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Standard Bank CEO awarded an honorary professorship at University of Stellenbosch Business School

  • February 17
  • Tags Our news, Leadership


Sim Tshabalala Professor
Source: Supplied

Sim Tshabalala, Chief Executive of the Standard Bank Group, was recently appointed as an Honorary Professor at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). He describes the appointment as “a tremendous honour”.

“I have always aspired to be a reflective person and a thoughtful banker and corporate leader so I am delighted that USB believes that I have some intellectual value to add,” he says on the position.

He looks forward to learning from faculty and students. “I hope (and expect) to be surprised and challenged with enriching dialogue. I have great faith in the power of Socratic dialogue to teach all the participants things that they didn’t know,” he says.

 He adds that the business school “can be part of a world-class complex of tertiary education and research institutions in the Western Cape, making a major contribution to inclusive and sustainable development in its region, for South Africa and Africa, and indeed for the world as a whole”.

“…we should inject African perspectives, priorities and values into how the world thinks about business.”
Sim Tshabalala, Standard Bank CEO

Tshabalala adds: “I am 100% convinced that this will be Africa’s century, which means that we need all the entrepreneurial talent and business skill we can develop. We have a significant human capital deficit, and we have a lot to learn from leading global thinkers and practitioners. Equally, though, I think we should inject African perspectives, priorities and values into how the world thinks about business.”

He says building long-term collaborations between business and educational institutions are important because national competitive advantage and advances in global human well-being are, to a very large extent, created at the interface between great universities and the societies they serve, with businesses playing a very large part in that.

Tshabalala, who has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, says one of the pleasures of working at a place like Standard Bank is being surrounded by very accomplished and expert people.

“I try to lead with all due humility…”

“I am guided by our Values and our Purpose: Africa is our home, we drive her growth.  I try to lead with all due humility and with intense awareness that one stands on the shoulders of giants and must hand on the institution as strong as it was entrusted to you.

“I aim to keep the business constantly focussed on what our clients need. I am equally determined to keep the business as lean and efficient as possible.  And also, of course, one leads an organisation like Standard Bank by surrounding yourself with the best people you can find,” he says.

To name just a few key lessons he has learnt over the years:

  • As with any business, you have to keep thinking all the time about what your clients need, and about how you can help them. So you have to listen very carefully and you have to empathetic.
  • Financial services businesses depend on earning and keeping people’s trust. It is fatal not to keep your word – and that means you also have to be careful and realistic about what you promise.
  • Don’t try to be too clever or too tactical.
  • Decide on your social purpose, ethical values and your commercial goals. Make them public and stick to them.


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