Devanandan Batumalai: An Efficient Leader Working Towards Global Growth

Devanandan Batumalai: An Efficient Leader Working Towards Global Growth

Devanandan Batumalai , Managing Director

Devanandan Batumalai

Managing Director

Leadership is a stint that’s built over time, as a leader grows by leading and growing across challenges- mitigating them. We thrive in a disruptive era today, where top leaders need to develop a range of skills as they plan their move in terms of strategizing for business growth, looking for innovation, and at the same time keeping up with sustainability factors and digital trends. Devanandan Batumalai, Managing Director of KBZ Bank (one of the largest privately owned banks in Myanmar that has two core business segments – Consumer Banking and Institutional Banking) is one such doyen who has built upon these while exercising his diverse leadership roles across Asia in the banking, technology, and FMCG industries. Devan's commitment to delivering exceptional service, promoting diversity and inclusion, and ensuring the bank's continued growth and success has had a positive impact on KBZ Bank and the banking industry in Myanmar. Under Devan's leadership, KBZ Bank has become renowned for its extensive network of branches and ATMs, innovative financial products and services, and its digital banking ecosystem. KBZ Bank has also won several prestigious awards for its excellence in various areas, including gender equality and COVID management. Moreover, KBZ Bank was honoured for promoting gender equality and empowering women, as well as its outstanding.

COVID management efforts. Devan's leadership during the pandemic ensured that KBZ Bank remained operational, providing essential services to its customers and communities and the health & safety of its employees. Some that meticulously display the fruit of his leadership are - Economic Dividends for  Gender Equality (EDGE) certification (2018), Best Bank for Women Empowerment Myanmar 2022 by International Finance, Best Gender Equality Index Practices in Banking Sector Myanmar 2021 by World Business Outlook, COVID Management Initiative of the year 2021 - Myanmar by ABF Retail Banking Awards. CEO Insights ASIA engages in an exclusive interview with Devanandan, let’s read through the snippets to get to know more about him.

Could you give a brief account of your professional journey and the milestones you have achieved over the years?

I've held several leadership roles in the banking, technology, and FMCG industries across Asia, since 2009. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work on building learning and talent management frameworks, and the journey has been exciting and fulfilling. However, what truly excites me is the implementation of initiatives in the field of leadership development. This is where my passion lies and I am constantly driven to make a difference in this area.

I joined KBZ Bank in October 2017 and led through positions such as Head of Learning & Talent, Head of Digital Professional Services, Head of Branch Operations & Service Support. In my current role as Managing Director, I oversee Cash Management, Network Logistics and ATM Operations, Marketing Communications, Digital Professional Services- Admin, and HR. I'm proud of the significant milestones we have achieved during my tenure here, and some of the major ones are developing and implementing a Learning & Development and Talent Management Strategy, introducing digital initiatives in learning, including the KBZ YouTube channel and KBZ Digital Learning Academy, introducing a digital and faceto- face assessment centre for leadership roles, a 108 Trainer Programme that enables 18,000+ employees to be trained for new products or services and a selfsustaining mechanism of training that prepares over 350,000 agents & merchants across the country to use digital payments effectively. I was fortunate to have had the support of a responsive and forwardthinking management team and shareholders who placed their trust in me and provided me with the autonomy necessary to make sound decisions for the benefit of the bank. This enabled me to pursue what I believed to be the most effective strategies for achieving our goals and to respond quickly and decisively to the challenges and opportunities that arose in the dynamic financial industry.

Tell us about KBZ Bank’s impact and presence in the banking sector.

Already being one of the major banks in Myanmar, KBZ Bank has established itself as a leading private commercial bank in the region, raising a 40 percent market share in both retail & commercial banking. Our extensive network of branches and ATMs has allowed us to make banking accessible to even the unbanked population, thereby promoting financial inclusion and driving our twin mission to bring 100 percent financial inclusion to Myanmar and become Southeast Asia's leading bank in customer service.

