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TBC Bank’s strategy to be a leading employer, tech forerunner in the region

Investor.ge spoke with TBC Bank’s Director of Human Capital Gvantsa Murghvliani about how fostering employee growth and the bank’s commitment to being a forerunner in tech have gone hand in hand.

TBC Bank has long made a point of making people, both customers and employees, the focal point of its business strategy.

“This approach is not just an empty toast, as the Georgian expression would have it,” TBC’s Director of Human Capital Gvantsa Murghvliani tells Investor.ge: “We’ve 7,000 employees, and as a leading employer across the region, ensuring that our employees are properly taken care of and that they have the ability to grow and further themselves is of critical importance for us.”

Investor.ge: In what ways has TBC sought to foster employee talents and ambitions?

TBC Bank pays close attention to employee aspirations. We’re a large corporation, but our employees can start small and grow into senior positions. I’m an example of this: I started here in 2004 and worked a junior position at a branch. Mine is just one story. The environment here is one that wants to help people grow, reach their maximum potential. The stronger the team, the stronger the organization.

What stands out is our corporate culture. Our employees interact on a horizontal playing field. Employees call upper-level staff by their first names, and everyone is free to voice their opinion.

TBC Bank Head of Human Capital Gvantsa Murghvliani
We have our own internal school where staff can widen their horizons and choose from a variety of topics that interest them: banking, IT, management—the opportunities are there. And for free, at that. We view it as a 50/50 responsibility. If the demand for career growth is there, TBC Bank meets and supports it.

Investor.ge: TBC has made a number of forays into tech with additions such as Vendoo and Space Bank. How has becoming a technology-driven company affected employee policy?

Programmers and IT specialists are in short supply and large demand. We’ve responded to this predicament by seeking to develop talent and capacity both inside and outside the bank as well. We’ve decided to stimulate the growth of the programming industry by creating a separate, outward-facing school—our IT academy, which has already had more than 200 graduates, of whom 80 have begun working for TBC.

We’ve especially sought to encourage women. This year, the IT Academy is starting a new program with a special focus on women in tech to provide them with opportunities to grow and develop professionally. The platform serves to introduce successful female tech professionals, have them share their experiences and stories about their accomplishments and choices. Right now, about 36% of enrollees in our academy are women—a number we are very proud of.

The inclusion of tech specialists on the team has changed TBC as a whole, not just particular departments. Tech is a bit of an industry apart, because specialists have expectations that rather differ from what you might find in a traditional corporate setting—openness, outlets for creativity, freedom of personal expression—and changes meeting these expectations have flowed across the entire organization. When designing our new offices several years back, we acknowledged the need for open spaces where teams can sit together—not just each individual by themselves in a cubicle. We needed spaces where our staff can relax and be creative.

Our new layouts reflect that we strive to be an organization where people are defined not by their title, but by what they bring to the table and their impact.

This freedom is reflected in the company offices’ liberal dress code, and in branches where female employees can paint their nails (something unheard of several years back), and where male employees can wear neat beards (try finding a millennial without one).

Investor.ge: What about Covid-19? How has the pandemic tested the bank’s dedication to its employees during the crisis?

When the pandemic hit, one of the first big announcements we made was that nobody would lose their jobs, and that we would do our best not to lower salaries. We ended up being able to go beyond our promise—nobody lost a single lari. We were able to do this by cutting management bonuses. We supported our staff by providing transportation when it was limited and by providing free PCR testing for our employees. Working from home has worked for us, and we’ll allow our staff to continue doing so half-time even after the pandemic. Ultimately, the crisis showed all businesses where their strengths and weaknesses fall. But one thing we realized is just how ready we are at TBC Bank is to stand by our employees.