For Nigerian banks, 2021 seems to be a year of positive change as more women are taking key positions in various management teams.
As of December 2020, women had less than 30 per cent representation in banks’ boardrooms, according to a PREMIUM TIMES analysis. The ratio was not much different in the banks’ management teams.
Recent appointments have pushed the figures upwards, improving the banking sector’s gender balance outlook. Six women are currently managing directors/ chief executive officers (MD/CEO) of top banks.
They are Ireti Samuel-Ogbu of Citibank Nigeria Limited, Tomi Somefun of Unity Bank, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe of Fidelity Bank, Miriam Olusanya of Gtbank, Yemisi Edun of FCMB, and Halima Buba of SunTrust Bank.
Nigeria’s corporate space is largely male-dominated, but the banking sector saw progress in boardroom gender diversity when Bola Kuforiji-Olubi was appointed the first woman to chair the board of a bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), in 1984.
In 2015, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s oldest lender, appointed Ibukun Awosika as its first chairman. Mosunmola Belo-Olusoga was also appointed chairman of Access Bank Plc, while Osaretin Demuren was appointed chairman of Guaranty Trust Bank – both in 2015 also.
A gender activist, Nana Nwachukwu, described the recent appointments as a “great development” for women.
“Having women as the CEOs or representatives will make other women feel safe in the workplace,” she argued.
An economist, Dere Awosika, also praised the development, saying having more women as leaders in the sector will engender growth in the sector, considering their “tolerance and listening skills”.
Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe became the managing director/chief executive officer of Fidelity Bank on January 1, 2021. She is the first female to occupy the position since the bank’s inception in 1988.
She joined the bank in 2015 and is the former executive director for Lagos and south-west directorate, overseeing the bank’s business in the six states that make up the southwest region of the bank.
She holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from King’s College, London. She has attended executive training programmes at global institutions including Harvard Business School, Wharton School University of Pennsylvania, INSEAD School of Business, Chicago Booth School of Business and London Business School.
Miriam Olusanya was appointed the managing director of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) on July 14, 2021.
Like her Fidelity Bank colleague, she is the first female boss in the bank’s 31-year history.
She 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.
Yemisi Edun became the managing director of First City Monument Bank Limited (FCMB) on July 13, 2021. She is equally the first female MD of FCMB, following the approval of her appointment by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
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.
Halima Buba, the MD/CEO of SunTrust Bank, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Maiduguri, as well as MBA from the same university.
She is an alumnus of the Lagos Business School’s 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 is a member of the board of several institutions, including those of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) as a Non-Executive Director and Anchoria Asset Management Company Limited.
Ireti Samuel-Ogbu was appointed MD/CEO of CitiBank in September 2020, the first time a woman was appointed to the bank’s top position after 36 years of operation in Nigeria.
She holds a Bachelors of Art in Accounting and Finance from MiddleSex University, UK, and an MBA from the University of Bradford, UK.
Also, 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.
Tomi Somefun became the CEO of Unity Bank in 2015. She is a graduate of English Language from Obafemi Awolowo University. She is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN).
She started her career in the financial service industry with Peat Marwick and Co. After that, she moved to Arthur Andersen – now KPMG.
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