I write in response to an article published on The Gazette newspaper of 25th September, 2013, titled “Standard Chartered Board does not inspire confidence” by Lucas Modimana.
No one man can profess to having all the requisite knowledge, skills, experience and understanding to run any board of a corporate entity single handed. According to the U.K code of corporate governance, once individuals have been nominated /appointed to the board, it becomes a collective responsibility for each and every one of them to see to it that the board functions effectively by complimenting each other. If the board diagnoses that the Chairperson or some members lack certain competencies, there is an allowance for the board to arrange for some special training to develop such individuals.
It is incorrect to argue that, the incumbent board chairperson does not have business leadership skills, when he was Chief Executive Officer for 8 years of an institution like the University of Botswana, a modern university that functions as a business entity. Modern universities run as business entities in situations whereby corporate strategies are infused into their day to day running. The University of Botswana has a strategic plan with a vision, mission and objectives. During his 8 year stay at the helm of the University, Professor Othogile fine tuned the University’s vision, and implemented some very important projects such as, establishing the school of medicine, and he even introduced a new corporate logo to re-brand the institution.
The University did not have a modern logo that could make it more competitive with other university corporate entities throughout the world. It used an old beautiful emblem that mainly depicted the foundation of UB, with a shortfall of an initiative in the form a logo that could reflect transformational leadership associated with running of modern schools. He could not have noticed such deficiencies if he does not possess brilliant ideas and excellent business leadership skills.
To suggest that the board chairperson is a former university principal with little or no expertise in the banking industry is undermining, and is as hollow as it is fallacious, because a university Vice Chancellor is an accounting officer for the learning institution and normally oversees the day to day running of the institution. His duties are not only limited to academics, he/she also has to ascertain that budgeting is done appropriately, finances are properly utilized/ transacted in a professional manner, including banking and auditing. After staying for many years in such an institution and also attending professional courses, we expect him to have attained knowledge and understanding of banking and financial management by now. In fact, Professor Othogile has been with Standard Chartered for a very long time, and he knows the bank like the back of his hand.
In my opinion, the board of Standard Chartered inspires a lot of confidence, because it is composed of individuals who are professionals in their own right. These men and women possess the qualifications, knowledge, skill and experience in law, accounting, finances, business, engineering, economics management, taxation etc. If they work as team, and exercise collective responsibility, I foresee them taking standard Chartered to Golan height. It is motivational to note that, majority of them are locals, and this inspires a lot confidence and trust. At least the spirit of localization is still burning, and it is a virtue worth celebrating after 47 years of independence. In fact, it is commendable that the first commercial bank in Botswana has now localized the post of Chief Executive Officer and Board Chairperson.
Professor Bojosi Khebethu Othogile- BJ has extensive corporate governance experience knowledge and skill gained as Chairman of B.H.C & SAMDEF and therefore without doubt qualifies to be chairperson of Board of directors for Standard Chartered bank.
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