To celebrate Girls in ICT Day, Kina Bank speaks to Lena Korugl and Zeenith Nonggorr, two senior Kina Bank staff leading the way in ICT.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the ICT sector is male dominated. One of the reasons why this day is celebrated is to promote and encourage more girls and young women to consider studying maths, engineering, computing, and science. These are the skills in demand for digital transformation and there is a growing gap between the digital skills needed by employers.

At Kina Bank both Lena and Zeenith are a reflection of this talent base.  Lena was the first female Computer Science graduate in the country and Zeenith a recipient of the Vice Chancellor Academic Excellence Award in 2004.

Both are Senior Project Managers at Kina Bank, having a unique skills set combining business and ICT.

Zeenith: Did you receive the Vice Chancellor Academic Excellence Award while studying Computer Science at UPNG?

Yes, while at UPNG, I was one of the recipients of this award.

I chose Computer Science because I was interested in working with computers in the future but I didn’t know exactly what area in ICT. By the second year, the area of IT I was most interested in was working closely with people and how ICT can add value to the way they work.  An example of how ICT can add value to the way people work is in process improvement. The payment of the Esi Loan loans process was too lengthy to meet our 24-hour processing time value proposition. I worked with the team to understand the way the process currently worked and the preferred future state. I then took the requirements to ICT team and had changes made to accommodate for the future state. Today the Esi Loans team is able to pay out approved Esi Loans processes within the 24 hour time frame.

Lena: What was it like knowing you were the first to female graduate from the University of Technology?

When I graduated with my degree, it did not cross my mind at all that I was the first female. I was just glad to get a degree in a new field that would give me an edge in finding employment in PNG.  Now, when I look back I am pleased with the decision I made in taking Computer Science as it has opened doors of opportunities for me throughout my professional career.

Tell us about yourselves, your accomplishments and your professional background.

Zeenith: In November it will be my ninth year with Kina Bank.  I’ve grown with the bank and seen the changes from the early days.  I initially started within the IT Department as a Business Analyst and have worked on different IT Projects including implementing a Finance and HR system, and an integrated workflow and document management system.  The IT team back then was very small, fewer than 10 people.  This allowed and empowered the team to be multi-skilled and develop a strong foundation on our ICT Management capabilities.  It was easy to see the alignment of Business with IT Strategy.

The biggest accomplishment for me, was being the Project Manager for the IT fit-out of Kina Bank’s Vision City Branch.  As this was Kina Bank’s first official branch and it meant a lot to everyone involved, as it solidified the change from Kina Securities to Kina Bank.  It was a privilege to be part of Kina Bank’s history which makes it very memorable – something I will always have with me.

Lena: It has been 22 years since I graduated I have been working in the ICT field for over 21 years. Yes, I know it sounds so ancient! The journey has not been easy, especially as a female contesting with male counterparts in roles usually only taken up by men.  I started from fixing computers as a graduate to Managing an IT Department in a large organisation.

I have worked in various industries, in different roles that have been very challenging and whilst I have a technical background in my qualification, I have always pursued learning the skills of the business in every role I have worked in.  This has helped build my professional career as a technical expert with sound knowledge around businesses and corporations.  This was a stepping stone for me as I pursued and acquired an MBA.

How does your background in IT give you an advantage when working on leading transformation projects within Kina Bank?

Lena: As an expert in the ICT field it is a great opportunity to use my expertise here at Kina Bank. We are going through a major transformation at the moment after we announced the acquisition of ANZ’s Retail, SME and Commercial businesses back in June last year. Automation is key in achieving efficiency and at Kina Bank we have the opportunity to automate processes and deliver digital products and services to our customers that can set us apart from other banks.  This can be achieved by harnessing and leveraging the technology infrastructure and systems that we have at Kina Bank or by using any emerging technology solutions. These will give Kina Bank an advantage in delivering secure digital services and products to customers, locally and internationally, with confidence.  I find this is an opportune time for me to step up and lead the technological transformations and change happening here at Kina Bank and be a part of a larger team that can work together to ensure a smooth transition for ANZ customers and staff during this integration program and beyond.

Zeenith: There are two key aspects that provide the advantage.

ICT in general is a driver for change and I recognize that ICT skilled employees are well placed in roles to contribute – despite gender.  Having analytical skills, it’s a continuous search to look for better efficiencies and better ways to manage risk for the bank. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to grow with different stages of the business, being part of knowledge transfer, interactions with different people, experts and coaches.  This comes with my roles as a Business Analyst and now as a Senior Project Manager. From experience, my business analyst skills gives me the end-to-end view of different Integration projects which is the key advantage.

Being part of the journey for nine years, Kina Bank has given me endless opportunities to develop and grow. I understand the history and culture of the organisation. This provides me with a sense of pride and loyalty, a sense of ownership. I have a personal ambition in seeing transformation within the bank: this I believe is my advantage.