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Chishala Kateka: Woman in BBZ boardroom

WOMEN have a long way to go in remotely coming close to gender parity in the workplace, especially at decision-making level.
In Zambia, it has been a trend: women are more likely to be appointed to seats vacated by other women, and when men step down, they are more likely to be replaced by men.
But change is coming, and for the first time, Barclays Bank Zambia (BBZ) Board now has a female Chairperson for the first time. Her name is Chishala Kateka.
Ms Kateka was appointed as Barclays Bank Zambia Plc Board Chairperson effective June 22, 2017 and became the first female to serve in that capacity on the bank’s board.
Her appointment follows the retirement of Jacob Jones Sikazwe, who served as Board Chair from March 23, 2007 to June 21, 2017.
Prior to the appointment, Ms Kateka was an instrumental member of the Barclays Bank Zambia Plc Board on which she served as a Non-Executive Director from 2009 until her appointment.
Born on June 30, 1956, Ms Kateka holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Zambia. She qualified in 1990 as a member of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (subsequently Association of Chartered Certified Accountants – ACCA), with Deloitte Haskins and Sells (subsequently Deloitte & Touché).
The work experience gained with Deloitte was varied ranging from the provision of audit and accountancy services to clients from all sectors of the economy and the conducting of in-house and client-training courses.
Ms Kateka had 12 years professional experience with the Deloitte practices in both Zambia and Botswana.
In 1994 she took over the running of the medium-sized firm of Bena Kateka and Company, which, in 1996, became part of Binder Dijker Otte (BDO) International, which operated in Zambia as BDO Kateka Evans Musonda (BDO-KEM) of which she became Managing Partner.
Binder Dijker Otte is an international network of public accounting, tax, consulting and business advisory firms which perform professional services under the name of BDO.
She also sat on the BDO Spencer Steward Southern Africa Board composed of all Managing Partners in Southern Africa.
The firm later in Zambia became known as Triquetra Assurance Services. Ms Kateka has during this period undertaken a wide spectrum of professional services, including audit and accountancy, liquidations, consultancy, litigation support, fraud investigation and dispute arbitration. She has also served as an expert witness in recognition of her expertise and experience as an accountant.
She is a serial entrepreneur with significant financial business and life experience, including an advanced set of survival skills related to her setting up a project that will help to address mindset issues which result in detrimental behaviour amongst most Zambians.
Many companies, including banks, have never had a woman on their board, making it even more unlikely that a woman will get the next vacant position. And that’s how the cycle of gender disparity continues.
But Ms Kateka’s vast professional experience, including involvement in assignments related to a number of financial institutions, provided her with a deep appreciation of the workings of the financial sector. This experience, her work ethic and commitment to whatever is set before her made her the right candidate for the appointment.
She was until May 2001 interim manager at Kafue Textiles of Zambia. She was the principal consultant for the World Bank on the Copperbelt Economic Diversification Workshop Project after which she subsequently became the co-ordinator of the National Economic Diversification Programme in Zambia – a project co-funded by the World Bank and the Zambian Government.
Ms Kateka was also Principal Consultant for the World Bank on the 2002 Consultative Group meeting in Livingstone, Zambia.
Until her retirement in February 2014, Ms Kateka was Managing Director of ZAMNET Communication Systems Ltd. She is currently an Independent Director sitting on various boards including the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA), The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and Nico Insurance.
She is a savvy financial woman in her own right, driving many of the strategies, partnerships and other financial business deals all associated with success.
Bu what is her secret to effectively staying on top?
For Ms Kateka, the way to the top is by having the much-needed professional qualification for the position as well as being professional and good at what one does.
“Women face a stronger trade-off than men between career and family. Women’s ability to hold top-level jobs is primarily constrained by either their desire to spend time with family or the continued relevance of strong gender norms in terms of the allocation of childcare duties, both of which may constrain career advancement given a working environment that offers limited tolerance for anything less than full commitment to work.
“But I am not saying women should not care for their family, they should do so but also ensure that they get the much needed education and qualify for top positions,” Ms Kateka says.
Ms Kateka says until stereotyped gender roles change, women are unlikely to get equal billing at the top.
She feels there is not much of discrimination going against women trying to take up top position, adding that the only challenge is that most women may not have the qualifications for the top jobs although this is now changing.
“I can cite a few examples of women that are in top positions – the Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor of Administration, Dr Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula is a very professional woman, our own Mizinga Melu at Barclays Bank Plc, a prominent banker, is another example. Those are qualified women that have earned their positions through their hard work,” she says.
Ms Kateka has easily stepped into some large shoes and filled them with her own talent, skill and leadership to help take the bank to the next level.