We sat down with Mark Nwaila who heads up Regulatory Operations and the Non-Resident Centre in Group Shared Services, to talk about the importance and essence of leadership. Mark has been with Standard Bank for nearly five years but before joining us, he worked at several international corporates.
In a nutshell, Mark is passionate about Human Capital Development, sustainable business driven by authentic leadership.
After spending time with other International Corporates – what attracted you to Standard Bank?
I believe that Standard Bank plays a much greater role in uplifting society through its customer and employee value proposition. Another consideration was working for a purpose driven organization that does more than talk about making a difference but is intent on directing meaningful change. Africa is our Home, we drive her growth. That’s personal, and that’s meaningful; and all our daily activities within this bank are aligned to the purpose of propelling Africa forward.
What is an average day like in your world?
My day is about enabling others by and making sure I share as much of my knowledge as possible. I relish the idea that knowledge is a transferable commodity. I believe that empowered people know what to do, they make informed choices and good decisions. I’m truly passionate about my responsibility as a leader. I need to empower my team with the right knowledge and tools to give them the best opportunity to being successful and in turn positively affecting those around them.
What do you do as Head of Regulatory Operations and the Non-Resident Centre for the organisation?
Essentially it is a risk mitigation role, which includes the risk profiling of our customers. The regulators need us, as a bank, to understand our customer’s risk profile so that we can always demonstrate that we understand our overall risk landscape.
From the Non-Resident Centre perspective, we look after emigrating customers or pure Non-Resident customers who have banking interests in South Africa. By way of example, Ntombi lives in the UK but travels to South Africa every year on a safari trip, she can open an account as a non-resident and deposit money that he can then use when she is in South Africa without having to do foreign exchange transactions, as the Non Resident account would have already catered to FOREX conversion when funds are sent to South Africa.
How is the role structured and why is it in Group Shared Services?
Regulatory Services and the Compliance environment are my biggest stakeholders as they are the ones that determine policy and guidelines; and we execute against the policy.
What have you learnt from your time at the other big international corporations?
In my experience, a high-performance culture is important because it embeds the belief that our success is determined by the work we do, and that if we don’t do the work, we won’t get the results we set out to achieve.
In your career at Standard Bank what has been some of your highlights?
One of my greatest highlights was to be given the opportunity to implement different operational strategies that would significantly uplift team performance and likewise exceed the goals of the teams I was leading.
We were purposeful by using an agile approach to work. What that meant was if we were working on something that was not yielding results – we would quickly change the way we worked (failing fast). This helped us to focus on being effective and impactful as opposed to keep on working on a process that was ineffective.
We also focused on a change of mindset and behaviour. We changed our performance rating system from one-on-one to a monthly stand-up where everyone has an opportunity to rate themselves on the work they have done and provide their motivation for their rating. The whole team has an opportunity to give input. This encourages honest conversations and collectively working as a team to achieve team goals. A transparent working environment takes away the negative behaviour around performance management.
The unintended benefits have been huge. We stopped the talk of “my manager says”, or “they do strategy and we implement” – we all work and contribute to the same goals. We manage effectiveness through directed and coordinated efforts.
It was an interesting journey to get people to change and adopt new ways, but now the expectations have changed and the expectation is that you have critical conversations with your peers and all levels of leadership. The landscape has changed for the better.
You have talked a lot about leadership principles, do you have a role model whom you think gets leadership right?
My philosophy around leadership is less about qualities and more of being, i.e. identity. In business schools and business seminars, the focus is often on leadership qualities. For me it’s more about how we show up as human beings, both consistently and authentically. A leader should own their emotions and show vulnerability. They should be able to admit they are not perfect and sometimes can be human just like anyone else; but the important thing is to remember the impact of your behaviour on others. If you make the right decisions, you can have a positive impact on those around you.
Leaders I have admired are those who have a sense of being and a deep sense of humanity. I appreciated and admired a lady called Roze Phillips who mentored me. She is authentic and calm. She taught me how to apply the calmness and make it part of my being. Another lady, Nicky Newton-King, a fantastic human being, she is dynamic, she sees business for what it is, and she is the one person who taught me to separate emotion and delivery. She showed me how to create a clear line between driving strategy and being empathetic within the workplace. The principle of work is work and there should be no cross over between how we relate as people. Those two things are mutually exclusive however intertwined. It’s an art to know the distinction.
Patrick Sithole from Tiger Brands is exceptional at challenging. He taught me that if things don’t make sense challenge them and Noel Guliwe from Medipost is the voice of reason, he understands the challenges of South African organizations in the context of South African socio-political landscape. All business models must be aligned to this phenomenon, if organisations are to see success in the goals they aim to achieve.
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The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is here with the 5IR not far away. As an organisation, we need to gear up to remain relevant in an agile, fast paced competitive landscape.
To help us get there, we partnered with IBM in their Global Elite Academy, where employees from across the company are represented to understand how to stay at the forefront of the of the changing data and technology landscape.
