The United Bank for Africa recently celebrated deserving staff at its Annual CEO Awards, providing fodder for greater exploits. Peter Uzoho writes
The field of psychology is strewn with evidence that suggests companies that recognise staff for great service usually tend to do better in the long run. In 2011, Harvard Medical School reported on a research conducted at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where researchers randomly divided university fundraisers into two groups.
â€œOne group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had,â€ the report said. â€œThe second group â€” assigned to work on a different day â€” received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50 per cent more fund-raising calls than those who did not.â€
The obvious conclusion, of course, was that â€œManagers who remember to say â€˜thank youâ€™ to people who work for them may find that those employees feel motivated to work harder.â€
One of Africaâ€™s biggest financial institutions, the United Bank for Africa, appears to have internalised this â€˜gratitude nuggetâ€™. Every year, since 2008, the bank sets apart a date to honour staff who have contributed, in dynamic fronts, to its growth and profitability. It is a date that staff now look forward to, while applying themselves to their jobs in the present.
This year, the 10th edition, the date was set for April 21 and the venue was one of Lagosâ€™ biggest and lavish hospitality centres, Eko Hotels and Suites. The theme of the night â€“ Celebrating Africa – was aimed at marking UBAâ€™s rich history as well as its core values: Enterprise, Excellence and Execution, but, as usual, also to honour and reward staff who remain key to all that the bank has achieved since its inception over 70 years ago.
In attendance at the event were captains of industries, media moguls, Nollywood stars, Public servants and politicians. To mention a few: President of Dangote Industries, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman of Forte Oil, Femi Otedola, President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chief (Mrs.) Nike Akande, former governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and wife, Angela, Publisher of Ovation Magazine, Mr. Dele Momodu, Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, Nollywood stars, Richard Mofe Damijo, Omotola Jalade Ekehinde.
Also present to honour UBA at the event were former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, Wale Edun, CEO, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, CEO, Airtel, Segun Ogunsanya, Directors of UBA Plc, Ambassador Joe Keshi, Chief Kola Jamodu, Ambassador Adekunle Olumide, Mrs. Rose Okwechime, among many others.
The Group Chairman, UBA Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu, who was at the event with his wife, Dr. Awele Elumelu, welcomed the staff and guests at the event, and said that the bank chose this day to reward staff who had worked hard to ensure that the company remains a leading financial institution, as seen by the recently released full year results for the 2017 financial year.
He said: â€œIt is a time to reward dignity, hard work, and excellence in execution, and to tell staff that we appreciate what they have been doing and how they have ensured that all the investments put into the bank over the past few years have paid off.â€
The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, the host of the event, spoke extensively about the banksâ€™ achievements in the past year and prospects of the bank commended the staff for their hard work and resilience that has helped the bank remain as Africaâ€™s bank of choice over the years.
According to him, the CEO awards is part of what the bank does annually to appreciate the good works and efforts put in by the staff to assist the bank align with its vision and mission.
He added that the bank makes it a point of duty to especially appreciate those exceptional staff who have displayed a high level of dedication towards executing their activities in the bank.
He said: â€œEvery year, it is our tradition to appreciate our people who have put in their very best and gone far and beyond the call of duty to deliver excellent services to the bank and the customers by extension.
â€œWhat we are doing tonight is to tell the world that these ladies and gentlemen who are from all our geographies of operation have done so well and contributed immensely to what this bank has achieved in the past year,â€ he said.
A number of staff were rewarded during the event in various categories for their exceptional activities aimed at improving the bankâ€™s fortunes and creating great experiences for customers.
Amongst those who were given awards were Executive Director, Emeke Iweriebor, MD/CEO UBA Cote dâ€™Ivoire, Sarata Kone, Head Corporate Bank, Muyiwa Akinyemi and Jerome Obada.
Speaking to the recipients Uzoka said, â€œWe know that when you have been rewarded, you will be motivated to do more, so I encourage you all to put in your best and remain focus on satisfying the customers which is the reason why we are here.
â€œAs you may well know, UBA has promoted about 47 per cent of its staff within the last 12 months, and this is something that is very rare in our industry. It is a statement about our commitment to the employees.â€
Uzoka, who spoke on some key achievements of the bank in the year under consideration, including the recent listing of UBAâ€™s shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchangeâ€™s Premium Board, noted that a lot of investment has been put into giving customers a great banking experience, and added that more of such moves will come on-board.
He specifically mentioned UBAâ€™s Artificial Intelligence BOT, Leo, noting that the bank is the first to launch such a service into the African market with the aim of assisting customers to make life much easier for them.
â€œUBA is the first bank to embrace Artificial Intelligence in serving our customers, this was done bearing in mind the way technology has taken over our lives and in line with our customer first philosophy,â€ the GMD said.
In the year 2017, a number of achievements were recorded by UBA, leading to the bank being the recipient of a number of critical awards to the envy of its competitors as the bank emerged the first Nigerian-headquartered Bank to be conferred as the Bank of the Year 2017, by the Bankers Magazine.
Four of UBA Groupâ€™s operations in Africa – UBA Congo, UBA Chad, UBA Gabon and UBA Senegal – also led contenders in their respective countries to emerge the Best Bank of the Year 2017 in their respective markets, reinforcing the strong franchise of the Group across its chosen markets in Africa. Notably, UBA Gabon and UBA Senegal had won the same awards in the previous edition in 2016, as both subsidiaries of UBA Group remain the banks to beat in Gabon and Senegal.
Great performances by A-list artists such as â€˜science studentsâ€™ crooner, Olamide, Flavor, Kiss Daniels, Styl Plus and Falz the bad guy as well rib-cracking comedy from Basketmouth ensured that staff and guests alike were kept off their seats as they each performed to the enjoyment of those present.
Ace TV Presenter, IK Osakioduwa and Ayo, who were the compere of the event led the guests through a night of fun and laughter and of course lots to eat and drink.