Absa: Reimagining banking with Africanacity
One of Africa’s largest diversified financial services providers, Absa Group Ltd has 42,000 employees in 12 countries across the continent. Listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), it provides clients with retail, business, corporate, investment and wealth management solutions. A truly African brand, Absa is inspired by the people it serves and determined to be always brave, passionate and ready to make Africa proud.
In 2016, South Africa-headquartered financial services group Absa had this quest for relevance thrust upon it with new urgency: When Barclays, its global investor and majority shareholder for over a decade, exited the partnership, Absa suddenly had to go it alone. This entailed designing, from the ground up, a new philosophy and growth strategy for its markets across Africa; addressing head-on the challenge of intensifying disruption in the banking sector; and actively infusing this repositioning with a pan-African culture of resilience. To capture and brand this distinct African spirit of turning adversity into opportunity, Absa coined the term Africanacity.
In 2018, the pan-African financial services provider Absa Group Ltd completed its separation from its majority shareholder, Barclays. Entering a new chapter in its history, the bank faced the challenge of articulating a new growth strategy and successfully rebranding itself with existing and new customers across the African continent. Adding to the enormity of Absa’s task was the intensifying competition and digital disruption in the banking industry. Could Absa live up to these challenges and redefine its identity and purpose as a boldly relevant, digital-first and proudly African enterprise?
The L&D initiative would target people development at three levels of the organization. Concurrently, it would stimulate collaboration and dialog between the three. The resulting learning journeys were a combination of open programs, customized modules and corporate entrepreneurship projects, enriched with coaching, mentoring and career development sessions.
Through its partnership with IMD, Absa succeeded in developing accelerated talent development experiences to support the organization’s transformation and stimulate an entrepreneurial culture across the entire group. The three learning journeys created impact on three planes.
By bringing together Absa’s current and future leaders, the programs allowed them to adopt new frameworks and tools; use the tools to analyze, discover and benchmark; and create new mentoring relationships and business opportunities that had a positive impact on several stakeholders while creating value for the organization.