Empowering Africa's tomorrow, together

Empowering Africa’s tomorrow, together



Welcome by Dr. Hischam El-Agamy

Empowering Africa’s tomorrow, together… one story at a time



Africa’s opportunity

Masterclass – Challenges and opportunities in FinTech



Siphamandla Ntombela is a ‘Homie’ making waves


2019/2020 projects at a glance

2022 projects at a glance


Alumni success stories 2019–2023


The evolution of the Absa journey with IMD



Welcome by Dr. Hischam El-Agamy

Executive Director IMD Director of Absa/IMD Learning Journeys

Dear ADP Alumni, We are proud today to celebrate the success of the Absa-IMD partnership. This year, we are celebrating the fourth year of this partnership – and we are delighted with the outcomes so far. Absa partnered with IMD to develop an integrated offering, organized into a series of learning journeys that targeted the bank’s young talent, middle managers, and senior executives. This was under Absa Academy’s Accelerated Development Program (ADP). Through a mix of custom modules, open programs, coaching, pre- and post workshop learning, and intrapreneurial customer-focused projects in several countries, the L&D initiative aimed to accelerate the development of a thriving entrepreneurial culture at Absa. One of the goals was to embed new habits and practices traditionally associated with startups – speed, customer-centricity, hands-on learning, agile experimenting, and prototyping. To address Absa’s demand for real world engagement, it was also imperative that the programs revolve around hands-on project work and cast new light on the needs of Absa’s stakeholders. 5

The Absa-IMD partnership needed to be strongly supportive of the organization’s emerging long-term objectives to: • Formulate a new strategy, spearheading Africa’s growth and sustainability • Create an inclusive entrepreneurial outlook within the organization Absa partnered with IMD to develop an integrated offering, organized into a series of learning journeys that targeted the bank’s young talent, middle managers, and senior executives • Empower employees to become outwardly focused and “customer-obsessed” • Streamline the bank’s organizational structure • Embrace principles of business agility, bringing leaders closer to frontline employees and customers • Promote a culture of data-driven customer interactions and decision-making Absa ADP participants have emerged as exemplars of learning leaders, earning the admiration of the international community that engages with IMD programs. They stand as ambassadors for Africa, showcasing to the world that our continent truly matters on the global stage. Furthermore, the leadership of Absa has set a precedent for all international groups within the IMD community. Their commitment to developing leaders has demonstrated that growth and prosperity for organizations are intrinsically linked to cultivating a high-performing culture. This culture is rooted in learning, adaptability, and innovation and is the bedrock upon which sustainable business success is built.

Find out more about the Absa-IMD Journey

Dr. Hischam El-Agamy


Empowering Africa’s tomorrow, together… one story at a time

Jeanett Modise, Absa Chief People Officer

Absa purpose As a financial institution we empower and enable – from investing in our colleagues to uplifting our communities and enabling our clients’ ambitions.

Empowering is active; every moment, walking together as partners. We unlock opportunities for our clients through imagination, energy, and passion, and finding innovative solutions. Empowering ensures we invest in people and their capabilities. Our heartbeat is African. We are committed to a Pan-African presence and contribution. We cherish our home: we care for it and we invest in it. We feel a sense of well-being and warmth. Africa is a home we are proud of. It is the continent of our birth more than 100 years ago. We value our heritage and embrace the challenge of reimagining a better tomorrow – for our colleagues, our clients, and our communities. We know that every action we take has a consequence for a meaningful tomorrow. We relentlessly deliver on our commitments today with a long-term mindset through good times and bad.


