Native Kenyan Edward Lubembe inspired by his own journey to help others achieve in life
When Edward Lubembe was growing up in Kenya, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. He had friends who wanted to be pilots, doctors, lawyers, but he couldn’t decide.
It was a cousin who worked as a teller at a local bank that made up his mind.
“Every time (she) spoke about her work, every time she spoke about her boss, her customers, she always had a smile on her face,” said Lubembe, who is now a branch manager of the Regions Bank branch in Bessemer.
“It was more than just being there to do some work. It was about helping people. It was about changing people’s lives.”
Lubembe last week was awarded Regions Bank’s “Better Life” Award, which goes to one employee a month across Regions’ 15-state, 1,500-bank footprint who embodies the mission of making life better for the company’s customers and their communities.
The recognition comes with an additional week’s vacation, a crystal award, and a $1,000 donation made in the name of the winner’s favorite non-profit organization.
Lubembe’s award will go to the Single Mothers Empowerment Conference, an annual event in Birmingham that helps single mothers address the major issues facing them — health and well-being, financial management, legal rights, career planning, education and parenting skills, among others.
It’s a program that’s important to Lumembe, who was raised by a single mother who worked to make life better for him, moving them to Alabama in 2003. Lubembe went to work at Regions as a teller in 2003.
“My father died when I was a young boy,” Lubembe said. “My mother knew that if we could make it to America, I would have a successful future.”
For the past three years, Lubembe has served on the Single Mothers Empowerment Conference board, bringing not only his financial acumen, but energy and fresh ideas to the organization, said Linda Mays, the conference founder.
“I know the hard work it takes to raise successful children as a single mother,” Lubembe said. “This is one of the ways I can help.”
Lubembe also travels back to Kenya occasionally to encourage young people to keep working toward their goals.
A member of the Alabaster Running Club, Lubembe runs 40 miles a week and participates in several marathons a year.
When he first joined the club, “I never thought I could run five miles, much less 26,” he said.
But someone in the club told him “if you can run two miles, you can run 26. I thought it was a joke at the time, until I kept on running with them and eventually it happened.
“So, every time I see one of my Alabaster running club members bring someone new into the group, I think about that moment,” he said. “I think of a moment when somebody else told me that it could be done when I thought it couldn’t be done.”
That motivation translated to his work life, he said.
“All I wanted to do was be a teller, same thing as being a runner. All I wanted to do was be able to run three miles,” he said. “But the same way somebody helped me run 26 miles, somebody here at work, they let me see that you could be a manager, that you could be a leader, and lead a team to do the same thing that you’re doing.”