Tech innovations disrupting traditional classroom environment – FITC CEO, Malize

In this interview with NIKE POPOOLA, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, FITC, Chizor Malize, speaks on the impact of technology and continuous training to organisations’ growth

How relevant is employee training and retraining in making Nigerian companies and their employees globally competitive?

Training helps to acquire new skills while sharpening existing ones. It is central in optimal performance and increased productivity for employees and business owners alike. Our learning solutions include hundreds of courses designed to assist organisations across different sectors to sharpen their skills and is accessible anywhere in the world even as we continue to invest in putting in place a state-of-the-art and efficient learning management system to aid the delivery of a world-class, top-notch learning experience for people and organisations looking to upskill and retool for personal development and improved organisational performance.

Through our FITC advisory portfolio, we equip leaders and organisations with knowledge-based research and insights, developing cutting-edge strategies that convert opportunities into value. We have since expanded our offerings to include technology advisory, service strategy and organisation resilience models. We combined stability and dynamism to build systems and teams that are radically efficient thereby driving increased speed, flexibility, and performance. We also help organisations to re-engineer their processes, products, or programmes, enabling them to become the best that they can be. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to develop potentials and motivate their workforce.

Consequently, we help professionals in the Nigerian financial services and other sectors, to navigate and advance their careers while building on our member firms’ successes through our clear vision, strong corporate values, and our culture of excellence. With over 13 years’ experience in carrying out successful staff promotional examinations across several Ministries, Departments and Agencies, FITC has remained in the forefront of developing and implementing technology-driven staff promotion exercise that complements the performance management system in the public sector. Our insight and policy advocacy portfolio houses our innovative conferences such as the ThinkNovation, cybersecurity conference, the TechNovate FINTECH conference as well as the employee engagement and Experience conference, among others. The portfolio also undertakes various research assignments and promotes knowledge through well-researched publications, surveys and reports, to infer insights for constructive improvements and policy advocacy in the financial and non-financial services sector.

How can adoption of tech help to boost productivity in the financial sector?

Technology and innovation have loads of benefits. It increases productivity and results in new and better goods and services that in turn, improves the overall standard of living of people while positively impacting on the economy. Similarly, in the learning industry, technological innovations are significantly impacting and disrupting the traditional classroom environment. With the renewed global embrace of digital, the rise of automation, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence, technology is fundamentally transforming our world and its social, cultural, and economic structures. As a future focused organisation, we quickly began investing in and expanding our innovative and digital-enabled service offerings.

Beyond technology, we applied the principles of agility across our entire organisation from process innovation, new programme development, customer relationship management, and consumer insight analytics. We responded swiftly to our stakeholders’ learning and knowledge needs, increased our speed of execution with remarkable improvement in our productivity and service delivery leveraging technology and innovative knowledge solutions. For instance, under our re-engineered insight and policy advocacy portfolio, we hosted some of Africa’s largest conferences including ThinkNnovation cybersecurity conference, the Employee Experience and Engagement Conference, and the TechNovate FINTECH conference, using our bespoke virtual conferencing platform called the Convena, a 5,000-attendee capacity platform with fascinating features aimed at giving participants the ultimate virtual conferencing experience. The features include log-in and onboarding, virtual sessions, session screening and live questions and answers, chat rooms, event newsfeeds, contests and marketing, advertising and sponsors booths among other innovative features. The FITC Covena platform has continued to receive glowing reviews from our participants, partners, board members and other critical stakeholders, and has positioned FITC as the leader in virtual conferencing.

In the area of leveraging technology and innovation to improve customer engagement, we launched our live-chat customer engagement feature, “Patrick”. Patrick, equipped with key features such as a geo-IP tracking, unlimited agents, video and voice, file transfer, agent to agent messaging, track engagement, detailed reporting, screen sharing, notifications and lots more, has further helped our organisation improve significantly in the areas of lead generation, client acquisition and retention. It has helped us to quickly identify in real time, some of our customers’ pain points, making it easier to quickly develop and proffer innovative, tailor-made solutions for them. To continue to lead in the areas of technology and innovation, we instituted a dynamic advocacy and incubation team of digital mavens and digital natives known as “The Catalysts” consisting of mostly millennials and Gen Zs. Their role is to drive and coordinate FITC’s digital transformation across culture, technology investments and energised adoptions by casting and setting the objectives, continuously assessing the technology, innovation and other needs of the organisation, identifying the key projects for execution and evaluating ongoing and completed projects.

