You might bump into him one early morning walking around the vegetative surroundings of Kololo area; you might not even notice him or simply take him for one of those early risers who take short cuts to reach their work places on foot.
However, at 45, Lamin Manjang walks 30 minutes every morning to keep fit and healthy to manage his busy schedule at Standard Chartered Bank Uganda where he is the chief executive officer/managing director.
A graduate of business administration and a Chartered Management Account Masters holder, he started his working career with the National Investment Board of Gambia in 1989-94.
He then signed off four years at Gambia Airlines as managing director before making it into the banking industry with Standard Chartered Bank.
For the 10-years Manjang has been with Standard Chartered, he has served in several countries in different capacities starting off in Gambia as head of consumer banking then to Tanzania where he worked for corporate banking; he then moved to Sierra Leone as managing director before replacing David Cutting in Uganda in May 2007.
“Moving from the airlines industry to the banking industry has been a smooth journey; being that they are all service sectors. Where you have to look into the fundamentals of giving excellent service; as a CEO the role is similar; your job is to provide leadership, vision, manage people and resources to make sure they deliver to the expectations of your shareholders,” he says.
He says Uganda has been a good three years for him and the bank because he has transformed the bank in many ways.
“We’ve seen it grow at about 30 per cent and currently we are second most profitable and as well as second largest bank in Uganda,” he says.
The bank currently boasts of over 40,000 clients and more than Shs100 billion annual turnover with a one per cent repayment-non-performing loan portfolio which is one of the best in the banking industry.
The bank, once known for its exclusive up-market class has over the years been able to attract low end market segments by launching several products for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The bank now boasts of a SME clientele which has grown around $40 million from close to 1,000 accounts.
Having started in 1912 in Uganda, the bank is the oldest in the country currently employing over 600 people in its 10 branches countrywide.
“It’s satisfying when you see through in all areas, both in terms of performance, train people- making staff one of the best in the Group and in the country,” he says adding:
“We have managed to get more Ugandans working outside the country; many have been posted to Singapore, Dubai, and Nairobi.”
“The one silver bullet that has helped us see through; is being customer focused; we have put service at the forefront in delivering seamlessly.”
It has not been an easy ride for the bank and Manjang’s analysis of the industry captures the threat posed by dirty money transactions, fraud as well as the acute lack of skilled manpower for the financial sector.
“The industry is competitive because all banks are trying to build their market share, which I think is healthy because at the end of the day it’s the client who benefits through the competitive prices and better service,” he says.
A money laundering legislation in Uganda is in the offing but it has been in the pipeline for long.
“We urge parliament to make sure that it protects the industry,” Mr Majang said.
Making inroads into the SMEs sector has taken some time partly because of the informal nature of the SMEs.
“We have realised that and made some adjustments so that we meet their needs”.
As a seasoned banker, he believes more banks mean better lubrication on the wheels that move the economy.
“We now have a total of 22 banks; we expect that these banks will continue to innovate services all across the country. Uganda still has low levels of penetration and we hope that as more banks come on board we will be able to reach everywhere like the mobile industry has done,” he says.