JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The National Commercial Bank (NCB) has been creating opportunities for the youth to revolutionise the banking industry, through its inaugural Innovation Internship Programme.
  • The interns were exposed to weekly workshops featuring topics such as Innovative Mindset, Brainstorming Training, Systematic Innovation and Customer-focused Innovation.
  • Throughout the programme, interns were able to win weekly cash prizes based on their creations.

The National Commercial Bank (NCB) has been creating opportunities for the youth to revolutionise the banking industry, through its inaugural Innovation Internship Programme.

The programme saw 15 Jamaicans studying at universities locally and overseas contributing some 400 ideas over a five-week period, on how the banking industry in the country can be transformed.

Senior General Manager, Group Human Resources and Facilities Division of NCB, Rickert Allen, tells JIS News that during the programme he watched all the different ideas transformed into innovative concepts for products and services.

“We were able to assist participants to sharpen their skills, while contributing to the development of Jamaica’s future, as well as helping to solidify NCB’s position as a pioneer of evolution in Jamaica’s financial sector,” he outlines.

Mr. Allen notes that there were 1,000 applications for the internship, which targeted tertiary students. This was then narrowed down to 45, and then to the final 15.

The interns were exposed to weekly workshops featuring topics such as Innovative Mindset, Brainstorming Training, Systematic Innovation and Customer-focused Innovation.

“Arising from these workshops, interns worked to create solutions to trends affecting banking financial services and to disrupt the way banking financial services have traditionally been done,” Mr. Allen says.
The ideas/solutions were judged by persons from different spheres of business, including Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Anbell Group & Intelligent Multimedia Ltd., Andrew Pairman; Communication Specialist/Consultant, Start Up-Jamaica, Laurie-Ann Ainsworth; and Director of Marketing at Global Directories Limited, Dave DaCosta.

Mr. Allen points out that the work of the interns is currently in the ideation stage and if feasible, will move on to proof of concept.

He notes that a part of the programme is to have some of these brilliant minds become future employees.

The Senior General Manager says the company is delighted to give young people a chance to express themselves, noting that “the youth of our country represent a wealth of skills and fresh ideas”.

He tells JIS News that NCB hopes to expand the programme for the next batch of interns, as “this is just the start of something great”.

Throughout the programme, interns were able to win weekly cash prizes based on their creations. Additionally, they were judged and awarded in fun categories dubbed: ‘Presentation Savvy’, which was presented to Stefan Richards; ‘Research Guru’, John Matthews; ‘Team Player’, Kyle Hector; and ‘Life of the Party’, Kelsey-Jo Sharpe.

The top innovator for the programme was Jase-Omeileo West, a 21-year-old Computer Science student of  the University of Technology (UTech).

He tells JIS News that he did not expect to win, as everyone had such brilliant ideas.

“Presenting ideas at school is easy for me. However, this programme entailed presenting before panels of professionals for real life situations; therefore, the programme helped me to hone and develop presentation and time management skills,” he notes.

Jase-Omeileo says he wants to be an entrepreneur and has even started by publishing his first book, which is currently being used as part of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) syllabus.

Meanwhile, Manager of Learning Technologies and Head of the Innovation Unit at NCB, Althea Bailey, says the programme was successful.

She tells JIS News that the programme was a structured one that featured a weekly workshop with Dr. Darin Eich from Innovation Learning LLC in Wisconsin, USA.

Miss Bailey notes that the interns created innovative ideas which will be implemented in various divisions within NCB, such as Insurance, Marketing and Retail Banking.

Miss Bailey adds that 75 of the ideas that were presented over the five weeks will be taken through NCB’s six-step innovation process, then considered for implementation within the bank’s daily operations.

Another participant in the programme who recently graduated from Princeton University in the US, Abigail Johnson, says she appreciated the work ethic that she observed at the commercial bank, which she is now emulating. “I enjoyed working towards regular deadlines and getting rewarded for that,” she adds.

Born in Jamaica, the Princeton graduate has lived in Trinidad for most of her life and says that she chose the internship to be closer to her father, who lives in Jamaica.

Being her first time working in Jamaica, she says that the internship exceeded her expectations, as “there was so much energy and effort put into the programme”.

She adds that the staff at NCB is world-class, as they are always there and willing to offer guidance.

“Another thing I gained was just an understanding of how a professional environment works and how to interact with people at my level and above me,” Miss Johnson says.

She notes that some of the most amazing ideas came from interns who are studying other disciplines besides business or finance.

“They used their expertise in other areas to approach banking in a way that we probably had not thought of before,” she says.

Stefan Richards, a 22-year-old senior Economics and French student at Vassar College in New York, tells JIS News that “it’s nice to be listened to as young persons, as oftentimes businesses overlook the power of the youth”.

He says he has learned many things about the future of banking, as many of the ideas were about innovations that will move the banking industry forward.

In the meantime, Communication Specialist Consultant, Start Up-Jamaica and a Judge for the internship programme, Laurie-Ann Ainsworth, says the level of innovation from such young minds was unexpected.

Miss Ainsworth notes that some of the ideas ‘stumped’ her, as they were so “way out there”.

Lauding NCB, she says that the internship is a great foundation for young entrepreneurs.

She is appealing for more private-sector companies to invite persons to start thinking of innovative ways to use technology.