Meet The Powerful Women Leading Nigerian Banks

The number of women leading major banks in Nigeria has increased in recent years.

Adaora Umeoji who will now serve as the new group managing director/CEO of Zenith Bank in June 1, 2024, joins other female CEOs of major commercial banks in Nigeria.

Umeoji will succeed Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the current GMD/CEO whose 5-year tenure will elapse on May 31.

Before the announcement, two other females such as Yetunde Oni was appointed as the managing director/CEO of Union Bank of Nigeria in January. And last month, Bolaji Agbede was appointed as acting group CEO of Access Holdings after the death of Herbert Wigwe.

Here are the women who are heading banks in Nigeria.

1. Zenith Bank – Adaora Umeoji
Subject to the approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Umeoji will step into the role of the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith on June 1, 2024. The accomplished banker with sectoral experience spanning three decades will take over from Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, whose five-year term expires on May 31, 2024.

Umeoji reached the zenith of her career, having climbed the corporate ladder with great dedication and zeal.

She has been with Zenith Bank for 26 years and has held the position of Deputy Managing Director of the bank since October 28, 2016, until her latest appointments.

2. GTBank – Olusanya Miriam
In comes another banking Amazon, whose panache and tenacity shunted her to the top of her career. Miriam is the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank (Nigeria) Limited, a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO), a position she assumed in July 2021.

She rose from an Executive Trainee at the bank in 1998 to the upper echelon, with experience that cuts across Asset and Liability Management, Financial Markets, Corporate Finance, Investment Banking, Investor Relations and Transaction Services.

3. Fidelity Bank – Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe
After playing an integral role in the bank’s transformation over six years, Onyeali-Ikpe assumed the office as Managing Director/CEO at Fidelity Bank on January 1, 2021.

Before her appointment, she was the Executive Director of Lagos and South West, overseeing the bank’s business in the six states that make up the South West region.

Onyeali-Ikpe is a consummate professional with over 30 years of experience, cutting her teeth at various banks, including Standard Chartered Bank, Zenith Bank and Citizens International Bank, where she held several management positions.

4. Union Bank – Yetunde Oni

On January 10, 2024, the CBN announced the appointment of Oni as the new Managing Director/Chief Operating Officer of Union Bank plc, following an earlier dissolution of the bank’s Board and Management.

The University of Ibadan graduate of Economics comes to the job with over three decades of experience across various banks in Nigeria and abroad.

Oni holds the bragging right of being the first female CEO of the Standard Chartered Bank in Sierra Leone, a position she took in January 2021 until the CBN appointment.

5. Access Holdings – Bolaji Agbede

Agbede stepped in as the Acting Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc following the demise of Herbert Wigwe in a tragic helicopter crash in the United States.

She is a versatile professional with over 27 years of cognate experience in Human Resources management, customer relationship management and banking operations.

Agbede’s banking journey started at GTBank in 1992, where she joined as an Executive Trainee.

However, she rose through the ranks, serving in various capacities, including Relationship Manager and Vault Custodian, before eventually joining Access Bank in 2003 as an Assistant General Manager.

6. FCMB – Yemisi Edun
Edun was appointed Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) in July 2021, becoming the first woman ever to hold the position.

She joined FCMB in 2000 as Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control before assuming the role of Chief Financial Officer of the Bank.

Before her banking sojourn, Edun’s career took off at the Akintola Williams Deloitte (member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu) in 1987, where she worked on corporate finance activities and audit of banks and other financial institutions.

7. Unity Bank – Tomi Somefun

Somefun is one of the trailblazers and pacesetters for women in the banking sector, climbing to become the Managing Director/CEO of Unity Bank Plc in 2015.

Before her appointment, she was the Executive Director overseeing the Lagos and South-West Business Directorates, the Financial Institution Division and the bank’s Treasury Department.

Somefun boasts 35 years of professional career, over 26 years of which were in the banking sector.

8. Citibank – Ireti Samuel-Ogbu

After 26 years of operating in Africa’s largest economy, Citigroup Inc. appointed Samuel-Ogbu as its first female Country Officer for Nigeria in August 2020.

She is currently the CEO & Country Officer for Nigeria and Ghana at Citibank/Citigroup Inc.

Samuel-Ogbu was the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Head of Payments and Receivables, Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) under Citi’s Institutional Clients Group (ICG) based in London, UK, before she was appointed MD/CEO.

9. Suntrust Bank – Halima Buba

A seasoned banker with over 22 years of cognate experience obtained from working in various banks, Buba is currently the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of SunTrust Bank Nigeria Limited.

Before assuming the position in January 2021, Halima was a co-founder and former Executive Director of Taj Consortium, an organisation of young, dynamic technocrats and financial advisory experts.

10. Lotus Bank – Kafilat Araoye
Kafilat is reputed as a banker with long and diverse work experience in various leadership positions in the industry, with emphasis on International and Domestic Operations, Payments, General Management, Business Development, Risk Management, Human Resources and Strategy.

Having left as the General Manager of GTBank in 2015, after a spell that started in 1990, Kafilat was appointed the MD Designate for LOTUS Bank in 2018.

Since then, she has been steering the bank’s affairs, deploying her over 25 years of expertise to stimulate growth and maintain stability.

11. FSDH Merchant Bank – Bukola Smith

Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from University of Lagos, and also holds an MBA from Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

She started her banking career with FSB International Bank (now part of Fidelity Bank) and her experience cuts across customer service, funds transfer, international trade, institutional banking, private banking, treasury, investment & financial markets, project and structured finance, audit and sales.

She rose to the position of divisional head, treasury and institutional banking in Fidelity Bank Ltd before joining First City Monument Bank Limited (FCMB) in the year 2006 where she has occupied several positions as the group head, Treasury and Financial Institutions, divisional head, Investment Banking and Financial Markets, director project and Structured Finance, and divisional head, group Internal Audit.

Don Pedro Aganbi

Don Pedro Aganbi is a Nigerian Journalist, broadcaster, Filmmaker, brand and Public Relations Specialist and 1st prize winner, TV category, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) & Africa Information Society Initiatives (AISI) Awards. He is also a recipient of the Global IT Champion Awards, courtesy of World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA).

He is the Founder/Managing Partner, TechTV Network and convener of the hugely popular Titans of Tech Awards, Pan African Digital Initiative Summit & Expo and the TechTV Digital Agenda Forum.

Don Pedro Aganbi is the producer and host of the popular international award winning TV show, TechTV.

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