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Meet the Boss Pearl Esua- Mensah; the manager UT will never have again

Since joining the company in 2004 she has helped the company win various awards- Prince Kofi Amoabeng

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Pulse TV interview with Pearl in her home

Do you remember 'A loan in less the 48 hours?'.

 Boy oh boy did Unique Trust, now UT Bank take over the Savings and Loans industry with that brand.

UT Financial Services was a non-bank financial services provider (NBFI), in Ghana, which was incorporated in 1997.

The brand from 2004 was that of a formidable Ghanaian Bank built from nothing to a point where it was visible, and dependable under the leadership of Prince Kofi Amoabeng as CEO and Managing Director, Capt. Budu Koomson, and the industrious and smart Pearl Eusa- Mensah as Deputy Manager.

As is often the case, the face of the company( CEO and Founder) is the one everyone connects with its success, just like the striker in a football match right?

 But like every phenomenal team, the real job, in my opinion,  is done by the play-maker- the one in the engine room, pulling all the strings, oiling the joints, and turning the wheels.

For  UT Bank's success in the past decade,  meet the play-maker, Pearl Esua- Mensah.

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Mrs. Pearl Esua-Mensah is the quintessential professional. With an MBA in International Business Strategy from the Manchester Business School tucked under her arms, and a Fellow of the Association of the Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA).

She rose to become Deputy Managing Director of UT Bank, one of Ghana’s fastest growing banks.

She joined UT Financial Services, which later morphed into UT Bank, in 2004 as the Financial Controller rising to the position of General Manager and then to Director of Finance and Administration until December 2010.

Mrs. Esua-Mensah has extensive experience in accounting and financial management. She worked as a Group Financial Accountant and Group Reporting Accountant for Parity Group PLC and Kantar Group both in the UK. She was awarded her first degree, a BSc. Administration, by the University of Ghana, Legon.

Pearl has a natural proclivity to inspire. She is a mentor and speaker on a number of youth related programmes including platforms like Foundation for Future Leaders and Waves International. She was voted the Young Professional Role Model 2011 (Female Category), organised by the Young Professionals & Youth Coalition initiative.

 

“Pearl has been a key member of the management team that has been at the forefront of most of the achievements of UT. Since joining the company in 2004 she has helped the company win various awards. First as our Director of Finance and Administration and then Deputy Managing Director she was also influential in the corporate re-branding from Unique Trust to UTFSL and later UT Bank, as well as listing on the Ghana Stock Exchange. ”  - Prince Amoabeng, when Pearl Esua-Mensah resigned as Deputy MD of the Bank in June 2015.

Well that's putting Pearl's role at UT rather mildly.

Pearl Esua- Mensah was brought initially to restructure the finance department of UT Financial services . This was at a time the company wanted to scale up considerably in the Savings and Loans industry. Leaders of the Financial Service Company at the  time felt she would be the right person to steer the business to the next level.

 

She did such a great job that she assumed the task of creating what,  I describe as the engine room for the business. She was in charge of managing Finance and Administration which included HR,  IT and Marketing. That was a challenge, for two reasons:

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Here was a company looking to scale up massively in the shortest possible time. Pearl realized that this growth would be hinged primarily on the structures  of efficiency she has to provide.

 She was tasked with creating systems that will yield the best results for customers and the company at large, whiles ensuring that UT at that stage of existence succeeds in courting and retaining the right talents to propel the company to success.

 

The other major challenge and perhaps the most challenging as she would come to realize, was the work ethics of her Ghanaian employees. You will agree with me that the least an ambitious company needs is employees with poor attitudes to work. Employees who will not give off their best to meet competitive targets. And employees who will come in only for the money, without the required motivation to compete.

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Coming from the UK,  where work ethics are exactly opposite to what it is in Ghana, Pearl had to rise above herself to  instill, not only the discipline required, but the motivation to do the right thing for the greater success of the company.

 

 She succeeded in developing a work culture that gave the workers  a sense of belonging and personal ambitions to succeed.

" My biggest challenge here was managing the Ghanaian work culture, coming from the UK I was used to a very different work culture, and my determination not to conform created a few challenges."

The strategy here was to lead by example. Something most Ghanaian leaders lack.

Lesson one. If you want to be a great leader, do as you say.

