Home Interview Dynamic Corporate Leader: Salekeen Ibrahim

Dynamic Corporate Leader: Salekeen Ibrahim

Salekeen Ibrahim
Executive Vice President & Head of Asset
Eastern Bank PLC

Showcasing Salekeen Ibrahim., the visionary Executive Vice President & Head of Asset at Eastern Bank PLC. With a knack for innovation, Salekeen drives growth and profitability. His strategic leadership propels Eastern Bank to new heights, earning accolades for customer-centric solutions. Join Salekeen on the journey to excellence, where innovation meets integrity at Eastern Bank PLC.

Let’s learn about his journey.

Mr. Salekeen Ibrahim, please share your professional and academic peregrination with our readers!

Academically I am not a person from commerce background which most of the Bankers are. I finished my schooling at Saint Joseph High School and passed HSC from Dhaka College. I have completed my Graduation & Post Graduation in International Relations from Jahangirnagar University. Later on, due to my job requirement, I had to complete MBA and obtain my Advanced Certificate in Business Administration from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Dhaka University. As per my realization, the diversified educational opportunities have enabled me to cultivate an all-encompassing perspective on banking alongside problem-solving skills. Since my childhood I lived in Dhaka all through but during my graduation as Jahangirnagar was a residential university I used to live in Hall. The experience of living a hall life had made me accommodative and raised different characters inside me to build my career as a whole.

I’ve spent over 19 years developing and overseeing Retail & SME banking distribution networks, in addition to portfolio management & product development. Currently I am serving as Head of Assets, Retail & SME Banking at Eastern Bank PLC, which allows me to oversee and earn the main portion of revenue in my division. I am administrating a substantial loan portfolio ensuring suitable asset quality, product management with necessary development, pricing strategy, and most importantly people management. During my career progression over the years I’ve acquired proficiency regarding fields pertaining to business development, team building captivation, budgeting, along with financial management.

Along with my educational and corporate journey, I have participated in a number of training programs and seminars, which include a rigorous professional certification in Small Business Banking from Moody’s analytics which ensures a deep expertise in risk management to certify the achievement of the highest standards of competence in Small Business Banking. In addition, I have contributed my viewpoints and expertise to the financial services and banking sector through publications, events, roundtables, alongside conversations. I am a regular business columnist discussing on diverse business areas in Star Business, The Daily Star, which is recognized as the leading English daily in the country.

I’ve always had a keen interest to contribute to the academic community and helping individuals flourish in their professional endeavors, which has motivated me to participate in many conferences as an instructor, speaker, and panelist.

Can you briefly describe your role and responsibilities as the Head of Assets at Eastern Bank PLC?

As the Head of Asset in Eastern Bank PLC, my duties throughout are quite extensive. I am primarily accountable for pushing EBL’s Retail & SME Banking earning platforms. This entails supervising different surfaces of asset products with management along with sustainable growth. For efficiency of the portfolio, having better quality is an obvious choice which is also incorporated into my duties.

The management of the SME & Retail Product team, portfolio team, as well as division leaders, constitutes my primary obligations. Ensuring guidance, maintaining proper team environment & truthful leadership role reflect in the performance of the team. I, at the same time, am responsible for carrying out the push-pull operation of all asset offerings associated with Retail & SME banking, a responsibility vital to the bank’s prosperity.

I am accountable for establishing appropriate recovery methods for debts within 90 days past due (DPD) in order to preserve the portfolio’s superiority. I am responsible for establishing channel-specific allocations and campaign timelines in order to procure high-quality assets, as well as intently monitoring market conditions and analysing competitors’ strategies.
I am also responsible for process simplifying, development of products, and advertising methods, both within and outside the line. I intend to promote innovative merchandise and value-added offerings to market participants through the development of precise digital marketing operations.

In addition to my day to day activities, I collaborate with governing and affiliate organisations including, among others, Bangladesh Bank (BB), International Finance Corporation (IFC), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and SME Foundation, etc. Organizing distinguish sales offers, handling customer complaints, and answering inquiries are crucial responsibilities in my position.

In a nutshell, to be the Head of Asset at EBL, I am responsible for a wide range of obligations associated with asset management, product improvement and advancement, promotional activities for marketing prospects, and legal compliance with proper adherence, alongside overall portfolio standards in order to contribute to the bank’s advancement and earnings in the Retail & SME banking section.

What strategies have Eastern Bank PLC implemented to navigate the challenges of the financial industry in recent years?

In the most recent years, Eastern Bank PLC has successfully dealt with the complications of the financial sector through a variety of strategic ventures. Among the most important tactics and procedures adopted by EBL are:

Digital Transformation: EBL has adopted electronic financial services to enhance client satisfaction and operational performance. To satisfy the constantly changing requirements of consumers we have implemented a variety of digital offerings, including mobile banking applications, internet-based account management, along with electronic payment solutions. The digital progression of Eastern Bank PLC is an ongoing process.

