“Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.” — Proverbs 20:15.

Philani Shandu


Financial Services

Organisation / Company

Standard Bank Group


Philani Shandu, 33, is a senior manager of Standard Bank Group’s behavioural economics capability and mastery programme, where he leads a team that uses insights from cognitive and behavioural psychology to understand and optimise the financial behaviours and decisions of the bank’s clients. The results unlock a shared sense of value for the bank’s clients, shareholders and societies within which it operates. His broader managerial team has built and sustained Africa’s largest behavioural economics capability and boasts more than 100 fully-trained behavioural economists operating in 15 countries on the continent, all under Philani’s leadership. He has since been nominated for five of the Standard Bank Group’s annual Mark of Excellence awards in three years. He is working on the Standard Bank Behavioural Economics Graduate Programme, which aims to develop young people to become behavioural economics practitioners and banking professionals. Overall, his work aims to improve financial literacy and contribute towards the national imperatives of youth development and alleviating the problem of unemployment.


BCom Economics & Organisational Psychology, Rhodes University
BCom Honours in Economics, Rhodes University
MCom Economic Science, University of the Witwatersrand
PhD in Management with specialisation in Finance, Wits Business School


I am especially proud of having been nominated for five of the Standard Bank Group’s prestigious annual Mark of Excellence (MOE) Awards in three years, and winning the Team Award and Individual MOE Awards for my behavioural economics work in the bank for the years 2020 and 2021, respectively. For me, the fact that I have won as many MOE nominations and awards as I have is a validation that doing one’s work passionately and conscientiously is not only personally fulfilling but has led me to deliver my tasks at high quality.


My high school English teacher, the late Mrs Rita Jennings inspired me to write in all its forms, from literature to poetry, and even hip-hop music. The guidance and instruction that I received from her led to improvements in my scholarly performance and set a strong foundation for me to do well in university as well as in my career.
I’ve also benefited immensely from the teachings that I received from my second-year economics lecturer, Mr David Fryer, whose instruction triggered my passion for economics that has endured to the present day; as well as the exemplary leadership of my first “boss,”’Mr Neil Lightfoot, a consummate professional who perhaps has had the biggest influence on how I think through my work in the professional setting. I continue to learn a great deal from Neil through his continued mentorship of me.
Of all of my role models, I have perhaps learned the most from my mother, Thembi Simamane, whose remarkable parenting to my sister and me through her generous style has embedded in me a plethora of values that have shaped the very essence of who I am.