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‘The more you can brand yourself, the better you will be at communication’

For the past few decades, Mutual Trust Bank (MTB) has been able to establish itself as a reputed bank that caters the need for both the corporates and common people. As part of a group, it has three other subsidiaries—MTB Securities Ltd, MTB Capital Ltd, ad MTB UP Exchange Ltd. Azam Khan has been working as a Group Chief Communication Officer (GCCO).

During this trying time of COVID-19, Fintech had an online view exchange with Azam Khan. Here is an excerpt of that conversation.

You are a banker and you have to attend office on a regular basis amidst this tough situation. What sort of cautionary measures have you taken?

In our bank, we were told on March 22 that we would need to work from home. The government declared general holiday from March 26. But you know that banking is such a service which can be stopped. It’s a 24/7 service and like other banks across the world, we have been providing service through our touch points. We have ATM booths, digital banking solutions and internet banking through which we can provide our services from remote points. Also, those of us who are working in communications are having extra load in these times. We are working on files works with the management, with the boards and carrying on our communications with the clients through the social media platforms. Besides we needed to come up with some innovative works to keep our clients satisfied.

So, I can say that through work from home, we were able to provide 24/7 service to our clients. We faced a lot of challenges as our works were not confined within the traditional boundary of a 9am-6pm work. We practically needed to work for a longer hours. I honestly believe that we were being able to make our clients feel that they were having a face-to-face banking service.

The need for digital communication becomes very evident during this time of COVID-19. How you are evaluating this need?

First of all, I have to say that we were never ready for a situation like coronavirus outbreak. We couldn’t imagine that we need to be forced to stay in lockdown for such a prolonged period. But when that happened, the need for remote working or digital working became evident. Good thing is, almost all of the private banks of the country equipped themselves digitally in the last one decade. We, the bankers have also been trying to educate the clients to get used to with digital banking.

I can tell about my bank. We have internet banking or i-banking solution and we have registered our client base there. From day one, we are providing digital services to our clients. So the lockdown hasn’t hampered our works at all rather it facilitate to work on our i-banking solution to its full potential.

How do you think we can increase the effectiveness of our online client meeting?

You have to understand that conducting online meeting is still a relatively new thing to us. But good thing is, we got accustomed with it in a very short time. There are some limitations of online meeting, especially it gets challenging when a number of people trying to speak at a time. Then it creates noise and the communication gets muffled. Imagine a real meeting room, if more than one people talks there at a time, we can still make sense out of it but that barely happens in an online space.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t develop efficiency in online meeting. We can still formulate customized communication policy like raising hand before starting a speech, waiting for turn to speak or developing a gesture standard for inserting opinions in the middle of speech of others. I believe we will get used to with it as the time passes.

Digital communications and Digital marketing are two separate terms but they are intricately related with each other. What are the important factors that a seasoned communication professional needs to know about digital marketing and communications?

You spotted it right that digital marketing digital communications are related. A campaign that is designed for a particular digital marketing is done with a lot of parameters in mind. These include forming the target group of that product, estimating its duration and chalking out its benefits. These are all done by the marketing team. So when a marketing team does all these to us, they practically become an integral part of our overall plan.

There are some phases of a particular communication plan such as when to initiate a campaign, when to do the follow up and when to place a reminder call. That’s why the marketing and communication team of a particular organization needs to have close tie between them.

Journalism is a part of mass communication and this whole communication sector imparts a lot of challenges. As a communication professional, how do you suggest to the challenges of journalism?

When I started my career decades ago, journalism was mainly print media oriented. There was only one electronic media which is Bangladesh Television. But times have changed now and we now have plethora of communication platforms including private television channels, internet television channels and online media. This advent of new medium has made journalism a dynamic profession. Now a journalist doesn’t need to wait for the next morning or prime time to see his/her output. Internet and social media has made his/her output immediate. This obviously begets a lot of challenge but I believe this has actually worked for the benefits of the communication sector as a whole. People now get the chance of exploring different and diversified communication channels.

If someone wants to build a career in communication sector, what necessary skill should s/he have?

The first rule of communication is to look it as a platform which doesn’t have a regular 9am-6pm hours. It’s 24/7 job. If you take it as a regular job , then you will not be able to enjoy the work. You have to have the mentality of working late hours. You have to work from home because the need for communication might arise when you are at home, say at 11 pm. You also have to build networking skill and skill of multitasking. The more you can brand yourself, the better you will be at communication.

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