Many people assume that my entire career was spent in banking and finance, which is fair, given that most senior bankers do begin and end their professional lives in the field – in some cases, within the same institution that gave them their first jobs.
How I got here is actually through a series of personal and professional reinventions.
After having earned my Mathematical Sciences degree, I started out in Silicon Valley as a programmer/analyst in a tech firm. This was the early ‘80s and tech was the industry to be in. With Stanford (where I studied) being just a stone’s throw from The Valley, going into tech felt like the natural thing to do.
It would have been the comfortable thing for me to stay. I enjoyed it well enough, and coding remains a casual hobby of mine. However, my early love for banking and finance never really died out.
I’ve wanted to be a banker since I was young, due to my innate love for numbers and having been raised by a banker dad. So, when I had the opportunity to take postgraduate studies, I opted for an MBA rather than a master’s in computer science or engineering as many of my peers did, in hopes of reinventing my career path towards finance.
That Wharton MBA did lead to my first banking job in New York which was a combination of tech, math, and derivatives. My stint at JPMorgan was soon followed by an invitation to return home as a manager in corporate finance with BPI.
I’d love to say at this point that “the rest is history” and that my banking career was a straight trajectory to where I am in now. However, the path to success is rarely easy or simple.
I didn’t stay very long in BPI after my first assignment. I moved back and forth quite a bit among BPI, global banks, and Ayala Corporation before I found myself home – for good – at the helm of the Bank I love.
How I got here was a combination of many things: a very supportive family, lots of hard work, carefully cultivated relationships, serendipity, and my own willingness to take chances and to reinvent myself.
This willingness to reinvent is a trait I proudly share with BPI, which is celebrating its 170th year this month. To have stayed relevant this long could only be through its capacity to adapt and reinvent – all while staying true to its purpose of serving customers with excellence and integrity.
The spirit of innovation and reinvention which has carried the Bank through nearly two centuries is also what we all need right now amid the effects of the pandemic – on our economy, on human behavior, and on technological advances.
At BPI, we will continue to reinvent ourselves and the Philippine banking experience through digitalization, customer service, and sustainability.
Digitalization will be our key enabler to reach and serve more and to provide a more delightful customer experience. Our ambition is to become the undisputed digital banking leader and thus the undisputed banking leader in the Philippines and in the hearts of our customers.
We will continue to invest in both technology and in people to make that happen.
We are enhancing our current digital platforms and developing new ones to cater to all client segments. We will build the right tools to ensure that all client segments, each client need, and every customer journey can be met with the best digital tools and the best customer experience.
With this, customers can expect our branches to transform from being places for chores such as withdrawals and deposits, to banking stores where their more complex financial needs are met.
The second aspect of our reinvention covers customer service. Digitalization is an important aspect of the customer experience, but to truly blaze new trails in customer service, we need to reinvent the way we think and act.
We have to keep our customers on top of our minds and look at things from their perspective. There has to be a culture change, a shift in mindset that revolves around customers. We need to do things right, to make it easy and to always be nice to our customers.
Third, sustainability is also an essential part of what BPI stands for. It is all about responsible banking and responsible operations. To be sustainable, we must consider and look after the success of our customers, our communities, and our own business.
This means looking for ways to reduce waste and power consumption, being more inclusive by reaching out to underserved sectors, and integrating ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) principles in our lending practices.
For BPI, we have a unique formula: ESG + E, where the last E stands for “economic growth”. We cannot be truly sustainable if we do not consider economic growth both for our customers and our country.
Reinvention is not as easy as it may sound. It often involves the humbling exercise of seeking out aspects of yourself that need to be changed or that are no longer relevant. But reinvention, when done with the best of intentions and sound strategies, can bring about the pivotal change we need for ourselves and for society.
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