By Haruna Danladi
When news filtered out that for the first time in its history, the Board of Fidelity Bank Plc, a leading tier-2 commercial bank in Nigeria had appointed a female banker as its Managing Director Designate, the financial market received the news with so much excitement. This was premised on the unprecedented financial performance of the bank over the past six years under the outgoing Managing Director of the Bank, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo. With a Profit Before Tax (PBT) growth of 236 per cent from N9.06b in 2014 to N30.4b in 2019, the incoming Managing Director, Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe has been part of this success story as the Executive Director supervising the Lagos and South West Directorate since 2015 under the leadership of Nnamdi Okonkwo.
The appointment of Mrs Onyeali-Ikpe which has been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is in furtherance to Fidelity Bank’s robust succession policy as Mr Okonkwo retires on December 31, 2020. Industry watchers have commended this move by the Board of Fidelity Bank as a great one especially as the incoming Managing Director who assumes office on January 1, 2021 is a very experienced banking professional with experience of over 30 years in the financial services sector. The Law graduate from the University of Nigeria who also holds a Masters of Laws (LLM) degree from Kings College, London, United Kingdom, is now poised to lead the Bank in its quest for tier 1 status.
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With unprecedented growth on its digital platforms and industry recognition including the recent naming of Fidelity Bank as the Commercial Bank of the Year at the Business Day Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) awards, the Bank has been recognized for its support for the development of the Micro and Small Medium Enterprises (MSME) in Nigeria. This is the Bank Onyeali-Ikpe will lead with the benefit of her experience which has spanned other financial institutions such as Zenith Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Enterprise Bank, among others.
Regarded as a visionary leader in the banking sector, Mrs Onyeali-Ikpe is well respected as an inspirational figure whose performance has always led to several personal recognitions in her career. For instance, she received commendation from Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) as a member of the Management team for the restructuring and turnaround of the former Enterprise Bank, where she served as an Executive Director in charge of Lagos and South West Regions while also supervising the Retail and SME groups. She successfully set up the SME group for that Bank. She also left indelible footprints at Standard Chartered Bank where she got several board commendations from the Group Managing Director for her outstanding performance.
Many look up to her as a coach, who is always challenging others to be their best just as she has done through her personal example of hard work, dedication and integrity. A woman who demonstrates unbelievable energy and who is involved in many charity outreaches, she is also a home maker and is married to Dr Ken Onyeali-Ikpe, who holds a PhD in Development Economics from the Academy of Sciences, School of African Studies, Moscow, Russia and is a thought leader on leadership, branding, marketing communications, public relations and perception engineering.
• Danladi writes from Lagos State, Nigeria