Leadership and management in Qatar National Bank 




A leadership approach mostly involves innovative strategies, which are undertaken by the individuals within the organisation in order to promote its growth in the international market. Strategic leadership indicates the ability to anticipate, predict, maintain flexibility as well as allow other individuals to create the strategic changes by focusing on the multi-functionality (Dirani, et al., 2009). On the contrary, strategic management refers to the method that ensures the success of an organisation both in the present and in the future. There are a number of steps as part of the strategic management such as strategic planning, implementation and control. Strategic planning involves identification of the risk factors and then to suggests the plans so as to minimise or avoid the risk factors (Chaker and Jabnoun, 2010). 

There has been a separate QNB Learning and Development Department which in turn contributes to the value proposition within the employees. As per the rules set by the department, there are successful employees who have been certified with a number of authorisations which also involves the credit risk analysis, project management, financial analysis etc (Fitzroy, et al., 2012). The researchers have also indicated regarding the Employee Engagement Survey, which implies that the employees of the QNB Group are considered as the important asset of the organisation (Chaker and Jabnoun, 2010). The employees are also satisfied with the guidance provided by the team leaders which in turn contributes to the growth of the organisation. A specialised conference named the International Human Resource Conference was held where human resource practices were discussed within the organisation. There has been discussion regarding the hiring of the Qatari nationals within the QNB Group and the Qatarisation ratio exceeds 50% of the domestic employees (Harzing and Pinnington, 2010).

The paper aims to focus on the strategic leadership as well as management undertaken within the Qatar National Bank (QNB) which has steadily developed into the biggest bank in Qatar with the leading financial institution in the Middle East and the African region. The QNB Group has also provided the investment banking services based on its subsidiary known as the QNB Capital, government, corporate and the institutional clients within Qatar. The Group owns its Corporate Finance teams in the GCC region while offering extensive transaction experience along with the scope of the merger and acquisitions. The paper provides the researcher with the scope to emphasise on a number of factors such as the strategic change that has taken place within Qatar National Bank and also evaluates the change leadership capacity within the organisation. The researcher is expected to suggest the recommendations for the development of the VUCA change leadership capability and the barriers faced during its implementation. 

Management of strategic change in QNB     

According to Bealer and Bhanugopan (2014), the Human Capital Division of QNB has been able to define the strategic initiatives along with the five-year strategic plan and strengthening the talent pool to ensure that there are right number of individuals who are associated with the job. Global Talent Management program is held within the organisation so as to address the leadership development and the QNB Group’s growing international system. Joyce (2015) argued that the HR managers have implemented a Halogen Integrated Talent Management software which is likely to monitor the tasks performed by the employees in the international market. 

Biygautane, Gerber and Hodge (2017) indicated that as part of the strategic planning and the performance management issues, the key pillars of the 2017 strategy has been transformed into the strategic targets. For instance, the annual Business Plan has developed the most important projects which have been implemented for each of the division. The Group Human Capital Division has developed its own plan including an organisational business model and the model has enabled the group to align with the international expansion (Zain and Kassim, 2012). The National Development Strategy of Qatar 2011-16 indicates that the country is expected to earn world’s highest levels of per capita income (Biygautane, Gerber and Hodge, 2017). The country has also undertaken a number of reforms as part of the strategic change such as during the operational levels, the reforms are known to focus on the growth of the public services. 

According to Pattanayak and Maddulety (2013), the expansion of QNB is also undertaken in a strategic way with the geographic presence as well as the product offering. There has been increasing geographic diversification of the Group which positively contributes to the lowering of the inherent risk factors and its international growth contributes to around 37% of the net profit (Pattanayak and Maddulety, 2013). The bank has developed its own sustainable growth strategy so as to survive in the international market with high contribution and profitability in the international sector along with large and mid-sized clients. As per Rees, Althakhri and Mamman (2012) there is a separate strategic advisor hired for the QNB Group which includes the broad range of mandates within and outside Qatar. According to the research, QNB was able to maintain its spot within the retail banking sector in Qatar. The strategies followed by the QNB Group involves two of the most important pillars such as the protection of the dominant market position in Qatar and also to accelerate the international growth. Rees, Althakhri and Mamman (2012) argued that the company also has the scope to explore new opportunities which in turn contributes to its revenue growth in the international market. QNB Group has aimed at bringing innovation such as the new Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) along with the use of new technology such as the contactless terminals and the biometric security. Moreover, the customers are also influenced through the use of the suitable banking mobile app so that the banking transactions can be undertaken at any point of time. The customers are able to make appropriate payments and transactions between the consumers and the service providers (Zoeteman and Harkink, 2012). 

