Malawian female banker shines at a UK university: Maureen Matiya-Kwangwanya

With hazel eyes, she looks young, dead-gorgeous and beautiful. On first sight she appears timid and coy that  she can easily pass as any other ordinary woman in the streets. But make no mistake, for 29 year-old Maureen Matiya-Kwangwanya is no ordinary lass.

She’s sharp and smart upstairs,  a senior banker at National Bank of Malawi in the commercial city of Blantyre and has no average brains. She’s gutsy but down to earth that you would be forgiven to think that she is just an average woman with an average Intelligence Quotient (IQ).

Maureen is a gem.

She has booked herself a place in the annals of British history not only as the first Malawian woman to be capped as the best student at Birmingham University’s Business school, she is the first African overseas student to win an award for the best dissertation in banking and finance after beating scores of fellow students in Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Global banking and Finance, a majority of them men and British nationals.

For her academic achievement and excellence, Maureen has been offered a scholarship to study for Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) at the institution this September.

Maureen Matiya-Kwangwanya

Maureen Matiya-Kwangwanya

She passed her MBA course with flying colours and bagged herself an overall distinction grade in her final examinations.

Apart from her for excellence in her gleaming thesis she was presented with a certificate and cash amounting to Three hundred British Sterling Pounds (about MK200, 000) during a special awards ceremony held at Birmingham University Business school campus.

In an interview with Nyasa Times, she expressed delight saying “hard work pays.”

In a letter referenced JHG/1193689 sourced by Nyasa Times and signed by Birmingham University’s student funding officer, Jayne Green Birmingham University Business school, congratulated Maureen for her hard work and surpassing academic excellence saying the school is ‘extremely proud’ of her.

“This prize is sponsored by the Worshipful Company of International bankers and is awarded to the student with the highest mark in the final dissertation on the MBA   for Global Banking and Finance Programme,” reads the letter in part.

That’s not all; putting icing on the cake, Maureen’s dissertation has been entered into the UK’s national award for the best award in Banking and Finance in all universities in England, Scotland and Wales.

The university in another letter notifies Maureen that the Birmingham Business School has decided to forward her dissertation for the national award because it is work of high quality.

“Because of the quality of your dissertation, it has been decided that it is of a standard high enough to be put forward for the prestigious nationwide Lombard Prize, open only to five specially-selected Business Schools in the UK,” reads another letter signed by Birmingham University Business School’s External Relations Manager, Andrew Miles.

Writes Miles: “The prize is £1,500 and honorary membership of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers for one year. The prize, awarded with a solid silver Armada dish, is presented at the Worshipful Company’s Annual Banquet in 2013. This is a prestigious event in the city calendar and an excellent networking opportunity…”

“It is attended by the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs, Mervyn King (Governor of the Bank of England) and other senior banking figures with the City of London and many VIPs form the UK and International Financial Services,” further writes Miles.

In her response to the university, Maureen expressed gratitude saying she feels honoured and grateful to be a recipient of the award and ultimately to have her dissertation selected for the UK’s most exalted nationwide academic award.

Maureen writes: “I am grateful and greatly honoured to receive The Worshipful Company of International Bankers Prize for Best Dissertation on the Global Banking and Finance Degree title. To be honest, I did not expect this to happen to me. It has come as a great surprise and I am really delighted. I hereby gladly confirm my acceptance of the award.”

She adds: “Secondly, I would like to confirm my acceptance that the dissertation is put forward for the prestigious nationwide Lombard Prize. It will be a great honour to me. Meanwhile, I have already commenced the preparation of the required documents and will be submitted in due course.”

And the over-ambitious and brainy but seemingly apprehensive Maureen says she is contented she did it better, adding that nothing is impossible in life if one is focused especially for women.

“There is no limit to what one can achieve,” she says assertively. “I would like to encourage my fellow young women to engage an extra gear in everything they do and never to settle for less.”

“I encourage girls and my fellow young women to set high goals in life,” she emphasizes.

Maureen who juggles as a banker, wife and a mother says she wants to work her way up to the very top by studying for the doctorate degree and become one of the most influential women in society so she can inspire many a struggling girl child in Malawi.

“Currently, I am also studying for ACCA to compliment my MBA degree so that I can increase my chances of becoming a Chief Executive Officer of one of the major banks in the World. I have all along been interested to pursue a career in banking and finance,” says Maureen.

For Maureen, the award is nothing but a stepping stone for her to achieve great things.

“I am so happy…this award will motivate me to work even harder in my job because it tells me that my efforts are paying off. It feels great to be recognised,” explains Kwangwanya.

Maureen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education Sciences from University of Malawi, Chancellor College.

High flier

She is no stranger to great achievements.

In 1998, while in college, Maureen was awarded the best Faculty of Education student at Chancellor College, University of Malawi by the Teachers Union of Malawi Scholarship funded by the Malawi Government.

Before joining National Bank of Malawi in September 2001, as a Customer’ Service officer, she taught at Blantyre Secondary school.

In 2007 she was awarded, best employee for National Bank of Malawi and her service centre was named the best unit of the year for Customer Service under her leadership.

In 2008, Maureen rose in rank and file to become Call Centre Manager and a year later, she got promoted to the position of the bank’s Credit Risk Analyst.

In  2011 Maureen won  the African MBA Scholarship to study at University of Birmingham, Business school.

And after attaining her MBA, her employers, National Bank rewarded her with a promotion as Customers’ Relations Manager in 2012.

Maureen does not only have big brains, she also is also big hearted.

Besides her busy routine work schedules, Maureen is peer educator on HIV/AIDS Prevention Initiatives for National Bank of Malawi.

Born on June 19, Maureen gives a lot to the community. She is also a member of women social welfare group, an assemblage of working class women who mobilises resources for less privileged people and the girl-child in particular.

Maureen is also a member of Young Women Leaders Network of Malawi (YLNM) a group of professional women working as role models and source of encouragement to girls in Secondary Schools.

She shares her secret to success.

“It’s all about having big dreams and aiming high in life. One has got to love what he or she does in life. It doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is how best you do it. Do all what you can today and leave for nothing for tomorrow for tomorrow and never to be bothered about yesterday,” she says.

“Yesterday is a bygone and tomorrow is yet to come. Live for today and be of service to yourself and all those around you. Above all else be focused and always aim to fly high,” adds Maureen.

Maureen says she is pleased and grateful with the way her employers, National Bank have speedily reacted to her achievement with a befitting reward – a promotion.

“I’m ecstatic that her employer, National Bank, has acknowledged my achievement and hard work by promoting me as an Account Relationship Manager. The international experience and the learning environment have also enhanced my confidence to interact and share professional ideas with the wider community,” she says modestly.

Judge not a book by its cover they say, and true in Maureen’s case behind her beauty, reticent and youthfullooks, she is a lady with unsurpassed intelligence, larger-than life dreams and a big heart.

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