Kapumpe Chola - CEO, First National Bank of Zambia

Nottingham alumna Kapumpe Chola made history earlier this year, when she was appointed by First National Bank (FNB) Zambia Limited as its new Chief Executive Officer. The appointment was a significant milestone for both the southern African bank and Ms Chola, as she became the first woman to hold FNBZ’s top position.

Kapumpe Chola Portrait

Originally from Zambia, Kapumpe Chola studied at the Nottingham University Business School in 2002-03, gaining her MBA with a focus on Finance. Since graduating, she has gained extensive experience in the banking sector in Zambia and Botswana, holding a number of leadership roles at Barclays, Standard Chartered and RMB – the foundations for which were laid down in Nottingham.

“My NUBS programme was a Financial MBA, which was deliberately chosen to bolster my undergraduate degree in Psychology and to also equip me for growth in financial markets, my chosen field at the time”, Kapumpe explains. “Many years down the line, I realised that the programme actually positioned me to have a better understanding of general business principles, leadership and how to broadly navigate the financial services sector. The mix of nationalities in our group also helped me to learn and appreciate diversity in culture and thinking which greatly helped in my career because I was able to effectively work, and thrive, in over 15 different markets. Unfortunately, I am not able to recall the names of the lecturers that took us for Operations Management – but I could not believe how interesting and practical they made it. It was not a course that I had expected to enjoy!”

Having lived and worked in Africa for the past twenty years, Kampumpe looks back on her time in Nottingham with fondness.

“I enjoyed the surroundings of the University, the grounds and the architecture. I had always enjoyed reading and watching the legend of Robin Hood, so it was exciting to be in the home of this famed character. I also enjoyed listening to Trent FM in the evenings as I did schoolwork in my room and the rowdiness of the Nottingham Forest fans after each game!”

Her appointment as first woman to hold the title of CEO at FNB reflects the positive shift in the landscape of corporate leadership in Zambia, paving the way for more women to assume leadership roles. She follows in the footsteps of other recent female leaders in the sector, such as CitiBank Zambia CEO Lowani Chibesakunda, and Mukwandi Chibesakunda, CEO of Zambia National Commercial Bank. Kapumpe aims to continue providing value to individuals and businesses across different sectors in Zambia, while supporting the communities the bank operates in, in addition to concentrating on efforts aimed at diversifying and growing the national economy.

It is indeed a great honour to be the first female CEO of First National Bank Zambia and I hope this will pave the way for many more deserving females (of which there are many) to follow
Kapumpe Chola - CEO, FNB Zambia

"The bank's vision is to create a better world and my goal is to lead the organisation into growth that is transformational for our clients, and for the communities we operate in. I am a firm believer in the small and medium enterprises having a more meaningful impact on the broader economy, so my vision is for the bank to become a leading financier to this sector by exponentially multiplying our asset base. One of my greatest joys in life is to help people thrive and come into their full potential and, this cuts across our staff as well as our customers.”

Kapumpe with schoolgirls from Hillside Girls Secondary in Chipata as part of community work with the FNB Foundation Staff Volunteer Program

She takes on the role at an exciting moment for finance in Africa, which is predicted to become the world's fastest-growing continent for fintech revenue: according to a report by Boston Consulting Group, the African fintech market is expected to be worth around $65 billion by 2030. And alongside the rapid growth of technology and AI, climate change is also set to play a big part in the way businesses operate, Kapumpe says.

“The business world will continue to evolve, but convenience and sustainability will be some of the biggest drivers of business shift. Africa is on a financial inclusion growth path and Fintechs have simplified Financial services to tap the unbaked potential. Banks will have to look at Fintechs as partners and become more interoperable in many aspects especially credit extension and payments.”

“The world of business and finance is both less and more complex than it was in the past”, she reflects. “The aspect of globalisation has, over time, helped to level the playing field as information asymmetry has contracted. However, this has also given rise to competitive forces in business. The advent of AI is transforming the way we do business today and as we look forward, it becomes apparent jobs and careers of the future are going to look quite different from today. Climate change transition will also have a lot of impact on how we do business, as ESG and overall societal impact becomes even more core to the existence and success of a business.”

Much like the Business School’s 25th anniversary celebrations, Kapumpe is enjoying her past successes, but looking firmly towards the future. Though the world has changed a lot since her time in Nottingham, the elements key to a successful career remain. Her advice for those just setting out on their career journey?

“My top of the mind advice will be to have humility and authenticity. Your attitude towards work and relations with those that you work with will always take you to the next level. Don’t be afraid to step up and fail forward because it is only through this process that you will learn and grow. It probably still holds true that women have to do more to be noticed and get ahead - my push would be that we should reach a point where we can look at a CEO as a CEO and not one as a CEO and the other as a “female” CEO!”

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