Keeping up with advances in tech provides great opportunities for innovation in banking. And we’re always up to the challenge. We sat down with Senthil Kumar V, Technology Platform Lead in Fraud Prevention, to get a closer look at his career journey, success stories, and the work culture at NatWest.
Senthil has been part of NatWest Group for close to 10 of his 18-year professional journey. He manages the team that handles debit card and payment fraud profiling at the bank and develops and deploys new-age profiling tools at NatWest.
‘I believe that NatWest Group approaches tech in a refreshingly different way’ says Senthil. ‘In fact, at my interview, I was given a problem statement that assessed my decision-making thought process and tried to understand how I’d identify bottlenecks. The typical tech interview route of syntax-based questions was absent. Right away, I thought this might be the place for me.’
Setting trends and making strides
A great example of jumping in headfirst to solve innovative tech challenges came in Senthil’s first two projects.
The first task that Senthil and his team were given was to scope a major fraud profiling programme. That programme became the first major technology transformation initiative at NatWest after the financial recovery, reducing customer contact time from 15 minutes to less than a second for a fraud alert.
‘My product development background had taught me to prioritise features and speed, and not the customer environment. At NatWest, I learned that the focus should be on the customer journey first and foremost. For this project, the ask from the product owner was to support 250 transactions per second and the response time must be under 250 milliseconds, and we did it! It was a great learning experience for me.’
Another major project that involved ground-breaking innovation was payment fraud profiling, which, while challenging, was an exciting opportunity. Payment fraud profiling was a brand-new concept at the time, and the team needed to manage concerns around the complexity of the tech stack and short deadlines. And manage they did.
‘The application needed to use Elasticsearch, STORM, Kafka, and other real-time big data tools, and the entire architecture was based on microservices and API. The ask was to process 3000 transactions per second and the response time must be 60 milliseconds! This project helped ease the pressure on the operations team significantly, as the new system had complete end-to-end automation in place for the customer journey and this was achieved two days before the global lockdown. I’m proud to have been at the helm of these two projects that were game-changers for the bank and the industry as well.’
Going the extra mile and investing in yourself
What helps the NatWest tech team stay on top of their game are the rigorous review processes, and the opportunities for continuing education and learning.
They run sprint reviews every two weeks to analyse performance and discover solutions to help products serve their purpose better. They also conduct monthly service reviews to understand how a product has worked, and how we can best help the clients and vendors invest in it.
‘I’m also responsible for helping the team members determine the skills they need to perform better and how to acquire them. At the Centre of Excellence for Fraud Prevention, colleagues are encouraged to widen their knowledge by enrolling for courses offered by NatWest, collaborating with teams from different domains, and taking up cross-functional roles.’
Unlocking leadership opportunities
At NatWest Group, colleagues can join an array of programmes that will develop the leader in them and nurture their professional capabilities.
‘It all began with the Future Leadership programme that prepped an employee to be a leader in the digital world. Then we shifted to Determined to Lead, which is a wonderful course that unifies the bank under a singular leadership language. It gives you a number of effective tools and techniques that all leaders use to drive excellence. As part of the programme, I have a dedicated coach who spends time with me to help me lead my team better and have a positive impact on them.’
In addition, the tech team also has access to the Talent Academy, where they can master emerging technologies and gather insights from the latest developments in the FinTech sector.
Tech team members like Senthil are not only trained to bring out the leaders in them but also to seek the leaders in the people they work with.
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