Digitisation is a strategic priority for Standard Bank, building and understanding AI (artificial intelligence) capabilities is key to this journey.
In recognition of the need to upskill staff in these fields, we engaged IBM to assist in putting together a two-day academy that exposed our staff to global expertise with in-depth knowledge on the latest trends and learnings in data and AI.
Simphiwe Phakathi, Head: Customer Insights and Analytics PBB Africa Regions at Standard Bank Group, who is tasked with driving development and integration of data and AI systems across the group, says that leveraging AI is the only way we will continue to exist.
He explains that enterprise innovation is linked to technology and AI development. By leveraging these capabilities, it will benefit customers, guide improved decision-making and lead to better outcomes for the organisation.
Phakathi says that as leaders, we have a responsibility to ensure that our businesses grow and equally our continent. “The skills of the future will look significantly different to that of today, we must prepare for that eventuality.”
The elite academy was an opportunity for Standard Bank staff to network with counterparts globally and learn about what they’re doing in the world of data.
Standard Bank is further leveraging its partnership with IBM, allowing access to a learning and development platform accessible to all of the bank’s employees in South Africa. The platform offers a host of tutorials aimed at helping employees build skills for the future.
This journey is critical for us as an organisation. Data has become a key resource in the world and within the bank, everything is about information. When we say Africa is our home, let’s leverage all the data, tech and insights to really drive its growth.
In a field that is moving as fast as data analytics, it is important for practitioners across the group to understand what’s possible and how to preempt what could come next so that data can be structured appropriately for the new wave of competitiveness.
Watch highlights from the IBM and Standard Bank two-day Global Elite Academy conference here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPcSXTv4XHc
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There is a lot of buzz and excitement around AI and Data. It’s often difficult to tell how much is hype and what the real impacts will actually be. Simphiwe Phakathi Executive Head, Consumer Insights and Analytics for PBB Africa Regions, firmly believes the impact of AI for the banking industry will be profound and far reaching.
He believes that AI and Data have the power to change EVERYTHING. Customer needs and preferences are changing at a rate of knots, to remain relevant we need to leverage AI so that we can create exceptional customer moments and experiences that will make customers feel valued and connected to us. If we fail to leverage this opportunity, the reality is that someone else will, so effectively we have no choice.
Starting at Standard Bank 13 years ago as a Junior MIS (Management Information System) Analyst, Simphiwe seized opportunities working in Card Division, Fraud Risk Analytics largely focused on detecting and preventing card fraud in real-time. He also had experience with Inclusive Banking from a risk management perspective and heading up measurement for PBBSA, then moving on to data quality management and the giant undertaking by joining Africa regions which has largely been unchartered territory. Simphiwe has embraced the challenge and says it is a privilege of heading up Customer Insights and Analytics for PBB Africa Regions across 14 countries.
When asked what makes him so passionate about his job, he commented, “Data has the ability to help us create impactful moments for our clients. Being in the role I am in I have the opportunity to ensure this a reality not just in one country but across 14 countries. The far reaching scope of the position is what fuels my energy, helping me play a part in living up to our purpose of “Africa is our home, we drive her growth.”
Watch the IBM and Standard Bank two-day Global Elite Academy conference highlights here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPcSXTv4XHc&t=9s
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Adam Gottlich has a passion for decision science and consumer behaviour. He is a natural leader and is always searching to expand his knowledge and understanding of the world we operate in researching a variety of topics including neuroscience, cognitive science, behavioural economics and evolutionary psychology. He finds inspiration and content from podcasts, books and white papers and keeps a keen eye on the latest research emanating from the world of Behavioural Science.
Adam graduated from University of Witwatersrand with an Honours Degree in Psychology and added a Master’s Degree in the Psychology of Economics from one of the oldest and most reputable universities in Netherlands, Leiden University.
In his role at Standard Bank he is mandated to influence staff and customer behaviour positively in order to help people make better decisions. Behavioural Science is all about understanding behaviour in a variety of contexts and his work is very scientific in the sense that it involves a lot of strict testing to assess how successful various nudges are as well as rapidly testing hypotheses in various areas. Some recent projects include personalisation tests on the Standard Bank website which have led to an increase in clicks and lead submissions.
Adam also launched South Africa’s first Behavioural Science Academy where is he teaching 35 people from across Standard Bank Group the fundamentals of Behavioural Science. The course is going to be scaled next year as Behavioural Science has been identified as a future skill that can be used across the Group.
Adam’s aim is to make Standard Bank the world leaders in Behavioural Science and believes that this is not only attainable, but it actually something we are making great progress towards.
Adam’s aim in his role is to drive towards truly understanding customer and staff behaviour and believes in elegant simplicity. Adam hopes to complete his MBA and PhD in the near future.
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Stanbic Bank Tanzania today reaffirmed its commitment to the development of Tanzania and announced that in 2019 it provided TZS 177 billion in funding to various infrastructure development projects in the country. Providing finance and financial expertise to the private and public sector in Tanzania is a key focus for the bank.
