5 Questions With David Gledhill of DBS Bank

David Gledhill is Group CIO & Head of Group Technology & Operations at DBS Bank. He is speaking this week at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Cambridge.

How do you define ‘digital strategy’?

It is about being truly digital to the core, from re-architecting your infrastructure to transforming your front end. Coupled with an agile methodology and journey thinking, this will help improve the speed to market and the customer experience. This translates to more digitally-engaged and happier customers.

What kind of mobile device(s) do you have, and what are your three favorite apps?

While I’m armed with the full Apple suite – iPhone 7, watch and iPad – I’m most proud of my “Davepad”! Featuring a 7-inch touchscreen, the tablet is an Android device I built using an ARM Pine64 from Kickstarter and a home-made red and black Lego case.

I often use WhatsApp, TIDAL and Netflix, but one of my favourite apps is one I wrote myself! The app sends reminders based on my location. For example, if I’m at home, it will remind me to pack something extra I need for work the next day. I’m a technologist at heart, and I believe it’s important to keep building things.

What do you think of the emergence of the Chief Digital Officer role?

When it’s done right, it is a real game changer. Some, if not most, companies assign this newly-created responsibility to one person or a single team. This lacks impact and results, because the rest of the employees are not changing the way they think or work.

At DBS, we are doing things a little differently and our CEO is the main driver for our digital push. Everyone has a role to play in this transformation, and we see ourselves as a 22,000 person start-up.

What advice do you have for aspiring digital professionals?

Think big, start small.

First, it’s important to think big, really big. Visualise and understand the ecosystem you’re working in by connecting the dots between them.

The devil is in the details and execution is important as well. Start small, test and learn as you go along. Focus on creating agile teams and building modern architecture, leverage cloud and data technology, and automate processes.

What three publications – in any format – do you read regularly? ​​

The internet is my main source of information these days. I do enjoy reading a copy of The Economist magazine, and use Bloomberg’s app on the go.


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