Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Behold the Amazons of the Nigerian banking industry

In one week, two leading banks in Nigeria announced the appointments of female Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers, CEOs to pilot the affairs of the banks. With these latest appointments, the financial institutions headed by women in Nigeria increased to six namely; GT Bank, FCMB, Fidelity Bank Plc. Others are Unity Bank, Citibank Nigeria, and SunTrust Bank. Not only that, many of the banks that don’t have female MDs have a woman chairing the board. BABAJIDE OKEOWO in this report takes a look at the amazons of the banking industry and the reasons for their meteoric rise.

On Wednesday, July 14, 2021, Guaranty Trust (GT) Bank announced the appointment of Miriam Olusanya as its Managing Director/CEO becoming the first woman to occupy the position since the bank was established in 1990.

She took over from Segun Agbaje who exited the bank after over ten years in the position.

Prior to her appointment, Olusanya was the Executive Director of GTBank, a position she occupied since 2018 after joining the financial institution as an Executive Trainee.

She holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm) degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a Master of Business Administration (Finance and Accounting) from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. She has also attended several executive management and banking specific developmental programs in leading educational institutions around the world.

Miriam served as a Non-Executive Director on the Board of Guaranty Trust Bank (Gambia) Limited. She is also a member of the Financial Markets Sub-Committee of the Bankers’ Committee, the primary interactive policy platform made up of the Central Bank of Nigeria and banks.

She joined the Bank as an Executive Trainee in 1998 and rose through the ranks until her appointment as Executive Director in 2018.

Until her appointment as MD/CEO, she was the Group Treasurer and Head, Wholesale Banking Division, responsible for balance sheet and financial markets activities of the Bank and its African subsidiaries, Corporate Finance as well as Investor Relations.

She has served in the banking industry for 23 years, holding several top positions in GTBank Nigeria. The banker currently holds a Non-Executive Director spot on the board of Guaranty Trust Bank Limited in Gambia. Her experience spans Transaction Services, Asset and Liability Management, Financial Markets, Investment Banking and Investor Relations.

Earlier in the week, First City Monument Bank (FCMB) also announced Yemisi Edun as its MD/CEO. Edun holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife and a Master’s degree in International Accounting and Finance from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.

She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a CFA® Charter holder. She is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers; an Associate Member of the Institute of Taxation of Nigeria; a Member of Information Systems Audit and Control, U.S.A; and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

She began her career with Akintola Williams Deloitte (member firm of Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu) in 1987, with main focus in Corporate Finance activities. She was also involved in audit of Banks and Other Financial Institutions. She joined FCMB in year 2000 as Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control before assuming the role of Chief Financial Officer of the Bank.

Fidelity Bank Plc is also one top financial institutions headed by a woman. On the 1st of January 2021, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe assumed office as the MD/CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc.

Onyeali-Ikpe holds Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Master of Laws (LLM) degrees from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Kings College, London, respectively. She has attended executive training programs at Harvard Business School, The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania, INSEAD School of Business, Chicago Booth School of Business, London Business School and IMD amongst others.

She is also an Honorary Senior Member (HCIB) of The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe has been an integral part of the transformation team at Fidelity Bank in the last six years. She was formerly Executive Director, Lagos and South West, overseeing the bank’s business in the six states that make up the South West region of the bank. She led the transformation of the Directorate to profitability and sustained its impressive year-on-year growth, across key performance metrics, including contributing over 28% of the Bank’s PBT, Deposits and Loans.

She is a consummate professional of over 30 years’ experience across various banks including Standard Chartered Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc and Citizens International Bank Limited, where she held several management positions in Legal, Treasury, Investment Banking, Retail/Commercial Banking, Corporate Banking. She has been involved in the structuring of transactions in various sectors including oil & gas, manufacturing, aviation, real estate and exports.

As an Executive Director at Enterprise Bank Plc, she received formal commendation from the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) as a member of the management team that successfully turned around Enterprise Bank Plc.

In August 2015, Tomi Somefun took over the saddle as Unity Bank MD/CEO. She took over from Henry J. Semenitari, who resigned his appointment with the Bank. She has been in the saddle for over six years now bringing changes to the bank.

Prior to her appointment, Somefun served as the Executive Director overseeing the Lagos and South-West Business Directorates, the Financial Institution Division and Treasury Department of the Bank. She is a Member of the Board Finance & General Purpose Committee, Board Risk Management Committee, Board Credit Committee, amongst others.

