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Profiles

Meet Tomi Somefun, the woman in charge of Unity Bank Plc 

As is the case all over the world, there are few women heading top executive positions in Nigeria’s corporate space.

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Nigerian CEOs, What led to fire outbreak - Unity Bank, Unity Bank Plc makes new appointment , Unity Bank introduces USSD code in Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo languages

As is the case all over the world, there are few women heading top executive positions in Nigeria’s corporate space. While this is something to worry about, it becomes even more worrisome when those few women who manage to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, find themselves caught up in some unfortunate circumstances which tend to overshadow their competence and accomplishments.

This is the story of Mrs. Tomi Somefun, the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria’s troubled Unity Bank Plc and our corporate personality of the week. Get to know her.

About Mrs. Oluwatomi Ayodele Somefun: her academic background 

Mrs. Somefun was a student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, graduating in 1981 with a Bachelor of Education in English language. Although she was never a trained accountant nor economist, she went on to acquire other important professional certifications after her university days. Today, she is a prominent Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

Having undergone graduate studies at both the Harvard Business School and University of Columbia Business School, Mrs. Somefun is an alumnus of both prestigious American institutions of study. In the same vein, she has participated in quite a number of local and international training programmes which are specific to her banking profession. An example of such is the INSEAD Fontainebleau, in France.

She currently belongs to different professional bodies, including the Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN), the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), the Institute of Directors (IOD), among others.

Building a career as a professional

Mrs. Somefun is a modern Nigerian woman who has successfully maintained a professional career spanning at least thirty-three years. Note that while most of these years of experience have been in the financial sector, she also has experiences cutting across other sectors.

In her early days, she started out working at KPMG as a Senior Audit Assistant between 1982 and 1986. From there, she went on to work at Arthur Andersen in 1986 as a Senior Auditor. She has also been employed at Ventures & Trusts Limited, between 1989 and 1992, as an Associate.

Prior to her current appointment, Mrs. Somefun worked at Credit Bank Limited and UBA Plc. She was also the MD/CEO of UBA Capital & Trustee Limited and the Founding Managing Director of UBA Pension Custodian Limited: two of UBA Group’s major subsidiaries.

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Mrs. Somefun also served as a Non-Executive Director on the boards of directors of UBA Foundations, UBA Trustees, UBA Nominees and UBA Registrars.

In the course of her career with Unity Bank Plc, she has served as an Executive Director in charge of Lagos and the South-West region of Nigeria until August, 2015.

As though to cement her long-standing career in treasury, investment and commercial banking, Mrs. Tomi Somefun, on August 12th, 2015, assumed her new role as the Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank Plc. She took over from the bank’s former CEO, Mr. Henry James Semenitari, as the first woman ever appointed to that position in the history of the retail bank. She is also one of the few women holding CEO positions in Nigeria’s many banks.

Awards and recognitions

Meanwhile, as an attestation to her accomplished banking career, Mrs. Somefun, in 2016, was named as one of the top 25 most distinguished Chief Executive Officers of quoted Nigerian companies for the 2015 financial year.

Associating her name with the troubles in Unity Bank Plc

For a while now, there have been several indications of Unity Bank’s financial troubles. The problem boils down to some factors, including an overall low capitalisation at the bank as well as high volume of non-performing loans borrowed mostly by some former and current members of the bank’s board of directors.

In early 2018, Unity Bank Plc was somehow involved in the scandalous Milost Global Inc drama. Recall that Milost had proposed to invest as much as $1 billion in the bank. The deal never sailed through, even as it left behind trails of scandal and an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Recently, the Nigerian Stock Exchange sanctioned Unity Bank Plc by suspending the trading of its stock. This was due to the tier 2 bank’s failure to release its 2017 financial report on time. Note that the report, which was expected as at December 31st, 2017, never made it to the public domain until recently.

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As the troubles in the bank persist, it can only be hoped that Mrs. Somefun and her team are doing everything possible to proffer much-needed solutions. This is important because Unity Bank Plc cannot afford to go down, at least not under her watch.

Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs.He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor.Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan.If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

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    Billionaire Watch

    Meet King Maha of Thailand, the richest royal figure in the world

    The Thai king, Maha Vajiralongkorn is several times wealthier than his British counterpart.  

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    When it comes to monarchies and royal families, the British Royal Family is easily the most revered of them all. One might begin to think they are the wealthiest. Well… they are not! 

    They are not even in the top five list of wealthiest royal families. 

    In today’s article, we will look at a monarch who is several times wealthier than his British counterpart.  

