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39 (134) 2019
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Interview

An attractive package for an attractive market

Header rowena everson ceo standard chartered poland

Rowena Everson, CEO Standard Chartered Poland, talks to Michael Dembinski, the BPCC’s chief advisor about the challenges of finding and keeping top people for the bank’s global business services centre in Warsaw.

Warsaw is an attractive place to locate shared services, many global corporations are doing so; in particular in higher-value added services. Standard Chartered is recruiting quantitive analysts ('quants'), typically with PhDs in maths. How difficult are you finding it to recruit the right talent in the right numbers?

We’re actually recruiting quite a number of different types of highly skilled and specialized roles from cyber security and financial-crime compliance experts to HR project managers and legal contract negotiators and also, yes, treasury quants. The hub we have established here is focused around these high-end roles. In terms of difficulty, so far we’ve been very successful in finding people with the right skills and who fit with the culture of the organisation. We are quite different to the other global banks – we operate a much flatter management operating style and we’re a network-based bank so our employees will be dealing on a daily basis with many colleagues from around our footprint. We have a very diverse culture, but one thing binds all of our employees together and that’s being a people-based culture. I think that differentiation has helped in our early success.

FinTech is shaking up the financial services sector. For many tech graduates, starting up their own FinTech business is often seen as a more attractive prospect than joining a corporate employer…

The Fintech financial revolution has really started to shake up the world of financial product provision – from cards like Revolut to online FX transfer. Standard Chartered Group has been the only global bank so far that has received a virtual bank license from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Hong Kong is our biggest market so we’ve effectively opened a challenger bank to ourselves, but this is just one area where Standard Chartered is innovating within the Fintech space. Another area is the ventures that we’re operating with SC Ventures and our cooperation with fintech start-ups through a global platform called SC Ventures Fintech Bridge that we launched earlier this year. So the opportunity to have a career in Fintech exists inside larger corporations too – and I’m excited to say that Standard Chartered is one of them.

What are the 'unique selling propositions' that Standard Chartered can offer as an employer to prospective candidates in our highly competitive market?

We did a piece of research to help establish which features were most important to our prospective candidates in choosing an employer. This helped us shape our employee value proposition, which includes financial and non-financial elements (like flexible and remote working or comfortable office in an excellent location in Warsaw). We don’t publish the line-by-line details of our salary or benefits package; however, I can say that when we presented the elements of the package to a group of third-party recruitment agencies (including some of the largest recruiters in Warsaw) the response was that this was a very competitive one. It includes such standard elements as private medical care, life insurance, sports card and meal card but also a PPE scheme, which I’m very proud that we were successful in achieving the local financial regulator’s endorsement for.

In terms of development opportunities, what attracts candidates to Standard Chartered is the fact that it’s a new brand on the market that offers them the opportunity to contribute to setting up something from scratch. In Warsaw we are building whole ecosystems within particular specialities – not just isolated functions. We have a couple of highly-specialised senior roles with international or global responsibility performed out of Warsaw, which have attracted some top talent for whom the local or CEE market has become too small. We gave them the opportunity to realise their ambitions without having to relocate and reorganise their lives outside the office.

How does Standard Chartered balance the pay and non-pay elements of its package for its employees in Poland? Does this vary from other countries in which the bank is present?

Each market we operate in varies in terms of the benefits offered to be in line with market standards, but we do aim to offer a consistently competitive, attractive and supportive package in all markets. We also have to take account of any local rules and regulations when it comes to things like provision of medical leave or annual leave, for which we offer a 26-day annual holiday entitlement irrespective of to-date employment history. There are aspects of our health cover that we aim to offer in all markets. These include the employee assistance programme which provides counselling. We also have a unified approach towards supporting our employees in their efforts to support various causes through volunteering. Every employee is entitled to three additional days of paid leave that they can use to do the volunteering work of their choice.

Looking into the future, what steps should Poland be taking now as a country to ensure that in the medium- and long-term future, the labour market will be adequately catered for by young people with the qualifications needed by tomorrow's employers?

Some of the universities are already looking at the commerciality of their academic offerings and aligning these to business opportunities for graduates through a range of actions like specially delivered modules sponsored by corporates, to lecture series and open days or internships. We hope to see more of this.

Apart from making sure that the next generation of employees is well-prepared to enter the labour market, the existing workforce needs to be taken care of in terms of reskilling or upskilling. We live in an age of ever faster change. It’s very likely that in 10-15 years some professions will no longer exist but there will be demand for employees with other or new skills. It’s important to support people in going through this transition.

The benefit that Poland enjoys also from a geographical perspective in terms of being able to open roles to all EU nationals should help in ensuring that these roles – and therefore the wealth created by them remains onshore in Poland, even if that particular area may have lower levels of domestic talent.

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