Tony Elumelu: Building legacy of women empowerment for corporate leadership, management

Tony Elumelu [#TEFForum19]
Tony Elumelu [#TEFForum19]

Wherever Brigham Young, the former American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement, is today, one thing is sure: He will be proud of Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu, the Nigerian economist, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Young, the first governor of the Utah Territory, United States, and until his death, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was credited with the popular quote: “You educate a man; you educate a person. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”

Apart from imbibing Young’s philosophy of development as his personal philosophy, Mr Elumelu, who is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, has taken it beyond just education, into the realm of business, management and contemporary leadership.

Mr Elumelu is consciously establishing a reputation as a modern-day chief executive who firmly believes in the power and capacity of women to make a difference in a world hitherto dominated by his kind. It’s a legacy he says he is committed to sustaining.

Recognised by Forbes magazine as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People in 2012”, Mr Elumelu appears to have created a niche and legacy for himself as a champion of the causes of women.

Paying special personal attention and identifying and promoting women into strategic leadership positions, whether in organisations he owns, or in other groups he is associated with, appears to come naturally to him.

A father of five girls himself, Mr Elumelu’s style of co-opting women as important allies in his succession planning in business, by giving them equal opportunity as men to succeed, exemplifies the kind of world he wants to create for his children in particular and women in the larger society as a whole.

Walking his talk

He does not only talk. He walks his talk. Most companies owned by Mr Elumelu are managed by women.

For instance, in the United Bank for Africa, where Mr Elumelu sits as the founder and Chairman of the Board, the demography of the staff, including those in affiliated financial establishments, show a diversity reflecting a fine balance between men and women.

The Consolidated Financial Statement of the bank as at December 31, 2018 shows that out of about 12,909 staff of the bank group, 6,988, or 54 per cent, are men, while 5,921, or 46 per cent, are women.

Under the bank structure, out of a total of 9,624 workers in over 1,000 branches across 23 countries, including Nigeria, Benin Republic, Tchad, Gabon, Coted’Ivoire, Congo Brazzaile , Sierra Leone and 13 other African countries, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France, about 5,187, or 54 per cent are men, against 4,437 women, or 46 per cent.

An average gender analysis of the Board of Directors and top management positions held by both genders in the report showed that out of the 20-member board, five, or 25 per cent are women, while 23, or 26 per cent of the 90-member strong top management staff are also women.

Women hold the aces

Details of the bank’s Board and top management staff composition show that of the 10 non-Executive Directors, five are women. They include Foluke Abdul-Razaq; Owanari Duke; Erelu Angela Adebayo, Angela Aneke, and Uju Hassan Baba.

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Of the 32 General Managers, nine are women; the same among the 19 Deputy General Managers, while five women are also among the 39 Assistant General Managers of the bank.

They include Noellie Tiendrebeogo, who is the CEO, UBA Burkina Faso; Sarata Kone, CEO, UBA Cote D’ivoire; Chioma Mang, CEO, UBA Gabon; Nkechi Arizor, CEO, UBA Liberia, and Adesola Yomi-Ajayi, CEO, UBA New York.

Others are Bola Atta Group Head, Corporate Communications; Dupe Olusola; Group Head, Marketing; Abiola Bawuah; Regional CEO, West Africa 1; Amie Ndiaye Sow, Regional CEO, West Africa 2; Patricia Aderibigbe; Group Head, Human Resources; Emem Usoro; Directorate Head Abuja & North Central Bank.

Similarly, in Africa Prudential, one of the affiliates of the Elumelu growing business empire, of the seven-member Board of Directors, a woman, Eniola Fadayomi, a member of Federal Republic (MFR) presides as the Chairman.

In Afriland Properties Limited, Uzoamaka Oshogwe, another woman of substance, is in charge as the Managing Director/CEO, with Catherine Nwosu as Chief Operating Officer; Khaddijat Abdulkadir as the Chief Technology Officer; Bridget Bayo-Ajayi as Chief Commercial Officer; Ivy Ikpeme-Mbakwem, as Chief Experience Officer.

Also, Ammuna Lawan Ali is an independent director on the Board of the company, along with Agatha Obiekwugo.

In Avon Healthcare Limited, a health management provider in which Mr Elumelu also has substantial interest, a significant population of women are on both its Board and top management.

Apart from Elumelu’s wife, Awele Vivienwho is the Chairperson of Avon Healthcare Limited, Adesimbo Ukiri is the Managing Director/CEO, under whose guidance and vision the company became one of Nigeria’s leading healthcare maintenance organisations.

