Top women with Midas touch in Nigeria’s banking sector

By Abimbola Mohammed

The Nigerian banking sector has, in recent times, been experiencing a growing paradigm shift in its status quo at the helm as record shows that more and more women are taking leadership positions which, hitherto, was presumed to be a male-dominated sector.

In 2021 alone, about four females assumed the top position as Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of different banks.

This feat was made possible through the introduction of the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP) that year, which provided for gender diversity and inclusiveness at the top management levels. The policy seeks 40% women representation at the upper tier of the banking industry and is in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal Number 5, which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

More women were added by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2024 with the recent appointment of new board members of Keystone Bank, Polaris Bank and Union Bank following the dissolution of their erstwhile boards and management teams on Wednesday, last week.

Here are 9 women with the Midas touch at the helm of affairs in their various banks in Nigeria.

Miriam Olusanya – MD – Guaranty Trust Bank

The first female Managing Director at Guaranty Trust Bank (Nigeria) Limited, a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO). Olusanaya has over 26 years experience in banking sector. She is known for her strong leadership, strategic vision, and commitment to financial inclusion.

Miriam joined the Bank as an Executive Trainee in 1998, rose through the ranks and has garnered over 25 years’ banking experience that cuts across Asset and Liability Management, Financial Markets, Corporate Finance, Investment Banking, Investor Relations and Transaction Services.

She assumed the role of MD at GTBank in July 2021, Until her appointment as Managing director, she was  the Executive Director in 2018 and served as the Group Treasurer and Head, Wholesale Banking Division, responsible for the bank’s Asset & Liability Management as well as Financial Markets dealings across all African subsidiaries.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from the University of Ibadan and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), majoring in finance and accounting, from the University of Liverpool.

Yemisi Edun – FCMB

Yemisi is the first female MD/CEO of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), with a robust and impressive track record in risk management and corporate governance. She was appointed MD of the Bank following CBN approval effective May 1, 2021.

She is also the first female to lead the financial institution FCMB, under her leadership; FCMB has witnessed significant growth and diversification, solidifying its position as a leading player in the Nigerian banking sector.

She began her career with Akintola Williams Deloitte (member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu) in 1987 with focus on corporate finance activities as well as audit of banks and other financial institutions. She joined FCMB in year 2000 as Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control before assuming the role of Chief Financial Officer of the Bank.

Mrs. Yemisi Edun holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife and a Masters’ degree in International Accounting and Finance from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.

She is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). She is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers and an Associate Member of the Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Member of Information Systems Audit and Control, U.S.A. and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

Halima Buba – MD – SunTrust Bank

Halima Buba, the MD/CEO of SunTrust Bank, has registered herself as a woman with a Midas touch.

Halima’s passion for entrepreneurship and SME development shines through in her work at SunTrust Bank. She champions financial support for small businesses ’SME Flash’, recognizing their crucial role in driving Nigeria’s economic growth.

In two decades, Halima had demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities in capacity building, team spirit, business development, market expansion, while holding sway as Deputy General Manager in Ecobank Nigeria at some point.

The Adamawa State born new CEO of SunTrust Bank rose to the rank of deputy general manager in Ecobank Nigeria, in charge of FCT and Northern Nigeria, where she demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities in building cross-functional teams and focused on business development and market expansion.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Maiduguri, as well as an MBA from the same university.

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu – MD/CEO – Citibank Nigeria

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu was appointed MD/CEO of CitiBank in September 2020, the first female CEO of the bank in Nigeria. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Finance from Middlesex University, UK, and an MBA from the University of Bradford, UK.

With extensive experience in international banking, Ireti brings a global perspective to the Nigerian market. Under her leadership, Citibank is focusing on providing innovative financial solutions and leveraging technology to enhance customer experience.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Fidelity Bank MD/CEO

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe assumed the position of MD/CEO of Fidelity Bank on January 1, 2021. She is the first female to occupy the position since the bank’s inception in 1988.

She has been an integral part of the transformation team at Fidelity Bank in the last six years. She was formerly Executive Director, Lagos and South West, overseeing the bank’s business in the six states that make up the South West region of the bank. She led the transformation of the Directorate to profitability and sustained its impressive year-on-year growth, across key performance metrics, including contributing over 28% of the Bank’s PBT, Deposits and Loans.

A visionary leader with a strong track record in IT and customer service, Nneka has transformed Fidelity Bank into a digital frontrunner. She is committed to leveraging technology to democratize access to financial services for all Nigerians.

She holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from King’s College, London.

Tomi Somefun, MD/CEO of Unity Bank Plc

Tomi Somefun became the CEO of Unity Bank in 2015. She is a graduate of English Language from Obafemi Awolowo University. She is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and also attended business school at the Harvard Business School and the University of Columbia.

With a deep understanding of rural banking and financial inclusion, Tomi is leading Unity Bank’s efforts to serve underserved communities. She is passionate about promoting financial literacy and economic empowerment across Nigeria.

Kafilat Araoye – Lotus Bank

Kafilat holds a first degree in History from the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, and an M.Sc. in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from the University of Lagos.

With over 30 years in banking, Kafilat’s dedication to ethical banking and social responsibility is evident in her work at Lotus Bank. She champions sustainable financial practices and promotes investment in community development projects.

Bukola Smith – FSDH Merchant Bank

Bukola holds a B.Sc. Economics from the University of Lagos, an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

Bukola’s expertise in investment banking and financial structuring has been instrumental in FSDH’s growth and success. She is an advocate for women in finance and actively mentors aspiring female leaders.

Yetunde Bolanle Oni – MD/CEO of Union Bank

Yetunde holds a degree in Economics from the University of Ibadan, Executive Training at Oxford University, and an MBA in Business Administration from Bangor University.

Yetunde was recently appointed as the first female MD/CEO of Union Bank by CBN. The appointment marks a significant development in Union Bank’s leadership, with Yetunde’s extensive experience expected to play a crucial role in the bank’s strategic direction.


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