With more women moving into traditionally male-dominated industries and a rise of millennial women globally over the past decade, Nigerian women particularly have been taking a cue from the global trajectory as no fewer than eight women are now in the upper echelon of the banking sector in Nigeria, occupying positions that were hitherto reserved for the male folks.
Nigerian women continue to prove that they’ve come of age and have since picked up the gauntlet from where the charismatic Nigerian women of the last century — Chief (Mrs.) Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Mrs. Margaret Ekpo among several others left it off.
But beyond the social service sector where women often traditionally demonstrate leadership, in Nigeria, the playground for women has now extended to business, Tech and much of corporate Nigeria.
The country has continued to see many powerful women emerge to not only dominate sectors where only men used to call the shots in the past, but to also inspire many other women, as well as younger generation to line behind them as recently demonstrated by the Harvard-trained Nigerian former Finance Minister, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who smashed the glass ceiling to emerge as the first female and African Director General of World Trade Organisation (WTO) in its 25 years of establishment. And what about the exploits of Mrs. Amina Mohammed in her exalted position as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN)? After her distinguishing first term at the global institution, Mohammed recently got another five years in the bag following her nomination for the second time by UN Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres to continue to pilot the affairs of nations at a perilous time in the life of a world still under the burden of a pandemic and day-to-day uncertainties.
In a revolutionary wave, the Nigerian banking sector is presently witnessing a rapid increase in the number of female Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers.
Checks by The New Diplomat have revealed that among the 23 major banks operating in the country, eight of the financial institutions are currently headed by women, something that has been giving gender equality advocates some sort of goose bumps as the development serves as a morale booster to Nigeria’s actualization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5 which was also captured in the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP) introduced in 2012. The policy which speaks to gender diversity and inclusiveness, seeks 40 percent women representation at the top level management of the banking industry.
On this note, The New Diplomat is recognising the beautiful, bold and brainy women who are making gaint strides in the Nigerian financial industry, hence, forcing organisations to rethink the question of gender encumbrance.
Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe (Fidelity Bank)
Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe is currently the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fidelity Bank.
Fidelity Bank, a commercial bank in Nigeria is one of the leading and stable financial institution in the country.
On July 21, 2020, Fidelity Bank announced the appointment of Onyeali-Ikpe as its new MD/CEO, following the then impending exit of Mr Nnamdi J. Okonkwo, who retired as the MD/CEO of the Bank on December 31st, 2020.
On January 3, 2021, Onyeali-Ikpe officially assumed office, becoming the 4th Chief Executive and first female to occupy the position since the inception of the bank in 1988.
Onyeali-Ikpe has over 30 years of banking experience, including stints at Standard Chartered Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, and Enterprise Bank Plc. She joined Fidelity Bank Plc’s board of directors in 2015 and has played a very integral role in the transformation of the bank’s Lagos and Southwest Directorate.
She started her banking career as a legal officer with the defunct African Continental Bank in 1990. She then joined the First African Trust Bank as a treasury officer. She later joined Zenith Bank and Standard Chartered Bank respectively, earning remarkable reputation as she is known to be diligent, hardworking and committed.
Mrs. Yemisi Edun (FCMB)
Mrs Yemisi Edun is the Managing Director of First City Monument Bank Limited (FCMB).
On July 13, FCMB announced Edun as the substantive MD/CEO, becoming the first female boss at the new generation bank.
Edun succeeded the former MD, Mr Adam Nuru, who was suspended in January over corporate governance issues bordering on allegations that he was involved in an extra-marital affair with a former subordinate at the bank.
Yemisi 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.
Edun who was the former Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of the bank, began her career with Akintola Williams Deloitte (member firm of Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu) in 1987, with main focus in Corporate Finance activities.
Yemisi joined FCMB in 2000 as Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control before assuming the role of Chief Financial Officer of the Bank.
She 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 Certified Financial Analyst, CFA Charter holder.
Mrs. Miriam Olusanya (Guaranty Trust Bank)
Mrs. Miriam Olusanya is the currently MD/CEO of the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).
On July 14, GTB announced the appointment of Olusanya as its MD becoming the first ever female boss in the bank’s 31-year history.
Olusanya took over from Segun Agbaje, the erstwhile MD, who moved into a new role as the group CEO of the Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc.
Prior to her appointment, Olusanya was an executive director at GTBank, a position she occupied since 2018 after a successful period as the group treasurer/head, wholesale banking division. She joined the financial institution as an executive trainee and gradually rose through the ranks over the years.
Miriam Olusanya holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Ibadan and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), majoring in finance and accounting, from the University of Liverpool.
Mrs. Halima Buba (SunTrust Bank)
Halima Buba is the current MD/CEP of the SunTrust Bank. She was appointed as the MD in January 2021.
She 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.
Buba 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.
Mrs Ireti Samuel-Ogbu (Citibank)
Ireti Samuel-Ogbu is the MD/CEO of the Citibank Nigeria Limited. She assumed office in September 2020. She is also the first woman ever to be appointed as MD in the 36-year history of the bank.
Prior to her appointment as the MD, she was the head of payments and receivables, treasury and trade solutions (TTS) for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Citi’s Institutional Clients Group (ICG) based in London, UK.
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 the 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.
Mrs Tomi Somefun (Unity Bank PLC)
In August 2015, Tomi Somefun was appointed as MD/CEO of Unity Bank Plc. She is a career professional with over 35 years post qualification experience, 26 of which were in the banking sector spanning key segments such as treasury & investment banking, corporate banking, retail and commercial banking operations.
Prior to her appointment as MD; she 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 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 organisations (NGOs).
Kafilat Araole (Lotus Bank)
Kafilat who has had a 25-year experience as a commercial banker, now leads Lotus Bank, a non-interest bank as the MD/CEO.
She has expertise in human resources, business development, payments, international and domestic operations among others.
Bukola Smith (FSDH Merchant Bank)
She has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Lagos and later bagged an MBA from the Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.
Smith has 28 years of experience in the industry and boasts an impressive profile and fellowship/membership of high-ranking institutes in the financial sector and was appointed as the MD of the bank in April 2021.