After working across Africa, the UK and Dubai with Barclays, and back in her home town of Johannesburg with Teba Bank, Jo-Ann Pohl joined Standard Chartered in 2012. The aim: to align her own aims of making a tangible contribution to the industry and growing the region’s talent base through the international lender's extensive regional footprint.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working abroad and in different environments, but with Africa in my blood and the African growth story outside of South Africa gaining momentum, I realized that I didn’t want to be confined to one city or just one country," says Pohl.
"Standard Chartered offered me the opportunity to participate in the Africa growth story, while gaining from the bank’s international expertise and world-class strategy in emerging markets.”
Since taking up her position as chief financial officer for Africa at Standard Chartered, Pohl has supported the regional business teams to conclude a number of landmark deals.
Most notably, in October last year, Standard Chartered partnered with other Nigerian banks to provide the $100 million refinancing facility to drive growth of the company into the region to provide affordable fibre-optic broadband connection to Nigeria and west Africa. The deal represented one of the largest telecom operations in west Africa.
Recently, Standard Chartered also committed $2 billion to Power Africa, a five-year public-private partnership launched by US president Barack Obama, in collaboration with six African governments and the private sector to fund projects throughout the continent to improve access to reliable and safe power.
The partnership was launched in 2013, and aims to deliver electricity to more than 20 million new households and businesses.
For Pohl, philanthropy and banking go hand in hand. “Effective banking and the deals that we facilitate have a positive impact on the region’s long-term, sustainable development,” she says. "We help drive solutions for problems that riddle the continent through facilitative financing structures and products."
Pohl also works as a mentor, within Standard Chartered and the banking sector generally. She helps train talented young African entrepreneurs, chairs the Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa, assists with industry training on International Financial Reporting Standards, Basel II and III, and supports forums for financiers on international best practices.
Pohl is also on a drive to encourage African expats to return to the continent, share their expertise and help the region establish a robust and investor-friendly banking sector.
“There is a common misconception that Africa’s talent pool is sorely lacking, but this is simply not the case," she says. "Not only are the diaspora coming back as the region’s exciting growth story attracts them back home, but there is also a growing number of world-class, talented individuals on the continent.
"Mentoring gives these capable youngsters a chance to unlock their potential and put Africa on the world map. Africans have the opportunity to lead and design their own success story, for the benefit of the continent as a whole.”