Student Name: Polo Mohlomi
Program: Virtual Bank Matric Work-Readiness Program
My Beautiful Journey with Guarantee Trust
How does one start without sounding too simulated or too implausible? As Guarantee Trust taught me to always uphold the highest level of integrity, I will take the honest route with this one.
I remember the day I arrived at Guarantee Trust after being accepted for the Bankseta-funded Virtual Banking Programme, the first thing I was expecting to see was a computer, but to my surprise I was handed a dictionary, exam pad and stationery. I was thinking what on earth is happening here? To my biggest surprise, upon starting the Study Course the first question I saw was ‘What is a dictionary?” If I didn’t hit the highway at that moment I knew it would never happen. I was transported back to Grade 3, hello, I have Matric! I know what a dictionary is. To my surprise, I discovered that I had a lot to learn and I enjoyed every moment of it. From the basics of knowing what a noun, verb and a pronoun is, to punctuation marks that we use every day but take for granted. The idea was that the English language and our efficient use of it is fundamental to us being work-ready in today’s market place.
Guarantee Trust is home, it is the one place where you can make mistakes, learn from them and perfect the art of professionalism without signing warning letters and attending disciplinary hearings. The course I enjoyed in particular was the Communication Course because it taught me how to face and interact with others expertly. When you sit in front of a coach, you are there and confronting the other person. At first it didn’t make any sense to me and I just wanted to move on to the next drill. It was only when I started working for the SBG (Standard Bank Group) that I fully realised its importance. I realised the point was not just to face your study partner but learn to face and confront every situation that comes your way, confront it boldly and literally with your eyes open. I just love how the provocation practical drills equipped one with the ability to separate emotions from the actual task. I owe my successes to being able to confront others and situations and deal with tough situations professionally.
(Editor: Shinyawani Group of Companies, SGC, took over ownership of Guarantee Trust Bloemfontein, in an empowerment deal engineered by Guarantee Trust with Fasset, the finance sector Seta. Russel Shinyawani-Ngobeni is ex-GT Branch Manager and now founder and MD of this company).
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the SGC staff for applying etiquette principles that we were taught in the course room. A simple thing like a handshake can determine whether or not you are granted that interview. Working at such a diverse company, one needs to learn how to address certain people from different cultures and historical backgrounds so as to not offend anyone or create a less friendly working space. I walk into meetings with Senior Management and fear nothing because I have one thing they don’t have, I perfected office orientation and etiquette, two of the modules we covered on the Virtual Bank Work-Readiness Program.
I remember my interview at Standard Bank. I walked in there and I was exuding confidence, I have to thank the Interview Skills Workshop on the program for that. I’m not going to be modest or tone it down but I was interviewed for less than 5 minutes and the other 15 minutes I was interviewing the Human Resources panel. That’s just how good Guarantee Trust is. I enjoyed every minute there and I want to simply say to those currently on the program, embrace the moment and use the staff, get them to mentor you because in the corporate world the only thing they will ask you is ‘Why are you late?’ If you’re told to keep your noise levels low, a written warning could follow that instruction. Take the program as a learning opportunity and don’t rush to finish the courses, the aim is to master each topic.
I started working at the SBG as an AML (Anti Money-Laundering) Officer, a term I hope everyone is familiar with or still learning about. Just after two weeks, my manager called me aside and told me she would like me to be her Second in Command. I asked her, “Isn’t it too soon? I don’t even have access to most of the operational systems and I’m still training.” Her response was what got to me, “Whenever you speak, people listen (getting my communication across, which is a drill we did on the course) and you are not easily distracted from the point that you want to make, (handling comments and originations, another drill on the communication course). What I love most is the fact that you don’t take things personally or let your emotions cloud your judgement (provoking drills).” She submitted my particulars to HR, I’m holding thumbs that I might have a manager’s title in 2 weeks. (Editor: she texted us to say she achieved the promotion!) Everything I learnt at Guarantee Trust applies in all aspects of my work. The manner in which I address my superiors, acknowledging the importance of people, how to dress, how to send an email to a fellow colleague, I would mention all the skills I gained but you guys still have a target to meet on your course, so I will be brief! On that note, I work with targets ranging from 60 to 85 accounts per day depending on the process. The processes that I do on a daily basis are namely Home Loans, Retail and Business Banking and lastly Vehicle Finance, I’m still training for more processes. It’s like writing an exam, when you already have the skills because I did everything at Guarantee Trust. I know what FIC is (Finance Intelligence Centre), what FICA documents are (Finance Intelligence Centre Act), Power of Attorney and when it is needed, what a minor is and in which circumstances a minor can open an account.
I would like to thank everyone at Guarantee Trust for observing the organizational structure. Everyone played a tremendous role in making me this tenacious lady that I have become in the space of less than half a year. No amount of words can show my gratitude. I know the difference I make every day, the lives that I touch on every account that I action. This is what keeps Guarantee Trust staff motivated, your hard work is yielding tangible results.
To the facilitators at Guarantee Trust/SGC, it gets hard, you become demotivated when things don’t go according to plan. Sometimes you feel you aren’t doing your best, I know, but rest assured, we are because you are.
To Russel, the Managing Director of SGC, I would need a PowerPoint presentation for this one but thank you, thank you and thank you. Keep up the good work, more lives are being transformed because of your endless sacrifices.
To the trainees, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, thousands applied, but you were selected. You were selected and no, it’s not luck, you have the potential and it is in you to make the most of it. I can’t emphasis it enough. SGC/Guarantee Trust staff can only go so far, the rest is in your hands. Bear in mind, thousands applied but you were selected.
In conclusion, my journey is only starting and Bankseta and Guarantee Trust/SGC gave me a kick start. How I miss peanut butter and Rooibos tea to start my mornings!
Thank You! All the best of luck!