Finance head Veronica Magongo believes no problem is unsolvable

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Veronica Magongo, head of finance at I&M Bank Tanzania, has experienced different organisational cultures during her rich career. She believes in aligning personal values with the culture of the organisation.

Veronica Magongo is driven by the prospect of leading transformation in the finance department of the financial institutions from the traditional roles of finance to the modern ways. She is inspired to see the growth and positive results in the various banks she has had an opportunity to work with. This motivation led her to take up the finance head positions in large and mid-tier banks in Tanzania.

Working together with the CEOs, executive committee, management and staff, she leveraged her decade-long experience in financial services to improve performance and turn around the financial results from negative to positive by ensuring strategic value is delivered to the business.

She joined I&M Bank Tanzania in January 2021 as head of Finance, at the inception of a three-year iMara strategy that required significant input from the finance department. I&M Bank is renowned for providing top-tier corporate, business and personal banking solutions, including deposit accounts, loans, payment cards and digital services.

“Leadership and strategy go together,” she says. “Having a strategy is pointless if you do not lead its execution. We have a very competitive business environment, and having a strategy that ticks all relevant boxes can be a big advantage. It should not be something crafted at the beginning of the year and reviewed at the end of the year, but rather a plan considered daily so that positive changes can be made timely.”

A committed visionary

In leading her team, Veronica is seen as a committed visionary team player who not only conceptualises ideas but ensures they are accomplished efficiently and economically. She trusts and works with her team and delegates part of her work with continuous support and supervision.

"Years in the banking industry have taught me that no problem is unsolvable. Low points in my career are opportunities to prove competence by focusing on solutions rather than wallowing in the problem. Solutions come when you concentrate on issues and collaborate with others to contribute to a successful resolution," she explains.

Veronica’s journey in finance is a family affair. The daughter of a former deputy controller and auditor general of Tanzania, she was encouraged by her brother to begin Certified Public Accounting (CPA) studies in Dar es Salaam while still in high school. By the time she joined the University of Dar es Salaam in 2001, she was in her final year of CPA studies.

After graduating with a B.Com in Finance in 2004, Veronica joined PwC as an external auditor. One of her first assignments was auditing a medium tier bank, which was a challenging task but the firm provided constructive support and guidance after each assignment, helping her deliver strong results and contribution to the firm and clients.

“After seven years, I left PwC to join First National Bank (FNB) Tanzania as head of internal audit. This move was pivotal as I gained a deep understanding of banking business from within the bank. I got much more knowledge as compared to working as an external auditor. In my role, I was involved in internal controls, compliance, operations and financial statements reviews. I also worked with external auditors and board committees,” Veronica recalls.

In May 2014, NMB Bank offered Veronica the head of finance position. She took up the challenge with courage, humility and grace, working under the supervision of the bank CFO. This period was critical in her career as her passion for process automation was nurtured amid a shift towards digitisation with the rise of fintechs and mobile money.

‘The knowledge I gained at NMB profoundly shaped my finance career. A critical element of that success was the automation of banking processes, which were quite manual at the time. This not only led to cost savings but also provided avenues for revenue generation. Delivering change with improved results is not an easy task. Once I felt that I had achieved the intended results, I moved to Bank of Africa to take up the CFO position in October 2019,” Veronica says.

Having worked for four banks in Tanzania and audited others during her time at PwC, Veronica has experienced different organisational cultures. She believes in aligning personal values with the culture of the organisation.

“I have a strong inclination to being data-driven, a value and skill shaped during my time at PwC. Openness, integrity, and commitment to embrace data solutions attracts me, as it aligns with my values and skill set, making it easier for me to adapt to new environments,” Veronica says.

A personal experience that shaped Veronica’s perspective on work and life was a leadership training course where the convenor challenged participants to write down their strategic personal goals and develop steps to achieve them. She took this course over a decade after the birth of her first child and had nearly given up on having another. Accepting the challenge, she followed through, and three years later, she gave birth to another baby boy.

“I am today a proud mother of two sons. Writing down your goals, listing the steps necessary, and following through is a proven formula for success that I advise all professionals to follow,” she concludes.

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