Always maintain humility & learn from everyone, Never stop learning, build strong relationships as It’s essential for growth & development, & finally, Prioritize self-care

In a country where 90 percent of the population has access to mobile phones but only 10 percent have bank accounts, and with a low urbanization rate with only 30 percent of the population residing in urban cities, KBZ Bank has played a crucial role in promoting financial inclusion. Our digital banking ecosystemonline banking platform and KBZPay (mobile wallet platform), has supported the development of the digital economy and empowered individuals & businesses to transact in new, efficient, and safe ways. In addition, KBZ Bank as a responsible corporate citizen is dedicated to promoting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives (implementing green banking practices & reducing carbon footprint), and gender equality. Our ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ policy ensures equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of gender, while aimed at increasing the representation of women in leadership positions within the company.

Tell us about the vital lessons you have inculcated from your previous career experiences. Could you share a few instances reflecting the benefits of deploying those experiences in your current role and operations at the bank?

As a seasoned professional with decades of experience in various industries, I have learned several valuable lessons that have shaped my leadership style and approach to running KBZ Bank. One of the most important lessons I have learned is the importance of customer focus. Throughout my career, I have seen the significant impact that a customer-centric approach can have on an organization's success. At KBZ Bank, we have made it our priority to understand the needs and aspirations of our customers and to design our products and services around their requirements. This has helped us to build strong relationships with our customers and earn their trust, which has in turn driven the growth of our business.

Another key lesson I have learned is the importance of embracing innovation and staying ahead of the curve. In today's rapidly changing business landscape, organizations need to be constantly looking for ways to improve their operations and better serve their customers. At KBZ Bank, we have invested in cuttingedge technology and digital solutions to ensure that we remain at the forefront of the industry. For example, our digital banking ecosystem has enabled us to reach a wider customer base and offer convenient and efficient services to our customers, which has been a key factor in our success.

Finally, I have learned the importance of teamwork and collaboration in achieving organizational goals. By bringing together the best and brightest minds from across the bank, we have been able to drive innovation and continuous improvement in our operations. This has helped us to achieve our mission of promoting financial inclusion and transforming the banking landscape in Myanmar. Overall, these lessons have been invaluable in my role as Managing Director of KBZ Bank, and I believe that they have helped us to achieve our goals and make a positive impact on the lives of our customers.

What are the factors you check before formulating effective corporate growth strategies? Also, describe your leadership style.

Corporate growth, to me, means the results that an organization achieves when its people, who are responsible for these accomplishments, are motivated. Hence, before formulating effective corporate growth strategies, there are three critical factors that I consider- firstly, having the right people in the right positions, second boosting employee morale and engagement, and lastly, promoting adaptability and agility.

To describe my leadership style, I have coined the term TEA (Trust, Empowerment, and Availability). Trust is a fundamental component of my style, where I extend my trust to my team from day one without requiring them to earn it. Empowerment is another crucial element that I believe makes people overachievers, as it encourages them to try new things and explore their potential. Finally, Availability is an essential factor for me, as I believe leaders must be accessible to their stakeholders for regular catchups, and one-on-one meetings, in formal or nonformal ways. In my opinion, if someone struggles to meet with me, it is a reflection that I am not fulfilling my duties as a leader. To delegate tasks effectively, I make an effort to get to know my team members and identify their strengths. And, this has helped me all along.

Tell us about the future destination you are traveling towards.

To describe my future destination, it's all about nurturing and developing young talents, managing large groups of people, and making a positive difference in people's lives. For me, it's about creating an environment where people can grow and reach their full potential, making significant contributions to the world. This is what I am passionate about, and I hope to continue to do in the future, being a catalyst for change.

 Any advice to the upcoming leaders/ entrepreneurs?

I would advise individuals who are stepping into this space to keep in mind the following four key pointsalways maintain humility & learn from everyone, never stop learning, build strong relationships as it’s essential for growth & development, and finally, prioritize self-care. For me, it is what has worked, and I believe it’s the gist of leadership.

Devanandan Batumalai , Managing Director, KBZ Bank

A dynamic and visionary financial industry leader with over two decades of experience, Devanandan is passionate about developing individuals and transforming them into exceptional leaders. As the Managing Director of KBZ Bank, one of Myanmar's leading private banks, Devan has put his leadership skills to use in guiding the bank toward achieving its goals and making a positive impact on the industry.

Quick Facts:

• Hobbies: Playing The Piano, Writing Songs, Working Out In The Gym And Playing Golf.

• Favorite Cuisine: Shan Food (Nga Htamin) And Indian Cuisine

• Favorite Book: 'Leading' By Sir Alex Ferguson

• Favorite Travel Destination: Scotland

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