According to Chaker and Jabnoun, (2010) the changes that are adopted by the QNB Group can be evaluated on the basis of the four factors such as Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. The major change in this case is that of the implementation of the Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) which are of great help to the customers making their online transactions on a regular basis (Chaker and Jabnoun, 2010). As far as the volatility is concerned, this change has been implemented on a rapid pace within the various branches of QNB and the customers were explained regarding the uses of this system (Kahler, 2013). With the increase in number of customers preferring to carry out online transactions on a regular basis, the Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) are further advanced so as to accelerate the transaction process. This change has low level of uncertainty because it is assumed to be accepted by the customers in Qatar. In fact, the employees are also provided with higher levels of training so that they are able to use the Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) for online transactions (Biygautane, Gerber and Hodge, 2017)

Sparrow, Brewster and Chung (2016) argued that it is believed to be a secured form of transaction, which takes place between the customers and so there are minimum number of issues that might occur with these level of uncertainty. The level of complexity associated with the introduction of Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) is very low as the customers are guided regarding the use of these machines for different transaction purposes. Furthermore, the staff members are also expected to assist the customers so as to reduce the level of complexity that might arise with the introduction of the advanced level of software. Wilson (2012) argued that with the introduction of these advanced technologies in the banking system, it has raised the ease of the customers and thus reducing the level of ambiguity that might occur. Based on the VUCA framework, it can be stated that the strategic change initiative that have been adopted by the managers of the bank has contributed to the increase in the customer base and the positive growth of the organisation. The efficiency of the leaders within QNB Group can be clearly determined on the basis of the impacts that they have created on the customers of Qatar. 

Change leadership capability in QNB           

Biygautane, Gerber and Hodge (2017) stated that based on the studies, it is evident that separate leadership development programs are organised by the managers within QNB so as to train the team leaders who are responsible for handling huge teams. The leadership trainings are provided mostly to the Qataris as the program aims at the development of top talent who have been identified using a specialised talent review process. The aim of this program is to develop particular leadership capabilities with the high potential top talent identified from Qatar (Sparrow, Brewster and Chung, 2016). The Qatari Top Talent Program is likely to help the individuals meet the challenging goals. 

Adair (2010) argued that based on the analysis some of the ‘Individual Development Plans’ (IDP) each of the participants and the developmental needs are likely to be dealt through the classroom training and the contribution in the completion of the strategic projects. The participants are usually guided by the professionals and senior management so that they are able to contract with the issues that are faced in the global market (Galanou and Farrag, 2015; Fernandes and Da Silva, 2015). The human resource team is also assumed to remain in contact with the group and address all the requirements as well as continuously review the performance of the group (Sparrow, Brewster and Chung, 2016). The group is also to be trained regarding the use of the Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) so that they are able to provide high valued customer support and also contribute to the revenue growth of the organisation (Mandurah, Khatib and Al-Sabaan, 2012). The Leadership Development Program is specially meant to promote young talents who are expected to be a part of QNB Group. 

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According to Cullen and Parboteeah (2013), the QNB Group has believed on the principles of good governance, fairness, transparency, accountability as well as responsibility. At the beginning of opening its first branch outside Doha in 1974 at Al-Khor and Mesaieed, the managers of the QNB Group has taken the initiative in driving the change and bringing innovation within the organisation so that it is able to contend in the global market. The Group has introduced sophisticated technologies so as to allow the Treasury function to offer the bonds, swaps and security trading (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2013; Platonova, et al., 2016). Moreover, there has been further innovation in the banking practices such as the introduction of the voice banking, point of sale, home banking etc. The staff members were trained by the leaders within the organisation in order to provide high valued customer satisfaction with the introduction of 24/7 Call Centre, Internet Banking, SMS Alerts, Electronic Statements which in turn raised the convenience of the customers (Sparrow, Brewster and Chung, 2016). 

