Lisa Forster - Putting up your hand for every opportunity

Lisa Forster
Lisa Forster - Head of the Wealth and Investment Division for Standard Bank KZN

As head of the Wealth and Investment Division for Standard Bank KZN, Lisa Forster leads a team of relationship managers and wealth managers, focusing on holistic solutions for high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals. She and her team ensure service excellence in delivering holistic solutions, both domestically and off shore, for their clients.

"I joined Standard Bank in the most junior position possible," she laughs. "I was 17 and straight out of school. Financially, university just wasn't an option and I was just happy to get a job." Lisa points out that she didn't mind starting at the bottom, and says it defined her. "I had to learn, work hard and create opportunities, and I still strive to do this today."

Many different roles

Lisa has had many different roles in the business, and that's stood her in good stead to progress through the ranks. "I've worked really hard to develop myself professionally and put up my hand for every opportunity. I've never really been guided by my job description and I still stand by that today. Being willing to take on added responsibilities and do whatever is needed has opened up opportunities for me. And I try every day to be better than the day before."

She has a simple philosophy: If you can do your job with your eyes closed, it's time to regroup and look for new self-development opportunities. And happily, she's been able to do this with Standard Bank. "If your job allows you to integrate your values with the company values, then that's a great platform for commitment and for career growth, and I'm very grateful to Standard Bank and way they've supported me through my career, in my studies and with executive development programmes."

Right now, Lisa sees a role for herself to contribute to a new generation of leaders coming up the ranks within Standard Bank. "I want to support them in the same way, and if they can benefit from my knowledge and my experience, then I'm making a difference."

Show up every day

Asked who inspires her, Lisa notes that typically, people look to those in positions of leadership or in the public domain for inspiration. "But for me it's the people who come to work despite the challenges and adversities they face on a daily basis; who show up every day with a great attitude, give of their best and really deliver for the business. They remind me on a daily basis to appreciate what I have and all the opportunities Standard Bank has afforded me over the past 30 years."

But career success doesn't come without some compromise. "I don't believe you can ever really achieve work life balance," she says. "I think it's more important to be present in what you are doing at any particular time, whether at work or at home, and you have to be quite deliberate about it to achieve your goals."

Focus is a big part of her success both in her career and her personal life. Right now, she's training for the Chicago Marathon. "I start my day at 4am to get the training in. That's being deliberate! But I also believe in the link between a healthy body, and a healthy mind, and my running is good for productivity."

Business is about people

Given a time-machine, she'd advise her younger self that you don't need a leadership title to be a leader in your environment; that no matter how talented you are, you can't always move up without earning your stripes; that's it's not always clear what you're learning from an experience, but if you do your best it might turn out to be a defining opportunity.

"Take every opportunity; it's not a waste of time, it's clearing a path for you. And remember that each challenging day might be teaching you something. So learn from it - your future self may thank you."

Lisa would also remind herself to protect her reputation and her credibility. "They speak for you when you're not in the room." And lastly, she'd point out the need to build solid relationships. "So much of your career success depends on your relationships, because business is about people."

Lisa Forster

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