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UnionDigital CEO Arvie de Vera on Must-have traits of next-gen CEOs

What’s it like to be the next-generation leaders in a highly digital world? For UnionDigital CEO and Co-Founder Arvie De Vera, they must possess six key traits to be able to have an edge and lead their organizations effectively. This was the main topic of De Vera during a recent event of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).

First is to have a higher purpose, where De Vera mentioned the Bank’s “Tech-Up Pilipinas” advocacy as an example. “Our purpose is to enable corporates, institutions, SMEs, communities, and individuals– whether through blockchain technology such as our rural bank network i2i; open application programming interface or APIs; and other means that enable connectivity. We want to digitize and ‘tech-up’ these customers and partners within the ecosystems we serve, so that we can have a more financially inclusive Philippines,” explained De Vera.

Equally important is being a visionary. The CEO says, “It takes a visionary to navigate a ship. One quote that always comes to mind is that of UnionBank Vice-chairman Tito Ortiz: ‘The future does not come from the present, rather the present comes from the future.’” De Vera adds, “you need to have a map to where you are going, what the future will be, and work backwards to determine what to do now in order to get there.”

The next-gen CEO must be collaborative. When UnionBank embarked on its digital transformation journey, management knew that the quest can’t be done in isolation thus, the Bank openly collaborated with fintechs. It adopted an open API approach and made its APIs available to everyone through The Developer Portal.

Openness is also a key trait. This includes candor to learning new things, unlearning, and learning anew. De Vera reiterated that this openness to new knowledge must start at the very top, as this is foremost in ensuring that the whole organization is on the same page.

The next-gen CEOs must also be disruptors, even within their own organization as needed. “Digitize or die, this was made clear to us by one of the top global consulting firms the Bank hired,” noted De Vera. “We also knew then that blockchain was gaining traction and that it would be a disruptive technology for financial services. Lest we be left behind, we decided to experiment, rolled up our sleeves, and built on top of the technology ourselves,” added De Vera.

And finally, they must always uphold good governance. De Vera emphasized that UnionBank has been able to push the bounds of innovation precisely because of good governance, not in spite of it. Being in a highly regulated industry, the Bank needed to ensure that the appropriate governance and risk measures were in place.

“This means that our governance, risk, and compliance teams also had to learn to appropriately deal with cryptocurrency, blockchain, eKYC and open finance – with some of these new ways even turning out to be more secure, traceable, and reliable than existing technologies or processes,” De Vera said.

“As such, all our innovations, experimentation, fintech, open banking, and more are done with close collaboration, supervision, and final approval of our regulator, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). The trust is established through collaboration. We also ensure that our work is aligned and contributes to the regulator’s digital transformation objectives and roadmap,” concluded De Vera.

Written by dotdailydose


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