GROWING up in Okatana village in the Oshana region, Saima Nimengobe (SN) never thought she would one day occupy a senior position at the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN).
Today, she is the bank’s Head: Risk and Compliance. In an interview with Confidente’s Marianne Nghidengwa (MN), Saima talked about her career, being an inspiration to fellow women and her love for travelling with her loved ones.
MN: Who is Saima Nimengobe?
SN: Saima is a village girl, who was born at Oshipumbu Shomugongo in the Ompundja constituency, and raised by her dad at Okatana, which are both in Oshana region. I am a daughter to strict and no-nonsense parents, and I have 18 siblings. I am happily married, and God amazingly blessed us with two beautiful children, Weya-Tuhafeni (4) and Weni-Teuya Kaleni (2). I am a mom first before anything else. I am a risk professional with a few qualifications to my name – a Bachelor of Accounting (Unam), a Post-Graduate Certificate in Compliance Management (UJ), an MBA (USB) and several certificates in project management, labour law and risk management, to mention just a few. I am an associate member of the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA), which is recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) as the only professional body for risk managers in Southern Africa. I am an affiliated member of the Institute of Risk Managers (IRM) UK and the Institute of Compliance Managers SA. I was nominated and became a top finalist in the 2015 Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) Risk Manager of the Year competition, which meant a lot to me. Recently, I become part of the newly established and affiliated risk committee, created in conjunction with the IRMSA as a Namibian chapter, to secure the future of Namibian risk professionals.
MN: In your current post, what are your roles and responsibilities?
SN: My responsibilities include performing different tasks of the enterprise’s risk management. DBN has a strategic plan, which is exposed to uncertainty and potential unexplored opportunities. To enable DBN to achieve its strategic objectives, my team’s responsibilities include implementing and monitoring the Risk Management Framework, Regulatory Compliance Framework (all applicable regulations including the key one for the bank, which is the Financial Intelligent Act, and the Environmental and Social Act) and advising the executive committee, the board, as well as the audit, risk and compliance committees on appropriate risk management strategies, with the overall responsibilities for risk monitoring, risk evaluation and risk measurement. One of my important responsibilities is scanning market news; I read news and journals with dedication, as this is where we pick up risk indicators that influence the likelihood of potential risks facing the businesses.
MN: What is it like to work at DBN?
SN: DBN is a developmental finance institution, which means it’s unique, as we are part and parcel of the State-owned enterprises that assist with the development of the country. DBN has great leaders, a well-skilled workforce and a clear vision of where the shareholder wants the bank to be in the long and short-term. I am extremely proud and happy to be contributing positively to Namibia, as a whole, and to be part of the DBN family. I wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else at this point in time, and the near future.
MN: What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?
SN: Strategic planning is one of the most crucial means of ensuring that an organisation achieves its vision, mission and strategic goals. Internal and external risks may undermine the achievement of strategic goals. By the same token, upside risk may facilitate the achievement of strategic goals. Opportunity management is important in maximising the business’s ability to create and protect value, including staying relevant to stakeholders and shareholders, and therefore failing to manage risks, prevents businesses from achieving objectives, and ultimately leads to diminishing of share value, loss of competitive advantage and even closure. On the other hand, failure to manage compliance risks, for example, may harm stakeholders, such as the community in which the business operates
It has therefore become imperative that organisations adopt a formal risk management process, where risks are proactively identified, captured in risk registers and managed. The most rewarding tangible benefit of this job includes seeing projects and activities that do not adversely affect stakeholders (including the workforce, the environment and society), through physical and environment harm and not exposing my employer to financial and other penalties. It’s also rewarding when a rating agency sees evidence that the business is explicitly taking uncertainty and the nature of uncertainty into account, when making decisions and distinguishing between alternative courses of actions. Lastly, the intangible reward benefit is when the business can demonstrate that it’s able to achieve its objectives, and performance has improved, in terms of operational efficiency, governance, reputation and financial sustainable.
MN: As a senior figure at the bank, what are you doing to empower other women to reach the same heights?
SN: A risk management career path in Namibia is fairly new… To date, I met up with about nine risk professionals, of whom 85 percent are woman, for risk professional advice, guidance and work reviews. I am excited and happy to assist where I can. Where I am not able to assist, I connect them with my experience network, including my mentor. I have also worked with a lot of woman to date, who believe in me and I want to ensure that I assist as many woman as I can. It excites me to be in the company of successful, empowered woman and woman in senior positions should grab the hands of those that have the potential and willingness to succeed. I am not sexist, but I believe that when a girl child is empowered and guided onto the right path, it means that the nation has a caretaker, a mentor and a guider of a male child.
MN: What advice do you have for those aspiring towards your career path?
SN: Risk management is a career that one can follow. It doesn’t really require a specific undergraduate qualification. There are lawyers, economists, accountants, auditors and the like, who are risk managers. Risk management cannot really be learned from a book; it’s a discipline one learns throughout your career. For starters, your work ethics should be intact, as you need to guide the organisation. Some of the attributes are being a self-starter, as most of the tasks risk professionals perform daily have to be initiated based on the business risk profile. You should also be a good communicator and you should be able to influence management, to buy into your ideas. You should be able to read and quickly grasp business principles and the business vision, in order to give the correct business risk and compliance advice. You should be passionate about risk management, as your passion flows through the entire organisation, in order to build a risk culture. And last, but not least, join institutions that allow you to get continuous professional development and risk management accreditation, and use these as a source of information and networking opportunities. Risk management is not done in silo; know what the new trends are and see if it fits your business’s risk profile and share what you are doing with your network, to ensure that you are on the right track. If all fails, get a mentor; they are readily available, and can make time, free of charge.
MN: How have you managed to successfully balance your family and professional life?
SN: Being a wife and mom come with fulltime responsibilities, and over the years I have watched women struggling with this, and I learnt an important lesson – manage your time well and assign responsibilities, as much as you can. I have a great child minder, who lives with us. I have ample support from Tatetu, who is a great father. I live in the same street with my eldest sister, who has become a grandma by design, and the support I receive from my sisters, brothers and friends, is immerse.
MN: After a stressful day, what do you do to unwind?
SN: My youngest, Weni, loves dancing, so once I am home, I kick off my heels, we dance, do a little bit of a pillow scuffle, and I prepare their tea and sandwiches, which has become tradition before dinner. I don’t always get time to cook dinner, but I serve my husband his dinner. Once this is done, they are ready for bed and I snuggle up for a good documentary or news on Aljazeera with Tatetu. Weekends are more fun, as we go to the playground or the mall and have ice cream. We made a decision long ago that Namibia is a beautiful country, and that we need to explore it. We have travelled to all corners of Namibia. We only still need to visit Lüderitz and Sossusvlei.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015