The Bank of Kigali (BK), has launched its own academy that will enable the institution to build a skilled workforce that will not only have top banking skills but also enable the bank to live to its slogan of financially transforming lives.
BK is Rwanda’s leading commercial bank, by assets, but has been recruiting graduate staff who have either had prior banking skills from other banks or who are offered orientation skills to serve in various departments- in Core Banking and its 3 subsidiary companies namely BK General Insurance, BK TecHouse and BK Capital.
At the launch event of the Academy located in the Kigali Special Economic Zone (BK Branch), the bank officials said the institution will be tasked with building a workforce that is well trained and knowledgeable, in the skills needed to occupy different roles in the Bank at entry level.
“The BK Academy will also create a pool of versatile talents able to fit in available roles in the Bank at entry level with capability to adapt, to contribute and grow within the Bank,” said Diane Karusisi the Bank of Kigali Chief Executive Officer.
Through the academy, 26 selected fresh university graduates (out of 300 applicants) from the Diaspora and in Rwanda, will be offered a three months intensive training before being selected for various jobs at the Bank of Kigali.
The academy with an annual recruitment and training programme becomes the first of its kind in the country to be owned by a Rwandan commercial bank.
Besides the College of Business at the University of Rwanda which trains bankers-to-be manpower, most of the foreign and multinational banks operating in Rwanda have their own academies outside the country or acquire seasonal training with the Rwanda Bankers Association (RBA).
The recruited students come from different education (career course) backgrounds and according to Dr. Karusisi, these selected ones are young and innovative- which is an opportunity to equip them with specialized skills to work or get directly employed by BK Group and its subsidiaries.
“We want to train them in many areas of bank operations, including bank regulations, BK system of operation and corporate banking culture and then they will be specifically trained for our bank and then placed in different departments of the bank,” Karusisi said.
Karusisi explained that the new move to train young, vibrant and staff vast fields of knowledge is to use their creative and fresh ideas picked from inside and outside the country to provide better services especially in the retail, agriculture and tech products that BK has set its eyes on in the next five years.
The first cohort has 26 students but the bank plans to have an annual intake of at least 30 students in the next years.
The fully equipped academy, with labs, will not only focus on training young potential BK employees but also provide continuous skills upgrading for the already recruited BK staff in the country.
Students Speak Out
Divine Ineza, a fresh graduate from Africa Leadership University (ALU) said that the entry level training will equip her with knowledge beyond her degree in global challenges.
“I never had any skills in banking but the academy will open me up to learn skills I have never known before and integrate this with my experience to excel in providing services at BK,” Ineza said.
Their trainer, Orji Udemezue, CEO Flame Academy and Consulting said that his job will be to ensure students learn how to properly manage risk for the bank. “You are the life of the bank and that means managing its risks,” he said.
Inspiration from the Best
The bank hopes that at some point the new recruits who excel at what they do will replace the current BK staff in the years to come, but to do that they have to inculcate the BK corporate banking culture and ways of banking, in order for them to climb up the ladder.
To ensure this happens smoothly, some of the BK staff who joined the bank at entry level and served as Counter Tellers for a few months, shared their experience of how they made it to the high ranks at BK.
Barnabas Kalenzi, now Head of BK Business Intelligence, said that he worked with many local and continental banks but moved to BK because it was a Rwandan bank with a vision that he wanted to be part of in building, especially serving under hard circumstances out of the guide book just to show difference in services.
“At some point I realized that it’s us who have to create the current corporate banking structure which is Rwanda. Today we are focusing on Business Intelligence as a tool to be competitive but this will need young innovative minds to carry on and find solutions that are applicable in tough situations,” Kalenzi said.
Francine Umulisa, a senior Culture Manager who has served 14 years at BK, said she had no experience in banking but loved the way they dress but on joining she was enrolled in a school of excellence under tough training.
“The four month tough training made me unhappy but transformed me into a resilient person, striving for excellence, looking forward and making an impact,” Umulisa said.
China Fauzia, the Head of Credit Risk said she learnt it the hard way as an employee of a pan-African bank but because she had innovative ideas and focused on beating each challenge, this mindset has taken her far.
Darius Mukunzi, Head of SME also called on the youth to work with a focus on becoming winners. “All three staff who served under my depart are now bank managers elsewhere because we worked closely with persons who are knowledgeable
Others- Alice Muhongerwa, the BK Manager Card Sales, and Herbert Rwego, the Manager in Risk Department, also shared their experiences and wished one day to see a new generation of BK staff stepping in their footsteps.