We are stewards of a sustainably better world. Tomorrow embodies the aspiration of youth and future generations. Tomorrow represents one day to many years. We are a trusted and caring partner, committed to working with all our stakeholders. We embrace diversity and inclusivity. This strengthens us, unleashes everyone’s full energy, and enables better outcomes. We are a collective, holding ourselves and each other accountable for our outcomes. We are stronger together than alone. We listen to many perspectives while remaining decisive. We work together to bring our strategic ambitions to life. Brick by brick we build a masterpiece – no matter how big or small. We embrace Africa’s heritage of storytelling. Stories bind us. We see you. We hear your story – it inspires us to act and grounds us in what is real. We believe that being purpose-led is essential, enabling the group to navigate difficult choices with agility and ensuring we meet the needs 8

of our broader stakeholders while also rallying and inspiring our people and clients. Ultimately, an embedded sense of purpose will support our long term sustainability. Part of delivering on this purpose is having clear leadership commitments.



Africa’s opportunity

David Bach, IMD Professor of Strategy and Political Economy and Dean of Innovation and Programs

It is the year 2100. Africa has exceeded the wildest expectations. The continent is peaceful, prosperous, healthy, culturally vibrant, and economically strong. It is harmonious and has strong, mutually beneficial, inter-regional relationships. Just how did it close out the 21st century so successfully when in 2023 it stood on the precipice of huge potential, but also so many dangerous pitfalls? Let us use our crystal ball and ‘future-back’ to a world where, in the 21st century, Africa not only lived up to its potential but exceeded even the most optimistic expectations for its contribution to humanity and the global economy. The question is, how does this happen? In 2023, the continent has so much going for it – most importantly the world’s youngest population, with its latent potential of a springboard of decades of growth and its associated demographic dividend. It has many countries with vast minerals and vast natural resources, which are greatly valued and in increasing demand the world over. But in 2023 it also has multiple challenges, among them military coups, concerns about corruption, bad infrastructure, a climate emergency, and the effects of a global economic slowdown. In many ways, it could go either way from here. So, what is it that by 2100 will make Africa succeed so dramatically? What are some of the important developments that will produce phenomenal progress by the end of the century?



When the history of the 21st century is written, Africa will have a central place. Just how central depends in no small part on what its current generation of leaders does today. For Africa to succeed it will be absolutely imperative for its leaders to introduce and practice good governance and to give and demonstrate the assurance of transparency and accountability – including in the private sector. Prosperity and growth will require a bold willingness to diversify Africa’s economies away from its natural resource dependence, but to also put a concerted focus on its manufacturing strength, technology development, and services. Investing heavily in education and innovation, and in leveraging technology to make quality education accessible to all, will be an absolutely critical imperative. The Africa of the future will put greater emphasis on the development of human capital, on upskilling within companies, and on designing growth in a way that is inclusive and creates broad-based prosperity. Considerable investment will be needed in infrastructure, not just any infrastructure, but in sophisticated, clean, and lean infrastructure, because sustainability must be at the core of Africa’s development model. The continent’s growth needs to be anchored by an ‘African Green Deal’ that creates jobs and future-focused industries, always with a focus on sustainability. Absolutely pivotal to Africa’s success will be plenty of regional co operation, the largest free trade area in the world, and most importantly the will and vision from leaders in the public and private sectors to embrace the values, purpose, and dedication to see this through. Along the way on this path to 21st-century prosperity, Africa will need to avoid multiple traps, the resource curse, and large-scale conflicts. While African countries have always engaged in healthy competition, in the 21st century they will realize that it is their collective strengths and qualities - and the ability to unlock growth from intra-African markets - that is the continent’s strongest asset.


Cooperation, ingenuity, and innovation will allow Africa to close out the century with a prosperous, sustainable, vibrant, peaceful, inclusive African continent. One that has a thriving cultural scene and a recognition that its cultural diversity has been a key contributor to the creativity, prosperity, and spirit of its people.



Masterclass: Challenges and opportunities in FinTech

Leif Sjöblom, IMD Professor of Financial Management

The last 10 years have seen an unprecedented number of FinTech startups trying to disrupt the established financial services industry. While most of them are perceived as threats, the financial services sector has also missed several opportunities to innovate its traditional business models. In this interactive session, Professor Sjöblom will present two business challenges that require innovative solutions. The first challenge is related to the highly fragmented “general retail trade” that forms 75% of retail in sub-Saharan Africa.

