Basani Maluleke: a woman in leadership

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Published on Capitec’s LinkedIn page, 23 September 2022

She made history by becoming the first black woman at the helm of a South African bank, which is why we’re excited to have Basani Malulekejoin our fold. We recently spent some time with her to learn more about her career path and why she chose to join Capitec.

Basani Maluleke started her career in law. “My father was a lawyer who positively impacted the lives of many South Africans, and I aspired to follow in his footsteps. I believed pursuing a career in law would help me do that.” However, after qualifying as an attorney, Basani knew she didn’t want to do this long term.

“Fortunately, I came across a job spec in corporate finance that combined finance expertise and law at Rand Merchant Bank (RMB). As I’d studied law and a B-Com Accounting, this was the perfect fit for me.”

She likens the learning experience at RMB to that of being on a rocket. “It was fast paced, and I had to navigate steep learning curves, but I learned so much, especially about banking.” In 2009, Basani realised she wanted to gain a better understanding of business and went on to do her MBA at the Kellogg School of Management in the United States.

Armed with her MBA, Basani knew she wanted to manage a large business. She returned to South Africa and joined FNB as Head of FNB Private Clients. “A year in, I knew this wasn’t the right fit for me, so I returned to corporate finance for a short period before joining African Bank as a non-executive director.” Two years later she joined the executive team, before moving into the position of CEO.

In January 2021, Basani announced her resignation as CEO of African Bank after a three-year tenure, and in August 2021 revealed that she’d be joining Capitec.

Joining Capitec: a force for good

“I started as divisional executive of business solutions in October 2021 and moved into the role of divisional executive of operations in July 2022,” she says. “My job, in a nutshell, sees me looking after all client-facing channels at branch level and Capitec Direct. A big part of what I do is making sure our front-line staff have the necessary training and support to serve our clients, that they understand all compliance requirements and know how to optimise our clients’ experience with us.

“The decision to join Capitec was easy for so many reasons,” says Basani. “For a start, I believe Capitec runs the best operations engine of any bank – and potentially any retailer – in South Africa.” She adds that she was enticed by the opportunity to learn how Capitec achieves this, while gaining an understanding of the detail behind the process.

“The impact Capitec has on people’s lives, both in terms of staff and clients, also excited me. I see Capitec as more of a tech company than an ordinary bank, so the proposition to join the business was exciting because there’s just so much to learn.”

The management team also played a big role in Basani’s decision. “They are the founders of Capitec and being able to work alongside them is a truly unique experience. I think there’s a point in our careers when we join a company because of the people rather than the job. The people behind Capitec are genuine, smart and speak to my heart. Capitec was the right company for me to join.”

The Capitec culture

“It’s definitely a fast-paced environment,” says Basani. “People want to be able to make decisions quickly. To be successful at Capitec, you need to know where the North Star is and do the actual work to get us there. Our culture needs individuals who can internalise lots of information and figure out what to do with it.”

The Capitec culture of putting the client first is firmly entrenched. “You can’t overestimate that,” explains Basani. “Many banks talk about putting clients first but having worked in the banking industry for about 20 years, I can say that Capitec gets it right. The number of times we hear positive things about client satisfaction is at a level I never imagined possible.”

Looking ahead

Career progression is important at Capitec. “Gerrie [Fourie] feels strongly about this and he’s right. We need to make sure we provide opportunities for people to grow within their respective roles,” Basani says. “We know people want to feel a sense of career progression in order to be fully engaged. All of us want to feel like we’re growing, and I think that achieving this will create huge value for our people down the line.”

She is excited about the future of the business. “Our business bank continues to grow, which means we’re creating even more opportunities for our people to grow in different areas, to learn different things and enrich their own experience of the Capitec world.

“I have so much to learn, but I love learning. I’m still fairly new in the Capitec environment but having the opportunity to understand how it works is an absolute privilege.”

