‘You can outsmart me but never outwork me – Mambondiani


Lance Mambondiani, the CEO of one of Zimbabwe’s leading lenders, BancABC Zimbabwe, believes that hard work and passion have taken him to where he is today.

“I realised early on in school that I was not naturally intelligent and I had to supplement that with a lot of hard work,” Mambondiani told Business Times.

He added: “You have to realise what your limitations are.

“I always say that you can outsmart me but you can never outwork me. I always compensate for what I lack in other areas with a lot more hard work.”

Mambondiani is a lawyer and banker with years of international experience at executive level.

He obtained his PhD in Banking and Finance from the University of Manchester and an MSc in Development Finance (first class) from the same university.

He also holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Zimbabwe.

The banker won African Finnovex CEO of the Year Award and featured in the international CEO’s Magazine. 

He says he does not “count yesterday’s money”. 

If the awards come, let them come, he says.

“We appreciate them for coming but our preoccupation is always the future. What can we do to improve what we do?”

The executive worked in Europe in the banking sector for 11 years before returning home.

He joined Steward Bank in 2013 as Business Development and Strategy Executive. 

Two years later, he was appointed CEO of the bank.

In 2019, he was appointed BancABC CEO.

Mambondiani believes Zimbabwe’s banking sector is ahead of financial institutions in Europe and America, as far as innovation is concerned.

“Yes they are more stable and they have much bigger institutions in the first world. But, what I tend to find is that as far as innovation is concerned we are way ahead,” Mambondiani said.

He added: “In America right now they are still using cheques. Which other part of the world right now do you know that is still using cheques?

“There’s a very still entrenched legacy system that is very difficult to replace”

The executive, who is a firm supporter of innovation, acknowledges the role that mobile money has played in accommodating the unbanked population in Zimbabwe and how it has made transactions much easier.

He, however, believes that mobile money should not dominate the economy.

“Mobile money is good to a certain extent but should work well together with the banking system.

“If money is not flowing into the banking system you tend to see that there is a slowdown in economic activity and that intermediation of banks’ lending money does not quite exist.

We need to allow the banks to play their roles”, he said. 

However, Mambondiani said local banks have a lot of work to do to restore confidence in the sector considering the country’s history with several banks closing down. Over a dozen banks and asset managers were closed by monetary authorities for abusing depositors’ funds.

The banker said the process of opening a bank account should be user friendly.

“Sometimes the way we have set ourselves up as banks moves away people who would want to open accounts with us.

The requirements that we have are too onerous. Sometimes banks ask too many questions that are not important in opening a bank account,” the banker said.

“I believe just a National Identification card should be enough.

As BancABC we have partnered with the National Registry where we are actually verifying details with the National registry by just confirming if one indeed exists.

Surely if an individual has a passport it means they are authenticated somewhere via a national database because if we are not careful instead of “knowing your customer” you end up “killing your customer” by asking so many unnecessary details,” he said.

In his spare time, Mambondiani loves water sports and runs 5 km a day about five times a week. He said he also uses the runs to “organise his thoughts”.

“I have always had a daring spirit, I love trying something new, I love doing things on the edge. I believe in challenging convention and making sure we do this better whether professionally or personally. We can’t be running businesses or companies in exactly the same way our fathers did,” Mambondiani said.

This has indeed been evidenced in how he has revolutionised banking in the country by closely tying up technology and banking also working closely with young people.

BancABC recently roped in Zimdancehall artist Jah Master in one of their initiatives City Hopper targeting the “ghetto youth” dispelling notions that BancABC Zimbabwe targets a niche market.

“Perhaps we are not a niche bank but we are very clear on the kind of customers that we want to serve that is customers who are in the mid-tier and those who are probably forgotten by a lot of other financial institutions

“We are open to every Zimbabwean who wants to do banking and we also do a lot of work with Small to Medium Enterprises in the country.”

An avid reader of leadership books and is currently reading John Maxwell’s Developing the Leader Within You, Barack Obama’s A Promised Land and  21 Lessons for the 21st Century  by Yuval Noah Harari, Mambondiani, loves to  lead change and is always looking to being inspirational.

“I like significance, making a contribution in whatever positions I am called to improve and build for the future,” the banker said.

He added: “There is no doubt that our country is currently faced with a lot of challenges but I always say that within our problems and our challenges also lies our greatest opportunities.”

Systemic issues are very difficult to change and they will make you exhausted. 

I believe in making small incremental changes.

 I change what I can change and when we all make those small changes collectively they contribute to something better. “

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