‘Banks Can Help Nigeria Overcome Vices Worsening Economic Crises’

Aishat Jeleel-Ojuade is a graduate of the University of Ilorin where she studied accounting. She also holds an MBA from same institution and has spent over 20 years in the banking industry in Nigeria. In this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL, she shares her robust banking experience including her role as Manager and Team Lead in a leading Bank. She also talks about overcoming professional challenges and how her mentor, Dr. Lanre Olushola has been an influence in her career. The banker shares how the banking sector can help Nigeria out of her economic woes.

Excerpts:

As a Manager and Team Lead at one of the leading banks in Nigeria, what are the challenges in leading a team of professionals?

Some of the challenges in leading a team of professionals begin with communication. Communication is a complex skill that we sometimes take for granted. Active listening involves both verbal and non-verbal. It impacts relationships at work in terms of alignments and building trust within the team. It is the basis for empathy.
Next is resource management, especially human resources. Having to deal with different views from colleagues with diverse backgrounds can be very complicated, even though enriching. When you work with a team of professionals, everyone is smart, intelligent and has an opinion. As a leader, you need to be able to identify the uniqueness of each individual in your team and understand how to apply their individuality to align with the overall goal of the team.
Leadership is service. And when you work with active, smart people, you have to be active and smart so that you will not be the one holding your team down.

After many years at the bank where you began as a Customer Care Officer and rose to becoming a Relationship Manager and Team Lead, what are you looking up to in the near future?

In my current role, I work with businesses to review, revise and restructure their operations to create strategies that help them thrive and increase in profits. I am now focusing on the “Application of Artificial Intelligence to Business”, as I look up to helping small and medium scale businesses to take advantage of technology to drive growth.

You also have an interest in the media, what is the attraction and connection having being in the banking sector for long?

Media is for communication and communication aids innovation, creates clarity, builds relationships, allows knowledge sharing, increases engagement and helps to build trust.

What lessons learnt from your internship at the PwC in 2001 that have shaped your career and still relevant to your operations today?

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The most profound lesson I took away from PwC is the need to continuously strive to learn and to grow, ensuring that you are constantly developing yourself, learning and trying new things every day. You seek knowledge and you continue to learn. This has shaped my entire journey and career.

One of your career successes in the Bank was your implementation of strategic processes that facilitated your consistent delivery on YOY revenue and profit growth of 300% in 5 years. How did this feat come about?

I work with a great team. We come together to review our ever-changing landscape and respond with solution-driven ideas to grow our business share and sustain customer loyalty.

Who are your mentors in the banking sector and what books have you read that you can say have influenced your career?

Officially, I am a mentee of Dr. Lanre Olushola and belong to his Catalyst Integrative Coaching and Mentoring Program (CICMP). Other people I look up to include Dr. Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Mrs. Ibukun Awosika.
Talking about books, I’ll talk about one book that has been applicable in my everyday life ever since I i read it. It is a book written by Ryan Holiday; The Obsatacle is the Way. That book creates for the reader an approach that empowers you to embrace every obstacle as an opportunity to test yourself, to try new ways and ultimately, to triumph.

Lastly, Nigeria is going through an economic crisis, some people have indicated the banking sector especially going by happenings in and around the bank in the last one year. How do you think the banks can help Nigeria out of the woods?

Banks are the primary suppliers of credit, they are the drivers of commerce, they are major employers of labour in Nigeria, and they are heavily regulated. Banks also enhance the development of international trade. I will say that just by adhering strictly to regulations in their day-to-day regular activities, banks can help prevent Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and other vices that are worsening Nigeria’s economic crises.

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