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PROFILE: Bolaji Agbede, Adaora Umeoji… female CEOs leading Nigerian banks

PROFILE: Bolaji Agbede, Adaora Umeoji... female CEOs leading Nigerian banks PROFILE: Bolaji Agbede, Adaora Umeoji... female CEOs leading Nigerian banks

Women are shattering glass ceilings around the globe, making indelible marks across sectors, and the Nigerian banking industry is not left out, as Adaora Umeoji joins the list of female chief executive officers (CEO) in the sector.

Appointed as group managing director (GMD) and GCEO on March 19, Umeoji will replace Ebenezer Onyeagwu, whose five-year tenure as GMD and chief executive elapses on May 31.

What’s more interesting is Umeoji will be the first woman to take up the position at Zenith Bank.

As Umeoji becomes the latest bank CEO in town, TheCable brings you the profile of 11 female chief executives of banks in the country.

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ADAORA UMEOJI

Umeoji has over 30 years of experience in banking, including 26 years at Zenith Bank.

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Before Umeoji was appointed GCEO-designate, she held the position of deputy managing director of Zenith Bank from October 2016.

She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Jos, a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and a first-class honours in law from Baze University, Abuja.

Umeoji is also a graduate of the University of Salford, United Kingdom, where she bagged a master of laws degree. She also obtained a master’s in business administration (MBA) from the University of Calabar, and a doctorate in business administration from Apollos University, USA. 

BOLAJI AGBEDE

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BOLAJI AGBEDE. Photo credit: Access Corporation

Bolaji Agbede, acting group CEO of Access Holdings, took over on February 13, following the death of Herbert Wigwe, the company’s former GCEO.

Agbede has worked in banking operations, customer relationship management, and human resources management departments for over 27 years. 

Beginning her career in 1992 as an executive trainee, she worked her way up to manager in 2001 at Guaranty Trust Bank, where she also held various positions such as vault custodian and relationship manager.

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She subsequently served as CEO of JKG Limited, a business consulting firm, in 2003.

Agbede joined Access Bank in 2003 as an assistant general manager and was responsible for managing the bank’s portfolio of chemical trading companies.

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She also headed the bank’s human resources department between 2010 and 2022 and was appointed the company’s founding executive director, business support, in 2022.

Agbede holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and statistics from the University of Lagos (1990) and subsequently obtained a master of business administration degree from Cranfield University in 2002. 

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MIRIAM OLUSANYA

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Miriam Olusanya is the MD of Guaranty Trust Bank (Nigeria) Limited, a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO) Plc – a position she assumed in July 2021.

After beginning her career at the bank in 1998 as an executive trainee, Olusanya advanced through the ranks and now possesses over 25 years of experience in a variety of banking-related fields, including corporate finance, investment banking, financial markets, asset and liability management, investor relations, and transaction services.

Prior to her appointment as the bank’s MD, she was appointed executive director in 2018 and held positions as the group’s treasurer and head of its wholesale banking division.

Olusanya currently serves as a non-executive director on the board of GTBank (Gambia) Limited. She is also a non-executive director of the Nigerian Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) and the Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF). 

She graduated from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy (B. Pharm) and the University of Liverpool, UK, with a master’s degree in business administration (finance and accounting).

NNEKA ONYEALI-IKPE

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe took office as MD/CEO, Fidelity Bank, on January 1, 2021,  becoming the first female MD/CEO in the bank’s history.

Before the appointment, she was executive director, south-west region, overseeing the bank’s business in the region’s six states, from January 2015 to December 2020.

She has professional experience of over 30 years across various banks, having commenced her career in 1986. 

Onyeali-Ikpe has worked at 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, and corporate banking.

Onyeali-Ikpe holds bachelor of laws (LLB) and master of laws (LLM) degrees from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Kings College, London, respectively. 

YEMISI EDUN

Yemisi Edun

Yemisi Edun is MD and CEO of First City Monument Bank — the first woman to ever hold the position at the organisation.

She assumed the position in July 2021 following an allegation of marital infidelity against Adam Nuhu, the former FCMB MD.   

Edun started her career in 1987 as a corporate finance specialist with Akintola Williams Deloitte, a member firm of Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu.