The second challenge is the CapEx-OpEx tradeoff, meaning creative leasing models to remove the hurdle of a high initial purchase price for low-income consumers. In this session, we will look at the challenges and see if together we can come up with some creative solutions.


Challenge 1: How to transform the fragmented retail sector in sub-Saharan Africa

Challenge 2: How to design creative leasing models for low-income consumers


Siphamandla Ntombela is a ‘Homie’ making waves

Siphamandla Ntombela is a bundle of boundless energy and positivity that you can’t help but be swept up in.

An alumni of the IMD Amplify Program of 2022, ‘Spha’ is currently the Manager of Direct Customer Sales for Home Loans in KwaZulu-Natal, who has a ‘Homie Love Affair’ which is infectious and spreading fast. His dynamic approach to promoting Absa’s home loans division in KwaZulu-Natal with his ‘Homie Wednesdays’ initiative won him the 2023 National Excellence Award for Innovation.

He has 20 years of experience in the banking and insurance sector, mainly working as a sales and service specialist in Absa’s physical channels, but in 2022 he was promoted to his current position, soon after starting the Amplify program with IMD.


The Amplify program is for seasoned senior managerial talent at Absa, who are looking to amplify the impact of their leadership. And making an impact is exactly what Ntombela has been doing with his home loans revolution in KwaZulu-Natal. “Two months into joining the Amplify program I was shortlisted for a promotion to a better position. Thanks to the Amplify program going into the interview I had that confidence and ability to express that belief in myself that has always oozed out naturally. I got the job and would like to believe I’ve done great things in that space in making the role my own, while being innovative, crazy and colorful,” says Ntombela. In his new role, his team manages the 70 ABSA branches in KwaZulu Natal that deals with home loans. Understanding that home loans is not an “everyday product”, and that branch staff are consumed from Monday to Friday working mainly on servicing customers with transactional and cheque accounts, he knew he somehow needed to make home loans stand out from the crowd and the clutter. “I introduced ‘Homie Wednesdays’ in KwaZulu-Natal and ensured that every Wednesday at morning branch meetings in the region the focus is on home loans and on how we can better promote our home loan products. Every Wednesday everyone with an Absa phone posts a ‘Homie Wednesdays’ WhatsApp status, promoting our home loan products and 17

campaigns, such as ‘The Great Escape’ offer, so that home loans are always top of mind in the conversations with everyone they interact with,” says Ntombela. And his initiative is beginning to make a real impact, with KwaZulu-Natal now having reached the number two performance ranking nationally for home loan intake, final grants, instructions and final registrations. Branches in KwaZulu-Natal producing less than 20% production reduced from 16 to just nine branches by the end of July. “The aim is to make home loans fashionable at branches, so staff are confident in selling this complex product and we are now seeing levels of confidence grow. Considering the tough market we operate in as the economy has taken a dive, the conversations are taking place with potential customers, and we are making an impact,” says Ntombela. He is grateful for the journey he has been able to undertake with IMD and appreciative of the confidence Absa has shown in him in allowing him to make a real difference to the organization. “For me, more than anything, the Amplify program has built confidence in me as a leader in allowing me to be able to speak my mind in terms of thinking outside the box,” says Ntombela. “It has allowed me to express things in the boardroom that are unusual and innovative, and it’s given me the oomph and belief to raise my hand and present my ideas confidently with a global outlook.”



