Alumna Sylvia Mbama shares lessons from managing talent acquisition at Barclays Ghana

July 8, 2019
When Barclays Ghana is looking for talented candidates to take up positions within the firm, Sylvia Mbama ’06 and her team within the Human Resources (HR) department provide the right fit.

As the Talent Acquisition Manager at Barclays Ghana, Sylvia drives end-to-end recruitment across the bank’s various functionaries; from lower-level to executive level hires. During her time at the bank, Sylvia has also been instrumental in helping formalize its talent recruitment processes while providing insight into harnessing the potential in Ghana’s growing job market.

“Talent management and acquisition is one of the most important activities any organization has to do,” Sylvia shares. “Unlike in the past where people were hired to only fill a particular role, today’s leading organizations focus on the overall business strategy when picking a candidate. Recruiters now look at candidates with strong value propositions, who are both growth-focused and versatile.”

Making the most of early career opportunities
Having originally wanted to work in finance, Sylvia never imagined that she would end up spending over a decade of her career in recruiting and talent management. She had joined Barclays Ghana right after graduating from Ashesi in 2006, to complete the one-year national service program that all graduates in Ghana are required to undergo.

“What was initially supposed to be a year-long stint, turned out to be a great opportunity; a career-defining one, actually,” she says. “Initially working as a Human Resources Administrator, I welcomed the challenge. I learned a lot on the job, and soon gained an appreciation for key human resource roles, including recruitment, operations, and employee relations. Gradually, I narrowed in on talent acquisition, and I haven’t looked back since.”

That one-year experience, and its eventual outcome, also helped Sylvia develop a deeper connection to young graduates and new entrants to the formal job market. And as part of her role now, she actively engages new recruits in navigating options for kick-starting their careers the right way.

Lessons for recent graduates
Having interacted with hundreds of candidates over her career, Sylvia recommends two things for young graduates looking to successfully navigate the job market.

First, always have an open mind: no one person is cut out for just one role. So be prepared to try new things, test your boundaries and explore areas beyond one’s perceived interests.

Second, remember that stakeholder management and human relations are key: most organizations do not only recruit for your competence; they also recruit for your character and personality. So focus on developing great soft skills, and the ability to nurture strong career relationships.


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