Nedbank’s Bosman: climate crisis is ‘defining battleground of our time’
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ANEL Bosman, who made history to become the first female chief executive at Nedbank’s corporate and investment bank, believes the climate change crisis is a game changer not just for the group – but for humanity.
Bosman, the mother of two adolescent boys, said solving the climate change crisis will be the defining battleground of our time.
“It is a moral imperative that we no longer kick the can down the road and ensure that we hand over a sustainable world to the next generation. Nedbank wants to – and needs to – take one of the leadership roles in funding these solutions. Our ambition is that there is a future state where there isn’t a need to differentiation between policy and sustainable policy and banking and sustainable banking – it should be sustainable by default,” said Bosman.
Last week world leaders met in Glasgow for COP26 to find lasting solutions to reduce global warming.
At the COP26 meeting South Africa secured R130 billion of highly concessional climate change funding from developed countries including the UK, the US, France, and Germany to help move away from coal to greener energies.
The financing aims to assist state-owned power utility Eskom to shut down its coal power stations before the end of their lifespans to build a renewable energy sector and upgrade the transmission grid to enable connections of new renewable energy plants.
At the meeting UN secretary-general António Guterres called on world leaders to make every effort to reduce reliance on coal, saying “our addiction to fossil fuels is pushing humanity to the brink”.
It is for this reason that Nedbank has in a way led in terms of commitment to a cleaner environment. Three years ago, it became the first bank to announce it would no longer fund new thermal coal plants.
Nedbank issued its inaugural R1.7bn green bond which was 3.28 times oversubscribed with bids of R5.5bn.
“Strong appetite continues to exist for these instruments as evidenced by subsequent green bonds issued by Nedbank, which have also been well oversubscribed,” said Bosman.
Nedbank also raised R2bn of tier 2 capital funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB) through the issuance of an innovative, first- of-its-kind Sustainable Development Goals-linked bond instrument listed on the green segment of the JSE.
“Through this fund-raising exercise, Nedbank has been able to increase its lending into renewable energy sectors in line with the global environmental agenda and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The deal represents a first out of South Africa and potentially the African continent,” said Bosman.
As one of the few women at the top of the banking industry Bosman believes women usually fulfil a wider variety of roles before stepping into leadership roles. She said her career path gave her the confidence and experience to step into this role. “Women bring a different leadership style, not right or wrong, just different,” said Bosman.
Bosman joined the banking industry as an economist and when one of the traders left, she grabbed the opportunity to take over an equity options book with both hands and has never looked back.
“The trader in me was born. After a few moves, I joined Nedbank through BOE, and enjoyed the dealing room for many years,” said Bosman. She became head of Risk in 2005 and her career with the bank includes heading up strategy, before becoming managing executive of markets in 2015. She was appointed in her current position during the tight lockdown last year.
“Looking back at my journey at Nedbank, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to make many lateral moves. The bank invested significantly in me and my development – what a career journey,” said Bosman.
Bosman did not always know she would one day join the banking industry. She chose her undergraduate degree after paging through the bursary booklet and seeing that there were significant bursaries for statistics and maths and decided to pursue these.
“It is incredible how randomness sometimes channels one in a direction,” said Bosman.
It was during her honour’s year, that she won the Old Mutual/Nedbank budget speech competition and was the first woman to win the award, which paved the way for completing her Master’s degree at Cambridge University in the UK.
“It was a life-changing experience, first, because it was my first overseas trip, with the challenges of the language barrier. English was not the strength of an Afrikaans student and I often studied with the dictionary next to me. But it was worth it, specifically the exposure, the debate, the diverse ways of seeing the world, the quality of the education, the long hours, and the sheer volume of work. It was at the height of the drive to free Nelson Mandela and looking at South Africa from outside and through the eyes of our fellow students deepened my awareness of the inequalities and social injustices in our country and the need for diversity and inclusion at every level to solve our country’s unique challenges,” she said.
“Transformation is a critical social and economic imperative, and from a personal and a business perspective, we are committed to transforming and advancing a national compact to being a catalyst for inclusive growth, enhancing social cohesion and creating sustainable economic opportunities in South Africa.
This is particularly important as South Africa grapples with record unemployment levels with millions of people relying on social grants, and Bosman is adamant governments in Africa should begin to think about how work is supported instead of business and jobs,” she adds.
“Something in between there is work, which includes self-employment.
“Business has a very important role to play but can’t solve the problem. Obtaining a relevant skill is key to work,” said Bosman.
Bosman recalled a speech by former public protector Thuli Madonsela, where she recounted the advice of a woman who attended the Women Ready to Lead Platform that told young people to “stop looking for jobs”. “There are no jobs. And even if there are, there will never be enough jobs – ever. Look for work,” she said.
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