2019/2020 projects at a glance


Zambia’s Smart way around bank queues

One of the biggest challenges for any bank is the frustration of customers caused by long queues at bank branches. With 91% of customers opting to simply leave branches due to long queues, and 44% of customers not prepared to wait in a bank queue for longer than six minutes, it is a major business challenge. Students of the LEAP class of 2019 in Zambia came up with a ‘Smart Queue’ solution that would not only benefit clients but also have significant revenue potential for the bank. With the average wait time for customers at Zambia’s top branches in Livingstone, Ndola, Kitwe, Longacres, and Mutaba from 26 to 37 minutes, LEAP graduates Susan Musonda, Hector Chabala, and Dennis Lwiindi worked with IMD’s Dr. Hischam Al-Agamy on an AsQ solution to the challenge. Their solution was a mobile platform where bank customers would enter a username and password and were authenticated and validated. An application would then provide them with a number of services to choose from, following which they would select the service and the branch. They would then be ‘auto queued’ as they received a message confirming their queue number and timing. They would then receive a scheduled reminder a few minutes before their service time to remind them when it was almost their turn so they could go to the branch to be served in a more orderly and speedy manner. The branch then provides the service, and the customer provides feedback and leaves the branch. In terms of LEAP projects, Zambia’s Smart Queue concept has been expanded in response to COVID-19-related customer service challenges and opportunities.


It has been successfully tested both on the web and as a smartphone app, along with a related value-adding function. The benefits to the bank are a reduced cost to serve, increased customer retention and satisfaction, and the optimization of staff performance and productivity. For customers, there is the benefit of reduced wait and service time, increased satisfaction, less irregular and haphazard queuing, and a more seamless customer journey and experience. 21

Empowering unbanked populations

How to increase financial inclusion with community group savings

By Absa Bank team in Botswana: Montle Maseko, Neo Mubambe, and Refilwe Seisa, and Dr. Hischam El-Agamy of IMD

In Botswana, a group savings and lending project is offering lifelines to the nation’s un- and underbanked. We think this homegrown solution could work well in other African nations too. Globally, some 1.4bn adults are unbanked. Many studies have shown that banking the unbanked – that is to say, expanding access to financial services – can help reduce poverty by making it easier to save, borrow, and transfer money, not to mention start a business. “Financial inclusion matters and is the cornerstone of development,” summarizes the World Bank in its most recent global banking survey, Findex 2021. The good news is that more and more people are gaining access to bank accounts everywhere. The bad news, however, is that there are still populations that need more help. Strikingly, in Africa, more than 40% of adults remain unbanked. That compares with 26% in Latin America and just 6% in the United States. What can be done on the ground in Africa, where 90% of financial transactions are still cash-based? How can we help people access the money they need for emergencies, education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship? Innovative solutions from fintech startups and mobile payments platforms are helping, yet more remains to be done.


In this context, we find a traditional, homegrown idea offers a fresh beacon of hope. Community group savings” have served as lifelines for the un- and underbanked for years now. In a nutshell, community group savings operate on a simple yet effective concept. Community members voluntarily come together to form a group and contribute a fixed amount of money regularly. This creates a shared pool of funds, which is made available to members on a rotational basis. Recently, these savings have gained traction in the face of increasing demand for financing options. Our joint project in Botswana To explain the origin of the project, a bit of history is in order. It was about seven years ago that the United Kingdom-based bank Barclays, which used to be Absa’s majority shareholder, announced that it was refocusing on its core UK and US markets. This signified an end to its 11-year partnership with Absa, during which the two groups had integrated systems, processes, and policies. 23

Around 2016’s divestment, Absa was faced with the challenge of fundamentally redesigning its identity and strategy. Our organization took time to rethink its core values and ways of doing business as an integrated pan-African organization. This is how Absa’s conception of Africanacity was born. Absa defines Africanacity as the distinctly African ability to get things done with tenacity, ingenuity, creativity, audacity, and positivity. With this in mind, developing Absa’s talent became a top priority of its cultural transformation to meet changing needs. So, Absa turned to IMD to shape its learning and development initiatives, targeting people at many levels of Absa’s organization. The resulting learning journeys included customized programs and corporate entrepreneurship projects enriched with coaching, mentoring, and career-development sessions. As program participants, we all applied our areas of expertise to collaborative intrapreneurship projects. Embodying innovation at speed, project work included concept testing and product prototyping – and, crucially, getting out of the office to engage with stakeholders. Each project had to meet a set of SMART criteria: that is, being Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Relevant, and Time-bound. We joined forces with Consumer Credit Risk (Neo Mubambe), Retail Digital Channels (Refilwe Seisa), and the People Functions (Montle Maseko) to take ‘Extending the Group-Savings Model in Botswana’ as our Enterprise Project during the Absa-IMD Learning journey, LEAP. It was conceived as an inclusive banking solution for Botswanans, but also as a solution that could be applied elsewhere in Africa. The project was supervised by Dr. Hischam El-Agamy, Director of IMD Learning Journeys. Putting group savings to work Group savings operate on a simple yet effective concept. Community members voluntarily come together to form a group and contribute a fixed amount of money regularly. These contributions create a shared pool of funds, which is then made available to members on a rotational basis or in times of need. Group savings rely on participants’ spirit of trust, cooperation, and financial discipline. When they work, they help; but there are risks to be heeded. For one thing, the pool of funds is limited by members’ contributions, which


