More than 18 years in banking

Samuel Edem-Maitum

What you need to know:

Banking: Samuel Edem-Maitum has a career in banking that spans more than 18 years. He is the director of credit at Uganda Development Bank and he shares his experience with Edgar R. Batte

Who has contributed to shaping your career?

There are a number of people; my parents, my wife, in the work space there are some major individuals who took a chance on me.

On top of that, I have several amazing colleagues I have worked with.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

Managing and balancing the various expectations.

What challenge helped you grow in your career?

Stakeholder management. It is more around workplace politics. I think I found myself in a very difficult position where I was no longer enjoying the work I was doing.

People did not seem to appreciate it. I was being excluded from things such as key decision making and being undermined. I chose to look outside and got two opportunities. That is how I ended up at Uganda Development Bank.

Do people leave companies or people?

I left because of people, those I trusted and battled with in the trenches and thought they would have a better appreciation of what I did. They chose to throw me under the bus. I think people leave people rather than organisations. If you do not feel empowered, valued in what you are doing, then it might be time for you to make that change.

What values have you shared with those working with and under you?

I really believe in empowering people, to give them the opportunities and chances I was given. Sometimes it is about giving them an opportunity to take a decision to implement that brilliant idea and see where it takes them. I like to listen to what they have to say and guide and learn from them in that process. You really learn the most interesting things from people who might seem subordinates in this structure. I have learnt a lot of things such as some personal investment from colleagues and how people manage their side businesses. Younger colleagues are tech savvy.

What would you consider as a top career achievement to date?

Setting up a risk management system and the policies or procedures. Establishing that in Mozambique to improve the quality of service delivery for credit was a milestone.

And what has been your biggest career failure?

I would not refer to it as a failure. I was given an opportunity with a lot of leeway to take decisions and the project cost the bank a substantial amount of money.

It taught me a lot in terms of questioning underlying consequences around everything. It is important to reach out for help from others. It had challenges but also presented opportunities that I feel I learnt from.

When you are not handling risks, how do you spend your spare time?

I spend a lot of time with family or trying to improve myself. I exercise, do a lot of reading, enjoy listening to music and going on explorations.

What book are you currently reading?

The Hero with A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. It looks at how we look at heroes or symbolic people. The message in it is we have everything it takes within us to be our own heroes, to save ourselves.

What is on your personal and professional wish list?

Personally – being a great father, colleague, and friend then professionally; developing a crop of talent that will change the landscape of the financial services industry.

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