Zuko Hewana

Age: 26
 
Where on the planet are you currently located: Johannesburg, South Africa
 
So what exactly is your job and how did you go about achieving that career path: I studied a Bachelor of Social Science at Rhodes University in Grahamstown majoring in Economics and Industrial Psychology. Then moved on to the University of KwaZulu Natal to complete my Bachelor of Commerce Honours (Economics). I only decided in my last year of study that I was interested in money, not just from a consumerist point of view but in its entirety. I wanted to know how it flows through an entire economy. That’s when I applied to various financial institutions and successfully joined Standard Bank’s Investment Banking arm (Standard Corporate and Investment Bank) on their Graduate Program. I then circulated throughout the bank and was involved in projects in various departments to better familiarise myself with the inner workings of the bank, after which I joined the Credit Risk division and became a credit analyst. I worked in the division for a couple of months before an opportunity came to work for a smaller firm where I would have a far more all encompassing role at Sanlam Capital Markets (SCM) where I still am today. So things basically worked out on their own. (FirstStep.me says: well put!)

What’s a typical working day for you: I am responsible for monitoring a portfolio of companies which are divided in the department by industry. To name a few, I look at the construction, telecoms and transport industries. I constantly review financial statements, industry reports, company management and the economy as a whole to determine whether a certain company will be able to service or repay funding which we have extended to them and make proposals accordingly.
 
All jobs have challenges, what would you say are some of yours: The past 2 year’s have been very challenging as it seems everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong with the economy. The largest financial crisis since the great depression caused many long standing companies to fail. The challenges came when trying to work out or predict the future in a market where things were extremely volatile. I have however learnt a lot in that time and have gained experience in times which may not be seen in 100 years. (FirstStep.me notes: Wisdom beyond one's years!)
 
Where do you see yourself in five years time: I enjoy what I am currently doing immensely as it exposes you to so much, however I do have interests else where and I would love to tackle the property development and leisure industry one day soon.
 
Do you believe in studying as a key to success in all careers: In most cases I do believe in studying not necessarily to accumulate knowledge but rather to develop a way of thinking. There are too many intelligent people out there but very few who can actually think. Many people have dropped out of school and subsequently become huge successes which tells us studying is not the only ingredient but part of the many ingredients such as passion, creativity, innovation necessary for success.
 
Do you have any career role models that helped motivate your success: Not really, what has driven me has been an aspirational lifestyle rather than a role model. Coming from a middle class family where things you wanted weren’t always accessible, the desire to live a life of pleasure and finding myself in a position where I am financially secure has been my biggest motivation. (FirstStep.me says: Good man!)
 
Highlights of your career so far: Being responsible for creating the Credit Policy for a new division which started at SCM. This gave me a greater insight into the bigger organisation and helped me understand what needs to be in place to protect a company. Another highlight has been being in credit risk during the global financial crisis. This has been a time of learning and has given me experience which those to come will not have. So as ironic as it sounds, I am glad to have been involved in the global financial crisis.
 
Funniest moment of your career so far: Seeing my Chief Risk Officer in full make up, a dress and heels. It’s a he! (FirstStep.me says: Charming!)
 
Okay serious questions over:
 
If you weren’t a credit analyst you would be a film producer.
 
Favourites:
 
Country – South Africa
City – Cape Town (closely followed by Johannesburg)
Food – Pasta
Movie – Shawshank Redemption
Book – Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell
Website – www.supersport.co.za 
 
Words of wisdom for the youth of the globe: "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."