We’re venturing around our global offices meeting handfuls of our teams working at bancon offices, or homes, around the world.

This time, we’re in South Africa, meeting five of our banconeers working with clients and partners to deliver excellence within the region.

Thank you for joining me. I’m looking forward to hearing more about you and your experiences. So, without further ado, tell me about yourself and the work you’ve been involved in since joining bancon.

Jason Govender, Senior Banking Consultant: I’m originally from Durban, KZN. I graduated Cum Laude and proudly came out top of the class in my Management and IT degree class. Since 2001, I’ve been in the banking industry, working in various roles in a top bank that’s been all about SAP since the beginning

In 2008, I made the leap into SAP Consulting working immensely with SAP CML, SAP BP and introduction to SAP CRM. In 2018, I completed the SAP FI certification when I started focusing on SAP Finance and Finance Transformation. Fast forward to two years ago, I joined bancon as a Senior Banking Consultant working on a Finance Transformation project for one of Ireland’s largest banks.

Schalk J van Aswegen, Banking Consultant: I was born and bred in Johannesburg, South Africa. After graduating in 2009, I decided I wanted to go straight to work after finishing my studies. I started my career in banking in 2010 with a Learnership opportunity at Standard Bank South Africa. Whilst working there, I landed myself a position within the Production Support team. Before joining bancon, I worked with multiple organisations within the banking and technology industries.

Johan Els, Senior Banking Consultant: East Rand is where I call home, and after a stint in the Army, I pursued a Business Management diploma at RAU (now UJ). My journey into the working world started in 1988, diving headfirst into the aerospace industry. Along the way, I gained valuable experience with FI-CO implementations, starting from SAP R2 all the way up to SAP ECC.

I’ve had the pleasure of working at a couple of banks, including Volkskas/ABSA and SBSA, where I’ve had roles both customer-facing and managerial. Two years back, I made the move to bancon, applying for the SAP Banking Service consultant position. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with some truly talented teams.

Nick Kuhlenthal, Senior Enterprise Architect: I grew in Johannesburg, I spent two years in the South African Navy in Cape Town and have had a career that has spanned the Leisure, Insurance, Property Development and ICT industries. I got involved in banking specifically in 2001. Since then, I have worked for several companies servicing the Banking sector. My roles have varied from Business Analysis to Architecture to managing multi-disciplinary teams. I joined bancon in June 2023.

Marko Karageorgiades, Head of Financial Services Product – Southern Africa: Hi there, I was born and raised in Johannesburg, with roots tracing back to Greece, I bring a unique blend of cultures to my professional endeavours. Armed with a degree in commerce from a reputable university in Johannesburg, I embarked on a journey in the banking sector in 2002. My passion for finance and dedication to excellence led me to join Company bancon in 2022, where I continue to thrive and contribute to the dynamic landscape of the industry.

It’s so nice to meet you and hear more about your background. So, we’ve learnt a little about your history, but we want to know why you entered the SAP Banking industry, and what’s kept you in it for so long.

Jason: Well for me I believe it was my destiny because the bank I joined were in the early stages of their SAP implementation. Me being an eager beaver, I put my hand up for everything to do with SAP and that’s where I began my SAP journey. I’ve never looked elsewhere since! SAP for me is cutting-edge and exciting, there is never a dull moment, and I’m continuously learning.

Schalk: During my Learnership in 2010 at Standard Bank, we had the opportunity to rotate to different departments. One of the departments was the SAP competency. I was very intrigued; SAP isn’t a product that’s taught at schools or universities. Since embarking on that learning journey, I realised that I really liked working with the product and enjoyed overcoming challenges using it. The nature of the product and industry means that there’s always scope for continuous learning. I’ve gained skills that could take me anywhere.

Johan: I stumbled upon this new software called SAP Banking Service 5, and I couldn’t resist expanding my knowledge and learning something new. Working alongside an exceptional team of individuals has only made the experience better.

Nick: I joined a company called IZAZI in 2008, much like bancon, it had a special expertise division in SAP Banking. My role was initially to lead and grow the non-SAP Banking capability within the organisation which grew to become a sizable portfolio. IZAZI was then acquired by Ernst and Young where I was a Partner responsible for Technology Transformation in Banking for eight years.

Marko: Back in 2006, I jumped at the chance to join the SAP Banking team, setting off on an adventure that took me across borders. Working on pioneering projects, I played a key role in implementing the SAP Banking Services module for a leading South African bank, a milestone that opened doors for our team in core banking transformations worldwide. This journey has been exciting and has allowed me to explore diverse cultures and perspectives around the globe.

