A forward thinking organisation narrows the gender by appointing women with proven competentence to leadership positions, writes Nseobong Okon-Ekong
Women account for one-half of the potential talent base throughout the world and a nation’s competitiveness depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its female population. Women have not been given prominent positions in some workplace, but a few corporate organisations are beginning to change that narrative.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Corporate Gender Gap Report 2010, some leading companies are failing to capitalise on the talents of women in the workforce. The study covers the world’s largest employers in 20 countries and benchmarks them against the gender equality policies that most companies should have in place but are, in fact, widely missing.
The report is based on a survey of 600 heads of human resources at the world’s largest employers. The survey contained over 25 questions and assessed companies on representation of women within their establishments and the use of gender-equality practices such as measurement and target setting, work-life balance policies and mentorship and training. The survey also asked respondents to identify the biggest barriers to women’s leadership and their opinion on the probable effects of the economic downturn on women’s employment in their countries and industries.
In Nigeria, female employees tend to be concentrated in entry or middle level positions and remain scarce in senior management or board positions in most industries and organisations. There are few women holding the CEO-level position in the country. However, a more positive revelation is that almost all the companies claim to be setting specified targets, quotas or other affirmative policies to improve women’s participation in their structures.
However, a corporate organisation like Interswitch is already bridging that divide. Interswitch has a sizeable number of women in top management positions, from divisional CEO to chief human Capital officerand others.
As an Africa-focused integrated digital payments and commerce company which started operations in 2002, Interswitch facilitates the electronic circulation of money as well as the exchange of value between individuals and organisations on a timely and consistent basis.
Here are the leading female employees of the company, who may be called the ‘Amazon Seven’ of Interswitch:
Cherry Eromosele, Group Chief Product & Marketing Officer, Interswitch.
With over 20 years of proven, versatile, cross-industry experience, Eromosele has demonstrated exceptional leadership and functional capacity in a number of key African markets. Cherry’s track record cuts across FMCG (alcoholic beverages), Telecoms, Fast-moving Consumer Healthcare and Financial Technology. She currently leads a very dynamic Product & Marketing Management team at Interswitch in Group Chief capacity, with the corporate mandate to deliver customer-led, digital product leadership and innovation. Eromosele provides strategic direction for end-to-end product development, as well as customer value management and product marketing functions. She is also responsible for championing the Group’s brand management, corporate communications and corporate social responsibility functions to drive key business objectives across the entire Interswitch business portfolio.
Prior to her current role, Eromosele served as Chief Marketing Officer with full responsibility for creating and implementing innovative marketing strategies towards building the entire Interswitch brand portfolio, spanning both the corporate and consumer segments of the business.
She has demonstrated a consistent ability to deliver exceptional results when crossing into new terrains, and is reputed as having contributed significantly to the changing face of marketing in Nigeria, recognized in 2015 as Marketing Personality of the Year in Nigeria by Marketing Edge and more recently, one of the top 50 Marketing Professionals in West Africa at the 7th edition of the annual Marketing World Awards in Accra, Ghana last year.
She has a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Benin and has attended executive functional, leadership and management program from Cranfield School of Management, Columbia Business School, Wharton Business School and Kellogg Business School whilst presently commencing the Oxford Fintech Program at Said Business School.
Chinyere Don-Okhuofu, Divisional CEO, Networks, Interswitch Group
Don-Okhuofu is an accomplished business leader, with a background in finance and accounting, which progressively evolved into the sphere of payment solutions and electronic banking. Chinyere is tasked with the responsibility of leading the group sales force and executing strategies aimed to deepen and broaden our Industry Vertical Markets business. Chinyere is unwavering in her desire to get every organized business in markets where we operate to adopt solutions and services that digitize cash.
A Chartered Accountant with a first degree in Accounting and an alumnus of London Business School, Chinyere currently serves as Divisional Chief Executive Officer, Networks at Interswitch Limited, in which capacity she has oversight over the group’s entire sales teams, developing and executing strategies to deepen and broaden Interswitch’s clientele base, while providing leadership and inspiration to deepen customer intimacy.
Her professional career incorporates successive leadership roles that have transformed key projects across the organizations in which she has worked. Prior to joining Interswitch, she was the Divisional Head of Branch Banking and Electronic Banking at Intercontinental Bank Plc. (now Access Bank), where she spent 17 years of her banking career in various business units.
She successfully handled branch managerial and Regional responsibilities, headed the Retail Global Strategy transformation process of the Bank in conjunction with PWC UK before moving over to Electronic Banking to execute the bank’s retail and channel transformation strategies. Among other achievements, along with her team, she played a leadership role in redefining the offsite ATM landscape in Nigeria through the effective deployment of her banks ATMs in various locations across the country thus pushing the bank to the number one position in total transactions within a year on the Interswitch platform.
Titilola Shogaolu, Divisional CEO, IFIS, Interswitch Financial Inclusion Services
Shogaolu was recently appointed the Divisional CEO, Interswitch Financial Inclusion Services Limited (IFIS) in April 2018. She is tasked with the responsibility to deepen financial inclusion, empower and transform individuals (agents) to profitable entrepreneurs and make primarily financial services available to the un/underbanked across the country.
Shogaolu joined Interswitch 14 years ago and have worked in various capacities with responsibilities spanning functions within Operations, Product Management, Sales, Key Account Management and Project Management. She was appointed the Chief Payment & VAS Officer in 2012. In 2014, she became the Group Head Social Systems & Services, Industry Vertical Market, Interswitch Group. In this capacity, she led the sales efforts to provide the company’s revenue collections, funds disbursement solutions and value-added services to clients in different sectors namely: Government, Power, Transport, Education, Utilities etc. She also managed the company’s clients & businesses in the South-East/South-South region with the team based in the Port Harcourt office during this time.
