Bank Better, Live Better

why company culture matters

Company culture is not just a nice-to-have – it’s essential to building a work environment that both current and potential employees want to be part of.

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When we first began planning our new head office in 2016, it was important that the building would foster a company culture of collaboration, innovation and creativity.  “Our vision was always to improve collaboration between teams,” says Danie van den Berg, head of cash management at Capitec. “Previously, we were housed in 14 separate buildings, which, unfortunately, created 14 separate cultures.”

Pieter Bosse, office manager ops – property and leasing, explains that the new office was built on 3 plots of land in Techno Park. “We considered various configurations for the new building and weighed up the value of having one building or 2 or 3. Eventually we decided on one building and a parkade.”

The vision for the new head office was to have 1 building, 1 team and 1 culture.

Why company culture matters

A company’s culture is often implied rather than defined, and usually develops over time through the people employed. According to Frances Frei, who lectures in service management at Harvard Business School, and Anne Morriss, managing director of the Concire Leadership Institute, culture guides discretionary behaviour and picks up where the employee handbook leaves off.

They say, “Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is of course most of the time.”

In essence, culture is the common set of behaviours and underlying mindset and beliefs that shape how people work and interact day to day.

The Capitec culture

From day one, our then CEO Riaan Stassen, had a dream: to build a big company with a small company culture. 20 years later our company culture is as important as it was then. We want to maintain a work environment where a culture of collaboration, innovation and creativity drives everything we do.

“It’s the culture that makes it a happy work environment,” says Bophelo Maake, business intelligence analyst, who joined Capitec in 2015. “Everyone is always thinking ahead and willing to help one another. You get a lot out of Capitec because you’re working with people who want to make the products we offer better, people who are willing to learn and share knowledge.”

Pinkie Mahlangu, who joined Capitec as a regional manager in 2008, believes the Capitec culture is characterised by teamwork, learning from each other, sharing, integration and dynamism. “Our culture keeps us grounded, as helping and supporting each other is also transferred to supporting our clients,” she says.

Today Pinkie works as operations manager and says she is fulfilled when engaging with branch teams during site visits, and seeing how comfortable they are to ask questions and being open minded to learn. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our country and teammates tested positive, we worked as a team to encourage and guide each other through daily messages and calls. To us, this came naturally because of the care for each other and trust that together we can pull through.”

“I absolutely love the people and culture at Capitec. When you work for a big company, you often end up feeling like a number; as though you are overworked and under-recognised,” says Sana Carim, business intelligence business analyst, who relocated from Johannesburg to Stellenbosch in 2019. “So often you end up working at a company you absolutely love but then realise it’s not really what you thought it would be. For me, Capitec was the complete opposite. It’s everything I had envisioned, but better!”

Neo Mbikiwa joined Capitec as a business intelligence business analyst and agile team leader in the data and analytics division in 2018. “I’ve worked at many companies but Capitec definitely comes out tops! Capitec always puts their employees and clients first, which speaks volumes about the kind of company it is.”

“If I have to sum Capitec up in a word it’s diversity; not just in the projects you work on but also with regard to the people you work with,” says Ruellyn Snyman, product owner at the bank. “Many years ago, if you’d asked me if I was a people’s person, I would have said no. I’m very much an engineer! That’s changed since I started at Capitec in 2016. I’ve met and learnt from people from different backgrounds and cultures. Capitec’s open-door policy is a definite bonus too. Even if you’ve just started at Capitec, you have immediate access to the executive management.”

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