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Growth, Challenges and a Gateway to Learning – Ibeyemi’s Story

What I value most about working with Standard Chartered is that you never stop learning. You truly make an impact in the market you operate.

Doing what I love

One of my favourite quotes is ‘life is a seed’, meaning it takes time to grow and be successful in every aspect of your life. This quote has definitely proven relevant during my 13 years with Standard Chartered, where I’ve gradually expanded my skillset and never stopped learning along the way.

I’ve always been enthusiastic about a career in banking. I saw it as a gateway to learning about every other sector in the economy, which would enable me to build a global career. Before joining the bank, I was part of a management development programme where I worked in different aspects of banking, such as Credit Risk and Operations.

I became part of the Standard Chartered team in 2008 as an experienced hire, working as Transaction Banking Head of Sales for local corporates. This offered the best of both worlds for me. Not only was I able to get involved with the sales side of things, but I also gained more experience in product management and operations.

I’ve also had the opportunity to work with a Project Team and an external vendor on an electronic banking platform for Transaction Banking. Digital transformation is at the forefront of the banking industry, and this role opened me up to the world of electronic transaction banking.

A natural leader

I’ve always been a natural leader, and Standard Chartered has provided many opportunities to cultivate my leadership skills. During my time here, I’ve participated in several thought leadership programmes that have been a real highlight. One of my milestones was being part of the inaugural launch of the Sibos STAR programme, made up of around 28 women representing global financial institutions across the world.

I am now Managing Director and Head of Trade and Transaction Banking for West Africa – a role I thoroughly enjoy. I am also part of the Country Management Team for Nigeria.

When I think of Standard Chartered’s work environment, human, purpose and diversity are the three words that come to mind.

Ibiyemi Okuneye Head, Trade Products & TB Head Nigeria & WA

A positive work environment

Deciding to work with Standard Chartered was easy. I’d been drawn towards a career at the bank because I wanted a new challenge. I felt that the work would expand my horizons and leverage my past experience, and I was ready to build upon what I already knew. I also felt that Standard Chartered’s values aligned with my own, so I was more than happy to accept the job offer in 2008.

Becoming part of a team with such a positive work ethic was inspiring. My co-workers are always happy to help, and it’s so wonderful having a solid support system at work. I’ll never forget how much effort they put into organising my surprise baby shower before I went on maternity leave. It’s things like this that make working at Standard Chartered an absolute joy.

Standard Chartered recognises my strengths and champions diversity in the workplace. I’ve always felt valued and been celebrated for my efforts, and it’s nice to know that the work I do makes an impact – it’s a very rewarding feeling. I’m able to work within a hybrid system, spending two days at the office and three days at home. Having the flexibility to work where it suits me is incredibly helpful.

A desire to keep learning

For those just starting out in their banking career, my biggest piece of advice is to be strategic and have clear points of focus for your development. Opt for career moves that allow you to stay curious and keep learning. If I’m not in a job that enables me to learn, it’s not the right job for me.

Ask yourself if your career opens up opportunities, sharpens your skillset and makes you feel valued. These are the most important things to consider. Assess your leverage – what makes you valuable now and what will make you even more valuable in tomorrow’s world? Choose a job where you will be rewarded for your contributions.

Standard Chartered ticks all the boxes for me. The bank provides excellent career opportunities for young talents and millennials through its Talent Marketplace and other initiatives. It also offers flexibility for all – no matter where you’re at in your career. Standard Chartered has helped me grow as a leader and motivates me to keep working hard.