Ester: Banker with high hopes of excellence

Ester Manase. Head of Client Solutions at Stanbic Bank PHOTO | COURTESY


  • From a young age, Ester was confident about herself. This habit was nurtured by her parents and older siblings, who allowed her to do anything as long as it was within the Christian values

Self-confidence and Hard work can elevate an individual to greater career heights. It transparently showcases the way people perceive life in its totality and how they carry themselves through low and high career tides.

One of the powerhouses in the banking industry is Ester Manase. She is Head of Client Solutions at Stanbic Bank with over a decade of experience in the banking sector.

From a young age, Ester was confident about herself. This habit was nurtured by her parents and older siblings who allowed her to do anything as long as it was within the Christian values.

She began her career at Standard Chartered as a Foreign Exchange Trader working in the Treasury department in 2008 and three years later, she joined Stanbic Bank as where she took on many roles within Global Markets the last one being Head Of Sales. In July 2021, she climbed her career ladder to the position of Head of Client Solutions.

“The Standard Bank Group embarked into a future transformation journey to keep up with the technological advancements in the world and in that transformation, a new department called Client Solutions was formed where most of the retail and consumer products and solutions are housed,” Ester explains.

When that opportunity presented itself, she saw it as a chance to challenge herself and take up the role. Given the importance of innovation and digitisation transformation this role posed a big opportunity for her to learn, grow and impact the business in a much broader way. Being a multifaceted individual Ester enjoys taking on new roles that stretches her ability.

During her first days as Head of Client Solutions, she spent time with her team of 30 people to learn from their experiences and knowledge about the department.

“There is a notion that a leader has to know it all even when they are new to the department. Having spent my whole banking life in Corporate and Invest Banking, I was aware that for me to excel and perform my role it’s important that I understand the team and business in detail. I believed that each person in my then new department was an expert in their role. I invested time to understand them, the kind of values everyone holds as well as the support they need from me. With that, I was able to grow and significantly impact the business ” she says.

Ester afterwards set her a vision board for the first 100 days that was supposed to ensure that the whole department would be in a different space after those days.

“It has been such a fulfilling role. I have learnt so much about banking in the past two years compared to the other years. In my role, I get to see the consumer and retail banking up close. I now understand banking in a much deeper way,” Ester says.

From childhood to university, Ester’s confidence has seen her through different leadership roles that aligned with her goal of being an inspirational figure.

“Being a leader does not necessarily mean having a team under you, it is through the way one conducts their life, how many responsibilities one takes and if you are willing to take an extra mile to achieve your goal. This mindset enlightened me that being a leader has always been my vision and it comes naturally. I wanted to become an impactful person whose work inspires other people,” she explains.

Ester says that one of the things that keep motivating her is the way banks have transformed from being places where people can withdraw and deposit cash to being partners in growing businesses and advisors to the government.

“Banks are now becoming Technology Companies where most solutions are offered digitally. This being the core of what I do, it makes my work even more exciting,” she hints. Like in any other line of work, Ester’s position is not without challenges. However, she views them as opportunities to learn and grow.

Through her own experience, Ester advises young people to intentionally invest in themselves.

“Society tends to put certain unhealthy expectations on people from a young age. It is important to avoid this pressure. Everyone has got their own pace. Young people should focus on their own journeys by investing in the right things and building the right network,” she says.

She appraises Stanbic Bank for the way it supports women to take up senior roles, a good example being herself.

“About five years ago, Stanbic launched a programme called ‘Ignite’ which targeted at growing more women into managerial positions. They started enrolling women into senior and executive levels to managerial roles. The aim of this program was to understand the challenges women face and how they can be addressed. With that, we set a percentage that as an organization we wanted to reach. Through this program we have seen a lot of achievements,” she explains.

Another programme embarked by Stanbic is called ‘He for She’ whose intention is to challenge men with senior roles to support women’s growth through mentorship.

“Through this programme, Stanbic has been able to enable women to be guided in their career paths. I believe in the power that lies in mentorship, coaching and sponsorship however most women find it difficult to approach and ask other people to assist them with these three. ‘He for She’; was meant to address this challenge and put an end to it ,” Esther explains.

Another programme developed in 2022 is called Mwamba and it began as a safe space for men at Stanbic Bank to openly address challenges they face in their career and life.

“Men are mostly challenged with emotional turmoil that limits them to perform to their best extents and be supportive partners to women. This program was established to help them become better individuals as well as better sponsors and team players for women in our organization,” Ester explains.