Thereafter, Edun joined FCMB in 2000 as divisional head of internal audit and control before assuming the role of chief financial officer (CFO) of the bank in 2015. 

Edun holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Ife, Nigeria, and a master’s degree in international accounting and finance from the University of Liverpool, UK.

TOMI SOMEFUN

Tomi Somefun, Unity Bank MD/CEO

Tomi Somefun was appointed MD/CEO of Unity Bank Plc in August 2015.

Prior to her appointment, she served as the executive director overseeing the Lagos and south-west business directorates, and the treasury department of the bank.

She has 35 years of experience in the private sector, 26 of which are in the banking industry.

From 1982 to 1986, she worked as a senior audit assistant for KPMG, which was the beginning of her nearly 40-year journey to become the formidable banker she is today.

After working for a few more years as a senior auditor at Arthur Andersen, she left in 1989 to become an associate at Ventures & Trusts Limited. 

Veering into the banking sector, she began working with Credit Bank Limited, before joining UBA Group, where she served as the MD/CEO of two significant UBA subsidiaries, including UBA Pensions Custodian, a start-up company, which was founded with her as the pioneer MD.

She graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University in 1981 with a bachelor of education in English language.

BUKOLA SMITH

Bukola Smith, MD at FSDH Merchant Bank

Bukola Smith assumed the position of MD at FSDH Merchant Bank in April 2021. 

With a track record of strategic execution and leadership, she has 29 years of progressive experience in the banking industry.

Before her appointment as MD of FSDH, she was the executive director, business development at FCMB and held several other leadership positions after joining in 2006.

Smith holds an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK, and a B.Sc in Economics from the University of Lagos. 

YETUNDE ONI

Yetunde Oni, MD Union Bank

Yetunde Oni, in January 2024, was appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as the MD/CEO of Union Bank of Nigeria.

Until her appointment with the bank, Oni was a financial services leader with a successful career spanning over 30 years, holding senior positions in international and local banks, and focusing on emerging markets.

Before she made it to the top of a financial institution, Oni had an 11-year stint at Ecobank Transnational Incorporated as a relationship manager, from 1994 to 2005. 

In September 2014, Oni held the position of pioneer head of commercial clients at Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited, before becoming the lender’s MD and country head of commercial banking in West Africa in 2017.

In January 2021, Oni achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first female MD/CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in Sierra Leone.

Oni is a University of Ibadan graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and has an MBA from Bangor University, Wales. 

HALIMA BUBA

Halima Buba, MD SunTrust Bank

Halima Buba is currently the MD/CEO of SunTrust Bank Nigeria Limited, appointed in January 2020.

Buba was a co-founder and former executive director at Taj Consortium — an organisation of young dynamic technocrats and financial advisory experts, from 2017 until 2020 — before her appointment to SunTrust Bank.

She holds a bachelor of science degree in business management from the University of Maiduguri and an MBA from the same university.

IRETI SAMUEL-OGBU

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu, MD and CEO, Citibank Nigeria and Ghana

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu, appointed in September 2020, doubles as the CEO of Citibank Nigeria and Citibank’s country officer for Nigeria and Ghana. 

Prior to being appointed CEO of Citibank Nigeria, Samuel-Ogbu was the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) head, payments and receivables, treasury and trade solutions (TTS) under Citi’s institutional clients group (ICG) based in London, UK.

She has also served as a non-executive director on the board of Citibank Nigeria Limited.

For the past 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. 

Samuel-Ogbu obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Middlesex University, UK and has an MBA from the University of Bradford, UK.

KAFILAT ARAOYE

Kafilat Araoye was appointed in 2020 as the MD/CEO of Lotus Bank.

She started her career in 1988 at National Oil and Chemicals Marketing Company Plc (now Conoil Nigeria Plc), and moved in 1990 to GTBank, as the pioneer head of HR.

Her last position at the firm was general manager and group head, human resource group — a position she exited in 2015.

Subsequently, Araoye moved to XYZ Outsourcing and Management Consulting Limited, from 2015 to 2020.

Araoye holds a first degree in history from the Obafemi Awolowo University and a master’s degree in industrial relations and personnel management from the University of Lagos — graduating as the best student in her class.

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