Elizabeth Maepa has no regrets on trading her nurse's cap almost three decades ago for a career in the financial services sector.
Maepa realised while at the renamed Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, that nursing would not fulfil her ambitions.
"I found the nursing field limiting back then. I wanted an exciting career where I would grow, and move up the ranks fast.
"I have never believed that you get far by being a clone."
That decision has led to Maepa's appointment as chief executive officer of First National Bank's (FNB's) Public Sector Banking. She handles the building and strengthening of relationships between parastatals and government clients.
Maepa's financial career started in the bank where she worked her way up in various divisions after starting off as a clerk. She was later placed in an accelerated programme where she obtained her CAIB qualification from the Institute of Bankers of South Africa.
She has since added a BComm degree and was awarded Best Corporate Banker by the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals in 2005.
She came back home, so to speak, after 10 years with Nedbank as an initiator of its BEE unit in corporate banking and its establishment of a public sector unit. "I familiarised myself with my new field, looked at possible career options and found corporate banking as my passion," said Maepa.
She said the challenge in her new role was to strengthen e-government goals, in what she described as a highly regulated market. But said her work with Eskom and Transnet helped.
Maepa said she would like to see more women interested in finance and grabbing any opportunities that come their way.