Most young people and graduates from the University and other tertiary institutions don’t usually know their career path even after school. That`s not a problem, it`s ok. In an exclusive interview with Dr. Carl Odame Gyenti, a banker by profession, Writer and Musician, he shares insight on his career path over the last few years. If you are student, graduate or young professional questioning the world of work, you can find some answers you seek or perhaps questions you even didn’t know you had. His journey towards his career will provide some key lessons to many roles or jobs
Tell us about yourself
I am the Director (Principal) for Financial Institutions in charge of Banks, Investors and Intermediaries at Standard Chartered Bank (SCB). I am basically responsible for managing corporate account relationships for Banks and Non-Bank Financial Institutions, Global and Local Custodians, Insurance, Trustees, Pensions, Fund and Asset Managers as well as FinTechs. I am also a member of SCB Country Leadership Team (CLT).
I have 12 years of working experience, 9 of which has been with Standard Chartered Bank and 3years at Absa Bank Ghana Limited (Previously Barclays Bank). I have had the privileged to work in both Corporate and Investment Banking and Transaction Banking. I have successfully supported and led sovereign Governments and Corporates to raise long term funding from domestic and international debt capital markets. In line with my duties, I have travelled to Singapore, United States of America, United Kingdom and many African Countries for various trainings and workshops.
In pursuit of academic excellence, I have recently obtained and hold Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Financial Management from University of Central Nicaragua. In addition, I hold a Bachelor’s in Business Administration - Finance Options from the University of Cape Coast, Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Statistics from University of Ghana, Legon. I have done several Professional courses from Ghana Stock Exchange and Institute of Commercial Management in London. I am a proud old boy of Kumasi High School (Mmerantee) where I was the Senior School Prefect. I also attended St John`s International School in Dormaa-Ahenkro and Faah Memorial Preparatory School in Seikwa all in the Brong Region.
Aside my profession which I take much pride in, I enjoy writing; I have so far published over 70 articles. , I am an instrumentalist (Keyboardist and Trumpeter) and manage the Information Technology and Telecommunication (ICT) department of my local Presbyterian Church at Satellite, Accra. Married to Hilda Esenam Odame-Gyenti and with two lovely kids -Michelle (5years) and Nicole (2years)
Walk us through your early career journey (first 5 years)
Right after completing my education from the University of Ghana, Legon, I was privileged to do my national service at Standard Chartered Bank in 2008. After my national service, I was on contract with the same bank for two years. Thereafter, I was confirmed as a permanent staff and stayed there for 6years. Through my formative years in the bank, I gathered a wealth of experience which, up to date guides me in executing my various roles in my current position. As a young banker, I really enjoyed all the opportunities and exposure from the Bank. I call SCB the best banking training school for young bankers in Ghana. In pursuit of greater career ambitions, I left SCB bank to join the then Barclays Bank (now Absa Bank Ghana) to help drive Transaction Banking Business for the Global Clients (GC). Indeed, Barclays was also a great place to work, lovely people ready to help at every level, most grateful to Otwiwa Offei-Akoto. In March 2018, I re-joined SCB on a much higher role following the immense experience acquired from Barclays.
What values/skills would you say you demonstrated in your early career journey that have contributed to your career success?
I would say I demonstrated resilience, curiosity, integrity, independent with little supervision in executing roles and dependable. These skills have guided my career growth.
I am glad to say that during this period; my line Manager could rely on me getting the job done and this he sometimes confirmed when he took his leave days with me at the helm of affairs. As a young graduate who had joined a reputable bank, in my first week at work, I recall vividly that I did office filing. One would ask; why the need for filing, I found the importance of this task as it offered me opportunity to read and appreciate some information and culture of the bank, which , were crucial to the job I was required to do.
Did you always know you wanted to do what you are doing now?
My simple answer, yes! This is what informed me to pursue a course in Business in Kumasi High School.
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a banker! Why? I was motivated by the professionalism, work ethic s and the prestige with which the tellers in their cubicles handled their task anytime I visited the Obuasi Branch of Standard Chartered Bank. That really had an impression on me and inspired me to embark on the journey of becoming part of this profession in future.
What were some of the mistakes you made on the career journey?
I have grown to understand that even with the best well laid out plans, mistakes do happen in the course of one’s career and in fact that would be factored in every situation one finds him or herself.
However, I have been so fortunate to have Senior colleagues who have provided me with the guidance and mentorship in my journey so far. Even where there are mistakes, I have also learnt there are multiple solutions in like manner. Self-doubt could have negatively impacted my ambitions especially looking at where I started from in life, but I always held the faith to prosper.
If you had the opportunity to change one thing in your early career/work experience days what will it be?
As Leon Brown said ‘nothing goes to waste on the journey of life. Both good and bad experiences shape your mind and heart for what is to come’. I will wish to have ample time with students from Universities, providing career guidance and prepare them whilst they also take the decision to be part of this great profession and the job market.
Any advice to someone who is confused about their career planning?
First, we have all been confused about the best career to choose at one point or the other. However, it is important to remain focused ones a decision is made on a career path. It would help to speak to different people in different professions and most importantly to persons who are already in a profession you are interested in.
The current COVID 19 pandemic has also changed the phase of working but amid the darkest moments, there is light. Though a lot of companies are not recruiting, there is still the need to plan for one’s career. There is therefore the need to seek guidance from experts, ensure CV’s are updated and to as many institutions as possible. Also use this lull period to take advantage of a lot of free online courses being offered; this would shape your career. As I have already indicated, if you are already in employment, make a conscious effort to speak to your ‘boss’, this I have found to be very helping in guiding and shaping one’s career. It`s important to identify a career option, prioritize, make a choice and set a SMART goal.
If you had a minute to coach/advice a tertiary student about work readiness, what would it be?
While in University, I did a lot of voluntary internships. Every semester, I took a letter from the academic office and sent to companies for internship. That really helped to have a first-hand feel of the corporate environment. This is very necessary as there is a clear difference in the working world and school.
Again, a lot of companies do organize events, seminars, amongst others, there is the need for students to take a keen interest in such programmes as they provide valuable information that help one to be open-minded. I currently voluntarily mentor some three Ashesi University students and I am looking forward to guiding them with their career choices.
Knowing what you know now as a high-profile professional, what would be your advice to a rising young professional you are mentoring?
Make a conscious effort to develop yourself and invest in building your own brand. They should be open minded, embrace technology and take calculated risk in searching for jobs.
Credit: Akua Ampah
Disclaimer: The views expressed are personal views and doesn’t represent that of the media house or institution the writer work for.
About the interviewer
Akua Ampah is a Career Services professional passionate about assisting college students and young graduates with their early career development. She works primarily as a Career Development Advisor at Ashesi University. She runs a virtual career office which provides career services support to students and young graduates in the areas of career guidance & advising, job interview preparation and job/internship search strategy coaching. The office also has an engaging blog which creates content on career success - www.virtualcareeroffice.wordpress.com . Connect via [email protected]