The leadership capability of QNB suggests that it would be able to fulfil the vision that has been set to transform the nation into an advanced economy which is based on four of the pillars such as economic, social, human and environmental development (Ibrahim, 2015). The QNB Group is expected to invest in a number of projects such as the construction of Lusail Light Rail and also in the real estate sectors for the development of Barwa Commercial Avenue, the Mall of Qatar and Doha Oasis (Khan, et al., 2011). The organisation has improved its banking business with the development of Qatar’s private sector and is assumed to support the economic growth in the future. Sparrow, Brewster and Chung (2016) have also commented on the dedicated Human Resource Division in QNB Group which involves a total number of employees of around 14,500 who are known to be operating from 615 locations. The managers have been part of the Qatarisation process to increase the number of employees who are either employed in the public or the private sector (Sparrow, Brewster and Chung, 2016). The research has indicated that QNB has recorded a Qatarisation ratio of around 50% which is considered as the highest rate within the financial services sector. The staff members within the QNB Group are provided with specialised training so that they are able to deliver high valued performance in the international market (Kemp, Madsen and El-Saidi, 2013). The organisation has opened its training centres in 1991 so as to attract the potential candidates to join the courses in order to provide improved banking services. 

The performance of the employees have contributed to its overall development as it has defeated its closest rival named Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank (NCB) and the asset base was considered to be higher as compared to that of the NCB which is $80.3 billion. The net profit earned by QNB was 35.2% in 2011 which is about 15% increase as compared to the net profit during the previous year (Kemp, Madsen and El-Saidi, 2013). Moreover, the bank has owned a high capital adequacy ratio which has helped it to maintain a strong capitalisation throughout the year. High capitalisation has enabled the bank to achieve significant overseas expansion and has also been able to successfully increase its customer base across the globe (Kemp, Madsen and El-Saidi, 2013). With the expansion of QNB, it is dedicated to enhance the global understanding of the Arab world and its culture. The company has been able to work with the Qatar’s embassies in Paris and London so as to introduce the European audiences to Qatar. As per Biygautane, Gerber and Hodge (2017), the QNB Group has financed the festivals that are held in Qatar so as to endorse the international dialogue and richness. It has also supported the local organisations and encouraged the participation of Qatar Fine Arts Society and the Social Development Centre which helps in the promotion of traditional arts (Al-Hares, AbuGhazaleh and El-Galfy, 2013; Tang and Ai, 2013; Shen and Huang, 2013). 

According to Kemp, Madsen and El-Saidi (2013) there are specialised events that are organised by the QNB Group such as the Annual Purebred Arabian Camel Race and supporting the Ramadan activities which helps in the undertaking of the CSR activities so as to promote growth. The bank has also sponsored the inaugural of the Tasmeem and Mousharaka Design Conferences hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar (VCUQatar) which engages the design experts from around the globe (Kemp, Madsen and El-Saidi, 2013). The corporate culture maintained by QNB Group contributes to the corporate success of the organisation. Based on the research, it can be stated that the company ensures economic as well as social development especially in the developing and the emerging economies (Ramady and Sohail, 2010). In fact, the company supports diversity in the work culture as they come from 80 different nationalities who work in around 30 countries in three different continents. The volunteers working in the QNB Group have undertaken a number of community projects which helps the young generation to learn new skills at the community centre (Talib, et al., 2011; Ben Selma Mokni, et al., 2014). QNB Group has sponsored the activities of the General Retirement and the Social Insurance Authority with the aim of creating awareness among the individuals. QNB in Indonesia has collaborated with the local mosque by providing food for 1000 people (Elsiefy and Eljohann, 2016). This indicates that the leaders within the bank has adopted a number of initiatives as part of the change leadership that takes place within QNB Group.  

Strategic Management Case Study of Qatar National Bank 

The stakeholders of the company involves public and the private organisations which indicates that 50% of its shares is owned by government and the remaining shares are owned by Qatari public. The bank is known for its performance management initiatives that have ensured the company’s rapid development in the future (Iles, Almhedie and Baruch, 2012). The bank has also introduced the internal changes so as to enhance the quality of services by raising the efficiency of the workers. QNB Group aims at raising the customer loyalty and it is believed to be of importance in the contemporary business environment. The bank has made significant attempts to change its logo in order to influence the customers. In order to serve more number of customers, the bank has been engaging additional staff and qualified professionals. Specialised training is provided to these staff members so that they are able to deliver high valued performance in the international market (Hasna and Raza, 2010, Qatar National Bank, 2013; Qatar National Bank, 2015; Qatar National Bank, 2018). According to the case study, particular attention is paid to the young clients who are assumed to be strategically important for the bank and are considered as one of the major target customer group.  Hence, the case study indicates that the HR managers of QNB undertake strategies to raise the efficiencies of the staff members (Chapman and Sakamoto, 2010). Qatar National Bank is expected to connect to the internal payment network in Saudi Arabia that affects its future growth plans. The company had recently planned the acquisition of the Turkish lender that offers the considerable advantages for the group and this acquisition in the volatile emerging market is assumed to expose the bank’s asset quality to downside risks (Clarke and Almannai, 2014). Finansbank is assumed to be a good strategic fit for the Qatar National Bank with its balanced portfolio in different sectors and its presence in the Turkish market (Flemes, 2016). The performance of the bank over the years is determined by the credit rating agency such as the Moody’s, which results in creating greater risk factors for Qatar. Moreover, according to Moody’s, Finansbank is assumed to contribute to the earnings growth of QNB which in turn raises the profitability and internal capitalisation.  

