Budding Economist Naufiku Hamunime joined the blue bank a mere six months ago in October 2016 through the Standard Bank’s innovative graduate programme. However, in that short space of time young Hamunime has begun her steady incline in the banking institution, owing to the bank’s focus on career development, as well as her exceptional hard work and commendable work ethic.
Standard Bank stood out as an ideal place for Hamunime to start her career as an economist because of its continental significance as Africa largest bank. The bank presents Hamunime an opportunity to gain access to both national and regional experts who are passionate about harnessing the financial sector to steer development on the continent. Hamunime recently shared some of her thoughts on her journey in the bank, with the notion of career development in mind.
Q: Give us a brief background on your academic credentials as well as a bit of your upbringing.
NH: I was born in Windhoek, on April 24th 1991. I grew up in Windhoek with my two siblings and parents and I absolutely loved growing up here. After I finished High School at St. Paul’s College I went on to obtain my Bachelor of Science in Economics at Rhodes University. I then also obtained a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Geography, also at Rhodes University. And finally, I obtained my Master of Science Degree in African Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Unlike many of my peers I hadn’t always had a clear idea of what I wanted to do professionally or even what I wanted my career path to look like. I’d always been one to follow my passions and my academic career was no exception to that having studied everything from Anthropology to Chemistry, and finally being drawn to Economics and the world of Development. Working at a financial institution like Standard Bank allows me to make a difference and have a tangible impact in the society I live in. I would encourage young women who are passionate about banking and finance, and equally motivated to make a difference to seriously consider joining Standard Bank as it invests in Namibia’s future.
Q: How would you describe your career journey at Standard Bank?
NH: I’ve had a very unique start to my career, and I feel very fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to start my career at an organization as versatile and unique as Standard Bank. With a national and regional footprint that literally spans across the continent, Standard Bank is a great place to be for a young professional who is eager to gain international exposure and leverage knowledge from experienced professionals. If I had to describe my career journey at Standard Bank in five words I would definitely describe it as, a period of accelerated growth.
Q: As a leading figure at work, how do you juggle the career work and family life balance?
NH: As a young professional I feel very fortunate that at this stage of my life I have very few commitments outside of my work, with the exception of my close family and friends. And as a result of that I don’t feel that I have to juggle my work just yet, rather I feel privileged that I’m in a period of my life where I am able to fully commit to developing myself and my career. And I feel that working hard at the beginning of your career is something every young person should aim to do in order to really set the groundwork for a long and prosperous career.
Q: The Theme of this year’s Women’s Month is “Be Bold for Change”. How do you relate to it?
NH: Being ‘Bold for Change’ speaks to me of living confidently, and very importantly, not being afraid to take risks. A phrase that I always keep in the back of my mind and one that I try to live by is that, ‘the greatest mistakes we make are the risks we don’t take’. Bringing about the change we want to see in our lives will often require us to step outside of our comfort zones, and as women I don’t believe we should be afraid to take risks in our professional careers or personal lives in order to achieve our goals.
Q: How do you personally define career success?
NH: I personally believe that millennials have come to define career success for themselves in a completely different way to previous generations. Whereas at one point career success may have been defined by status or wealth, I think that for more and more young people we’re beginning to define our success by the level of fulfilment and purpose we find in our careers. Rather than being a milestone or destination we reach, I believe that career success is a journey in which we live out our purpose. Personally, I celebrate in my career when I feel that I’m being challenged and pushed outside of my comfort zone because I know that it’s preciously in those moments that there’s value addition taking place and that ultimately I will leave the experience knowing more than I did before, and therefore, being better equipped to fulfil my long term goals.
Q: How has Standard Bank promoted your career development?
NH: Having started my career at Standard Bank as a Graduate in Corporate Investment Banking, and then more recently, moving into Economic and Market Research, I’ve really been encouraged by the Banks ability to inspire and reward self-motivation. Personally, I’ve felt that working in an environment where I’ve felt encouraged and motivated to try new things has really enhanced and accelerated my ability to learn. Working as a Graduate gave me so much exposure across the Banks Business Units, and through that experience I was able to tap into my passion and grow as an Economist and Researcher. And because of that I now have a clearer understanding of where I would like to be in the future and I feel more equipped to reach my potential.
Q: What is your work ethic and how do you achieve this?
NH: I believe that it is really important to have a strong work ethic because in life there aren’t any shortcuts to success, and anything worth having requires commitment. I try to focus on building a strong work ethic by being cognisant of the fact that hard work has the ability to enhance our character. And further than that, I always try to stay aware of the fact that there are many people in our country who struggle to survive daily; and being aware of that gives me the perspective to work hard and view my work as a privilege rather than a chore.
Q: How easy is it for women to climb the corporate ladder?
NH: It really disturbs me that women still face significant obstacles in the working world, and whilst we have come a long way I believe that there is still much to be done in achieving gender parity in the workplace. At the Standard Bank Future Movers Summit, held earlier this year, one of the speakers, Samke Mhlongo, said that in her experience she found that climbing the corporate ladder as a woman in Finance meant that she always had to ‘show up’. And showing up for her meant that she always had to put her best foot forward in everything she did in order to not just do her job well but to excel. And whilst it may not always be easy or fair to do so, I believe that this is something we as women all need to be aware of, especially those of us who work in predominately male dominated spaces.