In this post, we shall be discussing about the top 8 most powerful female bankers in Nigeria currently. The nation’s financial sector is full of men who run majority of the banks and other important financial institutions scattered all over the country but there are women who have stood out and shone brightly in a male dominated sector.
These women are top ranking banking officials who have progressed through the ranks in their professional career, and made it to the very top to become the most powerful banking officials at their respective financial institutions, leading from the front and making all the key decisions in their respective banks that they head.
The most powerful women in Nigeria’s banking sector have overseen various reforms and tremendous growth and development in their respective banks under their various leadership positions, and without further ado, we shall be looking at eight (8) of the very best of them. Kindly continue reading to know who they are.
TOP 8 MOST POWERFUL FEMALE BANKERS IN NIGERIA CURRENTLY
The following are the 8 best and most powerful women in Nigeria’s banking sector today:
Ibukun Awosika is arguably the most powerful female banker in Nigeria today and the most recognized name in this list. She is a business magnate with the midas touch, a motivational speaker, an author and the incumbent and first female Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Limited.
This top Nigerian female banker also serves as the founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Chair Centre Group, a conglomerate which comprises of The Chair Centre Limited, Sokoa Chair Centre Limited, Furniture Manufacturers Mart, TCC Security Systems and Cubes and Boxes Limited.
Mrs Ibukun Awosika also chairs the boards of a number of corporate and not-for-profit organizations, some of which include: House of Tara International and Afterschool Graduate Development Centre (AGDC), a facility which she promoted to help address youth employability and enterprise issues in Nigeria. She sits on the boards of Digital Jewel Limited, Cadbury Nigeria Plc., Convention on Business Integrity (CBI) and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, and she was Chairman, FBN Life Assurance Limited, FBN Capital Limited and Kakawa Discount House Limited.
Ibukun Awosika graduated from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife), with a degree in Chemistry; she is an alumna of the Chief Executive Programme of Lagos Business School; the Global Executive MBA of IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain; and Global CEO Programme of Wharton, IESE and China European International Business School (CEIBS).
This top Nigerian female banker has high interest in social issues, including women, and this led to her co-founding the Women in Business, Management and Public Service (WIMBIZ) for which she served as chairperson. She is also an ordained Pastor and founder of the Christian Missionary Fund, and through this faith-based organization, she works with hundreds of missionaries spread across Nigeria to change lives with the provision of medical, educational, and other supplies.
As a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative, Aspen Global Leadership Network, Institute of Directors and Society for Corporate Governance Nigeria, Ibukun, through her projects aspires to use her opportunities in life to further the greatness of her dear country by raising entrepreneurs to create jobs for the large unemployed youthful population. She is a member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), served on National Job Creation Committee (NJCC), and sits on the International Advisory Board of IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain.
Ibukun is a multiple award-winning entrepreneur and the first Nigerian recipient of the prestigious International Women Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC) Award as a nominee of the US Department of State in 2008. She loves to watch investigative and legal series in her leisure time. She is happily married to Abiodun Awosika and they are blessed with three wonderful sons.
Osaretin Afusat Demuren is another top Nigerian female banker that features on this list of most powerful women in Nigeria’s banking sector. She is also the incumbent and first female Chairman of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).
Mrs. Osaretin Demuren completed her secondary school education at St. Maria Goretti Girls Grammar School, Benin City, Edo State and she holds a degree in Economics and Statistics from the Moscow Institute of Economics and Statistics as well as a Diploma in Russian Language and Preliminary Studies from the Kiev State University, Kiev.
This top Nigerian female banker who ranks among the most powerful women in the country’s banking sector joined the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 1976 where she served in several capacities including Trade and Exchange Department and was later deployed to Human Resource Department where she served as Director. Osaretin Demuren retired from banking on December 29, 2009 after 33 years in the industry.
She is a member of many professional associations such as the Society for Human Resource Management of America, Nigerian Statistical Association, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, and she sits on the board of Trust Fund Pensions Plc and of LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited.
In April 2013, Mrs. Osaretin Demuren joined the Board of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and two years later, in 2015, she was announced as Chairman of the Board, a position she still holds. She is happily married to the former Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren.
Bola Adesola is the Senior Vice Chairman, Africa at Standard Chartered Bank Group. Before attaining this position, she was the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria and West Africa. She was also an Executive Director at First Bank of Nigeria Plc and Managing Director of Kakawa Discount House, Nigeria. She had previously also worked in Citibank for 9 years in senior leadership roles in Nigeria and Tanzania
This powerful Nigerian female banker graduated from the Buckingham University in the United Kingdom in 1984 with a degree in law, and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1985, after which her professional life in corporate legal practice commenced until 1990. During her time as a lawyer, she also took up an advanced management programme at the Harvard Business School.
Bola Adesola is an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers Nigeria (CBN). She has previously sat on the Boards of the Financial Markets Dealers Association and Nigeria Interbank Settlement Systems Ltd, and has served in different capacities in developing the Nigerian Money Market, the Interbank Settlement Systems and the Discount House subsector over the years.
She currently chairs the Central Bank of Nigeria Bankers’ Sub-Committee on Economic Development, Sustainability and Gender and is the immediate past President of the Lagos Business School Alumni Association (LBSAA). In June 2015, Bola Adesola was appointed to the United Nations Global Compact Board by the UN Secretary General. She was appointed Co Vice-Chair of the Board in February 2018.
Dr. (Mrs.) Ajoritsedere Awosika is an accomplished administrator with over three decades’ experience in public sector governance. During the course of her distinguished career, she has been at different times, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministries of Internal Affairs, Science and Technology, and Power.