Fantastic, thank you for your input. South Africa has traditionally been a strong market for SAP adoption, especially among banks and other financial institutions, is that still the case and why do you think that is?

Jason: I strongly believe this still holds true today. Frankly, it’s hard to understand why anyone would consider any other technology when SAP boasts the most mature and comprehensive finance capabilities on the market. From robust General Ledger functionalities to intricate audit trails and highly detailed segmentation for top-notch financial reporting, SAP stands head and shoulders above the rest.

It’s not just about the longevity of the product either, SAP is a globally implemented solution that’s continually evolving to meet market demands. With daily enhancements, it ensures that it stays ahead of the curve and delivers exactly what businesses need. It’s in a league of its own.

Schalk: With an established brand like SAP, it creates a sense of familiarity for the South African market. It has a proven track record and that makes it the number one trusted choice for the industry. A lot of financial institutions are SAP users, and one reason why is that the SAP solution has standard built-in functionality to help the financial house to comply with national and international regulatory requirements. It’s a game changer.

Johan: The SAP market boasts one of the largest install bases globally, extending far beyond Germany. When industry giants like Standard Bank, Nedbank, and ABSA adopt a particular technology, it sends a clear message to other institutions to take note and consider adopting it themselves. This speaks volumes about the trust and reliability associated with SAP.

SAP has earned its reputation for quality. Our clients are seeking robust solutions that are not only industrialised and scalable but also feature-rich. SAP fits the bill perfectly, meeting the demands of clients who prioritise excellence and reliability.

Clients today expect more than just a solution; they’re looking for a platform with a roadmap that demonstrates longevity. S/4HANA delivers precisely that, offering a feature-rich environment with a clear roadmap for the future. Additionally, with the introduction of SAP Fioneer, clients now have even greater influence on the roadmap through the ‘co-innovation’ strategy, ensuring that their evolving needs are met.

Unlike the old legacy systems, SAP offers continuous updates and improvements, ensuring that clients always have access to the latest innovations and enhancements. This commitment to staying current and responsive to market demands sets SAP apart in a rapidly evolving landscape.

Nick: Over recent years SAP has lost some of its luster by not being included by the respected market analysts such as Gartner. SAP also tends to compete with other 3rd Generation Technologies like Temenos and Finacle but has not evolved into 4th Generation core banking technologies like Mambu, 10X and thought Machine which seem to be more the “flavour of the month”.

That said however, the existing install base of SAP in Banking will not be replacing SAP in the foreseeable future given its scalability, industrialisation, and ability to address niche business models such as development & infrastructure lending and agricultural lending.

Marko: Definitely! South Africa has been a strong supporter of SAP adoption, especially within the banking sector. I think it’s because SAP offers robust banking capabilities that can adapt to our diverse population’s needs. The banking sector here is closely connected, so when one institution succeeds with SAP, others take notice and often follow suit. It’s all about leveraging proven strategies to drive innovation and inclusivity in our financial services.

What are the major projects within the Banking space that each of you are working on?

Jason: Currently, my focus is on spearheading a Finance Transformation initiative for a large bank in Ireland, aimed at revolutionising their financial operations. The bank is one of the earlier adopters of SAP & SAP Fioneer within the industry; looking to address legacy issues to better address reporting standards, month end closing and increase operational efficiency.

Schalk: My journey in the SAP Banking space began with a groundbreaking Discovery Bank Project back in 2016. Since then, I’ve been deeply involved in the Standard Bank S/4HANA Loans Management, bringing innovation and efficiency to their operations. I’m working with an

Johan: My recent projects have been working with clients including Denel Aviation and Mercedes Benz, where I’ve contributed my expertise to streamline processes and enhance operational efficiency. I’ve also been involved in various Standard Bank initiatives, such as FI-CO implementations and migrations, and Discovery Bank’s Banking Services project. The opportunity to work on all of these has further enriched my experience in the SAP Banking domain. The projects I’ve worked on with international clients like Common Bank of Australia and Auckland Savings Bank have allowed me to deliver impactful SAP solutions tailored to their specific needs, ranging from training to analysis and testing.

Nick: As of right now, I’m currently engaged by CIB Bank in Egypt to assist with the development of their Digital Bank. I have worked on SAP Banking projects in the past, most notably, Discovery Bank and Standard Bank.

