Polaris Bank: Entrenching a Culture of Continuous Learning

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Polaris GMD's Photo

Ademola Babalola, Ibadan

The glint of ecstasy in their eyes, laughter, happiness, joy, backslapping and posing for individual and group ‘selfies’ were in open display on the cool and breezy morning in the premises of the business school tucked in the serene Jericho neighborhood of the ancient city of Ibadan.

All the 61 freshly-baked bankers, gaily dressed in matching black suit, contrasted with immaculate white shirts/top wear matched with ties and pashmina littered the premises of the fully residential business school. These, indeed, were ‘the chosen few’ who just came out of the human capital production line of the Polaris Business School.

This was the atmosphere last Friday in Ibadan when Polaris Business School graduated its fresh set of management trainees who underwent a grueling nine weeks intensive training. The Bank which places premium on human capital management, had recently advertised via several media to the general public, her intention to strengthen its workforce via the management trainee programme.

The deluge of applications according to information from the human capital management far above 20,000 were filtered through a Computer Based Test (CBT), an Aptitude model handled by an external consultant to engender transparency. The 100 candidates who were declared successful were further pruned to 70 after post CBT interview sessions. In the end, 61 out of the 70 that got into the nine weeks intensive Graduate Training, were adjudged good enough to work in Polaris Bank.

The new hands; youthful, vibrant and energetic Nigerians from diverse academic background and disciplines were tutored for nine week, the Bank’s Business School, Polaris Business School enjoys the full accreditation of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) as a banking/finance, business and continuous human capital training academy.

The fully residential Business School referred to as one of the best in Nigeria’s banking industry runs two campuses in Ilupeju, Lagos and Eleyele, Ibadan both with state-of-the-art facilities and conducive learning environment running professional programs not limited to; Polaris Graduate Intensive Program (PGIT). They also offer: Onboarding Program for Experienced Hires; Banking Operations Course; Sales, Marketing and Relationship Management Course; BDM/BSM Leadership Course; Polaris Credit Academy; Executive Education; Specialized Programs (Specific to Job functions) and Open Enrollment Programs (External). The school has graduated over 1,294 Graduates from 37 streams of its flagship Polaris Graduate Intensive Training (PGIT) program since its inception in 2006.

The objective of the business school is to familiarize participants with Polaris Bank; give a firm background to the culture and expectations of the Bank from its staff; equip participants with the knowledge, skills and information needed to deliver excellent service to the Bank’s customers as well as provide a conducive environment for knowledge transfer, which positively impacts and improves the service delivery of participants.

The recently graduated recruits, all numbering 61 attested to the state-of-the-art facilities and conducive learning environment which the training afforded them.

While sharing their experiences at the intensive 9 weeks training at the business school, the two best graduating students made glowing submissions about the school and its faculty.

Chinonso Nwakaudu, a graduate of Pure and Industrial Chemistry from University of Nigeria, Nsukka and best student of stream 43 admitted that although the training was intensive, it was worth the rigours considering that she did not have a background in banking and finance.

According to Chinonso, “I can now boldly say that I know the rudiments of banking. The facilitators actually made it easy. They came down to our level since we had people from different backgrounds in the programme.”
“In the next ten years I see myself in a position of influence in the bank,” She declared
On the other hand, Sandra Onachukwu, a graduate of English and Literature from the University of Benin, who came tops in stream 44 found the nine weeks intensive training both interesting and challenging. In spite of the fact that they had to rise up early and close late, they still had to maintain a balanced life.

According to Sandra, “I met a lot of people here—with different characters and different attributes. This has taught me the spirit of tolerance, resilience and how to manage people altogether. Also, the academic aspect was not left out, as we learnt a lot—ranging from accounting to risk management to operations. For me, it was been a total experience.”

“In the next ten years, I should have grown on the job,” she affirmed.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the new bankers, the Group Managing Director, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru who exhibited infectious humility and camaraderie with the new staff, expressed optimism that the bank would transform into one of the best five in the industry within the next five years.

Mr. Abiru praised the regulatory authorities for their support to the Bank so far and reminded the grandaunts that Polaris Bank offers them a bold new beginning in their careers. He premised his resolve on the bank’s commitment to continued implementation of sound corporate governance and risk management practices which will aid the bank’s transformation into a full-fledged retail and commercial bank with strong digital play.

He added that the Polaris bank boasted of a strong market share going by several transformative business initiatives and remained one of the most liquid and most capitalized banks in Nigeria.
“We are a systemically important bank and we also currently rank number nine in the banking industry, so our emphasis will be on all the improvements we have achieved in terms of corporate governance which has laid a very strong foundation for us.

“What we see in the future is a bank that in the next three to five years is one of the first in Nigeria; a fully-fledged retail bank which is digitally enabled. So our stakeholders will enjoy values different from what obtained in the past.”

He also tasked the graduating students on commitment to service, problem solving, economic development of the country and on the need to place premium on ethics and corporate governance.

“We are building the foundation of our financial institution and the bedrock has to be training. We must let them know the values they should stand for and the kind of understanding that they must bring to bear when they are coming into the real world which is about inculcating our values in the new set of staff members,” the GMD added.

Speaking on the recruitment exercise, the Group Head, Human Capital Management of the bank, Taiwo Olupeka, disclosed that Polaris Bank remains an employer of choice “and as a responsible corporate citizen, we are poised to create fair opportunities for young Nigerians to attain their career aspirations in one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions. This step, he added “also enables us address in some measure, the menace of youth unemployment in Nigeria”.