might not be sufficient for the group’s funding needs. Also, most group savings lack legal frameworks, exposing them to potential abuses. In many cases, the groups’ treasurers misuse funds without the knowledge or consent of other members and then fail to repay the funds when needed. Our project work is based in Botswana, a country that was one of the world’s poorest five decades ago. Now, it is considered middle-income and one of Africa’s most stable nations, home to the continent’s longest uninterrupted democracy and a population of 2.65m. However, because of Botswana’s heavy reliance on diamond exports, its economy closely follows global price trends for that commodity. Currently, around 24% of Botswana’s population remains unbanked, below the African continent’s average, but high enough to hold back segments of its economy. In this context, back in 2016, Absa Bank Botswana (then Barclays Bank Botswana) first introduced a group savings product to provide a much-needed platform to help safeguard group contributions, ensure transparency, and solicit consent from members for any withdrawals from the fund. It was called “motshelo”, the local Tswana word describing the group of people who come together to save. Motshelo members include many in informal working situations (e.g., street vendors, house cleaners, and casual laborers), especially women. Our Motshelo banking product was the first of its kind in Botswana and has grown to service over 10,000 groups consisting of between two and 10 members each. Absa’s Motshelo members collectively raise more than BWP 200m ($15m) in savings annually. Next steps In 2023, Absa Bank Botswana augmented its Motshelo saving product by offering credit facilities with the group’s savings funds as collateral. This is a first in its local market, as traditional credit policies would not acknowledge informal groups as legal parties to a loan. We worked hard on this to ensure customers’ rights were protected, while regulatory requirements were met. Absa’s Motshelo loan product effectively lowers barriers to credit and enables Motshelo members to acquire structured-term facilities from the bank. It extends similar loan parameters (amounts and repayment periods) as those used for conventional loans. 25

Helping members to build equity and wealth, this innovative product aligns with Absa’s mission to be an active force for good, promoting sustainable development in our communities. However, we also realize that integrating group saving practices must be approached with sensitivity to more impoverished communities’ particular cultural and social dynamics. We are working to ensure that their values and needs are respected in the process. At the end of the day, we believe that this innovative offering could be adapted to other African settings. Its principles can be tweaked and localized to suit customer and regulatory needs in new markets. And that can help increase financial inclusion, with Africanacity.

Montle M Maseko is a People (HR) Governance Officer at Absa Bank Botswana Limited with nine years’ experience within the HR function. She is dedicated to servicing employees by crafting quality unforgettable experiences at every stage of the employee’s life cycle. Neo Mubambe is the Head of Retail Credit Risk at Absa Bank Botswana. He has over 10 years’ experience in risk with a specialty in credit risk. Neo has been at the forefront of the bank’s risk management strategies through key stress events which include commodity price slump as well as the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Refilwe S Seisa is a Digital Wallet Product Manager at Absa Bank Botswana, with over 10 years’ experience in the banking sector. Refilwe has a deep passion for financial inclusion and innovation in the financial technology sector, and this has been especially highlighted in her current role and other projects within the business.


