By Patrick Kagenda
Interview with Lamin Manjang, Chief Executive and Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank (U).
When do you start your day?
I normally start my day by 5:30am in the morning when I do my early morning prayers as a Muslim. I watch a bit of business news on international TV channels before I head to the office. Usually there are meetings I have to chair; I specifically deal with issues to do with staff and customers. So it’s a very dynamic day with lots of meetings and conference calls.
What challenges do you face?
They are the normal challenges that a CEO would face; mainly how you drive and sustain the performance of the organisation. The second challenge is on people. How do I make sure that my staff continue to be engaged and continue to drive the performance of the business? The third challenge is on customers. We need to make sure that we are constantly listening to our customers, making sure that we are meeting the needs of our customers and finally I think; from a banking point of view risk is always a challenge. I have to make sure that the risk management processes are working well so that we don’t get any risk of fraud and operational losses.
How do you deal with these challenges?
I make sure that our strategy is right, that we are focusing on the right statement of the market, the right products, and giving the right solution to our customers so that we can continue to drive the performance of the business. In terms of staff it is engagement. That is a very critical rule. I have to make sure that the staff is committed and that they are also motivated. We have incentives in place, the work and recognition scheme to make sure that the staff that do well, are actually recognised for their good performance. In terms of the customers, we make sure that we are addressing the needs of our customers, making sure that we have the right products and listening to the voice of our customers and making sure that we are meeting their needs. On risk management I constantly reiterate the message of vigilance, make sure that staff follow laid down procedures and practices so that we are not caught off guard.
How do you deal with the growing competition in the banking sector?
Competition is a fact of life. The key is to focus on our strategy. We have articulated our strategy very clearly and the challenge for us is to execute and implement that strategy effectively. Also we need to be innovative. We have always led the field of innovation in this market in coming out with the first ATM machines, the first to provide all week banking, the first to provide mobile banking. We are constantly ahead of the course and meeting the needs of our customers.
What is your view on telecom companies offering money transfer services?
Again we have seen the phenomenon of mobile money transfer services taking off, it started in Kenya with Safaricom and we have seen MTN, Zain and UTL coming up with a similar service here. There is a natural progression of the convergence of banking and telecoms to some extent, we see it as a positive development. The telecoms companies have a very large penetration level. I think they are able to reach certain segments of the population that may be did not have access to banking. We are partnering with the telecoms companies, but we also have our own mobile banking solution where our customers of Standard Chartered Bank can actually use their mobile phones to make inter- account transfers to pay their utility bills, to check their balances, to top up their airtime and so on.
What is your take on the central bank`s proposal to encourage more micro deposit taking institutions?
Uganda has a relatively low penetration level of banking services. Allowing more players to come into the industry will allow more people to get access to banking and financial services.
What new innovation is coming up at StanChart bank?
Mobile banking is an example of how we are making life convenient for our customers. They don’t need to come to the bank to check their balances. We are adding more functionality to our ATMs.
What is your style to management?
There are four pillars of leadership which are very critical for a successful leader. The first one is to have a very clear vision of where you want to take the organisation and that the vision is communicated and is owned by the team that you lead. The second pillar is to have a passion for people, to really care for the people that you lead, to make sure that you are looking after their interests and their welfare and making sure that you are helping them to grow as individuals. The third pillar is the delivery of results. Ultimately the reason why you are chosen as a leader is because people expect you to help to deliver and achieve results. The final pillar is integrity.As a leader your word is your bond, you say what you mean and you mean what you say, and that your values should reflect qualities that the organisation is looking for. I think if any one of those four is missing; it is like a brick is missing on a house.
Who are your mentors?
Nelson Mandela has been a role model in terms of his vision, leadership, his principles, to me he epitomises those four principles that I have mentioned and therefore I admire him greatly. In the business field I admire Jack Welsh who used to be the CEO of General Electric for twenty years; he transformed GE into a very dynamic business. It is his organisation that was still able to be nimble and be able to achieve astounding results.