‘We have to focus more on technology and make our system more robust’

The Chief Executive Officer of Bank of Bhutan (BoB), Pema Namgyel Nadik, took over the helm of the bank in April 2013. He joined BoB as a board director in 2007 and was the deputy CEO (business development) in 2010. He also worked with Drukair for 17 years.

Having had served as the CEO of BoB for two terms with the second term ending on April 29, Pema Namgyel Nadik talks to Business Bhutan’s reporter Dechen Dolkar on his greatest achievements as the CEO of the bank, bank’s customer service, the future of the bank and his personal future plans.

Q.As you leave BoB and look back at your tenure as the CEO, what are some of your greatest contributions to the oldest bank in the country?

A. I didn’t make any significant contribution, but I just happened to be in the right place on the right time when lot of changes happened in BoB during the time. Even in the industries, lots of changes have been happening. I happened to be in BoB during the time when lots of changes were happening. Because of that lot of strides were made. I don’t take any credit for anything particularly.

Q. According to the DHI policy, the tenure of the CEO can be up to two terms based on performances. We heard DHI had offered you again a few more years. Why did you choose to leave and not stay back?

A. Yes. I was offered an extension and I just think that now it is time to bow out. It is time for new ideas, new people and younger people to take over, but not that I am very old. I think it is right time for me to exit and enjoy life. That’s why I choose to move on. I have also personal things to do.

Q. BoB introduced several new initiatives such as mobile banking, cashless banking, cash deposit machines, BoB Connect agent etc. Despite that, one constant criticism against BoB is poor customer service. What do you have to say on this?

A. We will have to define customer service. If you are saying on the reliability issues that we are facing on technology adoption that we have done, yes I do agree but we have to also understand that the whole set of technology is very complex and we are trying our best to make our services more reliable. 

Once in a while things do happen but in technology we can never say. The banking technology is very complex. We are also lot of dependent on the service providers. Lots of the time problem is not so much from our side, it also comes from our partners with efficiency and inefficiency that also drive the performance of technology.

The other reason is lack of resources in the sense that in Bhutan we are facing a lot of attrition. Every day we trained them and loose them – all going to Australia. We are constant churning, but as soon as we have people with experience they leave. The main pool of people leaving the bank would be people with five to seven years of experience and these are the most productive people. This is the major constrain in terms of trained technical people to handle the system. In terms of customer’s services, we have improved a lot. Every year DHI conducts an independent customer satisfaction survey. We have done quite well when we see the feedbacks that people are happy, but they are annoyed with the ATM services.

Q. What are some of the areas that BoB will have to focus on in the years to come if it is to be industry leader in the country?

A. We have to focus more on technology and make our system more robust and be able to adopt. The data we have should used to give very personalized services that would differentiate the bank. Overall, the improvement of reliability on the technology put in place, we should focus on that.

Q. There are rumors that you will be joining Bhutan National Bank Limited since BNBL CEO’s term is coming to an end too. How far is this true?  What are your plans?

A. I have no plans of joining any other financial institutions and no plans of working. Of course I have to earn for a living, so my family has a small business and I will look after it.

Overall I just want to enjoy my life and spend time with my wife and read some books.