Since the early days of ATMs – when clients were still hesitant to deposit cash without assistance from a human teller – Itumeleng Monale has seen major transformations in the banking sector. We chatted to her about some of the changes she’s witnessed (and influenced) in the industry.
Now the Head of Information Management for Personal and Business Banking at Standard Bank, Itumeleng Monale has been a driving force behind some of the most revolutionary changes in financial services over the past 15 years.
“Luckily, I have found myself in the right circumstances where I’ve been matched with great people, and I’ve been able to be a part of the teams that have been able to influence strategic change at the bank. I was part of launching the programme for low-income and underbanked individuals, which is exciting because you’re able to help people live up to their aspirations. We also worked on a project that aimed to educate consumers about low-income housing and financial literacy.
“One of my biggest highlights was being able to design capabilities and functions that enabled the bank to become futureoriented; for example, transforming the ATM fleet to accept deposits and creating the first digital banking app across the Standard Bank Group.”
While new technologies have been introduced and adopted at breakneck speeds over the past two decades, Monale believes that there are bigger changes on the horizon in the banking sector. “Data and information have always been the lifeblood of financial services, they’re at the heart of how you engage with your bank,” she says. “Today, though, everyone has a much higher level of technological proficiency than they did previously, because they’re exposed to this technology every day – regardless of socio-economic status.
“ ONE OF MY BIGGEST HIGHLIGHTS WAS BEING ABLE TO DESIGN CAPABILITIES AND FUNCTIONS THAT ENABLED THE BANK TO BECOME FUTURE – ORIENTED”
“There’s now a level of maturity about how you handle your privacy and information. Banks are built on trust, and people are willing to divulge their information to us. We’re now charged with the duty of protecting and upholding that privacy. At the same time, we need to use that information to speak to our clients as individuals, to give them the services that they want in the way that they want to receive them.”
There has also been a change in gender empowerment and transformation in financial services. “Phenomenal shifts have taken place over the past 15 years. When I first joined, transformation was in its infancy. Now, I find myself being the beneficiary of men opening the corporate doors and making space for women.
” When it comes to advice for other women in business, Monale recommends knowing your ‘why’. “Things can be challenging at times, so you need to know your ‘why’ to keep yourself motivated. You need to have something to keep going back to; a reason why you will persevere.”
She adds that sponsorship and friendship are both incredibly important in ensuring that you’re able to keep your eye on the prize. Finally, she says, “Focus on the job at hand, think about your next step and ensure that you leave a legacy. There’s nothing better than this to build credibility and ensure people trust you.”