DBS' David Gledhill discusses leadership in banking IT

T.C. Seow

David Gledhill
David Gledhill
Managing Director and Head
Group Technology & Operations
DBS Bank

As Head of Group Technology & Operations at DBS, David Gledhill manages over 5,000 staff across the region and is focused on strengthening the DBS Bank's technology and infrastructure platform to drive greater resilience, organizational flexibility and innovation. Executing against DBS' strategy to drive Asian service, insights and innovation, he spearheads several transformation initiatives including customer experience and process innovation. His portfolio also includes responsibility for the group's procurement and real estate initiatives. In our interview with him recently after his being named one of Asia's top information executives in the financial services industry by IDC Financial Insights, he shares his views on what it takes to be a leader in the banking industry.

What are your key business and ICT priorities?
There are three overarching priorities. One is to build world-class robust capability and world-class infrastructure. That remains at the forefront of what we do. We see increased expectations from customers about availability and uptime, especially as we go more mobile and more real-time, and as we see increasing threats from cyber security. so that will remain forefront of what we're trying to achieve.

Two is to build on that, and to build what I've described as nimbleness in the organization. Things in the future are changing rapidly and our ability to respond quickly to customers and to evolving technologies becomes a key enabler of an organization. We do that for many things: we have a process improvement methodology, we have design capabilities, we're building out our agile practices, and we're certainly looking at the future of metrics as it applies to how you measure nimbleness, etc. in the organization. So, being able to change and move quickly through the technology and processes that we deploy is very critical.

And the third, and most interesting thing is what we'd describe as 'go explore'. What I mean is, that the traditional way of banking and the traditional way we apply technology to banking is fundamentally changing. We've done a lot of work on innovation; we've done a lot work on idea sourcing and working with numerous partners to really think about what the future of banking might hold and how we apply this technology.

Could you comment on what particular technology or initiatives you're paying attention to now?
If we go back to the construct of robust, nimble and 'go explore', as the key three areas of investment, then what we do is look to balance our technology portfolio against all those three initiatives. As we define our strategy, we look at portfolio balancing rather than just pushing on the 'explore' or getting our heads down and say we just have to build robustness. So we have a very structured way about thinking about how we balance up our portfolio out.

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