Standard Chartered’s Axess Academy Prepares Banking Staff for the Digital Age

Standard Chartered’s Axess Academy Prepares Banking Staff for the Digital Age

by April 4, 2024

In an era where the digital revolution is reshaping the landscape of the banking industry, Standard Chartered is looking to keep its employees at the forefront of innovation, with the launch of its latest Axess Academy in Malaysia recently.

This move is part of the bank’s broader initiative to champion the upskilling and reskilling of its workforce across Asia, ensuring that banking professionals are better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation.

The Axess Academy, a bespoke and curated technology training centre, is a representation of Standard Chartered‘s commitment to nurturing a culture of continuous learning and innovation among its disparate workforce.

With its presence now expanded to five locations, including India, China, Singapore, and the latest in Malaysia, the academy is positioning itself to train and upskill the bank’s employees with the technical knowledge required to be proficient in open banking.

By Engineers, For Engineers

The programmes offered — encompassing training sessions, hackathons, and technology leadership roundtables — are designed to equip participants with expertise in emerging technologies such as ADO, data science, AI, cloud, cybersecurity, and sustainability.

Gill Rees, Global Head of HR, Transformation, Technology & Operations, Standard Chartered

Gill Rees

Gill Rees, Global Head for HR, Transformation, Technology & Operations at Standard Chartered, elaborates on the academy’s foundational philosophy:

“It’s built by engineers, for engineers. This means you’ve got real experts, who come from industry, from real work, to impart that technology experience but also have that commercial experience.”

She said this approach has proven to be highly effective, with over 30,000 employees benefiting from the academy’s training, demonstrating its relevance and impact on the bank’s operations and client service.

Gill further explains the significance of this educational initiative in today’s banking sector:

“Every organisation on the planet, as the pace of change accelerates, needs to rethink the traditional constructs of jobs. What we’re doing is shifting from jobs to skills[…] It’s about adding to their skill sets, rather than being confined to one job description.”

This perspective underlines the importance of a continuous learning mindset, which can be crucial for navigating the rapid technological advancements impacting the banking industry.

Axess Academy Helps Futureproof Malaysian Banking Talent

The introduction of the Axess Academy in Malaysia is not merely an expansion of Standard Chartered’s educational infrastructure; the programme is a strategic effort to futureproof the local talent pool by providing them with opportunities to upskill and reskill in the face of emerging technologies.

In addition, the academy also serves as a forum for networking with tech networks across different industries, fostering an ecosystem of knowledge exchange and collaborative innovation within the bank. Gill says this aspect has proven pivotal for building a resilient and forward-looking workforce, ideally better equipped to thrive in the region’s increasingly digitally-driven banking environment.

Standard Chartered's Axess Academy Prepares Banking Staff for the Digital Age

Launch of Axess Academy Malaysia

Moreover, the establishment of the Axess Academy in Singapore and now Malaysia highlights Standard Chartered’s role as a digitalised bank that values and invests in talent development. By extending reskilling opportunities not only to its engineers but to all banking professionals, the bank reinforces its commitment to preparing its employees globally for the digital future.

“The training is really closely aligned to what we’re trying to do as a business and serve our clients. So it’s very relevant,”

Gill adds, emphasising the practical impact of the academy’s programmes on the bank’s objectives and customer service excellence.

This initiative is reflective of a global trend where the banking sector increasingly acknowledges the need for a workforce that is agile, proficient in digital skills, and adaptable to the fast-evolving technological landscape.

Axess Academy Hacking Real Problems

Gill comments that the strategic placement of Axess Academy centres across key locations in Asia is a testament to Standard Chartered’s vision of fostering a global network of skilled banking professionals, equipped to meet the demands of the digital age.

The launch of Axess Academy in Malaysia is particularly noteworthy, as it aims to futureproof the talent within a key market for Standard Chartered. By offering a comprehensive suite of upskilling and reskilling opportunities, the academy not only contributes to the personal and professional development of the bank’s employees, but also supports the growth and competitiveness of the local banking sector.

Standard Chartered's Axess Academy Prepares Banking Staff for the Digital Age

The 3-day Accelerate Conference for SC’s engineers to solve real banking problems.

Noting the drive of the Standard Chartered engineering team in Malaysia who benefit from the Axess Academy, Gill pointed out the three-day Accelerate Conference held in Kuala Lumpur that was organised for its engineers to take part in hackathons and solve real-world problems together, “which if solved would greatly benefit our customers.”

Gill underscores the broader implications of this drive:

“Our ambition is to grow skills locally[…] Standard Chartered benefits, but so do Singapore and Malaysia as countries. We see that as part of our skills agenda as well, playing our role in countries as well as in our own business.”

A Differentiated Approach to Workforce Learning

The Axess Academy also shows a differentiated approach to learning and development within the banking sector. Through initiatives like hackathons and tech leadership roundtable discussions, the academy fosters a culture of continuous learning and innovation among its employees.

As Gill notes,

“Engineers like nothing better than solving wicked business problems[…] The rest of the bank is learning from them and from the approach that Axess Academy has taken.”

The academy is not the only way Standard Chartered is helping its employees stay digitally relevant. Gill called out the bank’s Talent Marketplace, an AI-driven digital platform that will match workers’ skills, either to permanent roles, or to shorter-term projects.

Gill says the bank has an internal-first policy, commenting,

“We’re always looking to provide opportunity to our own employees[…] So you could you could take on a gig in addition to your current role, and that might be developing a skill. So you do the training course, then you go and do a gig where you’re putting the training course into practice — upskilling yourself that can lead to [upward] movement within the bank.”

Standard Chartered's Axess Academy Prepares Banking Staff for the Digital Age

SC’s Talent Marketplace, an AI-enabled learning an upskilling platform for Standard Chartered staff.

She also highlighted the bank’s Leadership Quest programme, which is focused on developing future batches of Standard Chartered leaders and developing collaboration skills to meet those demands.

“Collaboration is super important. [Leadership Quest] is again supported by artificial intelligence, and it does gamify the learning and makes it interactive. And the feedback we’ve had [from participants] is very, very positive,”

she noted.

This environment of shared knowledge and collaborative problem-solving is integral, Gill believes, to nurturing a workforce that is not only technically proficient, but can also be resourceful and forward-thinking.

In Malaysia, the launch of the Axess Academy in the country marks another milestone in Standard Chartered’s journey towards localised digital transformation. By investing in the upskilling and reskilling of its workforce, the bank is not only enhancing its operational capacities and client service, but also contributing to the development of a skilled talent pool in the local banking sector.

As Gill summarises,

“We’re not only serving our employees well but playing our role in the local community, helping countries like Malaysia and Singapore in their growth and development.”

This focus on learning and self-development embodies Standard Chartered’s commitment to being a digital-savvy bank that prioritises talent development, innovation, and sustainable growth across its global markets.



Featured image credit: Edited from Standard Chartered