Article: How this GCC is powering UAE-based Mashreq Bank


How this GCC is powering UAE-based Mashreq Bank

Mohua Sengupta, MD of Mashreq Global Network, unveils the organisation's vision, rapidly expanding across India, Pakistan, and Egypt, with over 2200 employees, while powering banking for the digital era.
How this GCC is powering UAE-based Mashreq Bank

Global Capability Centres (GCCs) have emerged as crucial hubs for innovation and digital excellence. India, as a global GCC powerhouse, has witnessed a surge in infrastructural and technological capabilities and a burgeoning talent pool. Projections for 2030 indicate an impressive growth trajectory, with an estimated 2400 to 2550 GCCs and a market size of US$110 billion, according to EY's report on GCCs in India.

When Mohua Sengupta assumed the role of MD at Mashreq Global Network (MGN), the team numbered less than 100. Today, the GCC operates across three markets: India, Pakistan, and Egypt. "Our GCC stands out as one of the very few in the banking space where every group has a substantial presence, showcasing the effectiveness of our virtual operations," says Mohua.

With over 25 years of diverse experience in the IT, banking, and financial services industry, Mohua leads the wholly-owned subsidiary of Mashreq Bank.  Under her leadership, hiring numbers increased from 800 employees in 2021 to 1800+ in less than two years.

Here are the edited excerpts.

With a background spanning banking, technology, and now a GCC role, what excites you most about your diverse career journey?

From being a business analyst to handling full P&L responsibilities and leading teams in sales, delivery, and solutions, I've worn many hats, in the technology space, despite my academic background in Finance and Economics. Currently, I'm embracing my first GCC role in the Middle East. The constant change in both industry and role has made my journey not just diverse but genuinely fascinating and kept me challenged all along.


What trends do you currently see shaping the banking sector? How are GCCs positioned to enable these shifts?

Traditionally, the banking sector maintained a conservative stance, guarding its technology closely. However, the past decade has ushered in a profound paradigm shift, transforming today's banking industry into one of the most advanced and innovative sectors. This shift is marked by a newfound openness to collaboration, where the adoption of open APIs plays a pivotal role. Recognising the unsustainability of operating in isolation, banks are embracing an ecosystem-based approach, forming partnerships for seamless integration into people's lifestyles through on-demand services. 

The term "digital transformation" has evolved over time. Initially referring to the digitisation of processes, such as the introduction of the first e-banking platforms, it now encompasses emerging technologies like AI, AR, VR, ML, and Blockchain. This broader perspective reflects the industry's commitment to staying at the cutting edge of technological advancement and has completely reshaped the traditional mainframe-centric model. A tangible example of this evolution is our bank, which operates without any mainframe—a concept that would have been hard to imagine a decade ago. 

How has Mashreq evolved, especially in terms of growth and virtual operations? 

The swift transition of the entire Mashreq team to remote work within five days was a remarkable experience for us. Taking on the GCC role during this dynamic period has been particularly exciting. Initially, I viewed the GCC as a backend function, not directly interfacing with customers. However, the timing aligned, and I found myself in a GCC that was experiencing growth. While Mashreq Global Network has been in operation since 2005, it remained relatively small until 2018. In that year, the operations were insourced, leading to a substantial increase in the workforce, and further growth occurred in 2021 and 2022

Today Mashreq is present in India, Pakistan and Egypt employing over 2200 people across these three markets. The expansion into Pakistan marked the first GCC for a bank, and virtually everything, from legal entity setup to team hiring, was accomplished remotely. A similar approach was taken in Egypt, albeit at a slightly slower pace.

The growth in India has been substantial, with every group within the bank having a significant presence in our GCC. We've successfully transitioned even back-end functions, emphasising our focus on becoming a neobank with a strong digital presence. Our GCC stands out as one of the very few in the banking space where every group has a substantial presence, showcasing the effectiveness of our virtual operations.

How has Mashreq’s GCC structure, with unified leadership and a focus on diversity and flexibility, contributed to its success? How have these elements impacted employee engagement, attrition rates, and the overall perception as an employer?

The flexibility we introduced, particularly in terms of working hours and roles, has played a significant role in reducing attrition rates and improving employee perception.

One key aspect of our strategy is the focus on diversity, particularly emphasising women and persons with disabilities (PWD). Our policies have been revised to make the workplace more accommodating for these groups. Initiatives like the "Returning Mothers" program, launched in 2021, have been instrumental in opening up new talent pools and positively impacting the market perception of MGM.  

The unified leadership across different geographies and functions has allowed for horizontal movement within the organisation. 

How do you lead and embed diversity and inclusion efforts at Mashreq India?

At Mashreq India, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are not merely HR initiatives but integral components reflected in the scorecards of every team leader and people manager, from the CEO to the lowest levels of people manager. Our aim is to increase female representation within MGN's workforce to 50% by 2024.  This journey started when our diversity percentage was around 22% in 2020, prompting us to recognise the need for a cultural shift and embed DEI into the fabric of every team's goals.

What metrics or KPIs do you follow to measure progress?

We track a comprehensive set of diversity metrics, with the overall percentage currently at 35% in India. Recognising unique challenges in different groups, we customise targets. Beyond the overall percentage, we have target metrics based on levels. Each manager is accountable for diversity metrics within their teams, making it a collective responsibility. We also assess attrition rates and movement of women within the organisation. While India is at 35%, our Pakistan centre is at 44%, and Egypt leads at 54%. However, we understand that there is still room for improvement, and we are actively working towards creating a more inclusive environment to attract and retain talented women.  

Where do you see Mashreq years down the line? What are your priorities for 2024?

Digital Banking: Increasing emphasis on digital banking – a unique strategy focused on neo banks and with 40% of the bank's employees already housed in MGN, a number growth is not the primary focus us, unlike most GCCs.

Leadership Evolution: Senior roles based in India, Pakistan, and Egypt, driving projects and programmes for a true partnership.

Innovation Drive: Fostering innovation is crucial, aligning senior roles with innovative initiatives to drive meaningful change.

Diversity Priority: Strong focus on diversity as a top priority; aiming to make it a standard part of the MGM group's culture, involving concerted effort from the teams in India, Pakistan and Egypt and the broader Mashreq organisation.

Strategic Future: The future involves a strategic shift towards digital banking, leadership decentralisation, and an unwavering commitment to innovation and diversity.

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Topics: Technology, #LeadingEdge, #CEOseries, #DigitalTransformation

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