In this series, we celebrate the employees that make Grindrod Bank a success. Through the stories of our people you will come to know us, a company that values diversity, encourages inclusivity, and above all inspires individuals and teams to succeed. Wonderfully made, powerful and sophisticated are the words that best describe Unathi Mtya, our Chief Technology Officer, a renowned keynote speaker and a member of the Forbes Technology Council. She shares where it all started:
“The year was 1998 when I joined First National Bank (FNB) as a Junior Operations Analyst. I am fortunate that I grew up in an environment where confidence and courage were instilled in me from a young age, my parents are big on affirmations. As I reflect, I realise my effort and consistency in pursuing my dreams led me to where I am now. My education and international exposure also played a big part in my journey alongside my willingness to constantly work on my knowledge by learning everywhere I go. I’m thankful that over a 21-year period I have managed to cultivate a meaningful career for myself and I’m looking forward to the future years.”
Unathi explains the most important part of her role:
My role includes leading a team that provides thought leadership, supports and enables the organisation through IT and digital transformation, by bringing about innovative strategies, methods and solutions. This is to build on the bank’s long history of delivering agile financial solutions, sound governance and risk management.
What gives you satisfaction in your role?
“It gives me great satisfaction when we unite on a mission, succeed and accomplish goals as a team.”
According to Unathi, the top three important IT trends in the banking industry are:
- The acceleration of the new technologies better known as 4IR technologies that will continue being on the rise
- The collaboration of banks and Fintechs
- For CX (customer experience) - Quality of service and speed will be the defining factor
Unathi shares how she keeps motivated and her advice to young people:
I always think better days are ahead and that keeps me going. If I were to sum it up, I would say ‘stay interested’. This is better captured by Steve Jobs as “Stay Foolish, Stay Hungry”, meaning the willingness to acquire more and more and following your aspirations.
I love the industry I work in because it is constantly evolving, and the world is relying more and more heavily on it. It makes it easier to turn it into a career. It’s a blessing when you have a desire in your heart, subsequent indicators will show you are on the right track.
The must-read business books on Unathi’s list and her favourite publications are:
- What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
- The Little Black Book of Success: Laws of Leadership for Black Women by Elaine Meryl Brown, Rhonda McLean & Masha Haygood
What is your favorite newspaper or magazine?
“I also love reading a lot of Forbes publications especially those that focus on business and technology.”
The woman that Unathi admires the most in business is:
“Indra Nooyi former CEO of PepsiCo. I admire her staying power and resilience.”
When she finds time to wind down, she takes advantage of it. Unathi shares her tips when it comes to work-life balance:
Honestly, I still have not managed to get this right, sometimes I wonder if it truly exists. I do the best I can depending on the demands at hand. I know that when I plan better, I see better results in this regard. A lot of what we stress about will not be important a week later, I try and remember this. I try and tackle the easier tasks first; this gives me confidence and a feeling of satisfaction. I then move onto the more challenging tasks on my ‘to do’ list.
Running is a big part of my life and I always look forward to the next international marathon and the interesting places I will experience. Travelling when I can and spending quality time with loved ones enriches me.
If you could have a parallel career what could it be?
I love this question. A parallel career for me would include teaching and traveling.