DBS Continues To Be Studied As Model For Digital Transformation

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Harvard Business School is the latest academic institution to capture the bank’s successful transformation journey in a case study that is being taught to its MBA students

HONG KONG SAR – Media OutReach – 27 February 2023 – DBS continues to be studied as a transformation role model, with Harvard Business School (HBS) being the latest academic institution to capture the bank’s successful digital transformation journey in a case study.

The DBS case is being taught in HBS’ Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme and its executive education courses by Professor Ranjay Gulati, Paul R. Lawrence MBA Class of 1942 Professor of Business Administration. Gulati was ranked as one of the top ten most cited scholars in Economics and Business over a decade by ISI-Incite. He is also the author of six bestselling books on strategy, organisational effectiveness and leadership in organisations[1].

Gulati said, “Businesses need to transform themselves in order to compete in today’s fast-changing markets. I was interested in studying how DBS transformed itself successfully, and to find out what they did and how they executed it. Through my numerous conversations with the bank’s executives, what came across very strongly were the digital and purpose-focused elements of the transformation and how these permeated every level of the organisation. The willingness from the leadership to resource the change enabled a building up of the workforce’s innovation ‘muscles’ to create a startup culture – quite a feat for an organisation of 33,000 people.”

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta said “Behaving like a startup meant shifting the bank’s mindset from that of a mature multinational to one that is more nimble, more agile; one which is constantly learning, experimenting and innovating on the fly. To effect this change at scale, we had to teach our people how to use the tools of innovation and provide them with opportunities to apply these tools in an environment where it is safe to take risks. This effective culture shift created through a programme of ‘culture by design’ has been instrumental to our success so far, and will be key as we navigate the disruptions in our industry going ahead.”

The HBS case study was put together over a span of 15 months through a series of interviews between Gulati and DBS’ leadership team. Learn more about the DBS case study at Harvard Business Publishing’s repository here.

Gupta was also interviewed on an episode of Gulati’s newest podcast series “Deep Purpose” in December 2022. The conversation complements the case study and nicely sums up the development stages of the bank, digital transformation, building a technology company, being customer-centric and Gupta’s leadership style. Both the recording and transcript are accessible here.

In 2022, DBS was named “World’s Best Bank” by US-based financial publication Global Finance. This makes it the seventh best bank in the world award it has won in the past five years. DBS was also the only Singapore-headquartered company to be recognised as one of the Top 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators by US-based Fast Company.

Other institutions which have written case studies on DBS include INSEAD, the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), IESE, Singapore Management University and Nanyang Technological University.


[1] Ranjay Gulati’s website https://ranjaygulati.com/ and profile page on HBS’ website https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=77265.

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About DBS

DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 19 markets. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, DBS is in the three key Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The bank’s “AA-” and “Aa1” credit ratings are among the highest in the world.

Recognised for its global leadership, DBS has been named “” by Global Finance, “” by Euromoney and “” by The Banker. The bank is at the forefront of leveraging digital technology to shape the future of banking, having been named “” by Euromoney and the world’s “” by The Banker. In addition, DBS has been accorded the “” award by Global Finance for 14 consecutive years from 2009 to 2022.

DBS provides a full range of services in consumer, SME and corporate banking. As a bank born and bred in Asia, DBS understands the intricacies of doing business in the region’s most dynamic markets. DBS is committed to building lasting relationships with customers, as it banks the Asian way. Through the DBS Foundation, the bank creates impact beyond banking by supporting social enterprises: businesses with a double bottom-line of profit and social and/or environmental impact. DBS Foundation also gives back to society in various ways, including equipping communities with future-ready skills and building food resilience.

With its extensive network of operations in Asia and emphasis on engaging and empowering its staff, DBS presents exciting career opportunities. For more information, please visit .

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 200 offers full-time programmes leading to the MBA and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 70 open enrolment Executive Education programs and 55 custom programmes, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, HBS faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organisations worldwide, and their passion for teaching to educate leaders who make a difference in the world, shaping the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.