Kenny Fihla

Kenny Fihla

Current title
Chief Executive: Corporate and Investment Banking, Standard Bank

Course at Wits Business School
Master of Business Administration, 2005

A defining moment in my career
My experience in the City of Johannesburg (COJ) in the late 1990s involved the restructuring of the institution to avert a financial meltdown. Ensuring ongoing sustainability entails reducing the capital and operational expenditure, and creating new corporatised entities with more autonomy for specialised services. It was at the end of this period that I realised that I needed a career change.

Not because my experience at the COJ was not rich enough, but because of the underdevelopment of commercial acumen in public institutions and a lack of sound practices to drive organisational performance. 

In short, the crisis was largely caused by processes and objectives that were internally focused with little connection to the impact on communities and the city’s customers.

In many respects, doing an MBA at WBS immediately after the turbulent experience of COJ connected theoretical models with practical examples of my leadership of the city’s transformation.

It is this practical connection of theory to day-to-day challenges that managers and leaders face that was the single biggest take away from the programme. Today, I run the biggest corporate and investment banking business in Southern Africa, with operations in twenty African countries and origination offices in six financial centres outside of Africa. The mental models that I learnt at WBS have remained invaluable throughout my working career.

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