Aaka Asad – Making a switch during the pandemic

Changing portfolios due to a restructuring exercise was no easy task, but Bangladesh’s Aaka viewed it as a chance to leave her comfort zone

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Making an internal move on the back of a restructuring exercise may be a daunting endeavour especially during a pandemic, but I saw it as a growth opportunity to broaden my horizons.

I’ve been working under Global Subsidiaries in the client coverage team in Bangladesh since late 2020, where I manage a portfolio of US$4 million covering multinational clients primarily from the China and India corridor.

Prior to that, I was also in client coverage, but in the Non-Borrowing team where I had worked for more than half a decade. Leaving my comfort zone during this volatile period was the biggest challenge I've faced. This transition meant that I had to handle a whole new portfolio, learn new products and policies, and build relationships with a new set of clients. Such relationship-building is not easy during normal times, let alone a pandemic where interactions had to be virtual.

Despite the difficulties, what kept me going was the knowledge that I was not alone in this and that the Bank was behind me. I’m thankful that I receive strong support from the team and that I was equipped with tools for me to succeed. My line manager also mentored me to ensure that I had what I needed and that the handovers were smooth.

I viewed this as a door opening for me. With this experience, I ended gaining exposure to a new portfolio and picked up new skills, helping me build my capabilities to be a better banker. It was a test of my resilience and has given me confidence that I can overcome challenges and thrive.

Standard Chartered has been my first and only employer, having joined the Bank in 2012 as part of the Fast-Track Graduate Management Trainee programme under retail banking. I’ve been in a frontline role throughout my career, which has helped me develop my interpersonal skills, communication skills and given me a platform to learn something new every day.

Quite a number of my peers have since left, so of course I’ve wondered if I should move on. Thoughts would run through my mind: Am I being taxed for my loyalty? Is someone joining with a better package?

But the reason why I’ve stayed on for a decade now is due to several reasons. I appreciate that the Bank recognises my potential and values me by providing me many growth opportunities.
For example, I was part of a female leadership programme back in 2017 to train future leaders of the Bank. I’ve also been selected for the IGNITE coaching programme where I receive mentorship where I’m groomed to be a better banker so that I can progress in my career.

Standard Chartered has indeed shaped my life since I was a fresh graduate and I’m so thankful for what this organisation has given me.

While the Bank has certainly invested in my growth, the greatest advice I’ve received in my career is to invest in myself. I need to constantly develop my skillset as a professional so that I can meaningfully contribute to the team and to the company. If a bank account is empty, it cannot lend money to anyone. One way that I’m trying to increase my knowledge is to read more – be it on politics, economics, or current affairs – so that I can become a more strategic thinker.

One goal I have for myself this year is to learn the art of delegation. As someone who tends to want to take everything on my shoulders, it’s not easy for me to let go and trust others. But for the sake of quality and efficiency, it’s something I have to get used to, otherwise other people won’t get the chance to learn. Being able to trust other people with tasks and working together in a team where we rely on each other is something that I aspire to achieve.