Why did you choose a career in the accounting industry?
I knew I wasn’t cut out for pure sciences, biology and chemistry, but I was drawn towards social sciences and economics and chose a degree course in economics at Brunel University.
My accountancy training has been invaluable in enabling me to pursue a career that spans the whole banking industry. It has been fundamental to securing my new role as Chief Operating Officer; a role that covers every aspect of global banking strategy – IT, people, marketing, operations – and makes you a specialist in running businesses.
During my time at university, the accountancy profession was heavily promoted as a prestigious profession that offered exciting prospects, with a lot of emphasis on study and training. So I went for it. When I completed my accountancy training in 1993, it was the age of the Big Bang, when the financial markets were being deregulated. What had been a very tight sector in terms of gaining a foothold on the career ladder, suddenly threw up lots of new opportunities. I couldn’t wait to get on.
How did you get to where you are today?
During the early years of my career I experienced a breadth of roles that exposed me to the global banking sectors of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the US, and I covered investment banking inside out. That vast experience provided the architecture for my career.
Before I joined JP Morgan I kept looking for opportunities where I could continue to expand my skills and experience. The investment banking sector has many different cultures and multiple businesses, so at the time, changing banks was the only way I would get to experience them.
As a much larger organisation, JP Morgan offered me scope to experience many different roles and functions without having to leave the bank. The experience that I’ve gained has been instrumental in the broadening of my skill sets.
My accountancy training really equipped me with the vital analytical skills and strategic mind-set that you need as Chief Operating Officer, to be able to go into any area of the business, ask the right kind of questions, process huge volumes of data and to gain an accurate measure of any business situation. I can’t think of another form of professional training that equips you so well and stays with you throughout your entire career.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I believe that Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, has huge potential. Here we have an emerging financial sector, but also a lot of focus on the country’s social issues, and the banks being part of the solution to those issues. Our objective is to do business in the right way.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Travel is one of my biggest passions, which I’ve done extensively, both for work (including London, New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Nigeria) and for pleasure. I have a yearning to understand different cultures and the thinking of the people behind those cultures, and how it influences the shape and structure of their economies. I have always found that absolutely fascinating.
What I enjoy most is learning, and that has stood me in good stead throughout my career. I really do believe that if you are determined, tenacious and patient, things will happen.