Patricia Sappor: heralding a new age in banking education

December 12, 2016
Source: Bernard Yaw Ashiadey |thebftonline |Ghana
Patricia Sappor: heralding a new age in banking education

Two weeks ago, history was made! For the first time in the existence of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB) Ghana, an institution that trains bankers for the banking industry, a female president has been elected and sworn into office.

For almost four decades in the history of the institute and with 16 presidents past and gone, never has there been a female leader.

Thus Reverend Mrs. Patricia Sappor’s election is considered by many industry players as a watershed moment and will serve as a launch-pad for other equally capable woman to reach the top.

At her swearing in ceremony, attended by former presidents of the Institute, current bank executives and many other industry players, Mrs. Sappor couldn’t hold back the excitement and believes that her election will herald the beginning of the training digital-savvy bankers to transform the banking industry.

“The banking landscape is dramatically changing…technology has also redefined banking in Ghana, with the advent of mobile or digital banking…it is now very critical to keep abreast with changing trends in the market place.

“In view of the above, my vision and that of Council is to transform the Institute into a World Class, Professional and Financial Learning Centre and we shall achieve this vision through the re-engineering of the educational process of the Institute to churn out innovative and digital savvy banking professionals,” she says.

Apart from that she also plans on pursuing the CIB Presidential Charter and build a strong network of ACIBs whiles collaborating with the Central Bank to support and strengthen the Non-Bank Financial Institutions (Micro Finance/ Savings and Loans Institutions).

“We will work closely with Bank of Ghana, the Ghana Association of Bankers and other stakeholders to collaborate with government and offer suggestions that will contribute to the growth of our Economy,” she says at her swearing in.

Unsurprisingly, as an ordained Reverend Minister and preacher of God’s word, her unwavering belief in the support, guidance and grace from God and his son Jesus Christ, is assuring and shows that she is more than ready to bring the change needed by the industry.

“I am confident that by the grace and help of God, we shall deliver on our mandate. The experience is truly humbling and I give great praise to God for making this possible, for He is the one that makes kings and orders our steps,” she says.

With her experience in banking and her active role over the years in boosting the image of the CIB, Rev. Pat knows that even though the road ahead is tough, she is more than capable.

Prior to being elected President, Reverend Pat served as Vice President of the Institute from 2012 to 2016, after having served for over 13 years representing Ecobank on the Institute’s Governing Council.

She also served as the chairperson of the Editorial and Publicity Committee as well as the Education and Programs Committee of the Institute, where she brought her expertise in the industry to bear on both Committees, making significant impact on the editorial materials and academic activities.

But how did Mrs. Sappor who started her banking career three decades ago, rise through the ranks to become the first female president of the CIB? Her answer is simple but inspiring: “determination and hard work will take you wherever you dream off going.”

Banking career

Beginning at Bank for Housing and Construction

Starting her career at the now defunct Bank for Housing and Construction, Mrs. Sappor joined the bank and handled customer complaints, enquiries and conducting investigations before joining the Accounts Department and Adabraka branch where she was a loans officer.

After more than a decade at the bank, she sojourned to the United Kingdom where she studied at City Banking College U.K, one of the world’s most prestigious banking colleges, from 1991-1995, whereupon graduation, she became an Associate Member of the Institute of Financial Studies, U.K, 1995.

But while studying Banking in the UK, she had a working experience with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) where she was trained in customer service and rose to become a customer service manager in one of its outlets in London.

Coming back home and Ecobank Ghana

On her return to Ghana in 1995, Ghana’s current largest bank, Ecobank was then searching for a customer service expert to establish the bank’s customer service department and she fitted the criteria the bank was looking for.

Her 11 years pervious banking experience, coupled with her acquired banking knowledge in City Banking and the Customer Service Experience at KFC made her the obvious choice for Ecobank to handle the difficult task of establishing the customer service department at Ecobank.

“Even though I had the flair for customer service and I acquired a lot of knowledge of KFC in customer service my personal interest was in banking and finance. I like figures. But God is so wonderful that just at the time that I came back to Ghana, Ecobank wanted to set up a customer service unit and I was cut out for the job.”

She is of the opinion that anybody who wants to drive customer service in any organisation cannot drive customer service when the person does not understand the business. “You must understand the business to appreciate what has to be done and the challenges ahead.”

