Meet four female banks’ CEOs appointed in 2024

Nigerians are still celebrating Dr. Adaora Umeoji, after Zenith Bank made history on Tuesday, March 19, by appointing her as its first female Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer since the bank was founded 34 years ago.

Umeoji’s groundbreaking appointment, widely praised by the financial institution and highlighted by many, has garnered significant acclaim both online and offline.

With 30 years of experience in the banking industry, and over 26 with Zenith Bank, she will replace Ebenezer Onyeagwu whose five-year tenure as GMD/CEO ends on May 31.

Adaora Umeoj of Zenith Bank

She is reported to be an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School where she attended the Advanced Management Program (AMP) and an alumnus of Columbia Business School with a Certificate in the Global Banking Program.

She holds 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.

She holds a Master of Laws from the University of Salford, United Kingdom, a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Calabar, and also has a doctorate in business administration from Apollos University, USA.

She holds a Certificate in Economics for Business from the prestigious MIT Sloan School of Management, USA, and attended various management programmes in renowned Universities around the world including the strategic thinking and Management programme at Wharton Business School, USA.

She also attended the executive program in Strategic Management and has a Certificate in Leading Global Business all from Harvard Business School, USA.

She is a fellow of notable professional bodies including the Chartered Banker Institute, UK, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Nigerian Institute of Management, Institute of Credit Administration, Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Nigeria, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators, and the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria among others.

Access Holdings Plc: Bolaji Agbede

On February 12, 2024, Access Bank, named an interim CEO following the tragic demise of Herbert Wigwe, the CEO, who lost his life in a helicopter accident along with five others.

Bolaji Agbede of Access Holdings Plc

In a statement, the Board of Directors, Access Holdings Plc, the parent company of Access Bank, revealed that Bolaji Agbede, the bank’s senior founding executive director, will step into the role of CEO on an acting basis.

Ms Agbede is a professional with over 27 years’ experience in Human Resources management, customer relationship management and banking operations

She 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.

She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management UK and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria.

She has attended several renowned leadership and professional development programs including the High-Performance Leadership Programme organised by the IMD and the Strategic Talent Management Programme organised by the London Business School.

She commenced her professional career in Guaranty Trust Bank and served in various capacities including Relationship Manager and Vault Custodian. She diligently distinguished herself and swiftly rose from the grade of Executive Trainee in 1992 to Manager in 2001. Ms. Agbede subsequently served as the Chief Executive Officer of JKG Limited in 2003 a business consulting outfit.

Ms. Agbede eventually joined Access Bank in 2003 as an Assistant General Manager and was responsible for managing the Bank’s portfolio of chemical trading companies.

She occupied the role of Head of HR for the Access Bank Group since 2010 wherein she oversaw the human capital development of the Group.

Fidelity Bank: Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe

Fidelity Bank Plc’s board of directors on February 12 2024, extended the tenure of its Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe to 2026. She joined the commercial bank as an executive director in January 2015. And on January 1, 2021, Onyeali-Ikpe was made the first female MD/CEO of the bank.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe of Fidelity Bank

She holds a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and a Master of Laws degree from King College, London.

She has attended executive training programs at various institutions including Harvard Business School, the Wharton School University of Pennsylvania, and London Business School.

She recently completed a Diploma program in Organisational Leadership at Said Business School, Oxford University, UK.

Onyeali-Ikpe holds an honorary doctorate degree in Business Administration from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and is an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), awarded by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2023.

In 1990, she began her career in the banking industry as a legal officer for the now-defunct African Continental Bank. She subsequently worked as a treasury officer for the First African Trust Bank. She later joined Zenith Bank and Standard Chartered Bank respectively.

Onyeali-Ikpe has held leadership positions at Citizens International Bank, Zenith Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank, among others.

In 2011, she joined Enterprise Bank as an executive director of the bank’s operations in Lagos and other locations in the South-Western region in Nigeria.

Union Bank: Yetunde Oni

On January 10, 2024, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Olayemi Cardoso, appointed Oni as CEO to replace Mudassir Amray and oversee Union Bank.

Yetunde Oni of Union Bank

She graduated from the University of Ibadan with a Bachelors degree (Honours) in Economics and has attained several professional and Leadership certifications internationally and locally. She holds an MBA from Bangor University and is an alumnus of Oxford University and INSEAD Business School, Singapore.

In December 2020, she was appointed the first female Chief Executive Officer, of Standard Chartered Bank Sierra Leone.

Prior to that, she was the Pioneer Head of commercial Clients, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Ltd in September 2014 and reappointed Head of Commercial Banking in 2017.

Oni’s career began with a stint with the Prime Merchant Bank Treasury and Money Markets Group from where she joined Ecobank Nigeria for 10 years and contributed extensively to the development of the Bank’s franchise across a wide spectrum of sectors within the commercial banking and institutional banking groups.

With a career in the banking and financial services industry spanning 27 years, Oni joined Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria as a Senior Account Relationship Manager in the Local corporate segment in January 2005.

Moving to the Apapa Branch, she successfully originated and developed the Bank’s Local Corporates Portfolio within the Apapa and Ogun State Region in addition to fulfilling a dual role as the Wholesale Banking Branch Head. Following that, in May 2010, she was named Head of local corporations.

She is actively involved in a number of prestigious industry affiliations both inside and outside the bank. These include the Nigerian British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), Women in Management and Business (WIMBIZ), Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management (CILRM), and the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB), of which she is an Honorary Senior Member.