Shogaolu’s e-payment journey which has led her to current role, as Divisional CEO, IFIS, began at First Atlantic Bank, where she served in numerous roles within E-business and was also part of the team that pioneered the FlashMeCash SMS mobile payment solution.
Shogaolu has a first degree in Business Economics from the Cardiff University of Wales and a master’s in business administration from the same university. She is an alumni of the Senior Management Program (SMP) at the Lagos Business School.
Tolulope Agiri, Group Chief Human Resources Officer, Interswitch
Agiri recently joined Interswitch as Group Chief Human Resources Officer. She assumed this role in March 2018 from the United Nations World Food Programme, where she was the Senior Strategic Regional Human Resources Business Partner overseeing Southern Africa, based in Johannesburg and covering a region comprised of 11 countries. Before joining the United Nations, Tolu was Director of Human Resources at Unilever Nigeria between 2010 to 2016, the high-point of a 14-year career spanning Learning & Development, Leadership Development and Business Partnership across multinational regions and in positions of increasing seniority within the multinational organization
Her over two decades experience as an accomplished HR and talent management professional commenced with SCG Consulting and later included a considerable stint at Arthur Andersen (now KPMG Professional Services). At Arthur Andersen, she worked in various capacities before joining Unilever Nigeria Plc as Company Learning Manager in 2002. Whilst at Unilever, she also worked as Regional Training Manager (Unilever Africa Regional Group), Learning Director (Africa Middle East & Turkey – AMET), Leadership Development Director, (AMET).
Tolu has a first degree in Psychology from the Obafemi Awolowo University and a Masters’ degree in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from the University of Lagos. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPMN).
As Interswitch Group Human Resources Officer, Tolu is tasked with driving a people strategy that achieves a balance between the aspiration of staff and the strategy of the business.
Chinomso Victoria Nwachukwu, Group Financial Controller, Interswitch
Nwachukwu is the Group Financial Controller with oversight over the financial activities and operations of the parent company Interswitch Limited and its 7 subsidiary entities and 2 associates. She is a seasoned finance professional with 13+ years’ cumulative experience in various roles as; financial controller, experienced auditor and corporate finance analyst. She currently sits on the board of some of our subsidiary entities.
She is a chartered accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria with a first degree in Biochemistry. She is an alumnus of PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria, where she spent 10 years working in the corporate finance unit of the firm as well as the assurance department as an experienced auditor.
Chinomso is a trusted advisor of the Group Management on finance matters. She is a highly principled and result-oriented professional. She is actively involved in the group’s M&A activities providing support on deal advisory and due diligence exercises.
Chinomso is currently an MBA student with Imperial College Business School London and Stanford Graduate Business School Emerging CFO program. She is married with two kids.
Oremeyi Akah, Chief Core Operations Officer, Interswitch Group
Akah is a graduate of Electrical/Electronics Engineering from the University of Benin. She obtained an MBA degree from the Judge Business School- University of Cambridge, UK in 2011.
Akahhas been a pioneer member of the Interswitch team for the past 15 years where she started her career as a pioneer member in 2002. Today, she’s still proud to be a member of the Interswitch team where she has worked in several capacities – software engineering, implementation, training, operations and business management. Whilst studying for her MBA at Cambridge, she served as the Vice president of the Nigerian Students’ association and was also a part of the 5-man team that won the 2011 Hult Global Case Challenge in New York, endorsed by the Clinton Foundation.
Currently Chief Core Operations Officer at Interswitch, she leads a dedicated operations team closely interfacing with technology, product and implementation team to ensure that the gears and pulleys required to deliver on all our customer expectations and business promises are seamlessly functioning
Akah believes that Nigeria has a bright future and that the youth if well guided, are poised to lead our country into greatness. She is happily married to her best friend and they have 3 sons. Akah loves being honest about her God Connection. In her leisure, she likes studying the habits of whales, polar bears and reading history of the World War 2.
Ndifreke Nkose, Group Head, Strategy and Professional Services in Interswitch
NdifrekeNkose is the Group Head, Strategy and Professional Services in Interswitch. In this capacity, Ndifreke supports Interswitch Group in articulating where and how it will win within its markets, in implementing and in tracking realisation of its strategies.
She has over 13 years’ experience in Strategy Formulation & Implementation, Performance Tracking, Monitoring and Evaluation (M& system implementation), Business Transformation, Project Management, Process Reviews and Redesign. She is adept at introducing and managing change/new ways of working and is focused on E people development.
Outside the work environment, she partners with one of the leading Foundations on entrepreneurship in Nigeria where she volunteers as a guest facilitator for training programmes to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
She has a first degree in pure and applied chemistry from the University of Ibadan and is a qualified accountant with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). She is an alumnus of PricewaterhouseCoopers where she successfully managed and delivered a number of Strategy, Business Transformation and Strategic Project Management engagements in the public and private sector.
Based on their identified potentials, women’s leadership is more than important in today’s world, it’s imperative. Whether it’s the public or private sector, organizations that are led by inclusive leadership teams make better decisions that deliver better results. The qualities that are required to lead in the 21st century include the ability to connect, collaborate, empathize, and communicate all qualities that tend to be “female” in nature. Women in leadership roles position organizations in a way that makes them fit for the future.