My name is Suzyo Ngandu and I serve as Board Secretary of the Zambia Revenue Authority.
I am a Fellow of the Corporate Governance Institute (CGI) UK and hold a Master of Business Administration degree from the Business School Netherlands. My first degree was in Land Economy. While my career path may not be considered conventional, I am confident that my story will inspire other women not to feel restricted to follow a sterotypical trajectory.
I began my career in property management, however enthusiasm to push myself and consider new opportunities was always evident. This drive was recognized by my new employer and I was chosen to begin a new career in company secretarial practice. Now when I hear the trending term “pivoting,” I realize that this happened to me many years ago when I made a conscious decision to change my career direction. One must not become boxed within a particular field, but rather he or she should make well-calculated moves to further enhance and develop oneself.
I have been privileged to serve in various governance roles that have required me to be astute in understanding that financial management is critical for optimizing operational efficiency. In turn, strong operational efficiency helps organizations meet their core objectives. A thorough understanding of financial performance is therefore critical to the role of company/Board Secretary.
My previous role as Company Secretary at ZANACO, the largest bank in Zambia in terms of its asset base and branch network, set a solid foundation for me to interpret figures, understand ratio analysis, and be aware of essential requirements for which investors search. In addition, working for a company listed on the Lusaka Securities Exchange required me to work in tandem with the finance team to ensure that all our statutory obligations were met, such as publishing quarterly financial statements and providing reasons for significant changes in our financial performance.
The role of company Secretary in any institution requires one to be adaptable and able to assimilate information that correctly represents the views of the Board. Throughout my career, I have been fascinated by financial reports and the ways in which managers maximize the information derived from them. My interests have motivated me to “push the envelope” by embarking on studying CIMA. Unfortunately, I had to put my studies on hold to cope with the sudden passing of my husband due to Covid-19 in 2021. I have learned on this difficult part of my journey that, as women, we are resilient and can rise above challenges that may initially seem insurmountable.
I continue to accept new challenges, such as serving on the Women Leadership Forum at my workplace, with the goal of increasing female participation in leadership roles. Since joining the forum, we have organized leadership conferences and held stakeholder engagement sessions on tax-related matters such as women-led SMEs. I first heard about the 100 Women in Finance when my compatriot, Dr. Dambisa Moyo, announced that she would be collaborating with the group 100WF to support the expansion of locations in Africa. I believe that this effort will enable women in the Finance sector to share relevant information that may be specifically related to the challenges of our continent. I have personally found the 100WF webinars to be very stimulating, especially in the absence of opportunities for face-to-face meetings, and I have joined discussions on a number of topics including closing the gender gap and addressing imposter syndrome.
On a personal note, I have taken a new interest in conducting training in corporate governance in my spare time, which I hope will ultimately contribute to improving corporate governance in my country. I urge women in the financial sector, as well as those who sit on the fringes of it like I do, to continue pushing boundaries as they progress in their careers. There is always the possibility to reinvent yourself!
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