Sonny Zulu

Head of Retail & Business Clients, Zambia

Sonny Zulu


I'm from Zambia. I did my degree in Metallurgical Engineering and I was involved in humanitarian efforts before joining the banking sector.  I developed an interest in banking in my final year of study in Zambia and this led me to pursue an MBA at Manchester University.

I was attracted to the diversity at Standard Chartered, having people from over 132 nationalities and its openness to different views and perspectives. I'm an imaginative person. I have many ideas and I want to try out. I believe I will have that opportunity in this bank to discover and contribute as I travel and interact with people across the world. I'm Zambian but I consider myself an international citizen, and this is the right place for me to explore and grow.

My opportunities

My ambition is to one day be the CEO or Group Director of an international company and as I read more about the Standard Chartered International Graduate Programme I was sure this would be my path to achieve just that. I was exposed to opportunities early in my career; I became Head of Corporate Affairs in Zambia whilst still on the programme. I spent three years in Corporate Affairs and I had stints in London supporting the whole of Africa. It was a huge responsibility but equally exciting.

My line manager had always known of my ambition. I also have regular conversations with the Talent Management team about what I want to do in the next two years and the kind of support I will receive to help me drive my career. The opportunity came when I became the General Manager of Distribution for Southern Africa. The role entailed looking after all the customer touchpoints – branches, contact centre, mobile and online banking, and ATMs, and this certainly brought me closer to general management type roles and running the business one day. The Bank is very supportive of young talent and that’s the amazing thing about Standard Chartered. Show you can deliver and you will be rewarded with opportunities to progress your career.

My day

In February 2012, I took on the role of Head of Consumer Banking in Zambia. About 70 per cent of my time is spent interacting with people – customers, stakeholders and employees.

It’s challenging because people can be unpredictable but with the right approach it will all come together perfectly and that’s when you’re rewarded, seeing the positive impact you’ve made to their lives. When I hear compliments from customers who are amazed by the consistency in service no matter where they go or who they interact with, it makes all the hard work worthwhile. I also have a responsibility to my staff, setting aside time for them to ensure they are engaged and can see their future with the Bank.

Much of my time is also spent on strategic thinking and how we can transform the way people do banking in our markets. This is also aligned with Standard Chartered's strategy to not only have a presence in our footprint, but to be considered important to the banking system in our key markets. This role gives me opportunities to build on my ideas and it gives me great pride knowing I have made a meaningful contribution. For example, we were the first in the market to open our branches until 10.00pm and on Sundays, where most banks are closed at 3.00pm.

My belief

I believe that no man is an island. You need to work with others to help you deliver great results. I encourage my staff to switch from customer-facing roles to that of a support function and vice versa so they get to see things from each other's perspective. It also helps people see the bigger picture and reduces our error rate because everybody knows what everybody else is doing and how they can support one another better for the greater good.

My future

I work for a Bank that has a long and proud history, driving the financial sector in Africa. For me, I've always felt that the Bank values my perspective and strengths, is confident of my ability to deliver and thinks about my progress. I love generalist type roles and I want to continue my career in this area in new territories with different dynamics and cultures. It will be challenging but equally rewarding.

"I’m Zambian but I consider myself an international citizen, and this is the right place for me to explore and grow."

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Sonny Zulu

RoleHead of Retail & Business Clients, Zambia
Location  Zambia, Africa

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