One of the most influential women in banking in South Africa, Venete Klein has a leadership style that perfectly combines compassion with big business. She is a financial powerhouse, humanitarian, mother and bridge&ndashbuilder all rolled up into one rather formidable package.

Klein may be small in stature, but her passion for creating business with heart is larger&ndashthan&ndashlife. She holds down the position of Executive Director for Retail Banking at ABSA and taking care of 10 million customers and 15 000 staff members is 'just another day at the office'. She is responsible for Absa's Transactional and Deposits cluster incorporating the Branch Network, Distribution, Sales & Service, Customer Market Solutions, Pricing, Meeg Bank (Eastern Cape), Absa's Africa Retail Bank and AllPay (Absa's social grant and wage payment channel). She continues to thrive in the competitive world of high finance. Respected by colleagues and staff members alike, Klein is known for her motherly guidance and no&ndashnonsense approach.

The former Minister of Finance appointed Klein to serve on three financial sector&ndashrelated advisory bodies: the Standing Committee for the Revision of the Banks Act of 1990, the Standing Committee for the Short Term Insurance Act and the policy Board for Financial Services and Regulation since 2001. She is also a visiting Professor at the University of Free State and regularly presents at Stellenbosch University, University of Louisiana and Cornel University (US) to MBA students. Over the years she has studied extensively overseas and is a graduate of Harvard and holds a number of international qualifications from MIT, Insead, IMD and Wits.

When it comes to firsts, Venete is always leading the charge. She was the first South African to be invited to serve on the World Trade Organisation's International Policy Commission. The first woman and person of colour to serve as Vice Chair of the Agricultural Business Chamber, and the first woman to be appointed as President of the AHI (Afrikaanse Handels Instituut / Afrikaans Chamber of Commerce) in its 66 year history. Klein is a member of the International Policy Commission, a trustee of the Absa Foundation Trust and the Community Impact Trust as well as being the economic advisor to the premier of the North West.

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