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Factors contributing to the change initiatives taken by QNB  

There are different factors that contributes to the change initiatives adopted within QNB Group such as the competition in the global market, technology, desire for growth and government regulations. It is often necessary to respond to the strategic change within an organisation so as to compete with a rival firm that has already entered into the market (Nair, Purohit and Choudhary, 2014). The local banks in Qatar are expected to dominate the market in terms of the assets and the infrastructure but they are likely to compete for business with seven other foreign banks. In fact, the banks in Qatar are assumed to compete with three of the financial firms such as First Finance, Al Jazeera Finance and Qatar Finance, as their approach to the market differs from that of the full-fledged banking institutions, which are considered as appropriate source of funding (Ali, 2009). The banks in Qatar have continued to look for the future growth with the continuous innovation in their products and services. QNB Group is in competition with the Islamic banking sector which are undertaking larger and more sophisticated transaction projects such as the purchase of an Airbus 340-600 aircraft (Nair, Purohit and Choudhary, 2014). This indicates that there is a need for innovation by QNB Group so as to gain its brand reputation in the international market (Das, 2012). 

The banks in Qatar are also assumed to undertake the digital transformation so as to ensure the future growth that helps in the reshaping of the organisation overtime. The banks are adopting the digital transformation in order to improve the operations and sales figures and to attract the customers from across the globe (Nair, Purohit and Choudhary, 2014). The traditional banks collect data from the customers in order to market the products so that they are able to earn high revenue. Qatar Commercial Bank has introduced the new finger vein pattern recognition technology within the ATMs and the technology is likely to allow the customers to withdraw cash (Nair, Purohit and Choudhary, 2014). In fact, the technology can also be used by the corporate and the VIP customers to admit their internet banking accounts using a finger vein scanner. A survey carried out in early 2017 has indicated that almost all commercial banks in Qatar indicate confidence related to the financial stability of the country’s banking sector (Biygautane, Gerber and Hodge, 2017). In fact, the banks have tried to overcome the major risks such as the credit risks and the liquidity risks which would contribute to the growth factors. The banks have also contributed to the real estate sector in Qatar and thus led to the development of this sector and also increase in the number of corporate customers. 

Regulations have been set by the government of Qatar that highlight the need for the central bank and the other concerned specialists to be vigilant to the financial sector development. Qatar Central Bank is assumed to maintain some balance between the development needs of the country and also the financial stability which attracts the customers within the country (Achoui, 2009). In order to gain high reputation in the market, QNB Group seeks to improve the customer service standards that are related to the financial transactions conducted between Qatar ministries and the customers. QNB usually facilitates the automatic payment of the travel visa at the Doha International Airport’s arrival terminal (Nair, Purohit and Choudhary, 2014). QNB Group also provides strategic advice that allows the country to enhance its potential and embrace the new opportunities. Additionally, QNB Group also provides financial services to the semi-governmental organisations and the corporations based on the long-term relationships and the unique understanding of the emerging needs (Esty, 2009; Ali, 2011). This implies that the change management can be considered as an effective way to provide additional services to the customers in Qatar. 