She a career professional with 35 years post qualification experience, over 26 of which were in the banking sector, spanning key segments including Treasury & Investment Banking, Corporate Banking, Retail, and Commercial Banking Operations. Tomi had a distinguished career with UBA group where she led 2 major subsidiaries of UBA as MD/CEO including a start-up company, UBA Pensions Custodian where she was the pioneer Managing Director.

Prior to UBA, Tomi worked with two leading consulting firms: KPMG and Arthur Andersen (now KPMG). A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), she graduated with a Second Class Upper degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife) in 1981 with a Bachelor of Education in English Language. She was recently conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration (D.BA) by the Redeemer’s University Nigeria (RUN).

Tomi has extensive Executive Education in leading change and organization renewal, strategy formulation & execution, business analytics and development, and financial management from various esteemed business schools. She is an alumnus of the Columbia Business School, United States of America, and INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France, and holds a Certificate of Management Excellence from Harvard Business School (HBS). She is a member of various professional bodies including the Institute of Directors (IOD), Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN) and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN). In addition, she has served on the board of several quoted and unquoted companies, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

In August 2020, Citigroup announced Ireti Samuel-Ogbu as its first female Country Officer for Nigeria, MD/CEO Citibank Nigeria. Prior to assuming office in Nigeria, she served as managing director of payments and receivables, treasury and trade solutions for Europe, Middle East and Africa at the group’s office in London.

She had been on the Board of Citibank Nigeria Limited since 2015 as a non-Executive Director.

In the last 32 years, Samuel-Ogbu has held various roles across Citi’s businesses in the UK, Nigeria and South Africa, having worked in each of these countries twice. Previous roles have included Relationship Management with Global Subsidiaries Group and the Public Sector Banking Team, as well as TTS Sales, Corporate Finance and leading Citi’s TTS business in two of the largest markets in Africa.

As a champion of diversity and inclusion, Samuel-Ogbu co-founded two impactful mentorship initiatives within Citi – the Sapphire Leadership Program for Middle East and Africa, and the Momentum Program in the UK. She is currently the EMEA co-Chair for Citi Women’s Affinity group and represents EMEA on the Global Affinity Steering Committee at Citi.

She obtained a BA Hons Accounting and Finance from Middlesex University, UK and has an MBA from the University of Bradford, UK.

Halima Buba sits at the helms od affairs at SunTrust Bank. Halima is a seasoned Banker with over 20 years cognate experience obtained from working in AllStates Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Inland Bank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc and Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Business Management from the University of Maiduguri and an MBA from the same University.

Halima is an Alumnus of the Lagos Business School Senior management programme. She is a senior Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants.

She sits on the Board of several reputable Institutions, including those of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) as a Non-Executive Director and Anchoria Asset Management Company Limited.

Halima is a Champion of youth and women empowerment, and consistently makes philanthropic contributions towards the girl child Education.


Welcomed Development Says Stakeholder

A stakeholder in the banking industry, Uju Ogubunka, President, Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN) said, this is a welcomed development.

“That is the kind of a thing that some of us expect. This country has come a long way and the banking industry has come a long way. We need to see more of a blend of both men and women playing their profession – a kind of situation where two ladies have been appointed almost simultaneously.

It gladdens the heart. For all you may care the board that appointed them and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN that did the confirmation must have done a thorough job and these people have had a reasonable length and practical of experience on the job. We believe they will go there and do the best, showing that what a man can do, a woman can do even better”.

“I know them and I believe they have the capacity, looking at their track record. I think it is okay, it is a good omen and that also will encourage ladies to rise to do their best to get to the top of their career,” he said.

On the impact on the industry, Ogubunka said, “Once they do well of course the impact would be very high. The customers and other stakeholders would begin to appreciate ladies. These are people that have come a long way so the impact will be very good and people will feel happy especially some of us that have come through that side of the industry. But it is now up to them to take up that challenge and prove they can do it and once they can do it, they open more doors for other ladies that are coming at their back. But if they go there and do not do better than the men that are there, they may jeopardise the chances of others that are coming behind them. They should have that at the back of their mind especially issues that have to do with corporate governance and ethics. I know them, they have been so much grounded and we would give them the support they need”.