Exclusive: why Standard Chartered CFO Jo Pohl moved to Telesure

Jo-Ann Pohl, a platinum member of CFO South Africa, has left her job as CFO Africa at Standard Chartered Bank to join insurance conglomerate Telesure Investment Holdings as group CFO, effective 15 October 2015. We spoke exclusively to Jo and asked her why she moved, what her proudest moment was at Standard Chartered Bank and what she hopes to achieve at Telesure. "The opportunity to work in non-banking financial services with a proudly South African brand on home soil was a compelling proposition and aligned to my personal goals."

Why did you move?
"Simon Sinek said 'Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion'. My time at Standard Chartered Bank speaks of passion where working across the African continent and with the global team allowed me to marry what I love to do, with where I love to be in a financial services sector that impacted communities and customers positively. Having built up a team who hold their own as operators, stewards and catalysts for the business; I was already exploring new challenges internally at SCB in the first quarter of 2015. There were internal roles available and I seriously considered those, however the opportunity to work in non-banking financial services with a proudly South African brand on home soil was a compelling proposition and aligned to my personal goals too."

What has been your proudest achievement at SC?
"One of my proudest achievements is that the African business and team are being seen, heard and felt in the finance world and beyond. Beating the drum for Africa loudly has paid off as we have a seat at the table and a voice of influence too. With this recognition comes accountability and great expectation, so the hills we climbed together are only the beginning of the journey and I salute the team as they march on and will continue to root for them … from the side-line now."

"Financial services helps people and businesses achieve their goals, actually I would go as far as to say we help them realise their dreams."

What have you learnt at SC?
"SCB reinforced my belief that our greatest asset is our people, enabling them to operate at their best and realise their full potential is key to moving themselves and the organisation forward. Three key learning for me as a leader were:

  1. Recruit people who have the ability to tell you the hard things you don't necessarily want to hear — someone you can trust to give you a reality check when you need it.
  2. Create an learning environment (fail fast and fail forward) where people are appreciated and there by choice.
  3. Glass balls (seldom work ones) don't bounce, so lead by example as you encourage your team to make time in their busy schedules to stay healthy, connect with family, friends, their community and spirituality."

What goals have you set yourself at Telesure?
"The fluidity and fast pace of the financial services is unparalleled, joining the Telesure 'revolution' is an example of this with exciting and diverse brands plus international reach. This is exactly where I choose to be and appreciate the opportunity to be here and help contribute to the group. Three of the 'to dos' on my personal goals list are:

  1. Be genuinely interested and curious about what we do here and never stop learning,
  2. Appreciate the dynamic environment and diversity, as this offers challenges to stretch me and opportunities to learn and grow,
  3. Enable Telesure and our people realise their potential, making this truly meaningful work.

"In terms of what will stay the same, my passion for people, making things happen and making a difference. At its core, Telesure is passionate about delivery and the slogan 'finding a better way' feels tangible."

What will change the most in your day-to-day life?
"'Time is more important than things' as they say and the biggest change (other than the move from banking to insurance) is the reduction in my commute to work and flying time which will give me more time to savour the present and hopefully have those aha-moments."

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