fbpx Address to Staff Association - Takehiko Nakao | Asian Development Bank

Address to Staff Association - Takehiko Nakao

Speech | 1 June 2018

Address to Staff Association by ADB President Takehiko Nakao on 1 June 2018 at ADB headquarters, Manila, Philippines


Members of the Staff Council, ADB colleagues: Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to once again address the Staff Association’s Annual Meeting under the theme "Reflections on 40 years of the Staff Association." I really appreciate the resident missions for joining this meeting.

First, I would like to thank the Staff Council’s outgoing officers for their hard and important work and welcome the new Staff Council officers.

For over 40 years, the Staff Council has played a very important role in supporting the interests of staff. I want to recognize the Council’s contribution this year in providing inputs to the many HR reforms and initiatives launched recently.

Today, I would like to talk about our successful Annual Meeting here in Manila; priorities in ADB’s new long-term strategy, Strategy 2030; importance of harnessing new technologies; and human resource management at ADB.

2018 ADB Annual Meeting in Manila

For the first time since 1999, we hosted a full Annual Meeting at ADB headquarters. This event showed ADB at its best. The Annual Meeting was meticulously prepared and managed together with the Philippine government. The facilities were transformed into a first-class conference venue. The meetings and seminars were focused and substantive.

As I wrote in my message to staff on 6 May, I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to all of you for your tireless efforts in support of a truly memorable Annual Meeting in Manila. Many people who attended said it was the best ever.

Strategy 2030

A major focus of the Annual Meeting was Strategy 2030. Governors supported ADB’s expanded vision to achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while emphasizing the need to sustain efforts to eradicate poverty.

We plan to finalize Strategy 2030 by mid-2018. Our task ahead is to reinvent ADB to meet the challenges of a transforming region.

New technologies

One focus of discussion at the Annual Meeting was how to better use new technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics. When we implement Strategy 2030, we should think about how we can incorporate new and advanced technologies in such areas as fintech, health, education, and infrastructure.

The recent creation of the Digital Technology for Development Unit in SDCC will support the further integration of such technologies into our operations and sector and thematic knowledge work. All departments should collaborate to deliver the best solutions for our clients.

ADB has already made significant progress in implementing ongoing internal IT reforms. Credit goes to OIST for leading this effort. I also wish to recognize the contribution of staff throughout ADB for embracing these reforms. All of us, regardless of our rank and position in the organization, will need to become more skilled in using information technologies and adopt new ways of working.

Strengthening ADB’s human resources

ADB’s staff are our most valuable asset. Highly skilled and motivated staff are essential for ADB to continue to be an efficient and effective partner for our shareholders and people in Asia. This is especially the case as we take forward Strategy 2030.

We will continue to invest in our workforce, expand our presence on the ground, and ensure a respectful workplace and enabling environment.

Today, I wish to provide an overview of important HR reforms which are underway.

First: Hiring and deploying staff. Reforms to recruitment processes, including batch recruitment, are reducing hiring time and helping us to recruit talented people. This is supported by flexible position management, which is helping us to better meet the needs of departments.

Second: Staff mobility. The first round of rotation for IS staff is underway. About 30 staff will be moving to new departments and offices in 2018 under this scheme. This will help the career development of staff. It will strengthen collaboration and knowledge sharing between departments in support of One ADB.

A new approach to short-term assignments was launched in May 2018. This will provide opportunities for all staff (IS, NS, and AS) at both headquarters and resident missions to broaden their skills and experiences in different locations, functions, and departments. Already we have approved seven short-term assignments.

Third: A diverse and inclusive workforce. At the end of 2017, the proportion of women among our IS reached 35% for the first time. But we have much more work to do to achieve our goal of 40% by 2022. This is a high priority for ADB and I count on vice-presidents, heads of departments, and directors to do all they can to achieve this goal.

ADB has zero tolerance for bullying and harassment. The Respectful Workplace Unit established in 2016 is supporting a workplace free of bullying and harassment.

Fourth: Performance management. This is being strengthened. As part of the 2017 performance review, we adopted 360-degree feedback for all IS 7–10 managers for the first time at ADB. We have launched a training program for managers that will give them practical tools on how to have constructive performance and career development discussions with their subordinates.

Fifth: Training programs. Providing training to staff continues to be a high priority. In 2017, ADB ran 752 training programs with nearly 8,600 participants in headquarters and resident missions. This is a significant increase from last year. In addition, the number of staff who attended external training increased from 204 in 2016 to 312 in 2017.

We are investing in building leadership capacity through our Leadership Development Programs. We are planning programs to support communications, collaboration, and cross-sector and sovereign/nonsovereign capabilities.

Sixth: Allowances and benefits. Changes in the Overseas Duty Station Allowances have enhanced support to staff working in challenging locations.

Reforms to the Group Medical Insurance Plan are being implemented to improve services under the Plan. Briefing sessions to staff and retirees will be held later in June.

We have implemented a new pension plan for new hires. This features for the first time a Defined Contribution Plan. Briefing sessions are underway on the Defined Contribution Plan and options to shift to the new scheme from the old scheme.

Seventh: Staff engagement. The Staff Engagement Survey was launched on 23 May and closes on 6 June. Your views are very important to us. I encourage your participation. This will help us to continue to strengthen our organization.


I want to reiterate my appreciation for the hard work of staff at headquarters and in our resident missions.

With your help, ADB is delivering a large lending and grant program and implementing a lot of innovative and quality work. Your dedication to ADB’s mission is making a difference in Asia and the Pacific.

Finally, please join me in expressing appreciation to the 2017–2018 Staff Council members, and to wish all the new and continuing members of the Staff Council, under the leadership of Ms. Lu Shen, Chairperson, and Ms. Elisabetta Gentile and Mr. Kriek Dalugdug, Vice Chairpersons, a productive year ahead.

Thank you.