PSTD Tipanan Recap: Moving from Competency to Capability

by | Jul 15, 2021 | 0 comments

“Our people strategy is an enabler to radically transform UnionBank into a digital organization.” – Michelle Rubio
Michelle Rubio of the UnionBank of the Philippines – Speaker of the PSTD May eTipanan.

As the country’s frontrunner in digital banking, UnionBank recognizes its capability-building strategy as key to its success. It’s the element that enabled them to rack up multiple awards including Best Digital Bank of the Year in 20XX.

173 participants joined the May 2021 Tipanan and enjoyed a highly engaging learning conversation on the need to move the focus of talent development from competency to capability.

Michelle Rubio, the Chief HR Officer and Executive Vice President of UnionBank, generously shared the bank’s transitioning experience. She narrated how they succeeded in enabling the employees to take responsibility for their own capability-building journey by embracing an agile learning culture.

The event was also graced by 4 panel discussants namely Civil Service Institute Executive Director IV Arthur “Turok” Florentin; Dada De Leon Salud, Managing Director of Human Capital Asia, Inc.; and Roy Silva Magbanua Sr., HRBP – Sales and Marketing of Nestle Philippines, Inc. ExeQserve CEO Edwin Ebreo moderated the Panel. The group talked about what might be in store for the future, highlighting the benefits and challenges of shifting an organization’s talent development focus.

Ms. Rubio’s presentation highlighted UB’s success journey—an inspiring story of how the company’s capability-based and agile learning culture paved the way to success. She explained that as organizations like UB aim for more digitalization, challenges will emerge. Because of technology, some jobs will disappear and new jobs will be created. As an organization transforms, people must also learn to transform their capabilities. UB’s strategy for transformation was to develop a culture of constant learning and capability building. “UB started the journey to create the organization and human capabilities to capture the digital future. That was our goal.” Ms. Rubio continued to say that the capabilities should build a future-proof organization. She went on to share the highlights of their capability-building strategy.

Ms. Rubio emphasized that competencies are developed to meet current needs while capabilities, on the other hand, are developed to meet both current and future needs. She added that capable people are more than competent. They are creative, know how to learn, have a high level of self-efficacy, and can use competencies in novel as well as familiar work. They can deal effectively with the turbulent environments they live in by possessing an all-around capacity to achieve outcomes. This is important because employees are faced with a lot of opportunities to solve problems and execute ideas in an unfamiliar environment.


Learning in the Agile Way

To make innovations happen everywhere, UB developed a blueprint for how UnionBankers will operate in an Agile environment. It is called their Agile Operating Model, which covers the design of their interactions, ways of working, and governance. More importantly, this model is designed to build the bank’s capabilities for the future. UB formed empowered, self-organized and agile squads and teams coming from various functions and disciplines. These teams focus on developing solutions for their customers and working on internal innovations.


The Capability Building Journey

Ms. Rubio shared several initiatives that got them to where they are.
To be agile and innovative, UB employees need to unlearn, relearn, and learn anew. Capability building is essential to keep the leadership promise that no employee will be left behind. Employees are assured that they will have opportunities to learn how to perform new jobs. UB created a strategy of inclusive transformation that strongly supports the business while ensuring that UnionBankers are given the opportunities to grow. The bank created programs like “My Career” and “UnionBank University” to encourage employees to engage in self-driven learning if they want to build new and additional capabilities. UB Employees are now referred to as #talents prepare for new roles by developing:

    • Broad skills in the domain expertise
    • Deep Domain Expertise
    • Core Capabilities
    • Additional Domain Expertise


Panel Discussion

From top left to right Arthur Luis Florentin (Civil Service Institute),  Dada Salud (Human Capital Asia), Roy Magbanua (Nestle Philippines Inc.), Edwin Ebreo (ExeQserve Corporation), Elvie Tarrobal (2021 PSTD Chair).

Roy Magbanua, whose organization practices capability building, shared that organizational readiness is essential to effectively transition; moving from competency to capability building is not an overnight change. Establishing and stabilizing the company’s learning culture is essential to success.

The key takeaway from Turok Florentin’s insights is that capability building will help us navigate from our present to our future by enabling us to develop capabilities beyond the competencies that we require now.  This is important because we are shifting from structured organizations to an amorphous ones.

Dada Salud pointed out the similarities between competencies and capabilities. She said that the key elements in UnionBank’s s practice is their agile learning culture and each employee’s ownership of their own capability-building journey.

Mr. Magbanua said that change management is important to help organizational members to appreciate capacity development initiatives and to navigate a roadmap that aligns their learning and development programs with the overall direction of the organization. When asked if the concept can be applied in the government, Mr. Florentin said that it is most appropriate now. He said that competency development is part and parcel of capability building.  There is now a need to define and redefine needed competencies and capabilities to anticipate future challenges and needs.  Mr. Ebreo pointed out that both UnionBank and Nestle are large organizations; he asked Ms. Salud if smaller companies can afford this. Her recommendations include getting the CEOs to champion the shift and to start small with clear goals aligned with the company’s direction.


Does your organization adopt a Capability Building Strategy?

Please share your thoughts and concerns about the topic.

About the Writer



Edwin is the founder and President of ExeQserve, Corporation, an HROD Solutions Company. He is also the company’s head consultant for Organization Development and Human Resource Development. Ed developed his skills in training, recruitment, human resource management, organization development, and management consulting through twenty years of collective experience in the retail, financial, BPO, and HR consulting business. He is also the PSTD’s Publication Committee Head.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *