Standard Bank Names First Black Woman as Chair of Lender


Nonkululeko Nyembezi, a prominent South African businesswoman and leading executive, has become the first female black woman to chair Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest lender by assets, for the first time in the financial services provider’s 160-year history.

Nyembezi is a seasoned and respected leader with extensive experience in a variety of industries as an executive and board member.

Her appointment as Chairman-designate of Standard Bank Group, effective June 1, follows the confirmation of her appointment as an independent non-executive director of Strategic Business Groups (SBG) and Standard Bank of South Africa (SBSA) Limited in 2020 by the group’s board.

“With effect from 1 June 2022, Nyembezi will take over as Chairman of the Group and SBSA Boards, as well as Chairman of the Directors’ Affairs Committee.” This appointment came after a thorough succession planning process led by the Group’s Lead Independent Director. “The Group has also obtained the required Prudential Authority clearance for the appointment,” the board wrote in a statement.

An electrical engineering graduate of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (B.Sc.) and of the Californian Institute of Technology (M.Sc), Nyembezi also holds an MBA from the Open University (UK.)

Standard Bank Group chief executive Sim Tshabalala, said: “Our chairman-designate is a truly remarkable person. By every possible measure of experience, character, skill, and achievement, Ms Nyembezi is ideally suited to be the chairman of the Standard Bank Group. Ms Nyembezi’s very strong – and directly relevant – academic background, great achievements as an industrialist and corporate leader, and her worldwide network of colleagues and peers combine to make her a very widely respected citizen of South Africa, Africa, and the world.

“Nku is exactly the person that African’s leading financial institution needs to lead our Board and govern our business. It is also hugely significant to us that the Standard Bank Group will shortly have its first female chairman, and that this chairman is a black African woman.  This is a profound and historic strategic moment – at once a proud celebration of unquestionable excellence and a moment of restorative justice.”

The board also stated that her appointment aligns with efforts to broaden the board’s diversity and bring in new managerial perspectives, as Nyembezi’s extensive experience in the banking sector, combined with her expertise in strategy, planning, execution, governance and corporate stewardship gained through several executive roles over the years, will drive the group’s operation in line with its goals.

Her appointment as CEO of Standard Bank comes as the bank aims to deepen its operations and increase its retail client base to 25 million by 2025, up from 16 million in South Africa and the rest of Africa at the end of 2021.

According to a statement released by the Johannesburg-based bank, Nyembezi, who will continue as a board member at Anglo-American and Macsteel Services Centre SA, will succeed Thulani Gcabashe after 19 years of consistent service to the group.

In line with the time commitment associated with her new role, she has reviewed her current commitments, and as a result, her role as the non-executive chairman of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange came to an end on May 3, and her external engagements will therefore be her board memberships at Anglo-American Plc and Macsteel Service Centers, South Africa.

Nyembezi takes over from Thulani Gcabashe. “It’s been a privilege to chair Standard Bank over the past seven years. The group has gained competitiveness, demonstrated impressive resilience, and upheld our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of corporate governance. I wish the Group and Nku very well and I have no doubt that she will be an outstanding chairman,” he said.

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