In September 2020, after a nine-month wait for the confirmation of a CEO, Zambia National Building Society’s Interim Board announced the appointment of Chartered Accountant Mildred Mutesa as Chief Executive Officer.
Following the exit of Joseph Chikolwa on 3rd January 2020, the David Nama led Board’s announcement of Mildred as Acting CEO signaled the lender’s intent to find a replacement for Chikolwa in the near term.
However, Mildred had to wait two full financial quarters before her confirmation could come. Furthermore, the MBA graduate of Edinburgh Business School – Heriot-Watt University and Accountancy Degree holder from Copperbelt University was subjected to a competitive process that saw the board consider both internal and external candidates for the role as head of a building society that was in transition to reposition itself in a highly competitive real estate finance market.
All this in a period of Covid-19 that has redefined how many businesses provide their services, including the financial sector. The appointment of CEO is often subjected to a rigorous recruitment process. Financial Insight believes that the preposition of confirming Mildred as CEO was too good for the board to pass by due to the profile and board ready caliber she had held until Joseph’s separation.
Mildred came to ZNBS with a career path that illuminated an ascension to CEO. A diagnosis of her LinkedIn profile shows a candidate for the role that was prepared for risk management, understood internal and external audit requirements, was ready to sit at the high table of the board understanding what their interests were, and ability to interpret financial statements which is an important skill for anyone who seeks to lead a financial institution.
As Finance Director of the building society, her role would see her ensure that Prudential reports being submitted to Bank of Zambia on a timely basis, timely preparation of Audited Annual Financial Statements for presentation to the Board of Directors, coordinate the annual external audit, strategic planning, adherence of ZNBS to all statutory payments, oversee the Assets and Liabilities Management (ALM) function of the Institution including effective monitoring and reporting of capital adequacy, liquidity, capital funds planning and contingency fund planning, and sourcing for long term affordable funds to support the business among other responsibilities according to her LinkedIn page.
In terms of her performance as part of exco during her probation period, a statement issued by Mutinta Syulikwa, Society Secretary on 26th December 2019 on SENS indicated that the society expected “growth may not be as high as expected due to the current macro-economic fundamentals currently prevailing in the Country”. However, they expected an improvement in performance in the second half of 2020 on the back of the introduction of new service delivery channels which are targeted to be launched in quarter one of 2020 of the “Nyumba Ya Banja” was one the initiatives that Mildred launched.
“It means a home for the family and denotes a sense of family and collective ownership of the family home which ZNBS is proud to play a role in facilitating”, Mrs. Mutesa said during the launch of the long-awaited promotion according to an extract from the ZNBS website.
“Launched on the 24th of February, 2020, the mortgage promotion attracted the interest of the Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, Mrs. Inonge Mutukwa Wina”.
In a telephone conversation with Founder of Financial Insight on 4th October 2020, when asked the question “what drives you?” Mildred responded, “Passion to excel!” Mildred indicated that she was an adaptable leader who was not afraid to change course if the strategy was not working.
The mother of two daughters and one son is also an all-embracing leader who is “people-focused” as she seeks to deliver a stable business model as well as housing to more Zambians. “Moving from private sector to public, it’s not just about the bottom line and Covid has shown us that more and more Zambians consider housing a priority”.