Smart Futures Programme Success Story: Onivaha Lipenga

  • Onivaha Lipenga
  • 2 April 2024
  • 2025 Foundation | Blog | Career Development | Blog

How important has the support from the 2025 Foundation been during your studies?

Before entering sixth year with UCAS applications looming I was not entirely sure what career path was right for me. Throughout the year, I was exposed to different career options, however I had very limited information which made my decision-making ten times harder. When I received the opportunity to get support to participate in the 2025 Foundation programme, it was my first exposure to the working world. I realised it was an opportunity to learn about different career paths within the finance and banking sector. This made it easier for me to start narrowing down my possible career options. I had the opportunity to speak to and work alongside people in prestigious roles in different banks and learn of their journeys which helped me determine what I wanted to do in the future.

As someone who had a very narrow and slim view of the world of the financial sector, I assumed careers centred around accounting or cashier work, but I soon realised there was a vast array of option in other fields such as risk, compliance and technology, which are areas I find very intriguing. This has helped me when choosing my subjects for sixth year and shaped my future career path.

Why do you think the 2025 Foundation is important for those embarking on a career in banking?

The 2025 Foundation is important because it provides a wider view of the banking world to those who do not have the opportunity to see it. Oftentimes, it is difficult to discover the world of banking and finance without having an inside connection or family that already works in the sector. The Foundation helps those who do not always have access to friends or family in this sector to grasp the extent of opportunities in banking and to realise that a career in this industry is attainable for anyone. The 2025 Foundation also provides invaluable work experience and an opportunity to network with people in this industry. This provides an opportunity to learn about people’s personal experiences, the different paths one can take into banking, and opportunities for personal development.

What plans do you have for your future career?

I plan to pursue a career in financial crime. As banking platforms become more sophisticated, relying on technology, frauds are also increasing exponentially. I plan to pursue a Bachelor's degree in law and business at university. This will help me to gain knowledge about the legal landscape in which businesses operate. Further, it will open my eyes to what constitutes a financial crime and how to enforce the law in this area.

Meeting people from different banks and hearing their experiences in tackling problems like this regularly has inspired me to take this on. The Institute has allowed me to speak to people in these roles and gain a better understanding of how things work and how they have grown in these roles, and I wish to grow my expertise as well because as much as technology improves the world, the human touch is important as well.

What advice would you give to those who are thinking of pursuing a career in banking, but feel they may not have the means to do so?

I would highly encourage them to pursue a career in banking because there are endless opportunities to grow and learn. A key aspect I have learned being with the Institute is that banks are not the stereotypical organisations we see from the outside. They are not just about money and business, and anyone can work in a bank. Furthermore, roles in other fields such as software engineering, the legal team or human resources are equally important in banks therefore you can pursue a career you are passionate about and have an opportunity to work in a bank. I have learned that you do not necessarily have to go to university to pursue a career in banking; banks offer apprenticeships that allow you to move straight into working and learning while on the job. Therefore, they are different routes to realising your career dreams.

Sometimes our background makes us believe we have limited options and that is not true at all. Our background only contributes to a part of our journey, our persistence, hard work and ambition drive us forward so therefore to all who feel they do not have the means, I encourage you not cave into the little voice that says that you cannot pursue this path. I encourage you to explore and know that if one path does not feel right there will always be the opportunity to find something else within banking.