Change management issues faced by QNB    

The international strategy adopted by QNB Group is assumed to be affected by different factors such as a multi-local strategy that is focused on Turkey and Egypt and an international strategy that is aimed at servicing and obtaining fund from the international counterparties (Birnik, 2013). The external funding structure of the Qatari banks’ is dominated by the bank liabilities and the non-resident deposits which involves 89% of the banking system’s gross external debt. The breakdown of the liabilities of the Qatari banks indicates that the GCC countries have represented only 8% of the total funding (Kvint, 2010). The banks in Qatar have been heavily dependent on the central and state related companies for deposits but there has been a fall in oil prices since 2014 and the removal of some of the government deposits within QNB, which is the largest lender in the Middle East. The sustainable performance of QNB depends on the way in which it is able to manage the risk factors. The company has been able to develop a separate risk management governance structure and framework, which ensures a crucial balance between the risk and the reward (Qatar National Bank, 2014). The risk profile and appetite managed by QNB is approved by the Group Board Risk Committee (GBRC) and also the Board of Directors (BOD). The Enterprise Risk Management Framework followed by QNB Group requires understanding of the group’s external stakeholders and is focused on creation of the shareholder value. Moreover, the operational risk pose challenge for QNB Group with the increasing number of cyber-attacks and fraud (Birnik, 2013). The bank dealing with huge online databases is prone to cyber-attacks thus,measures are to be taken immediately so as to overcome the impacts of the cyber-attacks. 

There is specialised Internal Audit Division which is independent of the QNB Group Management which helps in mitigating the risk factors and enhancing value to the stakeholders (Abdalla, 2014, Qatar National Bank, 2016). The Internal Audit Division reports on the effectiveness and the management of the internal control by conducting the audits of all the group’s entities. The audit processes are based on the international standards and the best practices related to the objectivity, integrity and ethics which is part of the world’s leading internal audit institution (Larson, et al., 2011). The audit division is known to contribute to the enterprise wide risk-management process and this includes the framework and regulations of the global and local regime. The QNB Group is expected to drive a number of initiatives during 2013 which assisted in discharging responsibilities of the Board and the Executive Management. In fact, the Group Compliance has supported the global expansion of the group with respect to the integrations and the new acquisitions by performing the due diligence reviews in the areas of the compliance (Singh, Jones and Hall, 2012). QNB Group Compliance is also expected to be responsible for Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) which is meant to take care of the tax issues (Musacchio, Lazzarini and Aguilera, 2015). The group is often exposed to the financial markets which are full of complexities that affect the delivery of the products and services. The compliance risks have been identified and mitigation strategies have been adopted by the financial managers of QNB Group (Harvard Business Review, 2011). The Group Compliance department has trained the employees so that they are aware of the terror financing, money laundering and international sanction. The employees are provided with a series of training sessions so that they are able to deal with the issues that are faced by QNB Group (Abdalla, 2014)

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Leadership and strategic management are assumed to be interlinked which contributes to the overall performance of the organisation in the international market. The report has discussed regarding the leadership management in the Qatar National Bank where the staff members are provided with specialised training for their personal growth. The researchers have discussed about the Employee Engagement Survey which highlights the number of employees who are engaged with different forms of activities. The report has focused on the bank’s introduction of the Interactive Teller Machines which are assumed to be of great help to the customer. This innovation has been analysed on the basis of the VUCA framework and it is believed to be one of the most effective creations. The researcher has presented a case study which suggests that the credit rating agency named Moody’s which indicates that the acquisition of Finansbank is considered to be an important strategy assumed by QNB Group. The research has focused upon some of the issues that take place during the change management within QNB such as the operational and credit risks that are governed by the audit division. The risks are expected to have an impact on the overall business as well as on the customers of the QNB Group who are known to carry out their day-to-day banking transactions. The bank is presumed to face the cases of money laundering, terror financing and international sanctions. 

It is recommended that the managers of QNB Group can implement the VUCA change leadership strategies so as to overcome the cases of terror financing and money laundering. Volatility can be ensured with the suitable programs that are to be designed so as to combat the issue of money laundering and these programs are known to address the risks posed by the money launderers and terrorists. The bank can tie up with the detective agencies in order to determine the source and seize the derived assets. The law enforcement agencies and the regulatory authorities are to be brought together to enable the financial institutions to play significant roles in different nations. The uncertainty associated with that of the money laundering can be reduced with the appropriate measures taken by the managers of QNB Group. The complexity of the strategies can be resolved by understanding the processes that are followed to overcome the effect of the money laundering such as profiling, transaction monitoring etc. Banks adopt the KYC verifications and the legitimate customers are provided the access to money. The transaction monitoring is likely to measure the inflow and outflow of the cash which in turn helps to keep a check on the measures taken. There arises some ambiguity in the process of dealing with money laundering and terror financing that is, it is considered to be a never-ending process that requires constant vigilance. Based on the study, QNB Group is prone to huge amount of money laundering hence, it is suggested that the managers need to undertake regular supervision to avoid such issues. The internal audit division needs to be strengthened by increasing the number of experienced financial professionals within the organisation.   

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