2022 projects at glance


Absa Waste Bank: Ensuring financial inclusion for all

An enterprise project that has received considerable credit for its attempts to ensure economic inclusion and create new opportunities for marginalized citizens is the Leap 2022 ‘Waste Bank’ project. Developed by a broad spectrum of Absa leaders – Katlego Morake, Moosa Molibeli, Hillard Nyman, Maphuphe Kgabele, and Lungelo Motaung – the Waste Bank project provides an opportunity for the informal waste sector to contribute to the country’s GDP while ensuring the personal growth of waste pickers. Working with a range of partners, the Waste Bank team looked to create a digital wallet platform for citizens to deposit their waste at a number of recycling vending machines linked to the project while seeing their deposits and making transactions in real-time. Registering a Waste Bank account is simplified by using a WhatsApp or cell number, after which you receive an Absa WhatsApp / Digital Wallet and information about the location of vending machines in your area. After a verification process, you arrive at a recycling vending machine, enter the cellphone number linked to your WhatsApp / Digital wallet, and deposit your waste. You can use your digital wallet to track balances, transact, withdraw, or apply for credit, using Absa retail partners as withdrawal points. It is a simple and easy way of forming part of the waste management ecosystem in the country while protecting the environment and reducing air pollution as well as water and soil contamination. Absa strives to be a force for good in all the communities it operates in, and the Absa Board has set environmental sustainability goals (ESG) targets and reports on the tracking and meeting of these targets.


Projects like the Waste Bank that address the social needs of communities contribute to meeting Absa’s ESG targets. A critical component of the Waste Bank project is integrating waste pickers to ensure they benefit. During the COVID pandemic, while SA was in various stages of lockdowns, waste pickers were unable to work, did not have access to financial services, had no way to save, and had no access to credit lines. There are an estimated 60,000-90,000 waste collectors, with the project having the ability to generate more than 17,000 tons of recyclables, saving 41,000 cubic meters of landfill space per month. For waste collectors, there is an opportunity to reduce the long distances of traveling needed to sell waste – often at non-competitive prices – while also reducing the risk of carrying cash and having their livelihoods threatened. The digitization of transactions in the recycling value chain, together with an increased number of drop-off points, allows for pricing transparency and competitive pricing and allows access to credit and financial inclusion. 29

Alumni success stories 2019–2023

Senior Manager of Customer Service, Absa Bank Kenya. Oswald van Rooy (Leap 2021): Promoted to Head of Design & Analysis, Relationship Banking Technology.


Dennis Lwiindi and Maryjane Mokgethi (Leap 2019): Featured as part of the Leading without titles live stream session on LinkedIn Live in 2021, showcasing how they have lived the Absa Leadership Credo to the full! These two outstanding individuals shared how they nurture and manifest their leadership capacity and Africanacity inside and outside of Absa. Phaustina Faisal (Leap 2019): Promoted to Head of Governance and Control at Absa, Ghana in 2021. Justice Amegashie (Leap 2019): Promoted to Chief Information and Enablement Officer for Absa Bank Ghana in 2022. Neo Mubambe (Leap 2019): Promoted to Country Head of Retail Credit in 2021. Benard Kemboi (Leap 2019): Promoted to Head of Financial Control at Absa Bank Kenya. Hector Chabala (Leap 2019): Promoted to Head of Sales, Absa Zambia in 2022. Vuyiswa Sigwadi (Leap 2021): Promoted to Lead Data Enablement, CIB Analytics. Hannah Gould (Leap 2021): Promoted to Design Director, Design, Digital Channels. Dimple Chetty (Leap 2021): Promoted to Lead Onboarding Markets & Institutions, CIB. Varna Rogbeer (Leap 2021): Promoted to Operations Manager, Retail COO, Absa Bank Mauritius. Jacquiline Mukeku (Leap 2022 ): Promoted to


