By Chinelo Obogo

On March 8th of every year, the International Women’s Day is commemorated to celebrate women’s achievements. It is a day that was declared by the United Nations to acknowledge women’s rights and call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

This year’s theme: “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” highlights how women can be equal partners in decision-making processes, especially those regarding policymaking. Women’s day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women while highlighting the problems they face in day-to-day life as well as in the professional environment. One of such incredible achievers is Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, who made history as the first female Managing Director in of Fidelity, a leading tier-2 commercial bank.

Anambra born Onyeali-Ikpe, was appointed to the Board of Fidelity Bank in 2015 as an Executive Director and up till her appointment as the MD, she was in charge of the bank’s Lagos and Southwest Directorate. Not many can match her professional pedigree as she led the transformation of the Directorate to profitability and sustained its impressive year-on-year growth across key performance metrics.

Nneka has been an integral part of the current management team, responsible for the remarkable increase in the Bank’s performance in the last 5 years, with the area under her direct responsibility, contributing over 28% of the Bank’s PBT, Deposits and Loans.

She took over on January 1, 2021, from Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo who retired on December 31, 2020 and was part of his success story as under his leadership, the bank saw unprecedented financial performance over the past six years, bringing in a Profit Before Tax (PBT) growth of 236 per cent from N9.06b in 2014 to N30.4b in 2019.

When her appointment was announced by the bank, industry experts commended this move being that she is a very experienced banking professional with experience of over 30 years in the financial services sector.

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The bank will indeed benefit from her experience in other financial institutions such as Zenith Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Enterprise Bank, among others. With her expertise, she and her team were able to reposition the former Enterprise Bank before its acquisition by Heritage Bank, leading to a formal commendation from the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

She holds Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from Kings College, London and has attended executive training programs at notable global institutions including; Harvard Business School; The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania; INSEAD School of Business; Chicago Booth School of Business; London Business School and IMD amongst others.

She has over 30 years’ experience and has worked in different units which include the legal department, treasury, investment banking and commercial banking. She is also a board member of Unified Payment Services, a company which provides shared infrastructure and payments service for banks and customers within and outside Nigeria.

Regarded as a visionary leader in the banking sector, Mrs Onyeali-Ikpe is a well-respected banker whose performance has always led to many recognitions in her career.

She also made giant strides at Standard Chartered Bank where she got several board commendations from the Group Managing Director for her outstanding performance.

She is involved in many charity organisations and is married to Ken Onyeali-Ikpe.