    READ: The UK Royal Family is worth $28bn, here’s how they make their money

    Meet King Maha Vajiralongkorn 

    The 63-year-old king of Thailand who took over his father’s throne is currently the wealthiest royal figure in the world. His late father King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed in 2016 and was the longest-serving monarch in the world. 

    After the coronation of the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn, a strange communique was published on the royal website. The entire portfolio of the Crown Property Bureau was to be transferred into the hands of the new king.  

    Before this announcement, The royal portfolio worth over 40 billion dollars was held by the king on behalf of the nation but now it was to be transferred to the new king. Subsequently, King Maha officially became the richest monarch in the world with a personal net worth and assets valued at $43bn according to the South China Morning Post.  

    READ: There are only 15 black billionaires in the world, here are the top 10

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    King Maha’s major assets  

    The bulk of King Maha’s net worth comes from three major assets:

    • A 23% stake in Siam Commercial Banks, one of the largest commercial banks in Thailand. The bank is valued at $1.7bn according to the Financial Times.  
    • A 33.6$ stake in Siam Cement Group which is the country’s largest industrial conglomerate.  
    • 16,000 acres of prime Thai land and over 40,000 rental leases with developers. 

    READ: Queen Elizabeth II Isn’t As Rich As You Think

    A call for change  in Thailand

    According to Financial Times, recent protests and critics have called for a serious review of the monarchy’s grip on the country and its finances. The protesters led mostly by students are of the opinion that public funds should not be made available for a king.  

    Thailand runs a system of government known as Constitutional Monarchy where the king is the Head of State.  

    King Maha’s lifestyle of luxury  

    King Maha spends most of his time in Germany and has a stunning fleet of 38 aeroplanes and helicopters. His second wife Queen Sineenat is a trained military pilot.  

    King Maha owns the largest faceted diamond, a 546.67-carat brown diamond.  

    READ: A Look back at Jay Z’s Road to Billionaire Status

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    What you should know  about the Thai economy

    Thailand is the eighth largest economy in Asia and the 22nd largest export economy in the world.  

    The GDP of Thailand is calculated as $505 billion, which results in a GDP per capita of $7,274.  

    King Maha is the richest royal figure in the world and he is closely followed by the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah and the king of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.  

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    Profiles

    Ibiene Okeleke: A diva in HR and Management

    Ibiene Okeleke is an Executive Coach passionate about people development, career development and youth empowerment.

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    With about three decades of a rich and boisterous career across the financial and the energy sector, Ibiene Okeleke has earned bragging rights not just for her skills but her results and accomplishments across human resources and retail banking.

    Through the years of working in different firms, Okeleke has shown skills in business development, negotiation, succession planning, talent management, organisational development and job evaluation.

    READ: Nigeria’s Energy boardrooms: Why are the women outside? 

    Education

    Ibiene got admitted into the University of Lagos in 1989 and obtained her first degree in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from the University of Lagos in 1993. Okeleke got a quick career start immediately, obtaining the rest of her degrees while working.

    She completed an MBA at the IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Spain in 2002, and also got an Advanced Human Resources Executive Degree from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

    Okeleke has also completed a Strategic Human Resource Training course at Harvard Business School, and she is a certified Prince 2 Practitioner.

    She has a LinkedIn certification in Leadership Foundation: Leadership Styles and Models; Creating a Communications Strategy; and How to Create and Run a Brilliant Remote Workshop. She also has a Coursera certification in the Electric Industry Operations and Markets.

    READ: 7 female executives under 40 in FinTech

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    Career Progression

    Okeleke started out her career in 1994, at Inlaks Computers as HR Officer and spent 5 years in the position.  She joined FSB International Bank Nigeria as a Human Resources Officer and spent nine months in the role before heading the Liability Generation Unit of the bank until Feb 2001.

    She went on to lead the Human Resources department at Bond Bank Nigeria for the rest of 2001 and later, at Assurance Bank Nigeria Ltd between 2002 and 2006.

    Her foray into the energy and power sector started with a role as the Group Head of Human Resources at the Sahara Group in 2006. After the privatisation of the power sector in 2013, she moved to Ikeja Electric as the Chief Human Resources and Administrative Officer and positioned the company to become one of the most notable and leading distribution companies in Nigeria.

    In May 2019, she resumed at Energy Training Center (ETC) as the Managing Director. As the leader of this strategic learning academy, she has positioned the institution to provide a wide range of learning interventions for the entire Energy sector. The Academy is focused on capacity building through bespoke learning experiences with the perfect blend of technologies and techniques to achieve organizational and personal success.

    Ibiene Okeleke is also an Executive Coach passionate about people development, career development and youth empowerment, and serves as an adviser on some Not-For-Profit Boards.

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