A passion for people and finance

WHAT does a day in the life of a business unit head entail?

A large part of my day involves working closely with different internal departments across the company to develop relevant functionality - developing and putting the right systems and processes in place to enhance the customer experience. I'm heavily involved in directing and assessing our emerging product strategy. I then evaluate that strategy to make sure it's relevant and adding value.

Why did you decide on this career?

From an early age, I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I initially decided to study accounting because I felt it would give me the foundation I needed to run a business.

My career at Stanlib began in fund accounting and pricing, and progressed to management accounting. I've also been involved in community development, which allowed me to utilise my interpersonal skills, which really ignited my passion to get more involved with people.

My career at Stanlib has evolved over the years, and while I still use my accounting and financial skills, my core role has changed completely.

The world is moving towards greater use of technology, and that's why my new career path appeals to me. I'm now more on the strategic side of the business. My job is well suited to me because I have the opportunity to use my analytical side by driving our strategy.

How did you get into this career?

In my previous role as head of management accounting for the retail business, I was given the opportunity of formulating and driving Stanlib's CSI strategy.

The formulation and implementation of our CSI strategy showcased my ability to successfully develop and implement strategies. I was offered my new role as my company believed I was ready to take the next step. The timing was perfect because at the time I also felt like I needed a new challenge in my own career. I wanted an opportunity to be in a more strategic, client-centric role.

What's challenging about the job?

This role requires a complete paradigm shift for me. Traditionally I have been a provider of information, having been in a support function for over six years and now I am a the head of a business unit reporting directly to the MD of the retail business.

I'm now responsible for driving strategy and seeing the bigger picture, whereas before the scope was quite narrow. Now I need to innovate and think outside of my comfort zone.

What do you enjoy the most about it?

I love the challenge of making a difference. I enjoy the fact that my results are tangible. I'm looking forward to working with my team to grow our presence in the entry-level market space with our Fundisa and Chuma products. These products are intended to encourage South Africans to save, specifically for education.

What type of person will make a success of this position?

First and foremost you need to be a people person and you need to be passionate about what you do. In this game you need to have a thorough understanding of your clients' needs and be able to harness the business strategy.

What subjects do you need to pass in high school to be able to study towards this career?

I would recommend maths and business economics. Focus on languages too. It's good to be able to communicate effectively with people.

What does one study at tertiary level to be able to get into this career?

A BCom or BSc, with majors in either finance, accounting or economics.

What growth prospects are there for this career?

The growth prospects are huge, and Make an impression and don't be afraid of hard work. The results will speak for themselves. You don't need to limit yourself: the asset management industry is growing, and there's no reason why you shouldn't grow with it if you put in the effort.

What career opportunities exist within asset management?

There are many opportunities, especially once you get some experience and develop a deeper understanding of the industry. You could be a fund manager, an analyst, a business unit head, financial adviser, channel head, broker consultant, fund marketer, a finance manager, economist or an investment expert.

What is the entry-level salary for this career?

The salary is comparable to other entry-level jobs in the financial sector. With experience, you can grow and develop, and your salary will grow and develop with you.