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Women’s day special: Anita Pai, Chief Operations Officer, YES Bank

The best way to encourage women to take leadership roles is to understand their issues and provide support wherever possible. In mentorship meetings for women, we nudge our upcoming women leaders to leave the comfort zone’ and reach out to maximise their potential

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What is the one career advice that you still abide by?
No matter how successful you are, the need for learning never stops. there’s nothing so powerful as an open, inquiring mind. – Michael Bloomberg. This quote has most resonated with me as a guiding philosophy throughout my career

Do you believe in having a gender balance in your team? If yes, how do you encourage women in your team to take up leadership roles?
Yes, gender balance is absolutely needed, it promotes equality and sets a level playing field for all, this further promotes dynamic team players that have respect and trust for each other. Gender balance also helps to bring in different perspectives that is crucial to success.

The best way to encourage women to take leadership roles is to understand their issues and provide support wherever possible. In mentorship meetings for women, we nudge our upcoming women leaders to leave the comfort zone’ and reach out to maximise their potential. We ensure the women in our organizations exercise the opportunity of discussing these with their mentors to promote future leadership roles.

What’s the next big technology you are excited about?
For our immediate and near-term needs, RPA, Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence and API are very robust techs that are yielding us results; we are currently doing multiple projects around these and looking at major process overhauls to be coming out from these areas. From a future perspective, the Digital Society offers opportunities; open banking technologies and social messaging payment app wallets are some of the game changing technologies that can bridge simplicity to the banking system, we are really excited about these.

Which is the one woman personality you admire the most and why?
Difficult to choose! Different leaders exemplify different characteristics and I have always admired each leader for her particular strength.

How are you leading the digital wave across the organization?
No industry is immune to this and much has been said about digitalization and its dramatic impact on businesses such as Amazon, Netflix, Airbnb etc. It isn’t slowing down any time soon and hence organizations need to prioritize their own digital transformation to keep up, no matter what industry they are in.

My focus has been around having a ‘balanced business and digital strategy’, which will help reflect on the Bank’s ability to invest, manage our risk appetite, keeping market and consumer demand at the centre. It is also important to ‘govern the digital transformation’ with forums and governance structures. Digital is not just a buzz word for us. It starts right at our Business Case Evaluation committee level which includes top executives across functional teams to ensure we integrate all our investment tightly into Digital projects. The businesses receive guidance from the committee and technology projects that have high Digital impact for the bank are fast tracked.

The blend of operations and technology that my role provides me at the Bank, allows me to accelerate digital transformation and speed of execution it brings for internal teams. Driving ‘functional transformation’ in a way to have impact on employee engagement, empower them with data to make decisions and help change the way our vendor partners and customer perceive us, as an organization is another bigger focus for me.

What are the cutting edge technologies you are adopting for the same?Technology has always been the focal point for the Bank, whether being the first to leverage Blockchain, APIs, exploring the depth of AI, ML in digitalizing products, taking a big leap with cloud network, data analytics, RPA to improve processes, we are amongst the lead in smart automation and innovation.

What business outcome you are expecting out of these initiatives?
At YES BANK, we are touching every aspect of business to help assess and respond to opportunities and challenges presented by digitalization, new emerging technologies and to think creatively about how they can use these technologies to improve business performance. Whether the key driver is to improve customer engagement, digitize products, evaluate new business models, improve decision-making, or simply drive operational efficiencies, the objective is to move towards making digital strategies a reality.

Our strength in this digital drive is in our ability to invest smartly in technologies and measuring success by market capture and growth. Digital transformation is a journey, a journey wherein you reach a goal, there will be more in the horizon.

How is the new technology wave impacting your role, does it requires collaboration with the other functional heads?
Technology continues to play an increasingly significant role and is making collaboration inevitable; at the same time enabling a competitive advantage, changing the way teams work with each other and a great proportion of time spent across multiple functions to make decisions in support of strategy. Managing both Operations and Technology, demands me to integrate perspectives and needs of the tech teams and business users.

For us, at YES BANK, embracing technological innovations at a faster pace is critical to improve effectiveness, increase efficiency and enhance insights. Collaboration with other functional heads is key to defining and executing the Bank’s strategy.

How are you leveraging hyper-personalization, for deepening the customer reach and relation?
Currently we have done major hyper-personalization in our CRM and contact center, this is helping us provide a personalized and prioritized support to our clients under their portfolio category with us. Our interest is to start having meaningful conversations with our clients through this, the objective also entails they are making quicker and faster decision of doing business with us. The other aspect (Contact Center) helps elevate the customer experience score and decreases customer issues.

How are you setting up the right skill set to complement the technologies?This is the toughest part to get right. On the technology side, we encourage lateral movement of employees between technologies or applications; we constantly conduct proof of concepts with new technologies or fintechs. This helps more of us to learn new skills as also update ourselves. We also encourage the operations teams to reimagine processes or transform the customer experience – this also helps as they explore new technologies to achieve breakthroughs.


If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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