Lehlohonolo Mokhema (Transform 2019): Nominated, and successfully appointed, to the main jury of the Financial Times AdFocus Awards for 2020 and 2021. This 20-year forum is recognized as a landmark in the South African marketing and communications landscape. Business Day Live described it as “The jury of the FM AdFocus Awards represents the best of the industry in one room.” Abel Kaseko (Transform 2019): Promoted to Retail Head for Product and Sales at NBC Tanzania. In 2021, Abel At the forefront of the NBC team as they negotiated a three-year deal with Tanzania Football as the title sponsor of the Tanzania Premier League. Shireen Dowlut-Beebeejaun (Transform 2019): Promoted to Head of Wholesale Credit in Mauritius. Tshepo Ncube (Transform 2019): Promoted to Head of International Coverage, CIB (Tshepo also hosted the Power Drive Show on Power FM on 10 in August 2023 as part of the Women’s Month Celebrations). Ajay Angoteea (Transform 2019): Appointed Acting


Treasurer for Absa Mauritius and member of the Mauritius Country Management Committee. Mamelang Motloung (Transform 2021): Promoted to People Lead, Finance. Boledi Seima (Transform 2021): Promoted to Head of People Function, Absa Insurance Management, Corporate Functions. Marcus Howard (Transform 2021): Promoted to Chief of Staff to the ME of Public Sector and Growth, CIB. Akeer Solomon (Transform 2021): Promoted to Lead Fraud Operations Strategy, CIB. Karen Matsiko (Transform 2021): Promoted to Regional Head of TWC Sales Commercial, CIB. Nomakhepu Mlindeni (Transform 2021): Promoted to Head of Governance and Control, Consumer Product, Everyday Banking. Susan Okine (Transform 2021): Promoted to Senior People Business Lead, ARO People Function, Absa Ghana. Chuene Setati (Transform 2022): Promoted to Head of Sales, Trade Sales, CIB.


Mumba Kalifungwa (Sustain 2019): Promoted to MD and CEO of Absa Uganda in April 2020. Deon Raju (Sustain 2019): Promoted to Chief Risk Officer for Absa Group. Saviour Chibiya (Sustain 2019): Promoted to Chief Executive Officer ARO, ARO International Assignees. Dawn Mthombeni (Sustain 2019): Promoted to Executive Office of the Group Chief Executive. Mervyn Pillay (Sustain 2021): Promoted to Head of Client Acquisitions, Corporate Coverage, CIB. Michael von Fintel (Sustain 2021): Promoted to Head of Sector Coverage, Client Financial Services Africa, CIB. Monique Pennells (Sustain 2021): Promoted to Managing Executive, Commercial Coverage (FAIS), CIB. KG Bako (Sustain 2019): Appointed as Managing Executive, Talent Management and Transitions (MP) in 2023. Dr. Lesego Rametsi (Sustain 2022): Appointed as Managing Executive, Employee/Colleague Experience (MP) in 2023.


Michelle Knowles (Amplify 2021): Promoted to Head of Product

Management, Trade and Working Capital, CIB. Sandile Masengemu (Amplify 2022): Promoted to Provincial General Manager, AIFA Face to Face. Spha Ntombela (Amplify 2022): Promoted to VP-Manager of Direct Customer Sales, Home Loans, KwaZulu Natal. Spha also won the 2023 National Excellence Award for Innovation, an accolade he directly attributed to his participation in the Amplify Program. Thenjiwe Ndiweni (Amplify 2022): Promoted to Chief Compliance Officer, Relationship Banking.


The evolution of the Absa journey with IMD

Since launching the Absa Leadership Academy’s Accelerated Development Programs with the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in 2019, Absa has developed 338 leaders across all four segments.

A further 124 are enrolled in the current 2023 intake, totaling 462 Absa leaders who have been exposed to IMD’s specialized skills training. The programs are purposefully designed to address the unique needs of the Absa Group’s top talent, with the express intention of accelerating their leadership potential, to add exponential value to Absa’s pan-African organization and beyond. Absa defines top talent as those colleagues who satisfy the criteria of high potential talent (sustained performance x high learning potential), and have demonstrated high potential and a personal drive to progress to more senior roles (e.g. cluster/Group ExCo), while being true to Absa’s core values.


