Absa CIB appoints Richard Southey as chief digital officer (CDO)


The move is meant to accelerate human change management and digital transformation at Absa CIB.

Richard Southey has been appointed as Absa CIB's chief digital experience officer (CDO), following an internal promotion in November of last year. Richard reports to Yasmin Masithela, managing executive transactional banking at Absa CIB. He has been with the bank for over a decade and previously led the cash management business.

In terms of experience, Richard is bringing in commercial expertise to the table. “My commercial experience allows us (Absa CIB) to transition at a more practical level, where the process is business led rather than being purely about the digital drive,” he says.

“The high-level objective here is to enable ourselves and our clients with digital tools and capabilities. The main goal is digital transformation with a real focus on adoption and efficiency, measured by client and colleague experience, value and cost,” Richard explains.

However, this transition has not been without its challenges even though the ball was already set in motion before Richard moved over to digital. “So far, our biggest challenge has been re-platforming the organisation, which was a programme that was already in flow before I joined, but re-platforming an organisation of our size and driving value through those platforms is never easy.”

According to Richard, the organisational tools at Absa CIB, are the software and applications they use, and that journey has been a very complex one that involves moving clients from legacy platforms to something that is more customer focused and led.

“Accelerating the delivery of the organisation is a significant change because the way we deliver products to the market has to change dramatically to enable speed and quality. The traditional mindset of the organisation also has to change as digital transformation is a world of consistent experimentation to get to bigger and better things, which will be a long-term project,” he says.

Although the re-platforming of the organisation is a long-term project, Richard also mentions that it is already 80 percent done, and expects it to be fully completed by the end of the year. “Although it may feel that laying the foundations has taken some time, we are actually moving quite fast for something of this magnitude. However, our biggest task ahead will be delivering at a faster rate, from a customer-centric perspective and consistently adding new value.”

“We are also trying to move away from the ‘We own it all’ mindset and are bringing partners on board who can help us bring new capabilities to our customers,” he concludes.

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