As an innovator, results oriented professional with great interpersonal skills, Rev. Pat initiated several activities and programmes in Ecobank Ghana in the area of Customer Service, positioning the Bank to winning numerous awards.

With an unparalleled passion and commitment, she went over and beyond her call of duty and developed various products for the bank adding to the array of products of the bank. Some of these products and services now form part of the bank’s core culture and positions the bank as the bank of choice for many Ghanaians.

Today, many banks have taken a cue from how Ecobank manages its customer service and have also implemented some of the activities Mrs. Sappor has introduced including customer service forum, mystery shopping, customer service manuals which stipulated standards for handling customers, quality assurance, managing complaints and training manuals.

As the Post Integration Manager leading the integration between Ecobank Ghana and the erstwhile Trust Bank, her expertise and rich experience in Branch Banking, Operations, Risk management, Treasury, Trade Services, Customer Relations and attention to details resulted in the seamless integration of the two institutions.

“It was all because of an understanding the various segments of the banking business and by God’s grace the post integration was seamless.,” she says.

After a decade of pioneering excellence in customer services, Rev. Pat was tasked with setting up one of its major branches of the bank at Osu. Due to her impressive communication skills and verve for customer service, she made Osu one of the best performing branches.

Group Head of Customer Service

Her exemplary performance and achievements were so recognised that the Ecobank Group decided to engage her expertise in reshaping the entire group’s customer service and   elevated her to the position of Group Head of Customer Service, ensuring a positive Customer Experience across the 26 countries in Africa where Ecobank was present at the time.

Though the job and task placed on her were challenging, Mrs. Sappor acknowledged that it was very fulfilling as well. “My mandate was to ensure customer experience across the network.”

The challenge, according to her, was having to travel and replicate what has been done in Ghana across the group bearing in mind different cultures, ways of doing things and bringing standardisation including the establishment of call centres in the various countries.

“But that was the fulfilment I had.  By the grace of God, I went on a trip to India to understand their call centre set up and that experience enabled me to establish a 100 seater 24/7 World Class Contact Centre in Ecobank Ghana with others in Kenya, Cote D’Ivoire, and Cameroon whilst expanding Nigeria call centre to a 100 seater as well.

“Call centres are strategic online service channels used in making contact with clients for various services,” she says.

Head of Corporate Communications

Currently she is the Head of Corporate Communications, Ecobank, Ghana and Anglophone West Africa (AWA). She is responsible for Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Guinea.

To her it has been very exciting to be heading Corporate Communications. “Corporate communications is very broad because your eyes are on the reputation of the institution. Reputation is the outcome of the entire performance of the bank cutting across all the processes of the operations of the bank.”

Personal

Growing up in a middle class home in Accra, she described her upbringing as exciting. With an industrious mother who was engaged in the making of batik, bags for export, baking, sewing of wigs and soap making, she saw an interesting life and had to learn various trades even at a young age.

Her dad was a civil servant but what stood out for her was how Christian and prayerful her family was and is still is.

She was awarded a fellow of the Chartered institute of Bankers (Ghana) in 2008 after obtaining her Associate Banker status with the Institute of Financial Services in the UK in 1995.

Rev. Pat is an alumnus of the University of Leicester, U.K, where she graduated with MBA (Finance Option).  She also holds a diploma in Public Relations and Reputational Management with the London School of Public Relations.

Reverend Mrs. Sappor is a motivational speaker with great organizational skills. She is results-oriented, meticulous and has strong work ethics.  As an ordained Minister of Action Chapel International, she is currently the President of the Women of Action, the women's ministry of Action Chapel International.

Not only is she a preacher of the Word of God but also offers training in management and leadership for the church and other ministries. She has to her credit a book titled, The Christian Woman (Secrets To Enjoying Your Marriage), which aims at guiding couples, especially women, on how to have a happy and lasting marriage.

Having mentored many young men and women, Rev. Mrs. Sappor continues to be a role model to many. She is married to Frederick Sappor a Chartered Accountant and they are blessed with three children.

With such a rich and diverse experience there is no shred of doubt that Rev. Mrs. Sappor will positively impact the Chartered Institute of Bankers (Ghana), the banking fraternity, and the good of society.

Advice for ladies

And to the ladies, she urges them to “know who you are and believe in yourself, have a purpose, positively distinguish and position yourself, be bold and resilient, for it is possible to get to the top.”