How Absa is empowering its employees with future ready skills

Absa Bank Kenya staff

Absa Bank Kenya staff pose for a group photo at Strathmore University following their completion of the Strathmore University-Absa Financial Innovation (SUAFI) Programme, which began in April 2023.

Photo credit: Pool

In today's rapidly evolving world, organisations are constantly challenged to keep up with technological advancements, changing market dynamics and shifting customer demands.

With automation, artificial intelligence, data science and digitalisation becoming increasingly prevalent, organisations must adapt to these advancements in order to thrive or risk being pushed out of the market. Financial services is one of the key sectors that has seen technological advancements over the past decade.

Absa Bank Kenya recognises that the adoption of technology will continue to be a key driver of its business transformation, and at the heart of this future is employee upskilling initiatives.

Speaking to the Business Daily, Absa Bank's Chief People Officer, Mumbi Kahindo, explains that learning, exploration and innovation are integral to this achievement.

“At Absa, we strive to foster a culture of life-long learning,” she says, adding that the bank has invested in several initiatives that professionally empower its employees.

Ms Kahindo explains: “Empowering our workforce is an important aspect of nurturing a high-performance culture. We committed to train all our employees on at least one future skill by 2021. We achieved this shortly after the launch of our sustainability commitments in 2020.”

Absa Bank has in place bespoke programmes designed to nurture talent, developing much-needed skills required by the organisation, ensuring that they remain marketable and equipped allowing them to take up strategic roles across the business. This is of specific significance in this rapidly evolving world of work, which has seen a major shift in the way financial institutions operate.

“We have deployed different courses in data, with employees covering more than 5,000 hours of training, 71 percent of which was used for data and technology-specific training,” says Ms. Kahindo.

She adds that this is helping her colleagues to understand what data can do for them and is helping them embrace the use of data for strategy, decision-making and customer retention.

Last year, Absa Bank partnered with Strathmore University to enable 105 employees acquire advanced digital skills that enable them to keep up with technological advancements, changing market dynamics, and shifting customer demands.

The training, which began in April, 2023, equipped participants with future skills including Data Science, Cyber security, Business Intelligence or Automation and Dev Ops.

Says Ms. Kahindo: “We have also invested in accelerated programmes for top talent and facilitated exchange development programmes for exposure to the wider Absa Group.”

In 2022, a total of 13 of top talent went through the accelerated programme while 19 others had the opportunity of exposure, learning and experience through the exchange development programme.

On technical skills, the bank has invested in specialised professional courses. These learning and development programmes are aimed to create an environment where employees can fulfil their potential and deliver excellence to our customers.

Overall, the bank aligns its employees’ capabilities with their mandates so that they can deliver on our strategic objectives. At the same time, it supports their personal and professional development and growth.

Developing and retaining key talents benefits the business in the long run, as our employees are the main interface with customers. “In so doing, we can entrench our brand purpose of ‘Empowering Africa’s Tomorrow, Together, One Story at a Time’,” says Ms. Kahindo.

Evans Ongwae - [email protected]

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