When Charity Chiratidzo Jinya was appointed Managing Director of MBCA Bank Limited with effect from February 8 2010, she broke new ground by becoming the first female director to head the bank in its 54-year history dating back to 1956.
Charity is an economist by profession and holds a BA (Honours) Degree in Economics from the University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom.
A seasoned banker with over 20 years’ experience in the financial services sector, she has been through several leadership programmes such as the Chicago Business School Executive Development Programme and the London Business School Senior Leadership Programme. She has also served on the boards of the Bindura University of Science Education, Waddilove School, Sandringham Methodist School, Zimsun and Arda.
FSS recently had the opportunity to chat with Charity C Jinya (CCJ) about being one of the few women leaders in local banking today, her stint in Uganda, the state of the banking sector and how she successfully juggles her multiple roles of professional woman, mother and wife.
FSS: How did you become a banker? Was it by design or by default?
CCJ: I became a banker when I moved from my previous role to join a bank. My intention was to expand my territory in the services sector. Thus this development evolved over a number of years and after 20 years I am being called a banker. My first inclination was to be a professional economist as my past experience demonstrated. Over time it was clear to me that I was more interested in how my background in economics could be applied in business.
FSS: Please tell us, in a nutshell, about your banking experience?
CCJ: My banking career began when I was appointed Senior Manager, Strategic Planning and Development at ZB Bank, which was Zimbank at the time. I rose through the ranks to the position of Executive Director ZB Bank and Scotfin. After 14 years I joined Barclays as the Chief Operating Officer in 2003, and was promoted to Managing Director Barclays Bank in 2004, a position which I held until my transfer to Barclays Bank Uganda in 2008. I subsequently moved to MBCA Bank in February 2010.
FSS: What have been the defining achievements of your banking career so far?
CCJ: I have been involved in a number of turnaround projects in my career, which I believe have helped improve performance in the organisations I have worked in.
FSS: Upon your appointment, your board chairman expressed confidence that you would bring new insights to enrich the MBCA culture/work ethic and strengthen management. How successful have you been in meeting the board’s expectations?
CCJ: Since the beginning of 2010, a new management team is in place after the appointment of a new Chief Risk Officer, Head of Advisory and Chief Financial Officer. These additions have brought new insights into the business while leveraging on the experience and expertise of the existing executives.
How we are achieving the Board’s expectations, is judged by the extent to which we meet set targets and fulfil the Bank’s mission. I believe we have set the foundations for further growth. The team has been cooperative in helping bring about change in the business that has been crucial to its survival.
As the market has been changing, we have been adapting and anticipating these changes by ensuring all colleagues are aware of expectations of the bank and its customers and the need to be proactive .
FSS: What is the single biggest thing you wish the banking public would understand about how banks function?
CCJ: Banks lend out depositors’ funds, and what is lent out needs to be repaid.
FSS: As part of World Consumer Rights Day Commemorations, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe recently accused the financial services sector of poor service delivery and from my own recent personal experiences, I must say I agree with them. How do you respond to that?
CCJ: While I would not generalise the service standards of all financial institutions, I can confirm that at MBCA Bank, customer service is at the heart of all we do, and exceeding customer expectations is an imperative to us. We recognise that the needs of customers are constantly changing and becoming more complex.
FSS: Foreign-owned banks operating in Zimbabwe are often viewed as lethargic and unresponsive to the needs of local customers from a service and product offering perspective, something usually attributable to bureaucratic, cross-border decision-making processes. Would you say that applies to the Nedbank-MBCA connection?
CCJ: The Nedbank –MBCA connection is premised on the need to utilise local expertise while the local institution benefits from the experience and resources of the parent bank.
Compliance represents our licence to do business and the protection of the brand is not negotiable. In working to achieve a balance between local demands and the need to protect the reputation of the international brand, expectations of customers may sometimes not be met.
Every effort is, however, taken to be competitive in terms of service while providing a safe and secure environment for depositors.
FSS: Women who aspire to scale the heights you have reached would want to know how you balance the demanding roles of mother and wife on the one hand and your banking career on the other?
CCJ: I have not always been good at balancing work and family, and over the years I became more conscious of this. I, therefore, make a deliberate effort to make time for my family and my spiritual growth.
My children are grown up which has made it easier. However, each person has to assess what works well for them as there is no single solution for all. A lot of factors need to be considered, such as family support and how your family handles your absence from home.
FSS: Is the glass ceiling real and are women bumping their heads against it, or we are just stumbling into gender stereotypes here?
CCJ: In my career development, I have never considered myself in terms of gender, nevertheless one cannot refute the level of interaction that men have at places such as golf clubs. Women are generally not seen as great networkers. In some cases yes, the glass ceiling exists as evidenced by statistics of women in leadership roles and boardrooms.
FSS: Which three words best describe you?
CCJ: Tenacious, candid and virtuous.
FSS: Who is your role model, if any?
CCJ: Jesus Christ. I desire to be more and more like Him.
He worked with diverse people, the good and the bad yet he still got results and remained true to Himself.
FSS: What is your definition of success and how do you handle failure?
CCJ: Success is being the best you can be according to God’s purpose. I never look at success in terms of material gains. When I fail, I get up, dust myself up, review the situation, learn from it and move on while doing my utmost not to repeat the same failure.
FSS: Have you any regrets or unfulfilled ambitions?
CCJ: Yes, I have things that I could have done better; my key unfulfilled ambitions are more in community work and I aspire to do more in this area.
FSS: Which book(s) are you currently reading?
CCJ: The Metabolism Miracle by Diane Cress, It’s Your Time by Joel Osteen and, of course, the Bible.
FSS: What advice would you give to Zimbabwean bankers on your deathbed?
CCJ: Embrace integrity, you are a custodian of depositors’ funds, the money is not your own. Wealth comes in due course; take it one step at a time.
FSS: Lastly, is there anything that I haven’t asked which you think the readers of FSS would like to know about?
CCJ: MBCA is a fully fledged commercial bank which provides focused and differentiated products to satisfy corporate, business banking, professionals and high net worth clients.
FSS: Thank you.
Omen N Muza is a banker and managing director of TFC Capital (Zimbabwe) (Pvt) Ltd writing in his personal capacity.