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10 Top Female CEO’s in Nigeria Banking Sector

10 Top Female CEO's in Nigeria Banking Sector

There are ten female leaders, managing directors, and chief executive officers in the banking industry who are celebrated globally in March.

The remarkable impact of these women in charge of Nigeria’s commercial banks is the main subject of this article.

  • Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe – Fidelity Bank
  • Miriam Olusanya – GTBank
  • Tomi Somefun – Unity Bank
  • Yemisi Edun – FCMB
  • Kafilat Araoye – Lotus Bank
  • Ireti Samuel-Ogbu – CitiBank
  • Yetunde Oni – Union Bank
  • Bukola Smith – FSDH Merchant Bank
  • Dr Adaora Umeoji – Zenith Bank
  • Halima Buba – SunTrust Bank

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe – Fidelity Bank

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe graduated with a master’s degree in law from Kings College, London, and a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Among other esteemed academic establishments, she has participated in executive training programs at Harvard Business School, The Wharton School, the University of Pennsylvania, and London Business School.

She graduated with honors from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) with a doctorate in business administration.

In 1990, Onyeali-Ikpe started her career in the banking sector as a legal officer for the African Continental Bank, which has since closed. She later held a position as a treasury officer at the First African Trust Bank. Later on, she worked for Standard Chartered Bank and Zenith Bank, respectively.

Her passion for innovation and technology led her to spearhead projects like the Fidelity International Trade & Creative Connect (FITCC), which supports small and medium-sized businesses, and PayGate Plus, an online payment platform. She joined Fidelity Bank in January 2015 as an executive director.

Fidelity Bank has grown significantly under her direction, going from N25.22 billion in FY 2021 to N122 billion in FY 2023 in Profit Before Tax (PBT).

In January 2021, Dr. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe took over as GMD/CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc, marking the first time a woman had held the role in the bank’s history.

Miriam Olusanya – GTBank

Miriam Olusanya took over as Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank in July 2021. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Liverpool, UK, with a finance and accounting concentration, and a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Ibadan.

In 1998, Olusanya began working at GTB as an executive trainee. She worked for the bank as an executive director before being named MD.

In the bank’s existence, she is the first female MD. She graduated from the University of Ibadan with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and from the University of Liverpool with an MBA, where she focused on finance and accounting.

With 26 years of exceptional experience, Olusanya is a seasoned banker who is renowned for her strong leadership, strategic vision, and dedication to finance.

Tomi Somefun – Unity Bank

Since August 2015, Tomi Somefun has served as Unity Bank Plc’s MD/CEO and also the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

Her degree in English language education dates back to 1981 when she graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife. She also holds degrees from the University of Columbia Business School in New York, USA, and Harvard Business School.

Started her career at Peat Marwick and Co. before transferring to Arthur Andersen, which is now part of KPMG.

Somefun is committed to advancing financial literacy and economic empowerment throughout Nigeria. She has over 35 years of post-qualification experience, 26 of which were spent in the banking industry covering important areas like corporate banking, rural banking, investment, and treasury banking.

Yemisi Edun – FCMB

In July 2021, Yemisi Edun was named MD/CEO of First City Monument Bank, becoming the first woman to occupy the role.

Edun completed his undergraduate studies in Chemistry at the University of Ife, which is now known as Obafemi Awolowo University. She continued her education at the University of Liverpool, where she earned a master’s degree in international finance and accounting.

She served as the bank’s acting chief executive officer and chief financial officer before being named Managing Director. Edun holds a CFA designation and is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

In addition, she belongs to the Information Systems Audit and Control group, the Chartered Institute of Stock Brokers, and the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria as an associate member.

Edun has excellent years of experience in banking and a strong background in corporate governance and risk management. Additionally, she is the first female leader of FCMB, a financial institution.

Significant expansion and diversification have occurred at FCMB under her direction, securing the company’s place as a major participant in the Nigerian banking industry.

Kafilat Araoye – Lotus Bank

In 2020, Kafilat Araoye became Lotus Bank’s MD/CEO. She graduated with honors in 1985 from Obafemi Awolowo University, formerly the University of Ife, with a first degree in history, and in 1987 from the University of Lagos, earning an M.Sc. in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management.

She has completed several executive management courses at the University of Michigan (USA), Ross Business School, Lagos Business School, Institute of Management Development (Switzerland), and INSEAD (France).