Innovative Product Offerings: EBL has been diligent in bringing innovative financial merchandise and services, which include solutions targeted to particular client groups, such as SMEs as well as retail clients. These offerings are customised to meet the particular requirements and interests of customers. For an example during Covid period the launching of Stimulus loan and its’ huge disbursement has made the affected entrepreneurs heal their financial sufferings and rise again.

SME and Retail Banking Focus: EBL’s commitment to Retail & SME has enabled them to capitalize on the imminent opportunities of these industries. EBL consider Retail as the face of the bank and due to superior product basket & service excellence of Retail Banking, EBL has been established as one of the top financial brand in the country. They have created customized offerings and assistance for SME business as well as retail consumers, thereby facilitating their entry to financial assistance and resources.

Risk Management: EBL has established a significant focus on risk management and mitigation in light of the shifting regulatory framework alongside market trends. This includes identifying and mitigating credit as well as operational risks aimed at maintaining the bank’s health and viability.

Training and Development: EBL believe in quality human resource. As a result the management has concentrated on the educational and professional growth of its personnel in order to bestow them to possess the abilities and understanding necessary to adjust to shifting market circumstances and offer superior client assistance. EBL have the trust on the winning attitude that we hire, all we need is proper grooming as an expert professional.

Market Research and Analysis: Routine market investigation and assessment allow EBL to remain cognizant of industrial movements, client demands, and competition. This unique data-driven technique enables EBL to make well-informed selections and adjust its approaches accordingly.

Regulatory Compliance: In accordance with transforming regulatory standards is an essential component part of EBL’s plan of action. They collaborate extensively with regulatory organisations to guarantee compliance with all laws and requirements.

Financial Inclusion: EBL is enthusiastic about encouraging financial inclusiveness by reaching uninsured and under-banked communities and increasing opportunities for financial services. As a bank EBL engage eagerly in programs designed to promote financial literacy alongside general inclusion.

Sustainable Finance: EBL’s membership in the Sustainable Finance Committee demonstrates its dedication to ecological and socioeconomic sustainability. They have incorporated concepts of sustainability into their organisational practices and product selections.

Collectively, the above approaches position EBL to confront the hurdles and possibilities that accompany the constantly evolving financial sector. The bank’s success in managing the constantly changing financial scene is largely due to its adaptability, dedication to creativity, and determination to offer customer-centric alternatives.

Mr. Salekeen, Could you share some key achievements or milestones that you’ve personally contributed to during your tenure as the Head of Asset?

Throughout my employment as Head of Asset Limited at EBL, I’ve been given the honor of bringing a number of outstanding achievements and breakthroughs that have led to a substantial effect on the bank’s accomplishments within the asset management industry. Here constitute a number of the noteworthy achievements:

Tripled SME Asset Portfolio: Deeming to be one of the most notable accomplishments. In just under 6 years, we were able to triple the SME asset portfolio, exhibiting an enduring dedication towards assisting small and medium-sized businesses in Bangladesh.

Unveiling uniqueness in Unsecured Loan: In Bangladesh’s SME financial services sector, we launched the first-ever unsecured credit of BDT 20 million. This effort broadened SME’s availability of financial resources, enabling them to investigate growth prospects without substantial security.

Retail Asset Portfolio Growth with lowest NPL in the industry: During this time, the “Retail Asset portfolio” grew by an impressive percentage under my supervision. This progress was accomplished by preserving an exceptionally low Credit Loss (CL) rate, which is an industry-remarkable achievement. The product suit of retail loans are also very lucrative in terms of customer demand.

Recognition in the Banking Industry: EBL was able to achieve many distinction in the financial industry. Under my leadership, EBL Achieved “The Global SME Finance award 2018”- SME Bank of the Year- ASIA from SME Finance Forum in Madrid, Spain. In the distorted year of 2020 EBL was awarded BEST SME BANK- BANGLADESH – 2020 by International Finance Magazine. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) presented us with the “2020 Leading SME Trade Bank” recognition for our exceptional support of small and medium-sized businesses in Bangladesh.

These accomplishments demonstrate our dedication to supplying SMEs and retail consumers with accessible, convenient, as well as innovative financial assistance. It has proved to be a privilege to supervise teams and implement projects that have had a significant influence on the expansion and improvement of businesses in Bangladesh, in addition to demonstrating excellence in financial achievement.

I am especially thankful for the joint contributions of the individuals of my team, my supervisors and the visionary MD & CEO of Eastern Bank, divisional colleagues and cross divisional colleagues whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and these accomplishments are an indication of their devotion and commitment to work in supporting our consumers and being integral to the ongoing prosperity of the bank.

Can you tell us about any innovative financial products or services that Eastern Bank PLC has introduced under your leadership?

