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  • Business - Banking & Finance
  • Updated: July 29, 2021

Meet The 7 Women Leading Top Nigerian Banks

The year 2021 has been historical for corporate women, as several big seats are now being filled by women in the corporate world.

From Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala leading becoming the first female leader of the World Trade Organisation to women assuming the Managing Director/CEO positions of top Nigerian banks, these women have become inspirations to a lot of people.

Some weeks ago, Yemisi Edun was officially announced as Managing Director of the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Nigeria, after the unseating of the controversial Adam Nuru. Also, not very long ago, Mariam Olusanya was announced successor to Segun Agbaje as MD of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, making her the Tier-1 bank's first-ever Managing Director.

These women's appointments added them to a growing list of female Nigerian bank leaders as the year opened with the announcement of Fidelity Bank's first female MD in over 35 years.

Women are silencing the narrative of gender exclusion in the banking sector, and here are the women leading the charge.

1. Bukola Smith (FSDH Merchant Bank)

bukola smith

Bukola Smith took the baton from Hamda Ambah in April 2021 as the Managing Director of FSDH Merchant Bank, a subsidiary of the FSDH group.

She has accumulated up to 28 years of experience in the banking sector and didn't fail to bag membership of high-ranking institutes in the financial sector including being a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, and an Associate Member, Certified Institute of Pensions (Nigeria). She has also held other key positions in other companies.

Bukola's career did not start in FSDH, as she previously worked in FCMB which she joined in 2006 and served in various capacities including the Executive Director, Business Development where she was responsible for the bank’s 200 branches across Nigeria.

The FCMB Women in Business Desk (branded SheVentures), which supports female entrepreneurs is Bukola's brainchild. She also started the FCMB Trustees and FCMB Custody.

Bukola Smith got her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Lagos, and an MBA from the Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.

2. Miriam Olusanya (GT Bank)

miriam olusanyaMiriam Olusanya recently made history as the first-ever female Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank. After a solid track record of spending 23 years with the bank, she was deemed worthy to take the baton from the now-retired CEO, Segun Agbaje.

She joined GTBank as an executive trainee in 1998, and diligently worked her way up the ladder to become Executive Director before her recent appointment.

Olusanya's career trajectory would most likely have been unprecedented as she did not start her academic journey in business or finance. Her first degree was in Pharmacy from the University of Ibadan. However, she pushed herself further to attain a Master of Business Administration (MBA), from the University of Liverpool.

3. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe (CEO, Fidelity Bank)

nneka onyeali-ikpe

On the first day of the year, Nneka was announced as the MD/CEO of Fidelity Bank, making her the first female to fill the position in over 35 years.

Remarkably, it didn't take her very long to reach the peak, as she joined the bank in 2015. Within five years, she has held the position of Executive Director for Lagos and southwest directorate, overseeing the bank’s business in the six states that make up the southwest region of the bank.

Like Miriam Olusanya, Nneka's academic journey did not start in finance. She started by bagging a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Nigeria (UNN), and a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from Kings College, London. However, her pedigree cannot be undermined as she has participated in several executive trainings in global institutions including the Harvard Business School; The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania; INSEAD School of Business; Chicago Booth School of Business; London Business School and the International Institute for Management Development, Switzerland.

4. Yemisi Edun (FCMB)

yemisi edunAfter spending 20 years with the bank, Yemisi Edun was officially appointed as the Managing Director of First City Monument Bank in July 2021, after she holding the forte as Acting MD since January 2021 due to ongoing investigations on former MD Adam Nuru's paternity scandal

Edun has had a remarkably progressive career in the banking sector, as she has spent accumulated not less than 34 years. She started her career in 1987 with Akintola Williams Deloitte, a member firm of Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu where she focusd on Corporate Finance activities and audited Banks and Other Financial Institutions.

She then joined FCMB in year 2000 as Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control before assuming the position of Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer of the Bank.

And yes, she did not also begin with a finance-related academic background. Yemisi Edun's first degree was in Chemistry from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife in 1985. But in order to get a boost to her career, she moved to the United Kingdom to get a Master’s degree in International Accounting and Finance from the University of Liverpool.

She has now become a financial stallion as she is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Certified Financial Analyst CFA® Charter holder;  Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers; Associate Member of the Institute of Taxation of Nigeria; a Member of Information Systems Audit and Control, U.S.A; and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

5. Tomi Somefun (Unity Bank)

tomi somefun

 After a 26-year career stretching across corporate banking, treasury & investment banking, retail, and commercial banking operations, Tomi Somefun was appointed MD/CEO of Unity Bank in 2015.

Tomi is a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), the Institute of Directors (IOD), and Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN). She has also served on several boards, including quoted and unquoted companies.

Her first degree was in English Education from the Obafemi Awolowo University but she has gone ahead to attend executive and management training at the Columbia Business School, INSEAD and the Harvard Business School (HBS).

6. Halima Buba (SunTrust)

halima buba

Hajia Halima Buba took over as the MD/CEO of SunTrust Bank at the beginning of the year, crowning her over 20 years of experience in the banking sector which cuts through several banks including Allstates Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Inland Bank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc and Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

Buba holds a Bachelor Degree in Business Management and an MBA from the University of Maiduguri. She has participated in the Lagos Business School senior management programme and is a fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants and a senior honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers.

Notably, Halima Buba also has a seat among the board of Directors of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and Anchoria Asset Management Company Limited.

7. Ireti Samuel-Ogbu (Citibank)

ireti samuel-ogbu

In September 2020, Ireti Samuel-Ogbu was announced as the first-ever female MD/CEO of Citibank Nigeria, a subsidiary of Citigroup after a 32-year-long career.

In her long stretch with the company, she has held several positions including the Head of Cash Management in Africa and Managing director 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.

She has served in London, South Africa, and Nigeria as well as holding positions such as relationship management with Global Subsidiaries Group and the Public Sector Banking Team, as well as TTS sales, corporate finance.

Ireti got her first degree in Accounting and Finance from Middlesex University and a Masters from the University of Bradford, both in the United Kingdom.

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Oluwatosin Ogunjuyigbe
Oluwatosin Ogunjuyigbe

A seasoned business content writer, financial markets analyst, and tech enthusiast.

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