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Encomiums for new Zenith Bank MD/CEO

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By Dr. Jumai Ahmadu

History was made by Zenith Bank Plc with the announcement of the appointment of Dame (Dr.) Adaora Umeoji as the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive with effect from June 1, 2024, subject to approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Dame (Dr.) Adaora Umeoji, from Anambra state, takes over from Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, whose five-year term expires on May 31, 2024, and is the first female GMD/CEO since the inception of the bank.

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Umeoji has been the Deputy Managing Director of the bank since October 28, 2016 and has close to thirty (30) years cognate banking experience of which twenty-six (26) years has been with Zenith Bank.

Being a major player in the banking world, Dr. Adaora ‘s appointment is a consolidation of emerging trend in gender mainstreaming in Nigeria’s banking sector, and the new helmswoman will no doubt provide mertious service to Zenith Bank in line with its status as one of Nigeria’s premier banking institutions.

As the new leader to determine the future of one of Nigeria’s leading banks, Dr. Adaora will combine her passion for promoting professionalism in the banking industry with her selfless service to humanity and thus help situate Zenith Bank as a major player in her spheres of operation.

This is a woman who, in an arena of male prevalence, shot to limelight by dint of hard work, discipline, and the abundant grace of God.Her immense capacity, knack for diligent execution of tasks and the content of her character proves that it is not just enough to be intelligent, but equally crucial is the ability to manage men and resources, which is key in generating value for any organization.

The mother of set of twins, Adaora, who joined the bank over two decades ago, was at a time an Executive Director, as well as General Manager, Abuja and later the Deputy Managing Director of Zenith Bank.

Umeoji had been the Deputy Managing Director of the bank since Oct. 28, 2016, with close to 30 years cognate banking experience of which 26 years had been with Zenith Bank.

She did not rise to this new position overnight, neither was it a bed of roses all along. She has the scars of battles she has weathered through and, far beyond societal expectations, today fate has chosen her and so she has reasons to thank God for His blessings.

Already an accomplished woman career wise with a very intimidating profile, she combined beauty plus brain, a very cerebral woman with all the knowledge, skills and experience.

Mrs. Umeoji holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Jos. An alma mata of the Class of ’96 like this writer, our paths crossed again at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Kubwa, Abuja.

She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a first-class honours in Law from Baze University, Abuja. She also holds a Master of Law from the University of Salford, United Kingdom, as well as a Master in Business Administration from the University of Calabar.

She attended the Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School and attended the strategic thinking and Management programme at Wharton Business School, USA.

The first female Zenith Bank GMD also has a Doctorate in Business Administration from Apollos University, USA.

The GMD is well prepared to the change the narrative, given that when momentum is created, coupled with the will to catalyze changes, powerful visions attract ideas, people and other relevant resources.

Mrs. Adaora Umeoji has, by confronting the inertia of societal norms, and with a disdain for superficiality, demonstrated with life’s trajectory that education and politics can fundamentally address transformation of society and the human condition for good. With maturity and experience, she has acquitted herself as deserving of this office.

As the chief executor who supervises the execution of policy and the administrative drive of the Zenith Bank, Adaora, easy going and unassuming but frank to a fault, doesn’t suffer fools for nothing as many have taken to social media to write despicable and unprintable articles against a revered and outstanding woman.

Founder of the Catholic Bankers Association of Nigeria, in 2022, Umeoji was honoured with the national honour of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), as a recognition of her contributions to nation-building by the Federal Government.

Rightly said, her elevation to a new calling in this new office is “reward for industry and excellence” and sad at the same time that whenever a Nigerian woman makes the news as having been appointed to a high position, it ruffles a lot of feathers in the minds of male chauvinists who ignore all call for restraint by seeing such success as a threat and not an opportunity.

It therefore becomes a matter of responsibility to recognize the contributions of a patriot, distinguished and decent Nigerian, who, aiming for a higher purpose, has distanced herself by transcending the trivial and continues to give her all in the service to fatherland.

By becoming beacon of hope and inspiring others, it is our collective prayer that Mrs. Adaora Umeoji’s years of cumulative experience in banking practices in Nigeria will, amidst daunting challenges, help reposition the nation’s banking sector on the path of transparency, profitability, efficiency, innovation, and count in keeping the financial sector on purposeful path.

Dr. (Mrs.)Jumai, an Ag. Director, FCTA, is Founder, Helpline Social Support Initiative, Abuja

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