Internal and external communications are a critical aspect of the overall operations of banks, and marketing and communications staff need to be able to position their organisation in unique and consistent ways, according to Karen Ngui Foong-yin, managing director and head, group strategic marketing and communications at DBS Bank. But what does it take to rise to the top of this field, and what attributes are banks looking for in people when they recruit staff for communications positions? 'Primarily a person looking to work in this field must have the ability to look at and understand the big picture when dealing with seemingly disparate projects. They must then be able to distil this and come up with a core idea for the bank,' Ms Ngui said. DBS serves customers in 15 markets and, as with all international banks, deals with a vast array of clients. A bank's overall communications strategy must take into account all customers. The sheer quantity and variety of these customers is a major challenge that needs to be overcome. '[Staff in our department] need to be able to harness large amounts of information and process it clearly,' Ms Ngui said. 'The information then needs to be communicated clearly and simply. People need to think strategically and show attention to detail.' An ability to identify opportunities and see potential are essential characteristics. 'When I joined [DBS] 2? years ago I felt that the brand had tremendous potential. So much could be done. You need to be able to identify opportunities and not be distracted. You also need to be able to back up your ideas with market research and facts.' Graduates looking to start in the field do not necessarily need a business or banking-related degree or have any direct experience in the field. 'There is no real prerequisite background that is sought. I trained as an engineer but found that when I went into banking there were a variety of skills I had learnt from engineering that were transferable to a career in banking and communications,' Ms Ngui said. 'It is best, but not essential, to be bilingual in English and Cantonese if working in Hong Kong. Our staff here are all bilingual.'