Standard Chartered Bank’s Samuel Sule: “The Move Back Home Requires Humility and Open-Mindedness”

Destination Africa speaks to Samuel Sule, Director of Capital Markets Africa at Standard Chartered Bank, as he encourages young diasporans seeking to make the move back home to practice humility in order to succeed.

Image: Samuel Sule, Director of Capital Markets Africa, Standard Chartered Bank

When embarking on a new professional career in Nigeria as a young diasporan, Samuel Sule believes that it is integral to adopt a disposition of humility and a willingness to learn, as opposed to a sense of superiority having been raised in the Western World.

In 2011, after working as a DCM Analyst and later a DCM Associate for HSBC, Sule decided to make the move to Nigeria, marking the beginning of what would be a career eventually leading to his current role as Director of Capital Markets Africa at Standard Chartered Bank.

Looking back on his experience moving to Nigeria seven years ago, Sule simply states that “Nigeria is Nigeria, you come here with an open heart and an open mind and try to make the best of it.”  According to Sule, investment banks in Nigeria are either “focused on local investment banking” whereas “some are more focused on foreign affairs”, but his current role consists of elements of both.

It is often the case that sometimes the decision to move to Africa from the West, having been raised and educated as part of the diaspora, comes with the presumption that “they’re going to come here and be the end all and be the best thing since sliced bread”. For Sule, this mindset is inevitably counterproductive: “There are people who know more, who are more versatile, people who understand it more, and the reason for that is that they’ve just done more than you have.”

Sule’s arguments resonate across numerous professions where members of the diaspora may decide to move back to their home countries making the assumption that their skills and knowledge somehow put them in a position of superiority to the people already working in the country. Sule compares his own industry to the medical world.

In his view, “Nigerian doctors, when they move to Canada, or the US, or the UK, become fantastic. Many people say it’s because they killed loads of people through trial and error, but they still have that skill set.

From his own experience, Sule has “done everything from chasing receipts to going to the stock exchange, to speaking to the CEO and prepping them. You literally get the entire array of everything”. In ensuring that you are capable of performing the seemingly less important tasks, the resilience and self-discipline needed to perform the supposedly more important tasks will have become honed skills.

For young diasporans, Sule explains that the ageism which is embedded in African culture is often prevalent in financial markets. This means that “even though you’re doing the work, they want a certain level of, not maturity because you can be younger and mature, but an element of seniority” which has an impact on what you can expect in regards to salary. Therefore you have to“make sure you manage that because it is there, and you have to over deliver”.

He also warns that “you need to understand that you’re moving to a less-structured environment.” and so in order to adapt, one would have to become accustomed to working without structures, or learn to create new structures.

When making the decision to move to Nigeria, Sule believed that “the opportunities might be here, and my experience thus far has shown that they have been here”.  

Sule maintains that “access is the difference, between being in England and being able to call the Governor of the Bank of England, which is not possible for most people in the diaspora, and being in Nigeria where you are able to access a CEO or a certain minister in charge of a certain bureau or agency of the government.

Before making the move, Sule believed it important to start having the necessary conversations as he argues that “one of the hardest things to do is quit your role there [UK] and then come here [Nigeria] and start looking

His advice for other diasporans hoping for their careers to follow in a similar vein, is to “have an appreciation of what you’re going into. Without appreciation, you start to compare, and comparison is what stops people a lot of the time.”.

Destination: Africa! aims to inspire our readers to make the move back home, through a series of interviews with others that have recently made the move successfully.

We are always on the lookout for inspiring stories of individuals that have successfully made the move to West Africa, so do get in touch with us, if you would like to share your experiences.