She is a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacy and she holds a Doctorate degree in Pharmaceutical Technology from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom.
Dr. Ajoritsedere Awosika was appointed to the Board of Access Bank in April 2013 and served as the Vice Chairman of the Board Audit Committee and Chairman of the Board Credit and Finance Committee. She also sits on the boards of Capital Express Assurance Ltd and Josephine Consulting Limited.
On January 8, 2020, she became the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Access Bank following the retirement of Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga.
Mrs. Folake Sanu is an Executive Director of Wema Bank Plc. She is an astute finance professional and banker of repute with over 32 years working experience in banking, professional accounting and auditing practice. Her experience spans Corporate Strategy, Financial Control, Operations, Technology, Risk management, Audit, Mergers & Acquisitions, Credit and Marketing.
Prior to joining Wema Bank, Folake was Chief Financial Officer and later, Chief Compliance Officer of Sterling Bank where she was instrumental to the successful merger of 5 different banks to form Sterling Bank Plc. She also anchored the integration and service re-engineering process of the newly formed bank’s operational platform. Folake left Sterling Bank to establish JFSC consulting, now Averti Professional Managers after a successful merger of four consulting firms in October 2013.
A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and an honorary senior member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Folake is an alumnus of the London Business School and has attended various management courses in reputable institutions including Harvard Business School and INSEAD, France.
Oyinkansade Adewale is a Non-Executive/Independent Director of FBNQuest Merchant Bank. She began her banking career with Citibank, where she rose to the position of Executive Director and CFO for West Africa. She went on to co-found SIAO, a leading indigenous accounting firm, and later became the pioneer Managing Director/Chief Operating Officer for Renaissance Capital in Nigeria.
She also held other senior management roles including Central Bank of Nigeria appointed Executive Director/CFO at Oceanic Bank and Group Head of MIS at Ecobank Transnational Incorporated. She joined Union Bank Plc in 2012 where she was an Executive Director/Chief Finance Director, retiring in September, 2018.
Her qualifications include: B.A French (University of Ibadan), Fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Fellow, Association of Chartered Accountants.
Yemi Owolabi is the Executive Director, Finance at Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited and the Regional CFO for West Africa, with more than thirty years working experience in Auditing, Consulting, Risk Management and Banking. She joined Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria (SCBN) in 1999 and is responsible for the financial and management accounting function of SCBN in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards.
She is also responsible for the provision of all management information reports.
Before joining Standard Chartered, she worked as the Financial Controller of Fidelity Bank Plc (formerly Fidelity Union Merchant Bank Limited) and prior to that worked as an Audit Senior at KPMG, Peat Marwick Ani Ogunde & Co. Yemi Owolabi is a graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University with a degree in Social Sciences.
Yemi Owolabi is also a distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), an honorary senior member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), and a respected faculty member of the Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC), closely involved in directing programmes in the field of risk, capital and liquidity management.
Mrs. Caroline Chidiebere Anyanwu sits on the board of FCMB Pensions as an independent director. She is a first class graduate of Statistics, a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and a price winner in the ICAN Professional qualifying examination. She has over 30 years experience in the Banking Industry covering: Strategic Planning, Financial Control, Retail and Commercial Banking, Banking Operations and Risk Management, and she is an Alumnus of the Harvard Business School.
Her journey into the financial sector in Nigeria commenced via obtaining top-rated core basic and intermediate management competencies as a trainee accountant in Price Waterhouse (Chartered Accountants) – Now PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) between 1985 – 1988 and her exposure in the Nigerian Banking Industry commenced at African Continental Bank Ltd in 1988 in the Strategic Planning Unit from where she proceeded to join the pioneer team of the now defunct Oceanic Bank International Ltd in 1990 in the Financial Control function.
As part of skill acquisition training, she was transferred to Credit and Marketing Group in January 1992 with responsibility for Retail Credit and Account Management, and in 1993, she moved to Banking Operations where she rose to the position of Assistant General Manager/Head of Banking Operations before leaving Oceanic Bank in September 1996.
She joined the United Bank for Africa (UBA) in September 1996 with responsibility for International Funds Transfer and rose to lead the Head Office Operations Group. She later participated in the Business Process redesign of UBA Operational policies and procedures to improve efficiency. In search of additional skills, she moved on to Risk Management in April 2002 where she was involved in the setting up of the Credit Risk Management framework including the implementation of Moody’s risk rating tool for Corporate obligors, the Fair Isaac scoring system for consumers and the standardization of credit products for retail customers.
Caroline Anyanwu later became the Head, Credit Risk Management, a position she held until February 2006 when she left to join Diamond Bank Plc (Now Access Bank) as a General Manager and Head of Group Risk Management.
In September 2009, she was appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria as Executive Director Risk Management in Finbank Plc (Now FCMB), one of the Banks rescued by the Central Bank of Nigeria. During this period, she served on the Board of the Bank’s various subsidiaries as Chairman for both FinInsurance and FinBrokers and as Non-Executive Director on the Board of Finhomes Ltd, the Mortgage subsidiary of the Bank.
She returned to Diamond Bank in May 2011 as Executive Director/Chief Risk Officer and was later appointed to the position of Deputy Managing Director of the Diamond Bank Group with supervisory responsibility for Risk Management, a position she occupied till her retirement in March 2019.
She served as a representative of Diamond Bank on the Board of CRC Credit Bureau Ltd and was Chairman of the Board from May 2013 – May 2015. Her multi-disciplinary experience in banking to date has given her a well rounded exposure in the dynamics and challenges of strategic business function in banking. This was further harnessed through various Leadership and Board trainings at the Harvard Business School, Columbia University Graduate School of Business and Institute of Management Development (IMD).