Welcome to Ultimate Management Solutions
Ultimate Management SolutionsUltimate Management SolutionsUltimate Management Solutions
+254 788 858 570
Ultimate Management SolutionsUltimate Management SolutionsUltimate Management Solutions


In July 2022, I met Patel, a Bank Manager in charge of Information and Communication Technology who I last met in 2013. We first met back to 2003 during a training organized by SWIFT, the international money transfer organization. Subsequent to the meeting in July 2022, we have met twice as well as had a few telephone conversations. Patel has worked with one employer for almost 30 years rising from an entry level position to being the Head of ICT, a two-man department since the bank’s ICT workload is low mainly due to a small branch network (2), low staff numbers (less than 50) and lack of digital banking channels.

While interacting with Patel, I remembered two other gentlemen – I will call them Peter and Charles – who also joined the banking sector around the same time as Patel. Peter was working for a bank that, until the early 2000s, had only 4 branches, less than 100 staff and no digital channels. He worked there for 18 years during which time the bank opened more than 70 additional branches, introduced Automated Teller Machines, Debit Cards, Agent Banking and Internet Banking amongst other digital channels. He has since left the bank and is currently working with a software development company where he leads a team that offers technical support to commercial bank, SACCOs and microfinance institutions that use the company’s financial technology solutions.

Peter was and is still working for a bank which between the years 2000 and 2022 has opened over 150 branches in Kenya, introduced multiple digital channels and opened subsidiaries in more than 7 countries. During his time with the bank he has served as a project manager during implementation of 2 new core banking systems, cheque truncation system, internet banking and agent banking. He has also had a stint as Head of ICT for one of the bank’s subsidiaries in addition to acting as the Group Head of ICT on numerous occasions.

Each of Peter, Charles and Patel claim to have over 30 years’ experience in ICT. However, a closer look at their exposure shows that Patel is limited to a single wide area networking implementation, management of a small database and support for a limited number of users. He also lacks exposure in digital banking. On the other hand, Peter and Charles have been exposed to multiple Wide Area Network implementation, project management and digital banking. In addition, Charles has been exposed to client support while Peter has international exposure as well as leadership exposure at Group level.

During my banking and consulting careers, I have come across many such contrasting career exposures. Some emanate from personal preferences where employees resist change in the form of job enrichment, job rotation and transfers. Some also wrongly believe that working in one role for long makes one an expert through specialization and therefore ignore the enrichment that comes from different perspectives that are gained from working in different settings. For example, I remember a banking colleague who defined himself as an expert in asset finance and was disinterested in learning and working in any other role not just within the bank but within the lending function as well. I wonder whether this kind of a gentlemen and Patel can claim to have 30 years’ experience or should state that they have one years’ experience repeated for a number of times that they have been in that one role e.g.one year repeated 30 times for Patel.

Limited exposure can also result from organizational and industry limitations. Organizations that stagnate like Patel’s employer may not offer opportunities for growth. Other organizations may not offer job rotation opportunities to employees and may also not be willing to invest in staff training and development. Within some industries or institutions, employees are viewed as single skilled without the ability to learn additional skills. I have come across this phenomenon especially in some public entities as well as banks. For example, if an employee’s first posting is in the cash office they may be viewed only as a cashier as well as a potential chief cashier or cash officer. Opportunities to work in finance to audit may not be provided not because of an employee’s unwillingness or inability to take them, but due to a perception that the employee can only work in the said department.

In spite of the foregoing, I realized that career development is in the hands of an individual. However, a majority of people do not recognize this and wrongly believe that their employer is the one responsible for their personal development. Some simply accept whatever the employer throws at them and are unwilling to challenge the corporate and industry status quo. I personally requested for transfers four times, succeeding twice, while I also changed employers twice once I realized that I could not get the change I wanted with a particular employer. In consulting, I have worked pro bono with a view to gaining experience in a particular field. In conclusion, its the failure to take charge of one’s career that leads to the tragedy of having one year’s experience repeated 30 or more times during a person’s career.

Dr. Weru Mwangi is the CEO & Lead Consultant at Ultimate Management Solutions, a firm specializing in training & consultancy in Finance, Governance, Strategy, Risk Management and Leadership Development.  He can be contacted on weru@umslgroup.com  

Leave A Comment