Africa Structured Debt Financier at Sanlam Capital Markets (SCM)
Zuko was introduced to Sanlam in a rather unorthodox way. A close friend of his who works at Sanlam had been telling him what a great place it was to build a career. So, as Sanlam has an open bar on Fridays after work, Zuko’s friend invited him as his guest on several occasions, thinking that the culture would convince him.
His method resulted in success. Zuko says, “I was bowled over by the diversity, friendliness and general openness of the people at Sanlam.” Sanlam is an organisation that aims to do things right and do them together, something that seemed tangible to Zuko even during his short Friday evening visits. “One day, I was chatting with a credit manager who said that they were looking for a credit analyst,” Zuko continues. “I submitted my CV the following week and, in due course, I was hired as a junior credit analyst. From there I worked my way up the ranks to senior credit analyst. After four years, I was promoted to Credit Manager Africa.” It is Zuko’s hunger for challenge and stimulation, as well as his inherent responsibility, that has seen him rise so quickly within the organisation.
Zuko had completed a graduate programme at one of the big banks before moving over to Sanlam, and this experience informs his understanding of different work cultures. He says of Sanlam, “I like the culture here and the flat structure. No two days are the same and you are constantly being stretched. I also enjoy the growth and stimulation that I am exposed to. You are always learning something new and you have to stay updated about everything because it is your job to know as much as you can about the markets and financial sector.”
As much as Zuko has enjoyed and benefited from the Sanlam culture of growth in his personal capacity, he says that the best part of his job is being able to share the knowledge and insight he’s gained with his team. “I love watching my team grow and become more engaged. It gives me great joy,” he beams.
Clearly, Zuko is passionate about what he does and his constant desire to do more and do better has been recognised within the company. Zuko won one of the four CEO awards for making a contribution to the business beyond his job description in 2012. “The year I got it, the Africa Credit business just been created and I put up my hand up to be the credit analyst for that new portfolio,” he explains. “It was unchartered territory so I had to educate myself and the committees we were working with at the time. It makes one feel that the work you put in is recognised and appreciated. So I was really proud of that.”
As is so often the case, it took Zuko some time to discover his true passion. As his parents lived in Grahamstown, he decided to opt for doing his B Soc Sci, majoring in economics and industrial psychology, locally, at Rhodes University. “I loved my university years and I am so glad I chose to go to Rhodes,” he says. “I decided to do my honours in economics at the Howard College campus of the University of KwaZulu Natal and really enjoyed that too. It was there that I was introduced to finance and found my vocation.”
When the work is done and it’s time relax, Zuko likes to spend time with his wife. “We are great explorers. We are always looking for new food trends and restaurants,” he says. “We also search out live music events, especially jazz, and we love travelling. We have just been to France.”