Marko: I’m currently working on Discovery Bank – the world’s first behaviour bank and one of the first digital banks to seriously challenge the traditional players within South Africa. It’s been an exciting journey and a completely different challenge to transform into a heritage bank who have been in operation for decades if not longer.

Interesting – thank you for sharing. Let’s move on and shift gears. I want to find out more about bancon, what it’s like being a banconeer and the company culture. From your perspective, what are the benefits of working with a global team and clients?

Jason: One of the standout benefits of being a part of the bancon family is the wealth of experience within our consulting base. Having access to such a seasoned team fosters high productivity levels and delivers immense value to our clients. Working with a global team and clients provides an enriching experience of learning about diverse cultures, nationalities, and local nuances, which ultimately broadens our perspectives and enhances our effectiveness in delivering tailored solutions.

Schalk: The opportunities that come with being part of a global team are boundless. Networking becomes more than just a buzzword; it’s our daily reality where we connect with colleagues from different corners of the world. By doing this, we’re constantly opening doors to new ideas and approaches. I feel privileged that I’m a part of a team that can immerse ourselves in diverse cultures. Understanding various working styles adds depth to our professional growth and enriches the overall experience at bancon – it’s a really special environment.

Johan: Working within a global team environment offers a treasure trove of benefits. Knowledge sharing becomes second nature, as we tap into each other’s expertise from across the globe. Exposure to different ways of working challenges us to adapt and innovate, while also broadening our understanding of cultural nuances.

Nick: The benefit of working with a Global Team is that clients immediately respect and appreciate your experience and global reach. The interaction and experience sharing with geographically disbursed teams is invaluable to personal growth.

Marko: Working with a global team and diverse clients is exciting! We get fresh ideas, learn from different cultures, and collaborate creatively. Being around diverse skills helps us improve, and navigating different cultures teaches adaptability. Working globally means new connections and exciting career opportunities—it’s all about embracing diversity and growth!

Amazing! It’s clear that despite the geographical borders between you all, there’s no virtual barriers when it comes to working as a team. What was it that made you want to join bancon?

Jason: What drew me to become a part of bancon was the human aspect. Having experienced the impersonal nature of corporate environments and partner firms, I was looking for a sense of personal connection in my next role. It’s evident from the get-go that it’s more than just business; it’s about building meaningful relationships. Another attractive prospect for me was contributing to bancon’s expansive presence and diverse product delivery. It’s not about fitting into a limited scope; there’s ample opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Schalk: While bancon undeniably offers valuable opportunities and boasts established clients, what truly captivated me was the people. Beyond the work itself, it’s the genuine connections we form and the positive energy that permeates our workspace every day. Being surrounded by such a supportive and inspiring group is what makes bancon feel like home.

Johan: To me, bancon is more than just a workplace; it’s like a family. There’s a palpable human touch that runs through everything we do. Beyond that, the global opportunities and engaging projects in cutting-edge technologies like S4TRBK, Virtual Accounts, and Payments further piqued my interest. It’s a place where I can thrive both personally and professionally.

Nick: I knew a lot of people working for bancon from my previous career. Most notably, Theunis Greeff, Walter Norris and Brad Scott-King. Their cultural approach to the business as well as the demonstratable servant leadership style across the organisation is an excellent fit for me. Having the opportunity to further cement bancon’s capabilities within Enterprise delivery was also of real interest.

Marko: I was drawn to joining bancon because of the amazing team here, which has a proven track record with other clients. Having collaborated with many of the team members throughout my career, I’ve truly enjoyed working alongside them. I’m confident that together, we can create something truly special.

What’s your advice for someone considering joining bancon?

Jason: Go for it. At bancon, you’ll find yourself surrounded by exceptional people and strong leadership who are committed to seeing you succeed. Your career trajectory here is limitless.

Schalk: Focus on developing a robust personal brand that accurately reflects your skills, expertise, and professional reputation. Take advantage of online platforms to showcase your achievements and establish credibility within the industry.

Johan: In my experience, bancon truly prioritises its people and offers amazing opportunities for growth. The management sets a stellar example, emphasising the importance of hard work, knowledge, and a willingness to lend a hand. I’ve not worked anywhere with the same level of support as bancon.

Nick: Join now, thank me later!

Marko: Want to learn from the best? Look no further.

Thank you to Jason, Schalk, Nick, Marko and Johan from our team in South Africa for their contributions in this Meet the Team interview. To stay up to date with bancon, follow us on LinkedIn.