My Journey in CIMB Group Islamic Banking

arief basri cimbHello everyone! My name is Ariej Basri and I graduated with a degree in Islamic Banking and Economics. I started my career with CIMB as a Management Trainee in The Complete Banker programme even though I was already an executive in another institution at the time. Hands down, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my career.

In my final department rotations, I decided to join Consumer banking – Group Islamic Banking and I am proud to say that I have been a part of this team for more than 2 years. It was a completely different experience when I was rotating here, purely because of the level of responsibility I was entrusted with and the deep learning curve I was exposed to.

Being here has provided me an in-depth understanding of business in the consumer space. Within a small team, I am exposed to deposits, investment accounts, financings, credit cards, takaful products and many more.

Related: My Journey as a Corporate Finance Intern


Being the youngest project manager

I was entrusted to be the project manager to launch the Term Investment Account-i (TIA-i) within the first few months I was hired. I was under an extreme amount of pressure to deliver but I was reporting directly to the Regional Head of Islamic Consumer Banking, thus I had the proper guidance and help I needed.

I was involved from the development of the product up until the launch of the product. The product was developed based on the Investment Account Policy Document by Bank Negara to develop a new funding tool for CIMB Islamic with capital cost savings compared to a normal Fixed Deposit. This product would give the bank better margins for the same rate it offers to customers.

During product development, we had to convince all our internal stakeholders that the product is risk adverse as the risk is passed to the investors of the fund as any Mudharabah structured product would. Only after having the other stakeholders buy in, we then proceeded to enhance the product, obtain the necessary budget for the approved product, and work on the system enhancements needed. A few months before the launch date, I was also involved in training the sales staff in all 14 regions within Malaysia.

The role allows me to build a wide range of network with other departments in CIMB as project management requires an active engagement with all the stakeholders. I had to treat the development of TIA-i as if BNM was on our backs during the whole process, and this required a good balance between rigidity and dealing with the grey areas of the untested products which may cause tension among the stakeholders.

Not only did we need to constantly maintain a well-balanced approach based on our core behaviors, we also went the extra mile by actively managing and guiding our stakeholders to complete the project within the stipulated timeline. At the T18 Awards night in February 2019, TIA-i was awarded “Best Project” as we achieved RM 3 billion of funds within a year of the launch date. This was a proud moment and a well-deserved recognition for the team for something that we poured our hearts into.

What I have learned so far in project management is that having the human touch is equally crucial, especially when tight deadlines and unfamiliar processes are part of the
puzzle. I am still doing project management and I believe it has benefitted me a great deal.


Concluding Remarks

In short, I feel that learning is a continuous process that requires a vast amount of patience and sheer determination coupled with a can-do attitude. I am still learning to better myself for my career development and personal growth. Life is so much more than what we do in our career and it gives me pleasure to be able to grow both as a CIMB employee and also as a person.

Related: The Bank of the Future? Here’s Why CIMB is a Great Place to Work


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