June 20, 2024

NBK COO highlights emerging trends in digital banking during Tamakan panel discussion

KUWAIT: As part of the ongoing panel discussions of “Tamakan” with the executives of National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), the program hosted Mohammed Al-Kharafi, COO – Head of Group Operations and Information Technology, who shared his extensive experience gained through a long career in the banking sector, and gave them advice on the best ways to develop their career.

This is the third the panel discussion of “Tamakan” program for training Kuwaiti fresh university graduates, organized by Creative Confidence for the fifth year in a row with NBK’s strategic sponsorship. The discussion focused on key insights for a successful career in a dynamic landscape of the banking business, where the ambitious graduates gained insights into career success and the future of information technology in the banking sector.

A unique opportunity

Commencing his discussion with the youth, Al-Kharafi said: “Tamakan” program is a unique opportunity to enhance the skills required to navigate your way into the labor market. Over the past years, the program has achieved many excellent outcomes, so, every participant should make the most of this opportunity, considering it as the starting point for a successful and sustainable career.”

“At NBK, we believe in the importance of supporting the youth, and therefore, we are always keen to attract and develop young national talents. This program has been designed for the youth who are ambitious and passionate about their career, by helping graduates choose their professional and academic path more clearly. Therefore, the program is an opportunity for fresh graduates to develop their knowledge and become an effective workforce,” he added.

Al-Kharafi called on the young people to take advantage of training opportunities, saying, “Make your ambitions sky-high, and strive to develop the necessary capabilities, experiences and skills that help realize these ambitions. Do not lose passion or let frustration creep into you just because of the obstacles you encounter at the beginning of your career. On the contrary, you should rather learn how to overcome these obstacles and learn from them until you reach your goal.”

Mohammed Al-Kharafi (left) during the panel discussion.

Mohammed Al-Kharafi (left) during the panel discussion.

Successful career

Speaking of his early career, Al-Kharafi mentioned: “ My passion and my first choice was to work in the banking sector; because it always propels me to learn, develop, acquire new skills and exposes me to new experiences every day, and stay ahead of the latest technologies, which I utilize to improve and to develop the products and services provided to customers,” he noted.

I joined NBK and started at Branches division, where I worked my way up to become branch manager. Afterwards, I held several positions until I currently reached the position of Head of Group Operations and Information Technology.”

“The transition from working as a branch manager to joining Group Operations& IT was not easy, due to the difference in work nature, but my passion for learning, developing, facing challenges and overcoming obstacles was undoubtedly crucial to my career accomplishment,” he continued. Al-Kharafi highlighted the importance of discipline and adhering to high work ethics, having a continuous learning mindset, and adaptability to the ever-evolving labor market landscape.

He shared real-life tips on navigating the early stages of career, noting that focusing on problem solving and critical thinking are key characteristics of a successful personality, as well as the ability to analyze complex situations and develop creative solutions is essential for success in any job role.

“Curiosity and passion for continuous learning is what we look for in new employees, because this desire is the main driver for building a successful career. New employees have a margin of risk at their early career, as well as the opportunity to benefit from the expertise of team members in each department,” he added. Al-Kharafi called on the trainees to go the extra mile in continuous learning and developing skills, and to try to make the utmost benefit from all the top-notch training programs at the beginning of their career to raise their efficiency and skills with knowledge, which will help them make the right decisions in the future.

Continuous development

Al-Kharafi spoke about the development of banking, especially with technological advancement and mobile banking apps that revolutionized how banking transactions are made, and have grown to account now for the largest share of banking transactions. “NBK led the way in digital transformation, and Group Operations play a fundamental role in achieving NBK Group’s goals by providing top-notch innovative digital banking solutions. We are also constantly working to advance the bank’s digital agenda, as one of the trailblazers of digital innovation in Kuwait and across the entire region,” he explained.

“We are always seeking to embrace innovation and apply it in all of the bank’s operations and business models. We also provide a work environment promoting continuous development and flexibility, which enables us to keep pace with the ever-evolving customer requirements in light of the fast-paced technological advancement in the banking industry,” he added.

Robotics for speed and accuracy

In the discussion, Al-Kharafi highlighted the emerging trends, innovations and intersection of banking and technology as well as the future of IT in banking and new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and leveraging new technologies to advance the bank’s digital agenda. He gave an insight into the important role of RPA in banking operations, highlighting its potentials and impacts, and explaining how RPA improves efficiency, simplifies operations, and propels the industry to higher levels of innovation.

Al-Kharafi discussed how these technologies are transforming the way banks operate, making them more efficient, secure and customer-centric. “With customers increasing reliance on smartphones for their banking transactions via the NBK Mobile Banking App, we continue to focus on robots to automate our operations using AI, which helps reduce service turnaround times while improving accuracy and customer experience,” Al-Kharafi noted.

“Al-Kharafi Confirmed that In line with the instructions and directions of the Central Bank of Kuwait & The Cybersecurity Strategic Frame work , Cybersecurity is the a key pillar of our digital transformation agenda. NBK adopts a proactive cybersecurity strategy to meet the dynamic development of cyber threats, in addition to its endeavors to improve internal operations and create a robust digital culture across the bank, including a comprehensive framework for data governance, privacy and security,

NBK Group Operations & IT organizes a program titled “Innovation Lab”, which serves as provides an incubator to help stimulate employees’ creativity to provide innovative solutions for challenges simulating their work nature in the bank. At the end of the program, the participant with the best idea is named and honored.

Golden tips

Al-Kharafi advised the young people to look for a work environment that provides them with continuous development and helps their progress to the highest positions. He noted that NBK regards supporting the youth as a fundamental part of its strategy, and always seeks to attract national talent and develop and upskill them through a series of training courses and professional academic programs, in preparation for taking on leadership positions in the future.

It is worth mentioning that the goal of “Tamakan” program is to develop the personal skills needed to become compelling candidates, in addition to encouraging the Kuwaiti youth to explore their potentials and unlock their creativity. The program adopts the Blended Learning methodology and focuses on many themes and workshops about creativity and innovation, design thinking, business model design, career exploration and innovative de-risking solutions.

NBK is a key contributor in different social initiatives aligning with Kuwait National Development Plan (KNDP), including youth empowerment and education development, reflecting its belief that the youth are Kuwait’s most valuable resource and the main driver of national development.

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