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Employee Recognition 09 Aug 2019

Engineering Ninjas level up

More than 60 Engineering team members are one step further along on their path to become Ninjas, and recently earned “belts” at a ceremony recognizing their accomplishments. The Ninja Project, a global initiative founded in 2016, empowers and supports continuous learning and self-development while showcasing the talent and technical prowess of Engineering team members at BBVA.

As participants complete training modules, courses, and certifications, they earn Ninja points. Those points are compiled and applied to belt levels, similar to those earned through the mastery of real martial arts. Ceremonies are held at regular intervals to award the belts to those Ninjas who have obtained a new level of accomplishment.

The first belt that can be earned is white, and there are seven belts total. As in martial arts, the black belt is the highest level that may be attained. At the May Ninja ceremony, orange, green, and blue belts were awarded. The department with the highest percentage of “Ninja points” in the first quarter of 2019, Enterprise Architecture, also won a trophy for its team members’ achievement.

Senior IT Security Analyst Fernando Gozalo is the top achiever in the U.S. program, as the first participant to earn a brown belt—just one step below a black belt.

Senior IT Security Specialist John Byrd is another top achiever, and is close to a brown belt of his own. A self-described lifelong learner, he believes that the Ninja Program is an excellent motivator for people to obtain new skills and keep abreast of the newest technologies in their fields of expertise.

Byrd: BBVA is an innovative and digitally focused organization, and this program provides additional tools and incentives, along with support, to encourage and empower continuous learning.

“BBVA is an innovative and digitally focused organization, and this program provides additional tools and incentives, along with support, to encourage and empower continuous learning,” he said. “I appreciate that the bank is doing everything it can to get people access to relevant training.”

Coleysia Chestnut, Associate Project Manager in Strategy, Control and Deployment, oversees and also participates in the Ninja Project (recently earning her green belt). Chestnut said the initiative has been a big hit in the U.S.

Chestnut: We’re finding that, as new technologies emerge, a number of employees have already learned the basic skill set because of their Ninja training.

“The project gives employees autonomy in terms of training, where they can self-direct their learning,” she said. “We’re finding that, as new technologies emerge, a number of employees have already learned the basic skill set because of their Ninja training, which positions us well to be a leader in banking innovation.


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