From Street Hawker to Bank Branch Manager

Growing up in a village in Makuyu, Charles Mwangi never imagined a career in banking. Now Ecobank’s  Fortis Office Park Branch Manager, Mr. Mwangi spoke to Vanguard on the challenges he encountered in his early years in banking and his future career prospects. This is an abridged version of the interview.

Is there something many people don’t know about you?
I am born again. What I am today is a product of a journey that has taken the hand of God.

You never dreamed of becoming a banker. What inspired you to venture into the industry?
One day, I was frustrated (after a long day spent hawking). I found myself in the streets of Nairobi, sitting in front of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) offices. I dared to walk into SCB House and said I wanted to see the Human Resource (Manager). I met a lady, with whom I left my Curriculum Vitae. She later called to inform me there was an opportunity in sales.

How was your first day in banking?
It is a day I will never forget… (chuckles). We (along with other newly hired sales team) were trained for a week after which our supervisor took us to Moi Avenue and asked us to visit different offices and get business for the bank. That was our introduction to work.

What challenges do you face as a branch manager in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
The challenge we face is that not all customers have embraced digital banking. Some customers still prefer to visit the branch to transact. We organize online meetings with the customers to train them on how they can transact from home.

What inspires you and what advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a bank branch manager?
One thing I like about my job is solving problems; being in a position to give solutions to customers. I also learn every day because I meet customers from different industries. This helps to understand customers’ lines of work, which can help in coming up with products that meet their needs. To those who want to join banking: a career in banking is open to everyone. In banking, we don’t look at what you studied in college because most of what you do is on-job training. Banks look for honesty, willingness to learn and serve people every day.

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