We understand the importance of cutting-edge enterprise solutions as the foundation to drive innovation and agility in our processes and platforms to make our operations more efficient and so we have invested heavily in pioneering enterprise solutions to further simplify data collection, billing, analysis and reporting to improve decision making. This, we believe, has helped to streamline processes, reduce rework, reduce costs, and improve the overall quality of our operations. The resulting effect on our organisation is evident in the areas of financial management, purchasing, fixed assets management, budget and project management, enterprise intelligence in terms of financial reporting, consolidation, easy dashboard and KPIs review and tracking, sales report, inventory, increased inquiries, real-time sales analysis and many others, all of which has made it easier to deliver excellently to our clients, keeping us ahead in the industry.

What is the significance of sound corporate governance to the boards of Nigerian financial institutions?

The importance of corporate governance cannot be overemphasised. Good corporate governance creates a system of rules and practices that determine how a company operates and how these rules align with the interest of all its stakeholders. Corporate governance leads to ethical business practices, which leads to financial viability. Our mandate and role over the years has been to continuously equip boards and adequately prepare them for the emerging challenges of an increasingly complex global and unpredictable business environment. This we have been able to achieve successfully under our flagship board leadership and executive education programmes where we host and train aspiring and board chairmen and directors, non-executive directors, board members of financial and non-financial institutions, director-generals, presidents, managing partners/chief executive officers, C-suite and senior executives from both public and private sector organizations across industries in Sub-Sahara Africa.

Our board leadership and executive education programmes are targeted at managers, senior leadership and directors. We create a curriculum that defines all the programmes that they should take over time and work collaboratively with institutions helping them strengthen their boards through knowledge, corporate governance structure, and consistent board evaluation to ensure they perform effectively and optimally because the board role is critical for every organisation. These programmes cut across leadership, technology, talent management, risk management, enterprise, cybersecurity, finance and accounting, all of which are very pertinent to their operations. We are able to make more impact leveraging partnerships and collaborations with renowned local and international institutions, regulatory bodies and relevant associations to deliver very robust programmes. This way, we are constantly helping them to identify and maximise their potentials, equipping them to deliver more.

How has the FITC impacted the financial services and other sectors of the economy in the last 40 years of existence?

FITC is a world-class innovation-led knowledge organisation established 40 years ago to provide innovative knowledge solutions and capacity building programmes that develop and strengthens resources for the Nigerian financial services sector. Under the direct supervision of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Nigerian Bankers Committee, we have since remained committed to leading the advancement in knowledge content that is creatively designed to strengthen the Nigerian financial system. For 40 years, FITC has powered the Nigerian Financial service system. I am very honoured for the privilege of leading this great institution into this new transformational phase and I am delighted about what FITC has become. Our 40th anniversary reiterates the milestone we have achieved as we celebrate our organisation’s rich heritage. It is indeed a privilege to lead FITC through today’s digital transformation journey, bringing innovation into all we do. Through visionary leadership, we have recorded great success in our journey, specifically in the past two years. Our success is in our innovative programmes, cutting edge learning platforms, smart processes, dynamic and high-performing people and most importantly, our repositioned and reinvigorated New FITC Brand.

Resting on the shoulders of the transformational leaders before me, FITC has in the past four decades empowered and enabled hundreds of thousands of people and organisations to excel. With our expertise, we help individuals, and their organisations realise the power of their potentials through knowledge solutions that drive superior performance. We work with our stakeholders predominantly in the Nigerian financial services sector to design and implement solutions for capacity development through learning, organisational structure design and business performance strategy development. With these, we continue to transform and impact the financial services sector and the other sectors that we serve.

How do you intend to continue to impact on transformation of the financial sector as the head of the FITC?

No doubt, FITC has continued to demonstrate its commitment to setting standards in the learning industry for sustainable knowledge innovation, adopting innovative solutions to build a future that is both desirable and valuable to all its stakeholders, while making positive contributions to the development of people and organisations, and creating solutions that would contribute to knowledge and advancement of the Nigerian financial service sector, other sectors of the economy and beyond. We will continue to relentlessly bridge the knowledge gap in Nigeria and across Africa, impacting the individuals, organisations, and industry we serve, and transforming the continent with our knowledge solutions, leveraging our local and global partnerships and collaborations.

In the next decade and beyond, the financial services sector will remain very critical to us because we understand how important it is to the economy of every nation, and more so to Nigeria. So, we aim to unswervingly offer our services to ensure that the industry keeps ahead and that the organisations within the sector keep thriving because this would amount to the long-term growth of both the economy and the stability of the nation. (Punch)

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