
“One of the things that makes me very proud as a Singaporean working here is that ideas from the Singapore teams are often used as pilots for Asia and globally,” she said. “Seeing us make a difference and standing out on the world map is an amazing feeling.”
Read all the stories in our Diversity At Work series.