Under my leadership, Eastern Bank PLC (EBL) has implemented a number of groundbreaking financial services and merchandise to meet the evolving expectations and requirements of our consumers. Among the noteworthy innovations are:

Unsecured Loans: EBL undertook a leading course of action providing the pioneering BDT 20 million unsecured credit to the Bangladeshi SME banking sector. This unsecured financing option has been pivotal in facilitating SME access to funding without requiring significant collateral, thereby fostering business expansion.

Digital innovation: We have implemented a number of digital solution in our internal process to make the progress of customer journey easier. In line with the Smart Bangladesh concept we will be having number of upcoming solutions in the coming days.

Products Dedicated to SMEs and Retail Customers: EBL has additionally created a variety of financial instruments that are designed to the unique needs of SMEs and retail clients. We are the first local bank to launch life insurance backed personal loan in Bangladesh. The refinance product suit of SME loans are having the lowest interest rate in the market. We are one of the pioneer in Startup financing in the banking arena. Our women specific loan products have a huge customer demand and we are leading the market here as well.

One Card – SME Platform: EBL launched the “One Card” initiative, which is the country’s first SME portal. EBL functions as the Financial Services associate for chosen Small and Medium Business consumers in partnership with the internationally recognised logistics firm DHL Express. This venture facilitates financial services for small and medium-sized enterprises and provides them with an all-encompassing portal for addressing their financial needs.

Economic Inclusion Initiatives: EBL is dedicated to fostering financial inclusion, which includes providing services and merchandise designed to assist unbanked as well as underbanked communities. These efforts intend to increase the accessibility of financial assistance, thereby making banking more accessible. EBL is also involved in KRISHI loan activities and our product suit here is also very much customer friendly. We are also having a number of financial literacy program throughout the country.

These creative financial offerings and assistance demonstrate EBL’s dedication to providing Bangladeshi clients with cutting-edge options. We are committed to adapting to shifting market dynamics, embracing digital transformation, and developing products that meet the diverse requirements of our customers. Our commitment to ingenuity and customer-focused approaches has been a driving force behind our objective to provide assistance to organizations and people in the region.

What measures does Eastern Bank PLC take to maintain strong relationships with its clients and investors?

EBL is following a handy Relationship approach on preserving substantial ties with customers and shareholders. EBL utilizes several tactics to effectively cultivate and cultivate these interactions:

Personalized Customer Service: EBL positions a significant concentration on delivering individualized client support. This consists of offering clients via customer service representatives who are familiar with their specific financial requirements and interests. By providing customised financial services, the bank seeks to foster confidence and mutually beneficial relationships.

Regular Communication: EBL fosters clear and transparent engagement with business partners and customers on a day to day basis. This involves providing occasional reports concerning account operations, investments, as well as market analysis. Communication that is immediate and detailed enables customers to make responsible financial choices.

Accessibility: EBL provides clients with multiple access points to its services. This encompasses physical locations, digital channels, and customer assistance centres. Accessibility is crucial to guaranteeing customers remain in contact with the bank without difficulty.

Financial Counselling Services: The bank offers financial counselling services to its customers, assisting them in making knowledgeable investment and money management decisions. Highly qualified professionals at EBL provide recommendations and direction to assist clients in attaining their monetary targets.

Investor Relations: EBL fosters excellent relationships with shareholders by regularly updating investors on the bank’s financial accomplishments and strategic endeavors. This enables clients to make sound judgements and maintain an interest in the bank’s operations.

Seminars and Workshops: EBL invites prospective investors as well as clients to conferences and training sessions on a variety of financial subjects. These conferences convey customers with prospects to acquire information, pose inquiries, and engage with subject matter experts.

Feedback Mechanisms: EBL proactively solicits client along with investor input in order to comprehend their anxieties and inclinations. This feedback enables EBL to implement the necessary modifications and enhancements to better satisfy the customer’s expectations.

Compliance and Transparency: In the course of operations, EBL positions a strong emphasis on complying with regulations and transparency. Customers and shareholders value the bank’s adherence to recognised industry norms and adherence to morally responsible business practices.

Sustainable Finance Initiatives: Investors and customers who respect ethically and environmentally conscious ventures appreciate EBL’s adherence to sustainable finance along with liable banking practices. The bank is diligently engaged in sustainability campaigns.

Through personalised assistance, clear interactions, prudent financial guidance, and adherence to transparent and ethical financial services, Eastern Bank PLC prioritises establishing and sustaining relationships of trust with its customer base alongside its shareholders. These initiatives facilitate the bank’s vision to effectively assist its clients and investors by fostering an atmosphere of reliance and alliance.

Mr. Salekeen Ibrahim, please say something to the readers!

