The number of women chief executive officers (CEOs) at the helm of the largest companies is still significantly lower than the number of men serving as CEOs. Female CEOs run less than 5% of the world’s largest business, according to Fortune’s Global 500.
In Nigeria, where the number is even lower, these trailblazing women are breaking the glass ceiling and leading some of the country’s most successful companies. Those who make the list are worthy of celebration.
In this article, we will celebrate the top five female CEO in Nigeria, highlighting their achievements, education, and career journey.
Owen Omogiafo, CEO of Transnational Corporation Plc
Owen Omogiafo is the President and Group CEO of Transnational Corporation Plc (Transcorp), Nigeria’s foremost conglomerate spanning power, hospitality, and energy sectors. Notably, she’s the first woman to helm this role, solidifying her position as a remarkable leader.
Omogiafo’s graduated from the University of Benin with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology. Pursuing further knowledge, she earned a Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management from the esteemed London School of Economics and Political Science. Complementing her education, she enriched her skills at the Lagos Business School and Spain’s IESE Business School.
Her Corporate Career started at UBA, where she excelled in relationship management. Transitioning to Accenture, she thrived as an HR consultant, gaining insights into organizational dynamics. Her entry into Heirs Holdings Limited in 2010 as Director of Resources marked a turning point. Here, she honed her expertise in human capital management and contributed significantly to the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Heirs Holding, and Transcorp.
In 2022, Owen Omogiafo’s journey reached its zenith when she was appointed President and Group CEO of Transcorp. Her leadership injected a new impetus into the conglomerate’s growth trajectory. Under her guidance, Transcorp has surged forward, becoming a prominent player in Nigeria’s economic landscape
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Oluwatomi Somefun, CEO of Unity Bank
Oluwatomi Somefun is the CEO of Unity Bank, a leading commercial bank in Nigeria. She is the first woman to hold this position in the bank’s history.
She obtained her bachelor’s degree in English Language from the Obafemi Awolowo University in 1981. She then went on to obtain a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Lagos in 1997.
Somefun began her career as an auditor with Peat Marwick and Co. in 1982. She then moved to KPMG in 1986, where she worked as a senior auditor. In 1992, she joined Ventures and Trusts Limited as an associate.
Somefun joined Unity Bank in 1998 as a general manager. She was appointed an executive director in 2002 and became the managing director and CEO of the bank in 2015.
Stella Chinyelu Okoli, CEO of Emzor Pharmaceutical
Stella Chinyelu Okoli is the CEO of Emzor Pharmaceutical, one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria. She is a pioneer in the pharmaceutical industry, and she has played a major role in the development of the industry in Nigeria.
Okoli graduated from the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom with a Bachelor of Pharmacy (Bpharm) degree in 1969. She also holds an M.Sc. certificate in Biopharmaceuticals from the University of London, Chelsea College, in 1971.
She started her career as a pharmacist with Boots the Chemists Limited in the United Kingdom. She then returned to Nigeria in 1977 and founded Emzor Pharmaceutical. The company initially started as a small retail pharmacy shop in Shomolu, Lagos State. It later moved to wholesale and importation of pharmaceutical products, and then to manufacturing of pharmaceutical products in 1986.
Yemisi Edun, CEO of First City Monument Bank,
Yemisi Edun is the CEO of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), one of the leading commercial banks in Nigeria. She is a highly respected banker with over 30 years of experience. She is known for her strong leadership and strategic vision.
She graduated from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 1985. She then went on to obtain a Master of Science degree in International Accounting and Finance from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, in 2001.
Edun began her career as an auditor with Akintola Williams Deloitte in 1987. She then joined First City Monument Bank (FCMB) in 2000 as the Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control. In 2011, she was appointed the Chief Financial Officer of the bank. She became the Managing Director and CEO of FCMB in 2021.
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Halima Buba, CEO of SunTrust Bank
Halima Buba is the CEO of SunTrust Bank, a commercial bank that was founded in 2009 by Muhammad Jibrin Barde.
She graduated from the University of Maiduguri with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Business Management in 1991. She then went on to obtain an MBA degree from the same university in 2001.
Buba began her career as an auditor with KPMG Nigeria in 1992. She then joined Zenith Bank in 1995 and rose through the ranks to become the Head of Retail Banking in 2009. She later joined Ecobank Nigeria in 2013 as the Deputy General Manager of Retail Banking.
She was appointed the Managing Director and CEO of SunTrust Bank in January 2022
These are just five of the many female CEOs in Nigeria who are breaking the glass ceiling and making a difference in the business world. They are role models for young women everywhere and an inspiration to those who aspire to achieve success in their careers. Their stories are a testament to the power of hard work, determination, and perseverance.
The number of female CEOs in Nigeria is still small, but it is growing. These women are paving the way for others and making it possible for more women to reach the highest levels of leadership. They are an inspiration to us all.
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