Shanai Harris on how her family offers a piece of Black history and what it means to her

Shanai tells us how she got into banking and why she is proud to work at Standard Chartered

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I joined Standard Chartered Bank almost six years ago as an Investigator in the Financial Counselling Associate of America and am currently a Team Lead in the Financial Crimes Compliance Americas Unit in Newark, NJ. 

I absolutely love my job, because I not only learn something new every day, I get to do “purposeful” work in protecting the safety and soundness of the Bank and the global financial infrastructure.   

As a double graduate of Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) and North Carolina Central University School of Law (NCCU Law), Black History Month has always been an exciting time for me. Not only is Black history woven into the fabric of American History, it is also a source of pride to witness the growth and advancement of humankind.

When I studied law in South Africa and visited Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held captive for the majority of his twenty-seven year imprisonment and emerged a forgiving, kinder, gentler person, I realized that life is never as bad as it was, or as it could be, if we all do our part to stand up for what is right and what is kind.   

In recent years, I’ve noticed Corporations, nationwide, make efforts to create and implement Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs in an unprecedented way where commitments are not just hollow perfunctory statements.  I am proud that Standard Chartered is very proactive in the DEI space and has started a mentoring program for students at John Jay College, as a means of introducing the corporate world and Financial Crime Compliance to students from varied backgrounds.  

 

My own family offers a piece of Black history. My Uncle, the late Reverend Dr. Latta R. Thomas, Sr. who was a Theologian, Professor and Author played a small part in the Civil Rights Movement. He pastored a church in Elmira, New York, before returning to our home state of South Carolina to lead a congregation and serve as a local President of the NAACP and the first ever Community Relations Council of South Carolina.  I would sit at his knee for hours to learn about his time in the pulpit during such a pivotal time in American history.  It was through him and his wife (my second parents) that I developed a desire to do purposeful work, in my career and community, through mentorship at the Greater Newark Cares Mentoring program, an affiliate of the National Cares Mentoring Movement founded by iconic journalist and editor Susan Taylor.   

My undergraduate college was chartered just two years after the end of slavery in 1867 and has a rich history of educating many who have gone on to be Doctors, Lawyers, Nurses, Scientists and great leaders which makes me super proud.