It is not by luck that she is slowly climbing up the corporate ladder. Marketing Manager of Barclays Bank Botswana, Stephanie Stoneham, has worked hard over the years to build a reputable track record and become the leader that she is today.Voice journalist, MMIKA SOLOMON speaks with her about the challenges and rewards of being a woman in the corporate world.
You are growing professionally. Tell us the secret.
Thank you for the acknowledgement, it’s really no secret but simple hard work and a love for what I do, which is Brand Building and Marketing.
As you climb the corporate ladder, what inspires you to continue going up?
At the heart of it is my family, who encourage and guide me daily. But my biggest motivator is myself, I want to keep pushing the envelope, learning more and growing, and adding value where I can. If that formula also allows me to excel and move up, that’s a bonus.
What role do you play at Barclays Bank?
I am the Marketing Manager.
You worked for a bank before, why did you quit and join Barclays?
“Quit” is a strong word; I would say I chose a different environment to challenge me differently, as my needs at the time required. I am eternally grateful for the time at BancABC, as I learnt a lot about banking. The team there was patient, and together we took calculated risks that added value to the brand.
What are the challenges that you face in your profession?
The challenges for a marketer today are to constantly reinvent not only yourself but also the brands you manage, the digital era has brought with it empowerment and a dilution of the traditional means we used in our arsenal. So we have to try, by all means to make changes to how we do things, constantly, as the landscape is that agile. Huge opportunities, from push marketing to engaging customers and clients.
What motivates you to keep coming to work every day?
A new day to make a difference, contribute in the best way I can. It all adds up, and makes a greater difference to our economy in the end.
How different is Barclays Bank from the rest of the banks?
The people it’s a cliché but it’s true. The Bank’s values are practiced and echoed daily in all we do.
If you were to advise a customer to choose your bank over the other what would you say to that customer?
No comment here, I prefer to keep the interview about me not Barclays Bank, if you don’t mind.
Many people complain that banking time does not favour them. Is the bank likely to rise to the occasion and meet the customers’ needs in terms of opening and closing time? Please explain in detail.
For someone to hold your position what do they need in terms of qualifications and experience?
A Bachelor’s Degree in either of the disciplines – Marketing, Communications, PR. Professional qualifications to continually upgrade yourself is also an added advantage.
You have worked in an advertising agency before and now you are a banker please tell us about that transition?
Advertising was the best possible training ground for the roles I am filling today. In advertising, you are exposed to multiple industries, and get to understand how they work and the challenges they are faced with. All these fragments of experience and insights derived along the way help me to face challenges on a daily basis. I really got to learn the industry and made life-long networks, which no marketer can succeed without. And it doesn’t end there, make being in someone’s network worthwhile, look out for them and they will look out for you.
Today most people use the bank for getting their salaries. As a banker what other options are there for customers especially those who are in the lower bracket of income?
Industry-wide, banks have really risen to the challenge and afforded Batswana innovative ways of being part of the mainstream, you can send money to anyone using your cellphone or an intelligent ATM, creating a virtual wallet. This wallet remains valid for a certain period of time and you don’t have to withdraw the money all at once. So employers can use this avenue to pay salaries.
Let us get personal a bit, are you a family person?
Yes, a huge family person! What is life if you can’t enjoy life with your family, and friends, who are family you choose?
How would you describe yourself?
A seasoned Marketing Professional with a passion for making things happens. I believe in making any encounter, regardless of which it is with, worthwhile and positive. At heart, I am a creative free spirit with an analytical outlook. Your word is your honour, so I try to keep my promises as much as I can manage and give my time to those who need it.
How do you relax?
Back to family and friends again, having people around me relaxes and both stimulates me creatively.
What are you favourite tourist destinations and why?
Miami has got to be my top spot so far; I still have a few destinations on my bucket list, which I will add to my ‘favourites’ folder.
In the next five years where are you going to be?
I will as per usual be 100% Stephanie.
What is that you like about a Motswana woman, especially those who hold top positions in the private sector?
I respect a lot of young Batswana women in influential positions, both the private and public sector. They are so generous with their time and always lend a helping hand, through avenues like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you see the support and encouragement across board.
Banking is all about making the customer happy and profit for the shareholders. How do you separate the two?
There is no separation, at the heart of the matter, in any industry, customer is king, or else they walk, we have to make it worth their while.
Feel Good it’s Friday what are your plans?
Dress down, relax and have a creatively charged day from start to finish. It begins with music on my way to work, and ends off with unwinding with friends at an establishment pleasing to the eye.