By By Francis Mukuzunga
November 2010
BANK of Namibia (BoN)’s Terttu Ndunge Tegelela Uuyuni has become the second woman to be appointed to the AgriBank Board of Directors after Wilburga Katamelo.

Uuyuni’s appointment did not come as a surprise since the BoN’s Bank Supervision Department had just launched its Human Capital Development (HCD) Strategy 2010-2014 for capacity building and production of future leaders.

This (HCD) Strategy encourages deputy directors to sit on boards of parastatals as part of a national capacity building programme. It was natural, therefore, that Uuyuni, who also sits on the Board of the Windhoek Country Club, was earmarked for the Agribank Board.

Uuyuni’s role in financial risk management and banking supervision was an added advantage to the appointment.

She currently heads the Analysis and Examinations Division of the Banking Supervision Department at the central bank, a department staffed with a competent and well-experienced team of bank examiners.

Her division is responsible for continuous assessment of the financial soundness of the four commercial banks namely, Standard Bank, Nedbank, FNB and Bank Windhoek, and the micro-finance bank, Fides Bank.

The division also produces bank statistics that are made public on the BoN website and are also published in the Bank’s annual report.

“We continuously assess the financial soundness and condition of the banking sector through conducting analyses of the financial data regularly reported by banks to the Central Bank.

“Secondly, we conduct onsite examinations or inspections on banks to ensure that banks have employed effective risk management systems to protect themselves from unexpected losses that may ultimately be detrimental to the bank’s creditors and customers.

“Other responsibilities include monitoring banks’ compliance with the Banking Institutions Act, 1998, and producing regular statistics and disseminate them to the relevant stakeholders,” she explains.

Uuyuni’s job might sound hectic and demanding, but she says that she finds all the tasks assigned to her and her team achievable because she is in touch with everyone who matters at the banking institutions that she supervises.

“BoN implemented a risk-based supervision methodology in 2006 in line with the Basel Core Principles. I had the responsibility to ensure that our internal processes were streamlined and that banks understood the methodology we use.

“Basically, this approach requires supervisors to ensure that banks identify, measure, monitor and control the risks they face and that they employ effective risk management systems. On a regular basis, we visit banks to assess the level of overall risk and the results are presented to the concerned bank’s board and management to ensure rectification of any weaknesses found. I have gained a lot of experience to confidently claim specialty in risk management.”

With all these skills, Uuyuni hopes to be good resource as a new board member at Agribank. She adds that Agribank has been a growing and profitable organisation in its years of existence and would want to be associated with such an organization.

“I found Agribank as a profitable institution which has grown from year to year. I was not appointed to turn around anything at Agribank, but with the intention of strengthening the Board’s composition by appointing members that have diverse experience and skills.”

She maintains that Agribank is playing its role of providing agricultural finance and has specific programs in place to assist emerging farmers by providing them with production loans, loans to acquire farming land or training, to name but a few. With her new role as a board member, she says she would make certain that the mandate continues.

“Agribank may not be a commercial bank, but it also provides financial services, focusing on the agricultural sector. Agribank operations do not, therefore, differ much from those of banking institutions which I supervise. My experience in banking supervision should therefore enable me to make significant contributions to the future endeavours of Agribank,” she said.

It is Uuyuni’s personal opinion that Namibians from all different walks of life should enjoy the benefits of commercial banks and other financial institutions that exist in the country. “According to the recently released Finscope study, it was found that more than 51 per cent of economically active Namibians remained unbanked or lacked access to financial resources,” she cites.

Uuyuni believes more women should take up management positions but this should not come on a silver platter.

A strong, realistic and results-oriented person, Uuyuni is of the opinion that one must have a passion and desire to do the job they have applied for and must be prepared to face challenges that lie ahead of them.

“We are living in a world of tough competition between men and women. Some men feel all (key) positions will eventually be occupied by women on the premise of affirmative action. And yes, the more women we have in leadership positions, the more prosperous this beautiful nation will become.

“This is because women are more caring than men. At least, in my opinion. Whatever the case may be, I personally believe that one must work hard and have a strong dream to achieve the desired results. I also believe that anything I have achieved in my life comes from above.”

Born 38 years ago at Othika village in Omusati Region, Uuyuni is the oldest of five siblings and says her career move was inspired by people around her, especially her family: “God has blessed me with a great family, an understanding husband, Norbert, three lovely children, Linekela (12), Twapewa (7) and Mweneni (21 months). They are my pillars of strength and the reason I am pursuing bigger dreams.”

She describes herself as “an above-average learner” during her school years at Othika Primary and Oshigambo Secondary schools. She went to the University of Namibia to study Accounting and Economics and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1997.

She has never been out of the financial industry in her decade long career.

“While in my final year, I got employed at Standard Bank Accounting Department as an Accounts Processing Officer. Later, I moved to Commercial Bank of Namibia (CBN), the current Nedbank, where I underwent a training program. Since the objective of the program was to produce executive officers, the selection criteria for the program was strict, as one needed to be among the best at the university to be selected. One component of the training programme was that all trainees were to be sent on internship to the USA hence I had an opportunity to work for three months at the Industrial Bank of Washington.”

She described the experience in the USA as one that opened all doors for her. Later, she left the CBN to join the Social Security Commission (SSC) as an assistant accountant, mainly dealing with bank reconciliations. While at CBN she registered with the Institute of Bankers to qualify with an Associate Diploma in Credit (CAIB).

“In January 2000, I found the job with an institution I had and still have respect for, the Bank of Namibia. I joined the Banking Supervision Department as the most junior person. Since then I have grown not only in terms of career but also as a person. I am currently studying with the University of London, and hope to complete my MBA (Banking) soon. I am excited about the studies.”

Uuyuni admits that she has little time for leisure because her job takes up much of her time, sometimes to the detriment of her family but is grateful of the support she gets from her husband as far as family responsibilities are concerned.

“I wish I had some leisure time. I am not that fortunate. Balancing my job and family life is not as easy as people may think, especially when your family is young. I make time though to exercise, read and to be in the company of highly positive and successful people. I also make time to have quality time with my family by dedicating specific days in a week to engage in some activities as a family. One thing I have learnt is to avoid the company of negative people and those that may make me feel low.”

She is a strong believer in God and is very passionate about singing. Other passions include teaching which she hopes to pursue one day.

“I am very excited about the future and will always contribute towards efforts that make Namibia a better place to live in. I have a strong desire to see this nation progressing, which in my opinion can only happen if we build strong leaders in all areas of economic sectors.”

She has been a board member of the Windhoek Country Club and Resort since 2003 and says she has been fortunate to have worked with some well-known gurus in the business and financial fraternity from whom she continues to learn greatly. PF