As an original faculty member of the IARB, I had the pleasure of being one of the first to interact with retail banking executives on many topics: strategy, leadership, new market entry and card financial management to name a few. With an exceptionally busy schedule, friends and colleagues often asked me before I began teaching: ‘Why are you taking on this additional responsibility?’ A great question. My typical response was to simply say that I was looking to impart my knowledge of over twenty years as a global banker. As I also wrote several modules, I thought: yes, this is what is driving me.
However, with several sessions now ‘under my belt’, were someone to ask me the same question now, I would, to some degree, answer it very differently. While I truly believe that I have imparted a great deal of new knowledge to IARB class participants (and class feedback has validated this), the most remarkable outcome is in fact that when a group of peers gather, valuable information flows both ways! An interactive discussion of sharing and dialogue occurs, which creates not only a classroom ‘buzzing’ with excitement and input but also leads to idea exchange and sharing of best practices. Therefore, my role as faculty member transformed very quickly from one in which I thought of myself primarily as a lecturer to one where I was also a facilitator and contributor to an interactive classroom discussion.
My experiences with the Academy have taught me a few things that I believe are important for current, past or potential IARB attendees to understand. First, for satisfying classroom training (and, for the IARB, this is fast-track or executive), you need to attend courses which have not only like-minded people but participants that bring different experiences to the table (different geographies, business lines, etc.). The second lesson worth noting by incoming students is that they should employ a highly participative learning style. Listening is critical but challenging current norms and ideas is also essential for anyone to maximize their learning potential. Thirdly, use the forum the IARB offers to develop a new network of relationships. As I have found myself, building networks can lead to new friendships, business partnerships and career opportunities.
Now the Academy offers e-learning, in addition to classroom sessions. This new digital platform opens up IARB’s world of knowledge to a whole new segment of the financial services community. Individuals that could not participate due to travel restrictions, availability of sessions, location, etc. now have the chance to become part of the IARB as a ‘virtual’ member. As a much larger population can now participate, the opportunity for learning and making new contacts has just gotten a whole lot bigger!