Interview Ana Minic

She fell in love with the world of training and development more than 25 years ago, when she started her studies at the Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Adult Education, and this love continued to grow. She considers herself a banker after more than 15 years of work in this area. She believes in change and human development, and good work-life balance – which, being a mother of three, she constantly strives to achieve.

Ms. Minić, please tell us something about your role at Banca Intesa.

I think that my position as Head of Training and Development in Banca Intesa Beograd covers the most appealing part of the HR function. I always enjoy gratification that the art of developing people brings, no matter if we are talking about trainings for fresh university graduates (participants in our Junior program) or organizing activities for talents in our Higher Management Talent Leadership program, where our most experienced managers show great desire for knowledge and learning regardless of the extensive knowledge that they undoubtedly possess.

When our training and development team look back, there is no important project or initiative in the bank in which we have not been an integral part.

I repeatedly find new reasons to be proud of the employees from our training and development team, which consists of top professionals mostly with banking backgrounds. They have replaced different areas of banking business with new roles in Human Resources and in this area they are progressing every day. They have all become real promoters of the world of trainings and development. All of them are constantly and generously sharing their rich experience with colleagues in seminars and through other educational activities.

People development means continuous exploration of endless human possibilities. What is your opinion?

Frankly speaking, words such as endless human possibilities at first glance sound too utopian.
Behind every development primarily stands clear orientation towards a tangible goal, many attempts that sometimes fail, lots of determination and learning, but in the end the outcome is often something we cannot determine the limits of and it is always very inspiring.

Motivation is what determines the direction of people development, and by that I mean the motivation of employers to develop their employees on the one hand, and the self-motivation of each individual person on the other. It is employees themselves that decide in the final instance which potential they want to develop and to what extent, regardless of what their organization has planned for them.

The essence of a good HR function lies in identifying personal goals of employees and pairing them with the organization’s business objectives.
Being in a position in which you recognize, encourage, support and develop employees is something that can fulfill you in all possible directions.

How important is people development in discovering the best options and in performing better?

People often fail to connect their better results with development straightaway, and sometimes best performers hold on to old habits and skills that “work in the field”. It is necessary to take into account their successes, and also to find the right way to explain to them the importance of their constant development and learning, the absence of which leads to failure in the long run.

However, the situation is improving. There is much greater awareness now that we are living in times of constant change, and employees have started to realize the necessity of constant learning and exploring new ways of getting things done.
All training goals are coming from the combination of our business objectives and individual capacities and aspirations of our employees. We are currently implementing major projects arising from the process of Bank Intesa answers to our clients’ needs and future banking trends and that is naturally connected with people development. Our job is to help our colleagues to adapt to change, develop their performance and find the best possibilities for themselves in our vision of banking in the years to come.

The most important task of a modern HR is to create such organizational culture in which learning becomes a fundamental need and in which every employee can see the benefits for themselves of developing their competencies and skills.
I am proud to say that employees in our Bank are always looking for an extra chair in trainings and that they do not wait for the annual evaluation to seek development opportunities. We are getting different requirements daily for our colleagues’ learning and development.

What is the next step in your people development strategy?

In our Bank we have set up a system that focuses on the different categories of employees and covers various levels. Starting with careful monitoring of onboarding for each new employee or colleague who has changed the type of work they do, through specific Academies for different positions, to the implementation of the three-level talent programs (for fresh graduates in the Junior program, for talents at middle-management positions and for our participants of the International Talent program). We are particularly focused on members of our “Business Intelligence community” who are developing a variety of data analytics and processing tools.

Of course, even when the system is set up on different levels, we constantly perform evaluations of multiple categories, from time to time we conduct research on the usefulness and impact of our programs. Based on the results, we introduce new activities and improve our processes. Also we introduce agile methods of doing business and promote a coaching culture (through group coaching and individual coaching for senior management).

One thing that we are particularly looking forward to is the work on the new talent program for non-managerial positions in which we recognize new future leaders and experts.
Investing in people is building of the future, and this is not just a phrase but a fact. The best companies are those that patiently wait to see the results of investment in people development. They realize that the results of development programs derived from business strategies cannot fail.
I strongly believe that we have set solid foundations for development in any required direction with our constant work to make our Bank the organization which continuously learns and develops.

How you define leadership, and the role of leaders in people development?

In many cases, the concept of leadership is confused with charisma or the manager’s passion for good results. Being a leader is much more than that, a leader is a manager with a flair for innovation, who manages to lead people in the right way, determined to reach the company’s goals, adapting his leadership style to team members’ personal styles, remaining humble and focused on his or her own development and supporting the development of others.

It is key that true leaders are not only interested in being better at what they do and developing themselves – their significant quality is pursuit of development of the people around them. They are people who encourage and make the effort to get to know others deeply. This dislocates their juniors from the comfort zone, and the leaders are present to help them express their best qualities.

This is what I clearly observed in our talent program for middle managers. This program, named the “Treasure Leadership Talent Program”, connected our best managers in middle management positions with their mentors, who came from a higher level of management and had been selected as individuals with a wide range of different leadership qualities. The mentors dedicated their time to their mentees, helping them cope in certain situations, advised them, encouraged them and often challenged them. The outcomes of this program were valuable. Besides getting promoted, our mentees also became empowered, motivated to learn towards clear development goals, and most importantly they established relationships that would last long after the program ended.

What has been your team’s biggest success recently?

In addition to the wide scope of work we all regularly do, working on large projects (such as the adaptation of a new banking model, or the preparation for employment of new banking applications), has made this year particularly demanding.

However, our team has proved to be very innovative, hard-working, and adaptable. Here we have shown our strength, and everybody has done their best and continued with the same motivation and enthusiasm as each new assignment has approached. I believe that we are a case where the well-known Confucius quote applies perfectly – “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

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