A conversation with … Baronice Raschida Hans: ‘I do take this responsibility very seriously’

A conversation with … Baronice Raschida Hans: ‘I do take this responsibility very seriously’

Baronice Raschida Hans, who took over as the Managing Director of Bank Windhoek on 1 July 2016, is the first black female managing director of a bank in the country. It might be a cliché but nevertheless New Era Weekend wanted to know whether that fact places an extra sense of responsibility or burden on Hans’ shoulders.

Does she subconsciously keep a mental note that she is now capo in a sphere mainly dominated by men and that there might be some sort of perception as well as undue public expectation on her in this role?

“You are right, there is definitely a greater burden of responsibility on me given the fact that I need to pave the way for more future women managing directors,” she says.

“I do take this responsibility very seriously and with the help of God, I am determined to live up to and surpass these expectations. In general, banks are highly performance-driven organisations, therefore, high expectations are – in my view – not undue,” she comments.

Hans entered the financial world in 1998 when she did her articles at Ernest & Young where, as part of her traineeship, she was mainly involved in the performance of statutory audits. She qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2001.

Prior to her appointment six months ago as managing director designate of Bank Windhoek, and her subsequent confirmation as MD this month, she spent the years 2009 to 2015 as an executive director at Standard Bank Namibia. It is from her job as Standard Bank Namibia’s executive director and head of personal and business banking – where she was tasked to develop, shape and deliver the bank’s personal and business banking – that she was persuaded to, literally, cross Independence Avenue over to the reddish office building suites of Bank Windhoek.

Before joining Standard Bank, she was an executive at the national power utility, NamPower, where for the period between 2004 and 2008 she was the general manager for finance, treasury and property management.

She counts among her core accomplishments the listing of NamPower’s inaugural N$500 million bond on the Namibia Stock Exchange (NSX) and BESA (Bond exchange of South Africa – at the time the largest inward listing on BESA – and the raising of N$1.1 million for the Caprivi Link HVDC Interconnector with European Investment Bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

Evidently, Hans is not a greenhorn in the corporate world of intricate financing and global deal-making.
Hans says her heart is on women upliftment and it is one of the country’s economic aspects she would like to contribute to.

“I am passionate about the inclusion of women in all spheres of our economy, including banking. Furthermore, I believe it is time is for women to be uplifted too and to realise our true potential,” she says.

Her appointment was met by a flood of congratulatory messages – including a tweet from the First Lady Madam Monica Geingos – all referring to her appointment as appropriate given her vast experience.

Does it really remain necessary, in this day and age, to qualify the appointment of women with references to experience, as opposed to simply congratulate the person without validating the congratulatory message with whether the experience is appropriate enough or not, we asked her. This is because some women have taken exception to such messages asking why the same does not happen with men’s appointments. Did this bother her?

“I firmly believe that all the messages that were sent were well-intended and I did not interpret reference to my experience in any negative light. I am honoured by the support received and very thankful,” she says humbly.

Hans’ message to all young aspiring bankers out there – women and men – is this: “Banking is a career and not a job. Do not limit yourself in terms of the current realities of where you are, but set your sights on where you want to be. Invest in yourself, put up your hand to do more, and be committed to be better each day than you were the previous day.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.