In the eyes of many, Jim Ovia, Chairman, Zenith Bank Plc, comes across as a phenomenon.
He also typifies a soul who enjoys abundant luck and grace of God, particularly when you consider his intimidating profile.
Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that his life epitomises tenacity of purpose.
He started out as a clerk with the defunct Barclays Bank (now Union Bank Plc). But he wanted so much more out of life. And he pursued that ambition with abiding trust in God.
Those who think that all there is about the astute banker and boardroom guru is banking, investment, finance, and so on, must have been having a re-think now, as the man of high intellect and wisdom is beyond that.
The Delta State-born banking wizard is definitely a champion extraordinaire who singlehandedly redefined the banking sector in the country.
For years, he’s sailed untroubled in the entrepreneurial ocean, navigating numerous business boats with grace and nous of veteran captain. A man of no mean repute whose achievements can be composed into a platinum album, Ovia beams with the glow of perpetual investors’ confidence in a clime notorious for its unpredictable business climate.
What else could be responsible if not Ovia’s Midas touch? No wonder, when a man with such phenomenal achievements celebrates his birthday, not a few would want to share in his joy.
Though this business giant is not given to throwing elaborate parties to celebrate his birthday, his fans, friends, and associates could not but celebrate him to high heavens last Wednesday when he turned 69.
Many would not forget in a hurry when this businessman, who is a glittering star in the business firmament, took a leap of faith as he teamed up with some of his friends to establish Zenith Bank as a small commercial bank in 1990. Though the bank then might be likened to a small mustard seed, the financial guru knew it would someday grow to be iroko.
He didn’t just mouth it, but he saw the dream becoming a reality in his lifetime.
It is on record that his knowledge of information technology came in handy when the bank became the first in Nigeria to introduce the online real-time system, which enabled the entire grid of branch offices to be networked through IT.
Ovia, also an art aficionado and the founder of Jim Ovia Foundation, attended the Southern University Louisiana, where he obtained a B.Sc in Business Administration in 1977, and North East Louisiana University, where he obtained a master’s degree in Business Administration in 1979, both in the United States of America. He is also an alumnus of the Harvard Business School (Executive Management Programme).