Program statistics 2020–2023 YTD

Average program rating 4.5 out of 5

Number of colleagues who have participated in the ADPs Business enterprise projects inititated 81 462 Overall NPS

Countries represented

10 46

Gender representation






Transform: Amplify: Sustain: Total:









These programs are adapted for varying levels of work in partnership with IMD:


Exceptional young talent earmarked for future business succession, or young talent who have been newly appointed in a leadership role, requiring the acceleration of their business and leadership skills. Candidates to have a minimum five years’ working experience.


Exceptional emerging senior talent, who are managers of others, preparing to transition into functional or executive roles, requiring the acceleration of their personal and business leadership skills at functional or organizational levels. Must have a minimum of 10 years working experience.


Seasoned senior talent, who are managers of managers, or managers of function, with 10-15 years’ working experience, looking to amplify the impact of their leadership in the context of Absa’s strategic intent.


Absa Executive talent earmarked as successors to ExCo (group, country, or cluster).


Talent statistics show that on average there is undoubtedly a higher likelihood of IMD Accelerated Development Programs Alumni being promoted than those who did not attend the programs. Specifically, the young talent segment has seen the largest spike, with 35% of Leap alumni being promoted after attending the program. The data also shows that Absa colleagues who attended the IMD programs are more likely to be able to take up lateral positions elsewhere in the organization, with the Transform Program being the highest contributor to this. ADP Alumni also seem far more likely to stay with the organization, post completing the programs. ADP testimonials “The Leap Program has helped me to identify my personality and what I need to do to grow and have the right impact on my colleagues and the business. I have acquired the skill on how to leverage on my network and allies to make a bigger impact and achieve my objectives.” — Martha Larbi, Absa Ghana – Leap “This has been a journey of self-discovery, helping me realize my potential. I was challenged to unlearn habits and pay attention to natural biases. It has set the right foundation, and I have learned what it means to influence with impact and to lead with intent, conviction, and authenticity.” — Catherine Muya, Amplify “The program focuses on strategic thinking and is based on real business case studies. The course came at the right time; my work in the organization demands that I play a critical role in the strategic direction of the business area I belong to and I am responsible for the implementation of the strategy. Real case studies are very helpful as we were required to attempt them first and learn in practice with people who were directly involved on how they approached and resolved them.” — Michael Mgwaba, Transform


What’s new in 2023: •

In 2022 there were fully virtual and partly face-to-face options for all programs due to COVID restrictions. In 2023 there will be no virtual options for Transform, Amplify, and Sustain, but virtual and face-to-face options will remain for Leap, due to the historical demand for this audience segment. • To create a sense of true immersion and cohort cohesiveness, all program launches will be hosted in person in Johannesburg, creating opportunities for delegates to be exposed to ExCo in face-to-face engagement and fireside chat-type activities, with opportunities to link up with mentors from the Alumni Community. • An exciting incentive has been added whereby participants will compete to get the opportunity to present their project concepts or TED Talks to ExCo and/or the Board at the end of the programs, for further exposure, sponsorship, and showcasing their innovative ideas and concepts. • At the end of 2022, the ADP Alumni Community was launched, which has been designed to satisfy Absa’s need to develop and support our alumni leaders beyond formal learning. This is to enable opportunities for Absa colleagues to continue their development journey and ultimately move into Master/Expert levels of competence, where they can co-create, innovate, teach, and shape innovation and best practices. Not only continuing their own leadership development but also paying their knowledge and experience forward to the benefit of Absa, industry, and society.





Nadia ten Cate Senior Group Leadership and Learning Specialist | Group Leadership, Learning & Talent

Dr. Hischam El-Agamy Executive Director, IMD Director of Absa/IMD Learning Journeys

nadia.tencate@absa.africa www.absa.africa

hischam.elagamy@imd.org www.imd.org

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