By Shamilla Kara
MEET Yustus Aribariho, whose career story of a journey from a teller to a senior group executive straddles only 10 years.
Based in Singapore, the worldâ€™s fastest-growing economy this year, according to Doing Business 2011, Aribariho is the business planning manager to the group head of retail products at Standard Chartered Bank Groupâ€™s head office.
This is the fifth year in a row that Singapore is named the easiest place in the world for small-and-medium sized firms to do business by the World Bank report.
The island country, whose GDP grew by 17.9% in the first half of 2010, is one of the four Asian tiger economies whose growth is expected to reach 15% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Aribariho and his team manage personal banking products such as loans, credit cards and mortgages across a 70-country network.
â€œSimply put, my team is the designer of all Standard Chartered Bank retail products. We manage the content, features process of managing the product and drive its usage according to the customersâ€™ need.â€
Aribarihoâ€™s job entails driving planning processes for retail products for the bank, managing ongoing development for strategic planning and decision support including market opportunity assessment, resource alignment/tradeoffs, benchmark review and financial planning.
â€œMost importantly, I maintain an effective pulse on the external market including a dynamic network of resources to draw up to assess opportunity and proactively drive discussions and decisions around programmes to enhance our retail products position across our network,â€ says the manager.
Aribarihoâ€™s banking career has been with Standard Chartered Bank all through. He joined the bank in 2002 as a teller at their city branch in Uganda.
â€œWhen I was finally confirmed in 2004, I knew I had got a chance of a life time. I rose very fast through the ranks from a teller to financial consultant to product development and finally broke through the management ranks in 2006,â€ says Aribariho.
He became the head of marketing in 2006 and in 2008, was appointed the general manager for lending and was transferred to Standard Chartered Qatar to head the lending and transaction banking unit.
In January this year, he moved to Singapore to take on his current job at the head office of the Standard Chartered Bank Group, where he is based.
Something he worked towards
â€œYes, but I did not know when it would come,â€ says the manager.
â€œAnyone who has worked at Standard Chartered Bank or a multinational company knows, working in a senior position at the group level is the epitome of oneâ€™s career,â€ he says.
What he likes about his work
â€œThe fact that my decisions affect the entire franchise is certainly likeable. It keeps one thinking and keeps me on the move across various markets.â€
Aribariho adds that what excites him most is the way they deal with different challenges across different markets with different regulatory environs and people.
â€œAt the end of the day you gain insurmountable experience and exposure that you cannot learn in any MBA class,â€ says Aribaruho who is currently studying for an MBA at the Anglia Ruskin University in the UK. He also has a BA in Social Sciences from Makerere University and a post graduate diploma in marketing from the Uganda Management Institute.
â€œMy education background is rooted in a Budonian culture having studied in Buddo for six years,â€ he says with pride.
â€œHowever, being well rooted academically is not an end in itself, I have learnt that it is just a springboard and experience is the best teacher. The market does not care about your educational background, you have got to demonstrate that you can do the job,â€ he adds.
Aribarihoâ€™s other pride is in Ugandaâ€™s banking sector.
â€œI and some other people at Standard Chartered Bank Uganda created a revolution in the banking sector by introducing the seven day banking concept in Uganda. It gives me so much joy to see almost all banks are now opening beyond what was considered conventional banking hours. Even on Sundays,â€ he says.
On working abroad
â€œChallenging on all fronts. Adapting to a fast-paced, highly technical and sophisticated market is not easy when you are coming from our smaller markets,â€ says Aribariho and rightly so.
Singapore has 14,052 multinational corporations based there, according to the World Investment Report 2009.
This, and the relaxed immigration policies that have attracted throngs of foreigners who make up about 42% of its population, means life in Singapore is on the fast lane.
The country was also hailed as having the best quality of life in Asia and eleventh in the world according to the Economist Intelligence Unitâ€™s 2005 â€œQuality-Of-Life Index.â€
Understandably, Aribariho points out that there are shocks as one tries to fit in.