Jude Addo: “Your Network IS Your Net Worth”

Career Insights speaks to Ghanaian, Jude Addo, Standard Chartered's Global Corporate Sales Director, on lessons he has learnt to date, his ambitions in Africa, and the impact of his faith on his career.

Profile

Age: 27
Country of Origin: Ghana
Current Location (City & Country): London, UK

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I was born and raised in Accra, Ghana where I lived for over eighteen years. I then moved to the United States to study Economics at Bryant University. Following a summer internship in London at J.P. Morgan after my junior year, I was offered a full time position on the Graduate Programme in the Investment Bank. Since graduation, I have been based in London performing various roles across Financial Markets and Corporate Banking spanning a five-year period. Latterly, I spent three years as a coverage banker covering U.S. multinational companies in Europe. I now hold the position of Director within Standard Chartered Bank’s Transaction Banking division.

What was your first job and at what age?
It depends on what counts as a first job. My very first paid job was at the age of 15 at an Internet Café in Accra where I sold browsing time and assisted customers with technical issues related to desktop computers. My first corporate job would be the Investment Banking internship at J.P. Morgan I referred to previously. This job was held at the age of 21.

What would you say were the most important lessons you learnt whilst at J.P. Morgan?
Certainly the most important lesson I learnt is this familiar adage: “your network is your net worth”. I found this to ring true in the real world – hard work could only get you so far, but your ability to build the right network without being disingenuous often determines progression and promotion.

Was your move from Investment Banking to Corporate Banking planned, or opportunity led?
It was a bit of both. I certainly knew that given my passion for Africa, a career in Corporate Banking would grant me more marketable skills for Africa related work than one in core Investment Banking. Therefore, I made the necessary connections internally to ensure that I was remembered whenever an opportunity arose in the Corporate Banking division.

Congratulations on your new role as Global Corporate Sales Director at Standard Chartered. Are you able to tell us a little about your remit, within the role.
I am an Originator partnering with UK and Swiss headquartered multinationals with working capital needs across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This implies advising clients on complex cash management and trade finance solutions with a particular focus on supply chain finance in challenging emerging markets. In this role, I also double as the Head of the Europe-Africa Corridor, a platform that helps our sales teams and European corporate clients navigate the political, economic, regulatory, and financial landscape of targeted countries in Africa.

Image Source: Jude Addo
Image Source: Jude Addo

What advice would you give to someone trying to start their career in banking?Banking is certainly one of the most rewarding careers not just from a remuneration standpoint but also in terms of the transferable skills across various industries. For those trying to get a foot in the door, I must concede that the barriers to entry appear to have exacerbated over the past few years. Nonetheless, a tenacious attitude and a bit of intellectual fervour are some of the keys to success in banking.

What, in your opinion, is your biggest achievement to date?
This is a difficult question to answer. My biggest achievement to date will never be found on my CV or eulogized in my professional biography. I find that what I am most proud of has everything to do with my ability to tangibly serve others whilst maintaining a full-time job in banking. This brings me the most fulfilment in life.

Congratulations on being a 2015 Finalist in the ‘Rising Star in Financial Services’ Category of the Black British Business Awards. Career wise, do you have a personal motto that you live by, that you would attest to your success to date?
What truly drives me is my faith in God but if I had to highlight a motto I live by, it would be: “impossible is nothing”. This quote is often credited to Muhammad Ali who popularised the axiom. However, to my mind it is actually a paraphrase of Matthew 19:26 in the Bible which states, “…with God all things are possible.”

Are we right in saying that you became a Christian whilst studying Economics at Bryant University? Tell us a bit more about that, and the impact of your faith on your career.
Indeed. I was nurtured with Christian values but truly converted to the faith in the Fall of 2008 during my sophomore year in university. Since then, my faith has influenced everything in my life. With a renewed mind-set and augmented self-perception, it became my resolve that there wasn’t a barrier in my career that could impede my goals and aspirations. Truthfully, this worldview has served me well in my career and my success is owed to my faith in God.

Outside of work, how do you relax? What do you like to do for fun?
I play football regularly whilst also trying to take up golf as a second sport. I typically wind down by taking a vacation with my wife or by simply spending time with family and friends.

Have you worked within West Africa at all, and if so is there a difference in the work life culture?
I have never held a corporate job in West Africa, albeit my current position at Standard Chartered Bank requires extensive work and travel across the sub-region. It would be disingenuous of me to make a like-for-like comparison in work life culture given the fact that I have never actually worked on the ground.

What are your thoughts on the current economic situation within Ghana?
As a Pan-Africanist, I find it difficult to look at one nation in Africa in isolation. I’ve always subscribed to the view that the success of any country in Africa is inextricably linked to the success of Africa as whole. The current economic situation in Ghana is not unique – other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are going through similar stagnation with unsustainable debt levels and commodity dependent economies at the mercy of volatile market prices. A united Africa, not like what we’ve had in the African Union, would be able to make far more progress than what has been witnessed over the past few decades with sporadic short-lived economic booms, which offer pockets of hope, but little material advancement.

Ghana, the UK or elsewhere, where do you see yourself settling down?
In the near term, I consider myself to be settled in the UK. The medium to long term is really anyone’s guess.

What does the future hold for Jude Addo?
I certainly hope to do more business in Africa and build a more extensive network in the continent. My vision is to build world-class institutions and promote industrialism, whilst helping to bridge the gaps necessary for the expansion of intra-continent trade and investment. In a few years, Africa will have the largest working age population in the entire world. This is an opportunity to relocate manufacturing and other jobs to the region and I want to be part of that story.

Follow Jude Addo on Linkedin.