Rizwana Butler: reimagining women in the workspace

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Published on Capitec’s LinkedIn page, 30 August 2022

She joined Capitec in March 2021 as Group Executive of Human Resources. At a recent event to celebrate Women’s Day, Rizwana Butler shared her advice about how to reimagine women in the workspace.

Here’s her three simple but powerful lessons to share with all women:

  1. Break the rules and own your space
  2. Know your worth
  3. Honour your uniqueness

Lesson 1: Break the rules and own your space

Rizwana grew up in a traditional family where most women, even if they studied, eventually got married and started a family. “I knew at a young age that this was probably not what I wanted to do,” she says. “I wanted to study and have a career!” So, Rizwana dared to break the rules.

Her parents hadn’t saved for her tertiary education but that didn’t stop her. Rizwana wanted to go to university. “I paid my own way and completed my bachelor’s and honour’s degrees.” During her honour’s degree, she received three job offers, one of which was at a mining company.

“The head of the Department of Business Administration at the time said to me: ‘Rizwana, you’re a woman, don’t take the mining job. Take something closer to home because we all know that you’ll do this for a couple of years until you’re ready to do what you’re meant to do: stay at home and raise a family.’”

She decided to break the rules and accepted the job that meant the most to her. “I joined a mine that was about 50km outside of Witbank and when I arrived, I discovered that the only languages spoken were Afrikaans and Fanagalo [a pidgin language based on Xhosa, Zulu, English and Afrikaans].”

Her new employer had only ever had male graduates join the company in the past. “I discovered that because I wasn’t married, I’d have to live in the single males’ quarters. That didn’t bother me, I was there to do a job. I spent the first year of my career living in the single males’ quarters, going underground and doing all the things everyone told me were not typically what women did.”

Throughout the course of Rizwana’s career, she’s continued to break the rules and own her space. This includes her role at Capitec, where she became the first female executive. “When I spoke to people about this opportunity, they’d always ask: ‘Rizwana, you’re going to be the first female executive at Capitec, is that really what you want to do? How are you going to manage the male-dominated Exco?’ My response was always: I’ve dared to defy the rules before. This will be a walk in the park for me.”

Lesson 2: Know your worth

Rizwana admits that although she’s had an incredible career, there have been ups and downs. “I remember a moment when I was going through one of the worst times I could ever think of. You know this situation: nothing ever works out, you don’t have a connection with your team, and you can never see eye to eye with your boss. I couldn’t understand what was happening, and I knew it was affecting my mental and physical health.”

She recalls waking up in the middle of the night with heart palpitations, which was completely unknown to her. “On Sunday afternoons, I’d find myself in a bad mood because I knew that I’d have to go back to the office the next morning. I couldn’t wait to get to Friday afternoon.” Rizwana knew something was wrong and confided in her mentor. His advice was simple: know your worth.

“Sometimes you must take a step back and ask: Is what you’re doing to yourself worth it? I decided not to leave the company, and I transferred out of the team instead. It was the best decision I could have made. I started to enjoy my work again and everything fell back into place.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help either, she adds. “We’re scared of seeing the imperfections in ourselves, and sometimes we forget that there’s a sisterhood around us — other women who are so keen to see us succeed that they’re willing to lend a helping hand. And let’s not forget our male counterparts, who are often standing next to us, cheering us on, even if we don’t notice it. Help can come from the most remarkable sources.”

Lesson 3: Honour your uniqueness

Rizwana admits that early in her career she strived to be like her male colleagues, from their banter to how they managed conflict. “Guess what? I failed miserably. It took me a long time to realise that I was unique.” Her uniqueness, she explains, comes from her ability to connect with people and to intuitively get a sense of what’s going on.

“We’re often told not to say anything until you know the facts, until you have all the data from that. But sometimes you must trust your female instincts and then find the data later to support what you have to say,” she concludes.

30 minutes with Wandile Zondo

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Published in Nine Yards magazine, Issue 1, 2020