Adaora Umeoji and 9 Other Women Leading The Nigerian Banking Industry

On Tuesday, March 19th, 2024, Zenith Bank Plc appointed Adaora Umeoji as its GMD/CEO, making her the latest female CEO in the banking industry. 

According to the statement by Zenith Bank at the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), 

Adaora Umeoji has been appointed as the new GMD/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, becoming the first female to hold this position in the bank’s history. She will succeed Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, whose tenure ends on May 31. Umeoji’s appointment is part of the bank’s tradition of grooming leaders internally. Her new role will commence on June 1, 2024.

The increasing presence of women in leadership roles within the banking industry is sparking online discussions about their success, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields. 

Having established this fact, let’s examine these ten (10) women currently leading in the banking industry

Ibukun Awosika – Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited

Ibukun Awosika is a prominent Nigerian businesswoman, author, and motivational speaker. She serves as the Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, one of the country’s largest and oldest financial institutions. Known for her advocacy for entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment in Nigeria, Awosika has authored several books and is recognized for her leadership in both the business and social sectors.

Adaora Umeoji – GMD/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc (effective June 1, 2024)

Adaora Umeoji, the newly appointed GMD of Zenith Bank, is an accomplished professional with a strong educational background. She holds multiple degrees, including in Sociology, Accounting, and Law, and has completed advanced management programs at Harvard Business School and Wharton Business School. Adaora has 30 years of experience in the banking sector and is involved in various professional organizations. She was recently honored with the national award of Officer of the Order of the Niger for her contributions to nation-building.

Yemisi Edun – CEO of First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited

Yemisi Edun is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited. With extensive experience in the financial industry, she has held multiple significant roles within FCMB. Edun is recognized for her strategic leadership and comprehensive knowledge of banking. She is dedicated to advancing FCMB’s growth and prosperity by introducing innovative banking solutions and prioritizing customer satisfaction.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe – MD/CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of Fidelity Bank Plc. Onyeali-Ikpe has played a key role in Fidelity Bank’s growth and success, implementing strategies that have enhanced the bank’s performance and customer service. She is committed to driving innovation, ensuring Fidelity Bank remains a leading financial institution in Nigeria.

Bolaji Agbede – Acting CEO of Access Bank Plc

Ms. Bolaji Agbede, a seasoned professional in banking and business consultancy, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Lagos. With nearly three decades of experience, she has held various positions at Guaranty Trust Bank and Access Bank, including CEO of JKG Limited. She is a member of prestigious professional institutes and was recently appointed as the acting CEO of Access Bank Plc.

Miriam Olusanya – MD/CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank)

Miriam Chidiebele Olusanya is an experienced banker with over 21 years in corporate finance and banking. She joined GTBank in 1998, rising to become Group Treasurer and Head of Wholesale Banking. With a Bachelor’s in Pharmacy from the University of Ibadan and an MBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Liverpool, she’s the first female MD in GTBank’s history. Miriam has led key initiatives like GTBank’s appointment as a Primary Dealer/Market Maker in FGN Bonds.

Tomi Somefun – MD/CEO of Unity Bank Plc

Mrs. Oluwatomi Ayodele Somefun graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University with a Bachelor of Education in English language. She later became a Fellow of ICAN and studied at Harvard Business School and University of Columbia Business School. With over 33 years of experience, she has worked at KPMG, Arthur Andersen, Ventures & Trusts Limited, Credit Bank Limited, and UBA Plc. In 2015, she became the MD/CEO of Unity Bank Plc, making her the first woman to hold that position in the bank’s history.

Yetunde Oni (Union Bank)

Yetunde Oni is a seasoned banker with a strong background in economics and business administration. She started her career at Prime Merchant Bank before moving to Ecobank Nigeria and later Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria. Throughout her career, she has held various roles, including Relationship Manager, Senior Account Relationship Manager, and Head of Local Corporates. In 2014, she became the Managing Director & Country Head of Commercial Banking in West Africa for Standard Chartered Bank. She recently served as the first female Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Standard Chartered Bank in Sierra Leone before joining Union Bank.

Kafilat Araoye (Lotus Bank)

Kafilat is a highly educated professional with a background in History and Industrial Relations & Personnel Management. She has over 25 years of banking experience, specializing in areas such as International and Domestic Operations, Payments, General Management, Business Development, Risk Management, Human Resources, and Strategy. Kafilat began her career in 1988 at National Oil and Chemicals Marketing Company Plc before joining Guaranty Trust Bank Plc in 1990, where she served as the pioneer head of Human Resources. She has attended executive management courses at prestigious institutions worldwide and is certified in specialized banking courses and Islamic finance.

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu (Citibank)

In 2020, Ireti Samuel-Ogbu made history as the first female CEO of Citibank Nigeria Limited. With 30 years of experience at Citi, she has worked in various roles across the UK, Nigeria, and South Africa. Before becoming CEO, she served as the EMEA Head for Payments and Receivables, Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) in London, UK. Samuel-Ogbu is known for her dedication to diversity and inclusion, having co-founded mentorship programs at Citi. She holds a BA Hons in Accounting and Finance from Middlesex University, UK, and an MBA from the University of Bradford, UK.

Final Thoughts 

In summary, Adaora Umeoji’s recent appointment as the first female Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc represents a significant breakthrough in Nigeria’s banking sector. Alongside notable figures such as Ibukun Awosika, Yemisi Edun, and Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, these women are redefining leadership norms and promoting gender inclusivity. Their success stories inspire women across the nation, showcasing that through perseverance, dedication, and courage, barriers can be overcome, and new paths can be forged toward greater gender equality in leadership.

Written by Seunfunmi Joshua

Seunfunmi is a Publicist, Filmmaker, Writer & Producer of Live Events..

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