I wish to convey my appreciation for the chance to provide you with a view of my professional trajectory and perspectives. In contemporary dynamic business environment, flexibility and originality are essential components of accomplishment. Throughout my professional career, I have observed and actively participated in the transformation of the banking sector, especially within the fields of Retail Banking, consumer sales, credit assessment, risk analysis, Portfolio management, Product development & activities related to small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) financing.

As a corporate professional, it is imperative to maintain flexibility, adopt with the change, and seek out chances to advance development and expansion on a consistent basis. Creative thinking and the capacity to embrace innovation have been central to the endeavors in which I have participated, whether promoting groundbreaking financial offerings or pushing environmentally responsible financial procedures.

In a world that is constantly changing, the significance of enduring connections cannot be emphasised enough. Establishing reliability with customers, shareholders, and coworkers is essential to the success of any enterprise. As well as an adherence to fair and transparent corporate practices, personalized service, clear communication and transparency in leadership are essential for cultivating these relationships.

My humble suggestion to the young professionals are to remain inquisitive, to continue acquiring knowledge, and to consistently prioritise the customer’s requirements first in their planning. The financial sector, like numerous other industries, is going to evolve, and our most significant advantage will be our competence to accommodate changes and develop more creative alternatives.
Always keep humble, be empathetic and once you are wrong admit it, if you are right keep silence. In most of the time only thing that hold us back is the mindset and try to be the master of your mind. As long as you believe in yourself there will always be a way. I love the quote of Steve Jobs “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.
I appreciate your invitation and consideration. I anticipate sharing additional information and encounters with you in the near future.

Quick Chat with Salekeen Ibrahim

The most outstanding professional achievement of your life as of now:
I have been working with Eastern Bank PLC for the last 16 years. I have seen and participated in the transformation of this bank directly. Today EBL is one of the top financial brand in the country. Being in this top position was not an easy route to pursue. When I compare these two times of my professional life here I really feel good. The Bank as a whole has grown a lot and I myself has also grown step by step. It is always a lovely feelings.

The greatest philosopher in your view:
There is no doubt that the Prophet Muhammad was the greatest reformer who did a magnificent service to mankind. It is honor enough to say that he guided a whole nation to the light of truth and caused it to incline towards stability and peace and to prefer an ascetic lifestyle. He prevented it from shedding blood and presenting human sacrifices. He opened up for it the way of prosperity and civic living. This is a tremendous achievement, which can only be undertaken by a powerful personality. A super human like this is worthy of respect and honor.

Your Icon:
Steve Jobs, who believed that passion was the driving force behind great achievements. He famously stated, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” He encouraged individuals to identify their true passions and pursue them relentlessly.

Name the most influential books you have read:
Among the influential books, “Zero to one” by Peter Thiel offers valuable insights. If you are a person who fancy economics and world market, this book will change a lot of your perspective. After reading this book, you will question your conventional thoughts about the world.

Your greatest fear:
My greatest fear is not fully realizing my potential and missing out on opportunities to make a positive impact on the world and those around me.

Best piece of advice you’ve received:
Every setback is a setup for your comeback. So don’t stop trying & be somebody nobody thought you could be.

You in only three words:
“ Resilient, Innovative, Compassionate” In just three words, I would describe myself as resilient in the face of challenges, innovative in my approach, and deeply compassionate in my interactions with others. Do make network & friends but make sure to make friends who force you to level up.

Skill Set

Hard Skills:

  • Financial Analysis: Proficiency in analyzing financial data and making data-driven decisions.
  • Risk Management: Expertise in identifying and mitigating risks in the banking and financial sector.
  • Strategic Planning: Ability to develop and implement strategic plans to achieve business objectives.
  • Data Analysis: Skills in data-driven decision-making and leveraging data for insights.
  • Business Development: Experience in expanding and growing business portfolios.
  • Financial Product Development: In-depth knowledge of designing and launching financial products.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Understanding of financial regulations and ensuring compliance.
  • Marketing: Skills in creating effective marketing strategies.

Soft Skills:

  • Leadership: Leading and motivating teams to achieve success.
  • Communication: Effective communication with clients, teams, and stakeholders.
  • Problem Solving: Aptitude for identifying and solving complex issues.
  • Adaptability: Readiness to adapt to a changing business environment.
  • Relationship Building: Building strong relationships with clients and partners.
  • Creativity: Innovative thinking in product development and problem-solving.
  • Time Management: Efficiently managing time and priorities.
  • Resilience: Handling challenges and setbacks with resilience.
  • These skills have been essential in my professional journey and are valuable for future leaders in the financial industry.

Prayer For The Human Civilization

May we find unity in our diversity, strive for peace, and work together to create a more just and sustainable world.

The InCAP: Thank you, Mr. Salekeen Ibrahim! It’s a glittering conversation with you!

Mr. Salekeen Ibrahim: My pleasure! Wish you all the best! Thank you.