Ethel Nyembe on the importance of investing in yourself

Shifting careers can be somewhat a daunting prospect, but many people, like Ethel Nyembe, do it successfully

It either works out or it doesn’t. Before moving to the banking sector, Ethel Nyembe worked in the media industry. Her career in the media spanned over a decade and included working for the SABC.

She also worked in print media, doing different things, before moving on to banking.

“The change in career was not necessarily about moving to banking, but about using my skillset in a different industry,” she says.

The mother of two boys says adjusting from working in the media industry to the banking sector was not that challenging.

“There are many similarities between the two industries. People are people no matter where you go. I continued to use my skillset. But each industry has its own nuances,” she says. Nyembe says she spent time upskilling herself and improving herself so that she could be better at what she does.

“The key learning is the ability to understand the various aspects involved in making sure you know what success looks like, whether its within the industry, or from an organisational perspective,” she says.

Nyembe who heads the card-issuing department at Standard Bank, says if you plan to shift your career, you must first understand what you are really good at. “You must understand what you are good at because that skillset follows you wherever you find yourself. The second part is to immerse yourself in your new career and understand the key gaps,” she says.

While having a successful career and being a mother can be quite a challenge, Nyembe has managed to find a balance between being a career-driven woman and a mother. SHE says she tries to ensure that her home life and her work life balance seamlessly.

“If, for example, my kids say they have the biggest match of their life at 2pm and there is an important meeting at the same time, I won’t make that particular meeting because I’d be on the sidelines, cheering on my sons. But I will attend the 5pm meeting,” she says.

She adds that it’s not about choosing one over the other, but finding what works for you. Nyembe says she wants her kids to grow up appreciating that she loves what she does and not to resent having a working mum.

Before joining Standard Bank in 2010, Nyembe worked for FNB.