Women taking the lead in banking




As elusive as the quest by Nigerian women to achieve gender parity in all spheres of life may seem many women are holding their own in their chosen fields of endeavour. In this report, ENE OSHABA celebrates six Nigerian women leading in the banking industry even as more strive to break the proverbial glass ceiling.

Nigeria’s business sector, especially the banking industry, has had its fair share of men occupying not just leadership positions but dominating practically the entire sector.

As women continue to work towards getting to the top in their various fields of endeavour, those in the banking industry appear to be taking the lead with more women assuming managerial levels positions in recent times.

This is in line with the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP) which states that as part of a wider sustainable banking commitment the industry should work towards 40 per cent female representation at top management and board levels.

Blueprint Weekend checks showed that out of 23 commercial banks, women occupy leadership of six as Managing Directors (MDs) and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) representing 26 per cent managerial position in the sector.

The leading women include: Miriam Olusanya in Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB); Halima Buba in Suntrust Bank; Ireti Samuel-Ogbu in Citibank; Yemi Edun in First City Monument Bank (FCMB); Nneka Onyeali Ikpe in Fidelity Bank; and Tomi Somefun in Unity Bank.

Oluwatomi Somefun

Oluwatomi Somefun, an award-winning Nigerian banker, is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/ Managing Director (MD) of Unity Bank, making her the first woman in the bank’s history to hold this position.

She was appointed the Executive Director of Unity Bank on March 4, 2015, and her remarkable performance as executive director had earned her the enviable position as the MD/CEO of Unity Bank in August 2015.

Mrs Somefun obtained a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) in English from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) in 1981.

She subsequently registered at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and eventually became a Chartered Accountant in 1982.

This banking guru is an ICAN fellow and constantly attends both local and foreign trainings including the Industry-Specific EuroMoney training, and INSEAD Fontainebleau, France.

She is also an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School and the University of Columbia Business School, New York.

Oluwatomi Somefun is a member of several professional bodies including the Institute of Directors (IOD), Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN), and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

She started her career in the financial service industry with Peat Marwick and Co. She then moved to Arthur Andersen, now KPMG. Oluwatomi has also worked with other reputable companies like Ventures and Trusts Ltd, Credit Bank Ltd.

She had a successful career at the United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) and while at UBA she managed and sat on the boards of several subsidiaries, including UBA Trustee, UBA Plc, UBA Capital, and Trustee Ltd.

She was also once a Non-Executive Director on the Board of UBA Foundations, a Non-Executive Director on the Board of UBA Trustees, a Non-Executive Director on the Board of UBA Nominees Ltd and UBA Registrars Ltd.

She is a Member of the Board of Finance and General Purpose Committee, on the Board of the Risk Management Committee and the Board of Credit Committee.

Miriam Olusanya

She is an accomplished banker with over 21 years of experience in corporate finance, treasury, assets and liability management and wholesale banking.

Media reports online indicated that Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) boss lady joined GTBank as an executive trainee in 1998 and rose through the ranks.

Before her recent elevation she had held the positions of Group Treasurer and Head of Wholesale Banking.

Prior to her recent appointment, she also served in the Board of GTBank (Gambia) as a non-executive director.

She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from the University of Ibadan, and thereafter proceeded to the University of Liverpool where she obtained an MBA in Finance and Accounting and afterwards enrolled for various executive programmes at different institutions including the Cranfield School of Management.

She is the first female MD in the history of GTBank, and the fifth woman to be appointed as MD in any commercial bank in Nigeria.

Halima Buba

This pace setter at Suntrust Bank is a seasoned Banker with over 20 years cognate experience obtained from working in different financial institutions including: 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 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 the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) as a non-executive director and Anchoria Asset Management Company Limited.

This seasoned banker is a champion of youth and women empowerment, who has consistently made philanthropic contributions towards the girl child education.

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu

She became the first woman to be appointed to Citibank Nigeria Country Officer after 36 years of operating in Africa’s largest economy.

Samuel-Ogbu, who will assume the position on September 1, will replace Akin Dawodu, who has been appointed as Head Sub-Saharan Africa.

For the past five years, the bank chief has served as Managing Director, Payments and Receivables, Treasury and Trade Solutions for Europe, Middle East and Africa at the Lender’s Office in London.

Yemisi Edun

The new Managing Director of FCMB 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.

Yemisi Edun began her career in 1987 with Akintola Williams Deloitte (member firm of Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu) with main focus in Corporate Finance activities.

She was also involved in audit of banks and other financial institutions. She joined FCMB in 2000 as Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control before assuming the role of Chief Financial Officer of the bank.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, who has been an integral part of the transformation team at Fidelity Bank in the last six years, assumed office as Managing Director/CEO of the bank on January 1, 2021.

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.

As stated in the FCMB site, 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 per cent of the bank’s PBT, deposits and loans.

She is a consummate professional of over 30 years with 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.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe 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 from the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) as a member of the management team that successfully turned around Enterprise Bank Plc.

Mrs. 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 programmes 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 of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

Nigerians hail these achievers

Speaking on the appointments of the female bank executives, the Publisher of VIP Magazine, Talabi Taiwo O. Michael, hailed the development and noted that these women have proven their capacity on the job.

He maintained that women have shown that they can be trusted as well that they have the ability to be better managers than their male counterparts in the industry which has earned them these positions of authority.

“A very diligent woman can manage herself, husband, children, and the office with all your finance put together. She has proven over the years to be a trustworthy and effective woman that can make waves in any endeavour of life.

“Apart from being impressed personally on some women taking the lead in the banking sectors, I also feel fulfilled as an advocate of gender equality to see some them show their strength through their intellectual prowess.

“These are not just your ordinary or regular women but women of valour who have made impactful contributions to cling to that 1st position in their organisations. It is, therefore, no amazement to see many of them making the list of the VIP 100+1 WOMEN OF IMPACT which is scheduled to hold at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel on the 25th September, 2021,” he said.

More women’ll emerge

Continuing, the publisher assured that many more women would assume leadership positions if they are given the opportunity like their male counterparts.

“If given equal opportunity to contest without any form of stereotyping, I see a dramatic shift based on the trust, confidence, and competence of some women running the helms of affairs of the world.

“Today we have the first black woman, Kamala Harris as the Vice President of the United States. You will more than agree with me that women are changing the narrative concerning positions of leadership and governance.”

He urged women to remain resolute in aspiring for whatever positions of authority they desire including the President and other top positions in the world at large.

“I commend Dr. Sarah Jubril who against all odds contested with the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, she didn’t lose but learned and history recorded it.

“I look forward to seeing the likes of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iwealla, DG-WTO, and Dr. Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, contesting for the President of Nigeria. I shall not hesitate to give any of them my vote as they have been tested and trusted based on competence. Trust me, many others will follow suit as well,” he said.