A trained lawyer, Ms Adesimbo holds an LLB from Obafemi Awolowo University and is a Sloan Fellow of London Business School, where she obtained an MSc in Management.

Ms Adesimbo has over 20 years of professional experience within a number of sectors, including financial services, FMCG, telecommunications and healthcare.

The Board of the company also has Gloria Patrick – Ferife, and Owen Omogiafo, with Kehinde Oyesiku in charge of new business development and financial growth.

In Tony Elumelu Foundation, an African private-sector-led philanthropy established by Mr Elumelu to empower African entrepreneurs, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu presides as the Chief Executive Officer.

More women get new appointments

Perhaps, in continuation of his tradition of identifying with excellence and female leadership and deliberately supporting women to succeed, Mr Elumelu announced significant appointments into the Board and Executive Management of the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc Group involving several women.

Transcorp, reputed to be Nigeria’s leading listed industrial holding company, has interests in a wide range of sectors, including power and energy, hospitality, agribusiness as well as upstream oil and gas industries.

Mr Elumelu sits on the Boards of Transcorp Power, operators of the 972 mega-watts (MW) 972MW Ughelli Power plant in Delta State, Nigeria’s largest power generator; Transcorp Hotels, owners of the iconic Transcorp Hilton in Abuja, and Transcorp Oil & Gas Limited, operators of the Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 281 asset located in Delta state.

Among the new appointees is Owen Omogiafo, who was appointed President/Group CEO of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, with effect from March 25, 2020.

Ms Omogiafo who is currently the MD/CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc will succeed Valentine Ozigbo, who is retiring to pursue a career in public service, having served Transcorp for close to a decade.

She has over two decades of corporate experience in organisational development, human capital management, banking, change management and hospitality.

The new Chief Executive holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology & Anthropology from the University of Benin, a Master of Science in Human Resource Management from the London School of Economics as well as Political Science.

An alumnus of the Lagos Business School and IESE Business School, Spain, Ms Omogiafo is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, UK and a Certified Change Manager with the Prosci Institute, USA. She has received multiple awards and been named as one of Africa’s top 100 Female CEOs.

Also appointed as the Managing Director/CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc, is Dupe Olusola, effective from March 25, 2020.

Ms Olusola who is currently the Group Head, Marketing at United Bank for Africa Plc, has over 21 years of corporate experience, including being the MD/CEO of Teragro Juice Concentrate Plant.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Leicester and a Masters in Development Economics from the University of Kent.

A certified Project Manager, with qualifications in Project Management Professional and Prince 2, Ms Olusola has received numerous awards and was named by the Ventures Africa’s as one of the 10 Most Influential Nigerian CEOs of 2015.

The Board of Transcorp Hotels Plc also approved the appointment of Helen Iwuchukwu as an Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer of the company.

Ms Iwuchukwu, who is currently the Group Company Secretary of Transcorp Plc, holds an LL. B. (Honours) degree in Law.

She was enrolled as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1993 (BL Hons) and holds a Master of Laws degree (LL. M.) from Middlesex University Business School, London.

The new CEO is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, with over 25 years in legal advisory, corporate law, corporate governance, administration, human capital management and government relationship management. The Board of the hotel also has Hajia Saratu Umar as an Independent non-Executive Director

Also, the new appointees approved by the Elumelu Group include Okaima Ohizua as the Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer of Transcorp Power Limited as well as a member of the Board of the company.

Ms Ohizua who is currently the Executive Director, Customer Services at Transcorp Hotels Plc, has over 25 years working experience and has been key to the continued service transformation at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, since joining the Board and Management of the company in 2013.

A graduate of Law from the University of Benin and the Nigerian Law School, Ms Okaima also holds an Advanced Management Programme certificate from the Pan-African University – Lagos Business School.

Following the appointments, Mr Elumelu, a holder of the national honour of the Commander of Order of the Niger (CON), expressed confidence that the newly appointed chief executives and non-executive directors will further strengthen Transcorp’s mission of improving lives across Nigeria.

“These appointments demonstrate our commitment to nurturing talent and rewarding success. We have a deep pool of highly qualified and dedicated employees, who can be challenged with more responsibility in attaining our corporate vision.

“We remain committed to diversity and inclusion (of women), and are delighted by the depth and quality of experience that this leadership team brings to our group. These appointments further indicate our internal succession capacity and strong corporate governance practices,” he said.



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