Anna Sampson occupies one of the most vital positions at Standard Chartered Bank's Northeast Asia operations. Her job? Recruit new blood, and nurture and retain the bank's high-potential employees.
"Our people are our most valuable assets," says Hong Kong-born Sampson, head of resourcing for Standard Chartered Bank in Northeast Asia.
The bank currently employs more than 33,000 people across 56 countries. Its workforce comprises over 80 nationalities, and half of them are women, says Sampson, who was in town last week to kickstart Standard Chartered's 2006 Graduate Associates Program in Taiwan.
Finding the right person for the right job is not as easy as some might think.
According to Sampson, Standard Chartered is not only looking for people with brilliant academic records or a flair for numbers. The group is after talents, not just skills, she continues.
"The candidate may pass the numerical test but flunk our cultural fit test," she says.
"We are looking for people who share our brand values: Courageous, responsive, creative, trustworthy, and international. One either possesses those values or not. If the individual isn't trustworthy or is very local-minded, he or she will find the Standard Chartered Bank culture unwelcoming."
Sampson has been in the talent business for more than 15 years. She spent the last five years at Standard Chartered focusing on talent acquisition and development.
Prior to joining Standard Chartered, Sampson was the head of human resources for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. She had 10 years of human resourcing experience and another eight years in sales prior to joining the bank's human resources team.
Sampson was educated in England and has a university degree in Business Management.
Blessed with three kids, the executive says Standard Chartered's two-year Graduate Associates Program helps the bank expand its talent pool. The bank is looking at recruiting 300 talented people from 29 countries in 2006.
In Taiwan, Sampson's team will be launching resourcing activities at the National Taiwan University and National Chengchi University campuses this week, she says. Interested MBA graduates may download the application form by logging on to www.standardchartered.com/graduates.
The program's goal is to offer graduates a more consistent experience across the bank while offering them access to the unique challenges and development opportunities presented in each location and business or function, Standard Chartered says.
Sampson boasts that graduates enrolled in Standard Chartered's international program rarely leave the development course. Many even stay on, and build their careers within the bank.
"One of our first graduates from the class of 1969 has not left our bank in the last 35 years. (The bank) is really his first and last job," she says. The senior bank official will be retiring soon.
"Can we keep 100 percent of (our graduates)? The answer is 'no,' but whether they stay with us or moved on to other areas, they still have a bright future (in the financial services industry). This project provides them with a platform for success," says Sampson.
The executive however stresses that the bank will do all that it could to retain its best people.
A strengths-based approach lies at the core of the bank's development philosophy, she says. To implement this, Standard Chartered even has "strengths coaches" who conduct in-depth discussions with employees to help them identify their strengths. Senior executives also serve as mentors to new recruits.
Although financial rewards are important, many people choose to stay in or leave a job over non-monetary concerns, says Sampson.
"To keep your best people, you do not (throw money at them)," she says. "You have to understand what motivates them to stay and what motivates them to leave their jobs."
Speaking from experience, Sampson says she can prove that Standard Chartered is a "caring bank."
"I think the bank has really looked after me. I am a working mom, and they really understand my needs," she says. "They want to make sure that I am happy both at work and at home."
Sampson gives a few pointers to those who want a fulfilling and exciting career: Do not be afraid of hard work, be humble, and be willing to learn.
"Have a vision, big ambitions. Stay organized and disciplined. If you start work at 9 a.m., you should work at 9 a.m., not 9:30 a.m. For young people, I think that's quite a challenge," she says.
"Last but not least, a person (with a) superstar (complex) - one who is not a team player - will find it very, very difficult to survive in any business environment these days. You have to enjoy working as a part of a team."