New Hires Should Feel Challenged

Ivan Svitek, General Manager of Alfa-Bank Banking Group Council delivered presentation to the SE MBA class as a part of their Strategic Management Block. м

23 May 2019

Ivan Svitek was appointed a general manager of the major Ukrainian commercial bank with international capital two and a half years ago. It was he who was responsible for the merger of Ukrsotsbank and Alfa Bank when 75% of Ukrsotsbank clients were transferred to the Alfa Bank.

Alfa Bank customer base exceeds 70,000 persons and entities. Its net interest margin for the three quarters of 2018 was UAH 671,78 million and its profit was UAH 879,19 million. The National Bank of Ukraine ranked Alfa Bank # 13 for financial firmness.

Mr. Svitek discussed corporate culture management; shred his recruiting experience< and his vision of the Bank strategy which was much shaped by his previous successful experience with different multinational companies.

Mr. Svitek shared his approaches to business strategies development. He said: “Through my career, I’ve seen a lot of strategic sessions but I don’t see them useful. Of course, companies have their aims but most of the strategies I’ve seen have very little to do with real life. Whenever you participate in the strategic session, you have a board with the same Mission, Vision, and Position words on it. The text under those words is more or less the same as well. You should understand what you are doing. I do not need strategic sessions for such understanding.”

Mr. Svitek told the students that he fired 2/3 of the board after he was appointed. He said that he has interviewed more than 1,000 people for the jobs and has always been asking only two questions: “what are your achievements with your previous employers” and “Why are you quitting?” “My experience proves that very few tell the truth when answering the second question, he explains. “Usually people quit because of their bosses. The large scale research showed that remuneration was ranked #4 only. It means that your people are leaving because of you.”

In Mr. Svitek opinion, the only way to retain managers is to make their work exciting. “When you hire a person, they should feel challenged. And you must demonstrate support. New people should know that they can ask you if they have problems,” Mr. Svitek advised.

He also discussed how to implement innovative corporate culture into the notoriously conservative banking environment. “I want my people to be happy on Mondays and to enjoy their work. I don’t want them to be afraid of asking for help with the problems they encounter in their jobs. My doors are always open,” he said.

Mr. Svitek told that tried to talk to as many people as possible during the day, organized corporate picnics, and sometimes called employees only to wish them a happy birthday. “You know, one of my friends told me that he visited the Bank’s branch in Khreschatyk. A young woman gave him excellent service. My assistant found that woman and I gave her a call to thank for what she did,” Mr. Svitek told the class.

Through his career, Mr. Svitek worked for the Citibank and GE Capital Bank in Prague, GE Money Bank in Brazil, Home Credit in Russia, Pepsi Cola International and General Electric. He reported to the top richest people in the world. “I used to believe that profitability is the most important thing in the world. However, there are many other various drivers which are as important as money. If they make a little less nothing changes for them. Therefore, before accepting the post it is better to learn their expectations results-wise,” Mr. Svitek shared his opinion.