Tonia Smith on being a strong, successful, independent Black woman & her inspiration that helped get her there

Tonia gives us an insight in what it means to be a Black women in banking and how she hopes to celebrate Black History Month


I have been with Standard Chartered for nine years. I am currently a service partner, and I work with the Relationship Managers and Client Managers within the Integrated Middle Office space to support New to Bank clients.  I wear several hats every day to facilitate the onboarding of new corporate clients, they include Client On-Boarding and Management (COBAM), and Client Due Diligence Execution Team Maker while overseeing the daily work of the team.   

I enjoy the opportunity to work closely with the business and supporting the Relationship Managers going above and beyond to meet client needs.  

I love celebrating Black culture. We have fought for so long to contribute to making a difference in this world.  Although we should be celebrated every month, it’s nice to have a month dedicated to us. It’s important to me because there are so many successful people that look like me whom we don’t get to learn about in school. It’s nice that we have this dedicated time to collectively appreciate where we come from and learn about what Black people have done to get us where we are today. Although there is still so much more work to be done for equality, we get to celebrate all that we are in the month of February!  

It’s been hard to celebrate Black History Month with my colleagues since the pandemic limits our ability to gather. But I do hope we can attend virtual events where possible. However, I will continue to celebrate Black History Month by supporting Black owned businesses and restaurants, and friends, who have started their own businesses, whom I will continue to support year-round.  

In my nine years at the Bank, I’ve watched it become more of a diverse and inclusive workplace.  Our work family consists of a wide range of characteristics – from genders, race, age, and many other attributes to unite us as one.  Around the world, more African Americans are coming out to the voting polls and making a difference, letting their voices be heard. Watching Kamala Harris make history as first woman and woman of colour to take office as the Vice President was monumental for me. 

My mom is my inspiration! She comes from a difficult background and has lived through many forms of racism and poverty growing up. Yet, she’s never let it define her, its only part of her. Today, she is a strong, successful, independent Black woman. She inspires me, to keep going every day. She pushes me to be the best version of myself, despite all the challenges that try to stagnate my growth, both personally and professionally. I learned my strong work ethic from her and how important it is to take care of others when you can. She has always given me great advice, taught me needed lessons, showed me how to never give up, work hard, not to limit myself and to like myself first. 

It’s important that people of all races continue to learn about us because Black history matters. Keep celebrating and supporting us. There is always something new and great to learn about the Black culture through many different resources.