Wake-up call | Anand Singh Chandel: A father’s son transforms an industry
In 1995, Anand Singh Chandel was working as a computer consultant in Delhi, India, when a new adventure came his way. “I hadn’t lived outside of India for a long period of time before,” Anand says of the opportunity to move to Singapore as an IT consultant. “But my dad had left his village at a young age to move to the city and start a company. So he was understanding, and I decided to embrace the change.”
It wasn’t the first time Anand had pursued a new path. After studying electrical engineering at technical school, he planned to become an engineer. He was skeptical when a computer consulting company offered him a job. “I was going to say no, when a friend’s dad told me this was going to be the future,” he recalls. “So I decided to give it a try.”
He diligently learned every aspect of computers — from building hardware and operating systems to software — and rose through the ranks until the Singapore offer came. At the time, Anand and his wife had a two-year-old son, and they were thinking about the challenges that came with leaving their extended family. The push to accept the opportunity came from the last person he expected: his father. “There were challenges,” Anand remembers. “But my father had left his family to create a new life, had gone through these same stages.”
Now Anand is senior vice president of corporate applications, including robotic process automation (RPA) and HR platforms, for DBS Bank in Marina Bay, Singapore — one of the largest banks in Asia. He recently partnered with IBM to enact sweeping upgrades to the bank’s operating systems. They’ve installed cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), RPA and HR applications to offer enhanced security and customer service. Combining AI with RPA allows DBS to offer faster response to anti-money laundering alerts. Through it all, Anand is carefully mentoring the next generation via his son, who is about to enter the workforce.
This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.
What was it like, saying goodbye to your family and moving to Singapore?
In India, culturally, you are expected to support your kids, family, everyone. So it was difficult to adjust to the new life while also helping care for the parents. My wife and I had never left the country. In 1995, when we first left, there was always this suspicion we would return. But my father had left his village to move to the city and start a company. That helped influence our decision to stay in Singapore.
Can you tell us more about your role at DBS?
I run two platforms: RPA and HR applications. Last year, we started from scratch with RPA, selecting tools to improve our automation processes. Most of it is back-end. But it’s across different businesses. We do it for back-office operations like loan disbursements, credit limits and credit setups. We do it for financial processes and compliance-delegated processes, especially around anti-money laundering, which is way interesting.
One of the initiatives you’ve worked on is helping to minimize and eradicate money laundering. How is that going?
I’m working with IBM to help us link our RPA to our AI to set alerts for suspicious activity. In the past few years, a lot of new regulations have come into place with more rules that trigger alarms. So, as a financial institution, we have to balance out how many alarms are false and how many are true. In terms of operating costs, we can’t have a huge team sitting there. But AI and RPA together have allowed us to automate the vetting process; these tools go through all the transactions and make sense of them. It saves a lot of money while also reducing risk for the bank. It has been tremendous.
What are some of the ways you are improving the way DBS does business?
In addition to addressing money laundering, we have so far remade 68 other processes, from loan disbursement to loan creation and consumer banking. IBM was a key partner in envisioning and then building all these processes, ensuring we were up to government standards. They were able to bring in people from teams across the globe, helping us to scale up and become experienced in these technologies in a short amount of time. I worked closely with IBM’s folks, building good personal relationships — they’ve been a great partner.
And now your son is about to make his own way in the world?
He’s in his final year of university in Singapore. I feel exactly the same way as my father before me: Just do your best in whatever you choose to do. It’s a bright future. I’m happy for my son to get started.