Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Banking on human resources

Banking on human resources

So Phonnary, the board director for the Acleda Institute of Business, talks to the Post from her office in Phnom Penh yesterday.
So Phonnary, the board director for the Acleda Institute of Business, talks to the Post from her office in Phnom Penh yesterday. Heng Chivoan

Banking on human resources

Acleda Bank, Cambodia’s largest bank, is morphing its existing training centre into a full-fledged educational institution, after obtaining a licence last month. The new institute will look to provide bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration, with majors in finance and banking. The Post’s Sorn Sarath sat down with So Phonnary, president and group managing director at Acleda, to discuss the intentions behind the new institute and the quality of education and human resources available in Cambodia.

Why is Acleda Bank investing in establishing an educational institution?

The Acleda Institute of Business (AIB) is actually a transformation of the existing Acleda Training Center (ATC). In 2012, we launched ATC to train our internal human resources, but at the same time we also provided training to those from outside, with participants from all kinds of financial institutions and organisations. As of 2015, we had 186 courses with around 5,000 trainees.

We want to stop the impression that studying in Cambodia is of a low quality. We don’t want to hear that anymore. If our ancestors could build Angkor Wat, why can’t we provide quality education? This is why we want to develop this sector.

So, based on the success of ATC we want to develop the education sector, apart from only the banking and financial sector. Cambodia is currently lacking quality human resources in this sector as well, so we wanted to build on our success. We will provide master’s degrees, after we do well with our bachelor’s degrees.

How much has the bank invested in the new institution?

We bought seven hectares of land in Phnom Penh, with the total investment being around $37 million, including construction and the land. The facilities include two, five-storey buildings, a library and a dormitory for students. We will break ground this May and will complete construction by the end of 2018.

What kind of skills are you looking to provide at AIB?

We only focus on business-related subjects because we want to develop human resources to meet the job demands in ASEAN. We will not only focus on training them for the local market, but we want them to be able to work in Singapore, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. The basic of subjects that will be taught are English, for which we will cooperate with other educational institutions in ASEAN. Currently, we see that quality business education is lacking and we want to fill that gap.
So far, we facilitate our employees for e-learning programs in Germany, and also send some of them to study at Harvard and Frankfurt University.

Does this also help with diversifying your investments?

That is true. It is also a part of our business expansion and will contribute to creating local jobs for the next generation. It will also push economic growth because this investment will involve payment of taxes, which will go toward the national revenue. On the other hand, Acleda is a big bank, so it is good for us to have our own school and we hope we will be successful in this as well.

Acleda has operations in Myanmar and Laos. Do you plan to start similar institutes in those countries?

We will think about this and can establish [similar institutes] in Myanmar and Laos in the future. But for now, we need to first ensure success in Cambodia.

Currently, there are many training institutes in Cambodia. How does Acleda expect to compete with them?

Revenue is a main thing for our banking business, but [in the education sector] training high quality human resources is very important. It will be competitive, but I think that the education sector is more of an exchange of experiences, as well as cooperation with each other.

How does the financial market in Cambodia look right now?

Nowadays, we see tough competition in the financial market. We have an increasing number of microfinance institutions, specialised and commercial banks as well. But the market is still strong so the finance sector in Cambodia is growing well. This will help small and medium enterprises, who are the backbone of economy, by creating more opportunities and jobs.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

MOST VIEWED

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cash handout programme 80% complete

    Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth confirmed on Thursday that the implementation of the Cash Transfer Programme For Poor and Vulnerable Households During Covid-19 had been implemented for more than 80% of the over 560,000 families. The programme was introduced one week ago.

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Where is Cambodia’s exit strategy that can save the economy?

    With the prospect of being slammed by a double whammy, the government is working on an economic recovery plan to deliver it from Covid-19 and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms scheme in the next two to three years Cambodia is

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.