Araoye began working at National Oil and Chemicals Marketing Company Plc (now Conoil Nigeria Plc) in 1988. She then became the first head of human resources at Guaranty Trust Bank Plc in 1990.
Having worked in the banking industry for more than 30 years, Araoye is knowledgeable in almost every facet of core banking, with a focus on both domestic and international operations. She uses her knowledge of business development, risk management, human resources, strategy, ethical banking, and social responsibility to support her positions at Lotus Bank.

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu – CitiBank

In September 2020, Ireti Samuel-Ogbu was appointed MD/CEO of CitiBank. She was appointed as the bank’s first female CEO in Nigeria.

She was the Head of Payments and Receivables, Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS), Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), under Citi’s Institutional Clients Group (ICG), based in London, United Kingdom, before her appointment in 2020.

She graduated from Middlesex University in the UK with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Finance and from the University of Bradford in the UK with an MBA.

Having served the banking needs of both local and international clients since 1984, Samuel-Ogbu has extensive experience in international banking and brings a global perspective to the Nigerian market. Her leadership has been centered on offering creative financial solutions and utilizing technology.

Bukola Smith – FSDH Merchant Bank

In April 2021, Bukola Smith was appointed as First Securities Discount House (Limited) Merchant Bank’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.

Smith received his B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Lagos and his MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK. Her affiliations include being an Associate Member of the Certified Institute of Pensions (Nigeria), an Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accounts of Nigeria (ICAN).

She joined First City Monument Bank in 2006 and has held several leadership roles before being named Managing Director. She was previously the Executive Director, of Business Development.

With her leadership positions and contributions in the Public Sector, Business Banking, Agriculture, and Transaction Banking Divisions, she oversaw the banks’ more than 200 branches nationwide.

The growth and success of FSDH are greatly aided by Smith’s nearly thirty years of progressive experience in the banking sector, as well as his track record of strategic execution and leadership in areas like investment banking and financial structuring. She actively mentors aspiring female leaders and advocates for women in finance.

Dr Adaora Umeoji – Zenith Bank

On Tuesday, March 19, 2024, Zenith Bank announced the appointment of Dr. Adaora Umeoji as its new general manager and chief executive officer.

After Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu’s term as GMD expires on May 31, 2024, Umeoji’s appointment will take effect on June 1, 2024.

Before this appointment, Umeoji had been the bank’s deputy managing director since October 28, 2016, and she had worked in banking for nearly 30 years total, 26 of those years spent at Zenith Bank.

Umeoji completed her studies in the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. She graduated with a certificate in the global banking program from Columbia Business School.

She graduated with honors from Baze University in Abuja with a first-class law degree, a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Jos. She graduated with a doctorate in business administration from Apollos University in the United States, a master’s degree in law from the University of Salford in the United Kingdom, and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Calabar.

Umeoji has also completed management programs at prominent universities across the globe, such as the strategic thinking and management program at Wharton Business School in the United States. She also holds a Certificate in Economics for Business from the esteemed MIT Sloan School of Management, USA.

With 26 of those years spent with Zenith Bank, Umeoji boasts nearly 30 years of relevant banking experience, which will help the bank pursue more strategic innovations.

Halima Buba – SunTrust Bank

After working as Ecobank Nigeria’s deputy general manager, businesswoman and astute female banker Halima Buba was appointed MD/CEO of Sun Trust Bank in January 2021.

Buba left the University of Maiduguri with an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in business management. She is a fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants, an honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, and a graduate of the Lagos Business School.

Her work at SunTrust Bank demonstrates her passion for SME development and entrepreneurship. She supports funding for “SME Flash,” or small businesses because she understands how important they are to Nigeria’s economic development.

Yetunde Oni – Union Bank

January 2024 saw the appointment of Yetunde Oni as Union Bank’s first female MD/CEO.

She completed Executive Training at Oxford University, earned an MBA in Business Administration from Bangor University, and graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of Ibadan.

Before her recent appointment at Union Bank, Oni led leadership, strategy development, and performance management as the MD/CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, Sierra Leone, starting in January 2021.

Her appointment as CEO of Union Bank by the Central Bank of Nigeria represented a major shift in the bank’s leadership, combining her considerable experience with excellent credentials to play a pivotal role in the strategic direction of the institution.

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