HSBC Malaysia’s Digital Black Belt builds its future-ready workforce

  • Encourage staff to innovate, apply digital lens to find new opportunities
  • US$40mil investment from 2021-’23 for branches digital upgrade

HSBC's Digital Black Belt Development is part of its continued investments into its Malaysian talent pool.

[Ed: Article updated with explanation on why HSBC has Data Analytics and Data Science as separate courses.]

Every large corporate company knows that digital disruption is real, that reskilling their talent, especially those whose roles are in real danger of being automated away, is the new reality.

Global bank, HSBC is well aware of this and has identified five key technical and design skills that will be key to the future of financial services. From the five skills of, Machine Learning, Cyber Security, Data & Analytics, Software Development, and User Interface and Experience Design, the team in Malaysia, based on local priorities has picked three skills for its upskilling program.

Under its newly established Digital Black Belt Development Programme, HSBC Malaysia, in the belief that this will help its staff embrace the workplace of the future, is offering them the option of choosing from Data Analytics, Data Science, Automation & Machine Learning. 

More tech savvy readers may be wondering why HSBC has seen fit to separate Data Analytics and Data Science, where it is usually assumed that both are the same side of the coin. But not to HSBC

Which feels the skills required for each area differ. It tells DNA that this is being evidenced as employees are going through the courses they picked. 

“For Data Analytics, this equips employees with an understanding about working with data to make effective decisions, harnessing EXCEL skills, familiarising themselves with SQL and Qlik Sense tools and using these to tell compelling stories using data. The aim of this stream is to develop useful insights as a result of having a data driven mindset,” a HSBC spokesperson explains. 

On the other hand, for the learners going through the Data Science stream, this equips employees with data skills that will help create robust predictive models with stats and Python programming capabilities. “This will provide employees with the ability to tackle complex machine learning problems on the job along with the required programming skills. This is especially useful for employees who are already in roles where they are required to do predictive modelling/derive insights,” explains the spokesperson.

HSBC Malaysia’s Digital Black Belt builds its future-ready workforce“New trends and technologies continue to change the way we live and work and adopting a mindset of continuous learning will enable us to be ready for what’s next. We’re investing in the skills and technology we need across our global network to build a sustainable future. Acquiring these competencies will be critical to developing the workforce within the country and facilitating the growth of our people,” said Sugunah Verumandy (pic), Head of HR, HSBC Malaysia.

The programme integrates the global HSBC University training modules and HSBC vendor led programmes, specially crafted to help Malaysia’s workforce develop pertinent skills essential for their growth and development.

Ranging in duration from three months to eight depending on which course is chosen, the pilot batch was nominated though subsequent batches will be on a self-enrolment basis.

According to Sugunah, staff only need to select one course that is most relevant to their role and aspirations. Conducted virtually, they are required to complete all modules within the course in order to get the certification.

“Our Digital Black Belt Programme is focused on encouraging employees to innovate and apply a digital lens to everything that they do while finding new opportunities to shape the future both inside our organisation and in wider society. We believe that this will be fundamental to preparing our people for what comes next while enabling them to deliver a better experience for our customers.”


Taking a flexible approach, the Virtual Instructor Led Training sessions are conducted during office hours and it will be up to the individuals as to when they choose to complete the modules based on their schedules and availability.

Rather than waiting for a year to go by before assessing the value of the program, Sugunah says that the effectiveness is continuously being assessed. “For example, we have made adjustments to the structure of the Data Science and Automation & Machine Learning streams as the cohorts are going through the programme to ensure that we are promptly responding to feedback, rather than only make adjustments after the fact. This feedback will also be incorporated in the structuring of the upcoming cohorts.”

She also leaves open the possibility that other technical or design courses will be added in the future.

The provides employees with education and training that is essential to re-skill the workforce.

HSBC Malaysia sees its Digital Black Belt Programme as a sign of its continued commitment to Malaysia with investments in its business. In 2020, the bank invested more than US$2.37 million (RM10 million) in training opportunities aimed at building the capabilities of employees. In addition to upskilling of local talent to adapt to banking trends of today and the future, other examples that reflect this commitment to the country include:

• HSBC Malaysia’s US$250 million (RM1.05 billion) investment in its new Malaysian headquarters in the financial hub of TRX in Kuala Lumpur.

• Investment of US$40 million from 2021 to 2023 to equip HSBC’s branches with enhanced digital capabilities and new technology. This is in addition to the US$18 million that was invested from 2018 to 2020 and will further enable the bank to develop innovative branch formats and champion new ways of serving our customers in the country while supporting their financial journeys.

[RM1 = US$0.237]

Keyword(s) :
Author Name :
Download Digerati50 2020-2021 PDF

Digerati50 2020-2021

Get and download a digital copy of Digerati50 2020-2021