Access Interview: Yavwira Mbewe, Financial Controller in AB Bank Zambia
By Ivana Mitrovic
Yavwira is a Chartered Management Accountant with a Master’s in Business Administration. She has been developing her role from a junior accountant to a Financial Controller for almost ten years in AB Bank Zambia throughout various responsibilities in financial reporting, cost accounting and financial analysis.
Investing in competencies and skills for staff through the AccessAcademy has ripple effects in achieving business improvements, efficiency, and sustainability.
You joined AB Bank Zambia 11 years ago and witnessed the organization’s profound change. Tell us, please, how the process looks from your perspective?
It’s been an exciting time being part of the bank’s growth; the change has been consistently progressive. I see a lot of it in our systems: the digitalization that has taken place over the recent years has accelerated our growth in various aspects of operations in our branches and the Head Office. When I visit the back office staff in the branch now, I am excited to see that the processes are being performed much more efficiently than earlier, showing the practical impact of digitalization. I see the progression of our financial performance and our successes in penetrating the market and growing this niche. We are now preparing to launch our ninth physical branch, and this is a place we only envisioned at the beginning.
Speaking of digitalization in AB Bank Zambia, did your daily work transform in any way? Have you managed to identify the main advantages? Are there any disadvantages you have noticed so far?
My work is centered around financial data: I focus on the details while maintaining sight of the bigger picture. My promotion from branch operations to Financial Controller has been a highlight in my career as it sets me up to contribute to the bank in more than one way.
Working in the present is now easier than it used to be because systems are in place that enhances visibility. Our payables system and document management system are more efficient now. The increased access to information enables the implementation of growth strategies. Digitalization has the considerable advantage of aiding sustainability for the growth that we have attained. I have not noticed any disadvantages – it has generally been a successful process, although buy-in is sometimes a challenge when implementing a change.
This year, you completed AccessAcademy, our internal capacity-building programme, and you were the best student among your colleagues. Well done! What was your motivation to join the Academy?
Thank you, graduating as the best student was a fantastic moment – I am still thrilled by it. My primary motivation was that I wanted to learn more about leadership. It was a learning opportunity, and I was anticipating that the interactions with colleagues from other banks in the network would make the learning experience very practical.
Can you reflect on your expectations from the AccessAcademy and if the programme fulfilled them? How was your overall experience with this development program tailored for middle and senior managers in the banking industry?
I aimed to learn how to be a better leader, and my expectations were met in more than one way because the skills I acquired in the AccessAcademy span beyond managing a team. The curriculum includes a bank simulation module, a digital transformation module and many other modules which contain practical scenarios that give perspective to the issues faced in my daily work.
Thanks to your great success when participating in Academy, you are one of the heroines in the AccessGroup movie depicting Capacity building in the network. How was the experience with the acting role?
Exciting, I was happy to share my story and to show the impact the Academy has on furthering the bank’s ability to do new things and improve through the building capacity of its staff. I believe an organization or a leader is only as good as its people. Investing in competencies and skills for staff through the AccessAcademy has ripple effects in achieving business improvements, efficiency, and sustainability. My current role has allowed me to be a part of various project teams and lead a project. I can now participate in continually improving departmental processes like invoice processing, accounting record keeping and data entry.
What has made you the person you are today, and are any lessons you learned that you would like to share with our audience?
Every experience has made me who I am today. Moments spent with people and little things as well. There are many lessons I have learnt, but gratitude for little things resonates.
One piece of advice I would like to share with the audience is to endeavor to fulfil your purpose, have passion for your work and enjoy the moments.