You don’t need to book his calendar to meet him for official or personal duties
By Samson Tinka
Recently I read about the current CEO Stanbic Bank Uganda Patrick Mweheire leaving SBU for a Regional role (East African Region- Standard Bank CEO)
This is good and bad news to me, why? Let's start with good news.
I worked with Patrick for 4 years which is not really important but the following made him one of the best African/Ugandan business leaders/managers. From 2014 when he became the CEO-SBU, financial performances have been largely good but also the banks reputation. 2019 financial results were announced last week and Stanbic bank Uganda posted over 250Bn Ugx as profit after tax (PAT). This is by an standard a very high performance comparing to the previous performances.
What could have contributed to this?
Cost saving initiatives.
Year in year out, Patrick emphasized cutting cost. To drive this point for four years in a row, cost cutting initiatives have been part of every one's score card irrespective of the role you play in the bank. Whether a driver, a teller, payments officer, IT manager, HR director, Legal head name it, you have to save money, time, paper, utility cost or some sort of something. That's why the bank was able to make Shs215 billion in 2018.
In the same spirit, whenever one was/is preparing a project, plan, purchase, it had to clearly show the following,
- Cost reduction
- Cost optimization
- Cost avoidance
Should ones plan fail to touch on one of the above, it wouldn't qualify to be approved.
This war on cost yielded results. By 2018, the cost of doing business was almost cut by 60% and that's why SBU has been making profits in billions.
In Patrick's meetings with staff - whether its end of year party, department activity/meeting, EXCO meeting, board meeting, annual shareholders meeting - be sure that in his speech, you will hear something to do with cost reduction.
Another area where Patrick wouldn't miss to talk about was/has been customer experience. Infact an employee is likely to get problems if he/she doesn't serve customer in time and well. This is also became part of the score card of every bank employee. Mystery shoppers were deployed from bank to bank and findings would be recorded and shared in all staff meetings. And it would be a shame for a staff to be video recorded not attending to customers well and in time. Therefore this drive enhanced customer's experience which in turn led to customer retention.
Patrick superintended a digital journey and every department had to digitise some process. More critical business units like credit and payments had to digitize their process from being manual to automated (STP-Straight through processes) the digital journey, like other two areas mentioned above, became part of every employee score card. Even internal process like procurement, per diem requisitions were all digitised. One is able to initiate a transaction or claim from his home and will be approved within minutes. The digital initiative helped both staff and customers. Turnaround time was cut by almost 80% in some process like loan processing. Digital channels like bulk note acceptors (BNAs) were introduced in almost all branches. One doesn't need to enter a bank to deposit 300m Ugx. And these BNAs credit ones account instantly. Therefore the digital push by Patrick yielded tremendous results in a short time.
One budget that Patrick approved without cutting is the learning/development budget. Patrick supported every staff/customers to train at all costs. And that's why the bank has some of the best brains in the industry. It's a result of continuous training and learning.
Certainly the game changer in all that I have mentioned is his personality. You don't need to book Patrick's calendar to meet him for official or personal duties. Whereas you would expect him to be a very busy person due to his role as a CEO of the biggest bank, Patrick will always find time to attend to you whether you are on appointment or not. What you need to do is to walk into his office, knock and enter, if he is busy, he will ask you to take seat and hold on a little. Immediately after, he will join you on the couch and listen to you attentively.
He is such a good listener, and certainly he will respond to all your issues. Patrick lives a very humble life. I even don't think he has more than four pairs of office shoes. Not because he can't not afford; I think he finds it extravagant. And certainly that's why he so strict on cost and expenditure.
Patrick is so informal. He has always signed official documents while in the lift, in the car, café taking tea. He is not the come to my office guy. He will attend to you where you meet.
Patrick is a workaholic. Many times I would get his office door opening notifications on Sunday or public holidays. I would send security staff to check who is in office, the answer would be CEO. And he would stay for long like a normal working day.
Patrick will return every call and email sent to him including WhatsApp messages. This is a big challenge to most of African/Uganda executives. They never want to be called by junior officers. It's a shame. Patrick's phone is reachable by everyone and at any time.
What's lessons do I pick from Patrick's leadership style and personality?
- Patrick is very sensitive to cost and his belief on cost is that, however much revenue/income one makes, as long as costs are not trimmed, profitability will be the thing of the past.
- Secondly that culture is important for any organisations growth. Culture introduced and sustained in SBU is a culture of cost cutting, digitalizing every process and touching customers lives positively.
- Patrick believes that Ugandans are in position to deal with leadership and management issues. In SBU most leadership positions are held by Ugandans. And this has been his agenda to recruit and empower young Ugandans in leadership positions.
Finally, the bad news! Uganda's banking industry is going to miss such a leader in Patrick, but it is also fair to allow growth in his career. Who know that one day Patrick will be at ROSEBANK, 50 Bath Ave, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa as the next Group CEO. Bye bye Patrick and welcome Anne Juuko
The writer is a former security manager of Stanbic Bank Uganda.