Many young people, graduates and professionals from the University and other tertiary institutions don’t usually know their career path even after school. That`s not a problem, it`s ok. Today, the spotlight is on Dr. Carl Odame-Gyenti, a corporate and investment banker by profession, writer, musician and Information Technology (IT) mogul.
He shares insight on his career path over the last decade. If you are student, graduate or young professional questioning the world of work, you can find some answers you seek or perhaps questions you even didn’t know you had. His successful journey towards his career will provide some key lessons to many.
Carl is currently the Director (Principal) for Financial Institutions in charge of Banks, Investors and Intermediaries at Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Ghana PLC and responsible for managing corporate relationships for banks and non-bank financial institutions, global and local custodians, insurance, trustees, pensions, fund and asset managers as well as fintechs. He is also a member of SCB Country Leadership Team (CLT).
He has 13 years of working experience, nine of which has been with Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Bank PLC and spent three years at Absa Bank Ghana Limited (Previously Barclays Bank). He has had the privileged to work in both corporate and investment banking and transaction banking and successfully supported and led sovereign governments and corporates to raise long term funding from the domestic and international debt capital markets. In line his duties, he has travelled to Singapore, United States of America, United Kingdom and many African countries for various trainings and workshops.
In pursuit of academic excellence, He is among the few banking professionals who holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and was obtained in Financial Management from University of Central Nicaragua. In addition, he holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration – Finance Options from the University of Cape Coast, Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Statistics from University of Ghana, Legon.
He has done several professional courses from Ghana Stock Exchange and Institute of Commercial Management in London and recently Financial Market Association (ACI) course. He is a proud old boy of Kumasi High School (Mmerantee) where he was the Senior School Prefect and attended St John`s International School in Dormaa-Ahenkro and Faah Memorial Preparatory School in Seikwa all in the Bono Region.
Aside his professional career which he takes much pride in, he enjoys writing; he has so far published over 110 articles in various online and print media that borders on the economy, banking, finance and community development. Carl is an instrumentalist (Keyboardist and Trumpeter) and manage the Information Technology and Telecommunication (ICT) department of his local Presbyterian Church at Satellite, Accra headed by Rev. Abraham Opoku-Baffour. Carl is married to Hilda Esenam Odame-Gyenti and with two lovely kids -Michelle and Nicole.
Career journey over the last 10 years
Right after completing his education from the University of Ghana, Legon, he was privileged to do his national service at Standard Chartered Bank in 2008. After service, he was on contract with the same bank for two years. Thereafter, confirmed as a permanent staff and stayed there for 6years.
Through his six years formative years in the bank, he gathered a wealth of experience which has helped in executing his various roles his current position. As a young banker, he really enjoyed all the opportunities and exposure from the bank.
He calls SCB the best banking training school for young bankers in Ghana. In pursuit of greater career ambitions, He left SCB bank to join the then Barclays Bank (now Absa Bank Ghana) to help drive Transaction Banking Business for the Global Clients (GC). Indeed, he admits that Barclays was also a great place to work, lovely people ready to help at every level and remains most grateful to Otwiwa Offei-Akoto. In March 2018, He re-joined SCB on a much higher role following the immense experience acquired from Barclays.
Values/skills that have contributed to his career success
Carl believes that he demonstrated resilience, curiosity, and integrity, independent with little supervision in executing roles and dependable. These skills have guided his career growth.
To the extent that his line manager could rely on him in getting the job done and this he sometimes confirmed when he took his leave days with him at the helm of affairs. As a young graduate who had joined a reputable bank, in his first week at work, he recall vividly that he did some office filing. One would ask; why the need for filing, he found the importance of this task as it offered him the opportunity to read and appreciate some information and culture of the bank, which were crucial to the job he was required to do.
Did you always know you wanted to do what you are doing now?
His simple answer, yes! This is what informed him to pursue a course in Business in Kumasi High School.
For as long as he could remember, he always wanted to be a banker! And this was motivated by the professionalism, work ethic and the prestige with which the tellers in their cubicles handled their task anytime he visited the Obuasi Branch of Standard Chartered Bank. That really had an impression on him and inspired him to embark on the journey of becoming part of this profession in future.
Mistakes along the way
Carl understands that even with the best well laid out plans, mistakes do happen in the course of one’s career and in fact that would be factored in every situation one finds him or herself.
However, he has been so fortunate to have senior colleagues who have provided him with the guidance and mentorship in his journey so far. Even where there are mistakes, he has also learnt there are multiple solutions in like manner. Self-doubt could have negatively impacted his ambitions especially looking at where he started from in life, but he always held the faith to prosper.
Opportunity to change a thing early in his career?
As Leon Brown said ‘nothing goes to waste on the journey of life. Both good and bad experiences shape your mind and heart for what is to come’. He wished to have had ample time with students from universities, providing career guidance and prepare them whilst they also take the decision to be part of this great profession and the job market.
Advice to someone confused about their career planning?
First, he believes that as a person, we have all been confused about the best career to choose at one point or the other. However, it is important to remain focused ones a decision is made on a career path. It would help to speak to different people in different professions and most importantly to persons who are already in a profession you are interested in.
The current COVID 19 pandemic has also changed the phase of working but amid the darkest moments, there is light. Though a lot of companies are not recruiting, there is still the need to plan for one’s career. There is therefore the need to seek guidance from experts, ensure CVs are updated and sent to as many institutions as possible. It`s important to identify a career option, prioritize, make a choice and set a SMART goal.
A minute to coach tertiary students about work readiness
Carl mentioned that while in university, he did a lot of voluntary internships. Every semester, he took a letter from the academic office and sent to companies for internship. That really helped to have a first-hand feel of the corporate environment. This is very necessary as there is a clear difference in the working world and school.
Again, a lot of companies do organize events, seminars, amongst others, there is the need for students to take a keen interest in such programmes as they provide valuable information that help one to be open-minded. He voluntarily mentored some three Ashesi University students and looking forward to guiding them with their career choices.
Advice to a rising young professional
Make a conscious effort to develop yourself and invest in building your own brand. They should be open minded, embrace technology and take calculated risk in searching for jobs.