"Personally I had to show my team that I would not ask them to do anything I was not prepared to do myself, this meant I was with them doing the work with them helping out as much as possible and ensuring they were appreciated for their hard work."

 

Did the efforts work?

Yes! And really well! UT in a space of 5 years, completely took over the Savings and Loans industry. 

The brand, 'A loan in 48 hours' was the main connotation for getting a loan in the country. UT was on the map. Shortly after, Unique Trust would evolve into  a full-fledged bank much against the odds and doubts that the company could do it. The company will go on to add UT  Logistics, UT Life and the opening of international subsidiaries. The growth was fast,  bold, and an issue of national pride.

 

In 2008, UT (Unique Trust) Holdings Limited acquired majority shareholding in a Ghanaian Commercial Bank called BPI Bank. The bank was re-branded as UT Bank Ghana Limited and opened for business in May 2009.

And guess what, Pearl Esua Mensah  was in the thick of it all.

"As Director Finance and Admin, it meant that I was at the centre of all of the growth I was part of the setting up of the international companies and served on the Board of UT Nigeria, I led the purchase of the bank and UT Life and the merger of UT Financial Services and the Bank, I was in charge of building and growing the UT Brand both locally and internationally."

Bank of the Year 2011

UT Bank was declared Ghana’s best bank at the 2011 Ghana Banking Awards.

Apart from winning the prestigious Bank of the Year award, UT Bank also won Best Bank - I.T/Electronic Banking, Best Bank - Financial Performance and placed first runner-up in Customer Care, Advisory Services, Medium Term Loan Financing, Most Socially Responsible Bank, Retail Banking and came second runner-up in Corporate Banking.

UT IPO, Pearl's biggest challenge at UT

Over time, the Non Banking Financial  Institution  acquired subsidiaries and was listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange, under its holding company, UT Holdings Limited. But the Initial Public Offering would prove to be the biggest challenge and eventually the personal highlight of Pearl Esua- Mensah's career  at UT Bank.

 

Just when Ghanaians were coming to terms with the fast pace of growth  of Unique Trust, management led by Peal Esua- Mensah wanted to further seal the fate of the company by launching on the Ghana Stock Exchange. This was a critical moment for the bank, but more critical for Pearl.

She was at the pinnacle of her career. She had  helped grow not only a  young company into a full big local giant, but herself as well. Now the fate and public image of the company were in her team's hands, with the leadership of the CEO, Prince Kofi Amoabeng.

All was set to go.  Pearl and her team had it all figured out. They had been selling the IPO to the international investor community. That was their primary target. Just when all was set to go, Lehman Brothers in the U.S went down in such iconic fashion, taking with them the  world financial stability and investor confidence- 2010 economic crisis was upon us.

 

All international investors Pearl and her team had been courting for so many months panicked and opted out of the IPO. This was a true test of Pearl's world- class Business Strategy expertise. She was plunged into an immediate crises she had to navigate.

"The IPO was an opportunity of a lifetime, most people thought we were crazy when word got out that we were going to do an IPO. But we attacked it with the true UT Can Do attitude and pulled off a very successful IPO in very challenging times.

The two biggest challenges were from competitors and the world economy! We got approval for our IPO two weeks after Ecobank launched theirs and a week after the world economy crashed.

 We had to quickly regroup and change strategies to ensure that the marketing campaign was very localised as foreign funds had suddenly dried up, and there was a bigger better known company vying for the same fund pool.

We came up with very innovative marketing strategies going to churches and public programs to market. In the end it paid off and we had one of the most successful IPO’s in Ghana."

 

One-man (woman) Marketing team in the beginning

UT Bank has a great brand and marketing strategy. For a bank to be adjudged Bank of the Year 2011, just a year after transitioning into a full-fledged bank is testimony to the amounts of work done in branding and market strategy.

Pearl Esua- Mensah was all  UT had as a marketing team in the very beginning, until a full-blown team of brilliant individuals  was put together. She was  at the helm of everything at the beginning which had to do with coming up with innovative marketing campaigns to enlarge the company's market.

"In the beginning I was literally the marketing department of UTFSL but I worked with another aggressive local company Multiple Concepts and it made the work very easy, they really understood what UT stood for and was trying to achieve and it made a potential difficult job, less challenging."

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