From the time Livingstone Gwata graduated from the University of Rhodesia his life has been in the corridors of financial institutions, but after 37 years of distinguished service, he has decided to call it quits.
Days into his first job at South Africa’s Standard Bank, the then 23-year-old Gwata was asked by his white supervisor to make him some coffee, but he refused arguing that someone else had been employed to make coffee — perhaps showing his determination that he was destined for greater heights.
“I want my coffee with a graduate touch,” the supervisor insisted, but Gwata stood his ground resulting a mini “fight”. Senior management had to intervene to save him from embarrassment.
Just to demonstrate that he was in a class of his own Gwata undertook the two-year Advanced Level in just six months scoring enough points to allow him entrance into university.
As if that was not enough, he was one of the only two students who completed a degree in Administration out of the 18 students that had enrolled three years earlier.
From then on, the now-renowned banker never looked back.
Speaking at a farewell cocktail party held in Harare, the outgoing group chief executive officer of FBC Holdings, Gwata, said the time has now come that he should step aside and pave way for the younger generation.
“I have enjoyed my stay. We have built a solid management at FBC. The bank has undergone some huge improvement from the days of power struggles between 1998 and 2003,” said Gwata.
“In the last seven years professionalism has taken root. The group is in a stronger position that it has ever been.
“The management team recently appointed to lead the group is the best you can find in the financial service sector.”
He leaves FBC after serving the group for 13 years. Gwata spent the greater part of his time at Standard Bank.
Gwata worked in various countries including Ethiopia, Nigeria and the United Kingdom to amass the great experience that he now boasts.
He is credited with developing the scorecard used for lending to individuals by most banks in the country at the moment.
Despite his immense success in the banking sector, Gwata maintained that his greatest achievement to date had been “giving up smoking after 16 years in 1982.”
Despite his successful life as a banker, Gwata had also carved a niche in professional golf and has taken an active role in the formation of the Zimbabwe Professional Golfers’ Association.
Gwata led the company’s golf team to win the 2011 Zimbabwe Corporate Golf Challenge Champions in April this year.
He said the bank was definitely on a growth path and there was scope for investors to invest in the bank.
Group chairman Herbert Nkala paid tribute to Gwata for leaving the bank in a sound position saying: “It is in our culture that we don’t just leave.”
Nkala said Gwata had led the bank with some rare quality despite negative reviews by the some analysts who described the bank as “not creative enough”.
Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe president John Mushayavanhu has since been elevated to FBC Holdings group chief executive officer.
As a token of appreciation for his long service, Gwata was given an iPad 2, among other gifts. It still remains to be seen if the banking community has seen the last of this banker.