Stanbic Chief Executive Mr. Ken Cockerill said, “Stanbic Bank is well positioned to play an important role in supporting Tanzania’s second Five Year Development Plan, which seeks to encourage industrialization and promote economic growth and social development.”
Mr Cockerill also mentioned that, “Infrastructure development is the cornerstone for sustainable long-term economic growth and competitiveness. With that in mind we are proud to be at the forefront of bridging the infrastructure funding gap to accelerate socioeconomic transformation in Tanzania.”
Unlocking private sector funding will create solutions to bridge Tanzania’s and the continent's infrastructure deficit and challenging business environment by developing and financing infrastructure, natural resources and industrial assets with a view to enhancing productivity and generating economic growth across Africa.
The Government of Tanzania has in 2019 dedicated over TZS 12.2 trillion (USD 5.3 billion) towards key development projects that include Africa’s longest Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), the Uganda-Tanzania Crude Oil Pipeline and Julius Nyerere International Airport Terminal 3.
On his part, Stanbic’s Head of Corporate & Investment Banking, Mr. Manzi Rwegasira said, “Tanzania is well on its way to bridging the infrastructure gap which is critical to Tanzania becoming a middle-income country by 2025.”
Tanzania’s population is also growing at a rate of 1.6 million people per year and this is projected to reach 67 million people by 2025 and 77 million by 2030, hence the importance for modern infrastructure for an upcoming middle-income country.
Mr. Rwegasira added that, “It is through collaboration between the private and public sector, spearheaded by corporates such as Stanbic Bank Tanzania, that will drive inclusive development in our economy.”
Official data from the Bank of Tanzania shows that the country’s economy grew at an average GDP growth rate of 6.6% in 2018 with the infrastructure sector significantly contributing to this growth. This year, the economy is projected to grow by 7.1 % with infrastructure projects such as roads, ports and rail expected to drive Tanzania’s GDP growth.
Since, 2018 Stanbic has raised over TZS 300 billion in financing for Tanzanian companies and institutions across the agricultural, consumer, industrial, natural resources and government sectors.
The bank is committed to working with the government and key stakeholders to improve the investment and resource mobilization climate in order to ensure that Tanzania realizes its socio-economic aspirations by 2025.
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Josef Langerman’s unbreakable love affair with technology and computers started back when he was a lanky preteenager. When his father bought him a Commodore 64 computer and an IBM XT in the 80s, the first seeds for a long-lasting career in technology and innovation were planted. Josef went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree with majors in Computer Science and Informatics. Fast forward decades later and he is now the Head of Technology Strategy, Architecture and Transformation at Standard Bank Group.
With the mammoth task of building networks for the largest bank on the continent, Josef always strives to not only make Standard Bank Africa’s leading digital bank but also make a lasting impact on the continent’s IT landscape. He’s “responsible for the transformation of Standard Bank Group into a high-velocity customer-centric organisation. This entails changing the ways of working as well as establishing the culture and industry communities that will enable this large-scale transformation,” he shares. With such a transformational vision, it’s no wonder Josef is a sought-after speaker on organisational transformation in his native South Africa and abroad.
While Josef boasts a glowing career characterised by senior IT positions in some of South Africa’s big companies, you’d be mistaken to think he’s only about machines. As a leader, the 47-year-old computer whiz is invested in people. With 100 people currently reporting to his structure, he gets a deep sense of purpose from developing talent and seeing his mentees grow in their careers. Speaking passionately about investing in people, he says, “It’s the only thing that matters. You cannot do big organisational change if you don’t build relationships with people. And that’s very hard for technical people because we always think it is how clever we are, how well we work, our specialist knowledge.” He adds: “The team runs guilds and coaching circles to help with personal and business evolution. As the world changes, so does the dynamic of how we do our work. People find themselves working in diverse teams, with diverse skills, where they must take direction from a variety of stakeholders.
So, how does one stay relevant and effective as a leader? For Josef, it’s all about talking to people and not being obsessed with details. “Being very detail-oriented is incredibly important early in your career. Subject matter expertise is what gets you promoted, but later in your career, when you start to manage diverse teams, you can’t be the expert anymore. Many leaders fall into the trap of trying to be the SME on everything and they end up neglecting a really important part of their job, which is building relationships,” he explains.
One of the defining moments that helped shape Josef into a leader and executive he is today came in 2014 when he, along with other Standard Bank executives, took a leadership trip to Silicon Valley. While he learnt a lot from Google, Microsoft and McKinsey, his greatest enlightenment came from Facebook. His biggest take-home from the social giant was that culture matters. The company’s culture left him in so much awe that he aptly describes his experience there as “freedom.”
That one simple yet powerful word has come to describe more than his experience at Facebook, it now embodies his qualities and ways of working as a leader. Freedom to experiment and try out new things. Freedom for his mentees to grow and define their career paths.
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