Compiled by Uchechi Moses for JarusHub
Please note that this is not a compilation of the biggest firms by market capitalisation or richest CEOs. We aimed at compiling different CEOs of accomplished firms in different sectors. In summary, these are firms you must have come across their products, patronised their services or will certainly do both in the future.
- MIKE ADENUGA, FOUNDER AND CEO GLOBACOM
Degree: B.Sc in Business Administration from North-Western Oklahoma State University and Pace University.
He ventured into the telecoms industry in the late ‘90s, applied for a license and was issued a conditional GSM licence in 1999; which was then revoked. He later applied during a second auctioning of licenses in 2003 – which he got. The company Globacom – popularly known as Glo – expanded quickly and became a challenger to MTN. Also a major shareholder at Conoil – one of Nigeria’s biggest suppliers of fuel products.
- ADESOLA (“SOLA”) KAZEEM ADEDUNTAN, GMD/CEO FIRST BANK NIGERIA LIMITED AND SUBSIDIARIES
Degree: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of Ibadan in 1992; MBA from Cranfield University as a British Chevening Scholar in 2004.
A native of Ibadan, Oyo State, born in 1969. A veterinary surgeon cum accountant then renowned banker. Sola Adeduntan became the Managing Director FBN Holdings Plc (“Bank”) and subsidiaries in January 2016. Prior to this appointment, he was the pioneer Chief Financial Officer and Business Manager at the Africa Finance Corporation. Adesola once worked at KPMG as a Knowledge Manager.
- FUNKE OPEKE, COFOUNDER AND CEO OF MAINONE
Degree: B.Sc in Electrical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University; M.Sc in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, New York. Graduated as the best student in Queen’s School, Ibadan – an all girls’ school.
Prior to her return to Nigeria as CTO of MTN in 2005, Funke was the Executive Director of Verizon Communications’ Wholesale Division. She spearheaded the construction of West Africa’s largest Tier III Data Center, MDX-i’s Lekki Data Center, a $40 million investment with a capacity for 600 racks.
- FELIX ONWUCHEKWA NWABUKO, CEO PRESCO PLC
Degree: B.Sc Accounting, University of Benin; MBA from Manchester Business School.
Mr Felix worked at KPMG for a decade. He possesses 18 years’ experience in operational management of palm oil production and commercialisation. Strategised and completed two IPOs/Public flotation’s for Stock Exchange Listings in Nigeria – Okomu Oil Palm Plc (1991) and Presco Plc (2001/2002). A Fellow Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Member Institute of Directors, UK
- NNAMDI OKAFOR, CEO MAY AND BAKER PLC
Degree: Bachelor of Pharmacy, University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University); MBA in Marketing from the ESUT Business School.
Prior to his appointment as the CEO in February 2011, Okafor who has been with M&B since 1985, was the Executive Director/General Manager, Foods’ Division, Ota, Ogun State. A Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management. Also an alumnus of the Lagos Business School.
- STELLA CHINYELU OKOLI, FOUNDER AND CEO EMZOR PLC
Degree: Bachelor in Pharmacy from Bradford University (1969); M.Sc Biopharmaceutics, University of London – Chelsea College (1971). Okoli has attended Executive Management Programs of the HBS, Chief Executive Management of the Lagos Business School, ditto IESE Barcelona, Spain. She was previously Chairman Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Group of MAN, a member of the Economic Summit of Nigeria. Possesses over three decades of experience of manufacturing practices in the pharmaceutical industry. A Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria.
- OBA OTUDEKO, CEO AND CHAIRMAN OF HONEYWELL FLOUR MILLS PLC AND THE HONEYWELL GROUP.
Degree: B.Sc Accountancy at the Leeds College of Commerce Leeds, Yorkshire (which is now part of the Leeds Beckett University).
A banker for over two decades, from where he became the General Manager and acting CEO of then Cooperative Bank, Ibadan. Previously Chairman FBN Holdings, Airtel Nigeria and Fan Milk of Nigeria Plc. A renowned entrepreneur, possesses investments across diverse sectors of the economy. Otudeko also served on the Boards of Central Bank of Nigeria (1990 – 1997), Guinness Nigeria Plc (1999 – 2003), British American Tobacco Ltd (2001 – 2004) and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, headquartered in Lome, Togo (2002 – 2010).
- TONY ELUMELU, CHAIRMAN HEIRS HOLDINGS
Degree: B.Sc Economics, Ambrose Alli University; M.Sc Economics, University of Lagos; An alumnus of the Advanced Management Program, Harvard Business School. Born in Jos (1963).
Previously GMD and CEO UBA. Founder and Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, an African focused investment company with interests spanning the oil and gas, financial services, hospitality, real estate and healthcare sectors. The author and leading proponent of “Africapitalism” – investing in Africa, by Africans, for Africans.
- SEGUN ABAJE, CEO GUARANTY TRUST BANK
Degree: B.Sc Accounting, University of San Francisco; M.Sc, University of San Francisco; MBA Harvard Business School.
Worked briefly at Ernst & Young (now EY), San Francisco’s office. A pioneer staff of GTB. As Deputy Managing Director, he was instrumental to GTB’s IPO of N2.5 billion, July 2002. Due to co-founder Tayo Aderinokun’s diagnosis of lung cancer, Abaje was appointed as the acting Managing Director in 2011. Upon Tayo’s death in June 2011, he was named the CEO. Abaje has supported the likes of TerraKulture and Ndani TV. He was named African Banker of the Year twice (2012 and 2016). GTB has consistently been one of Nigeria’s most profitable banks during his reign.
- PETER AMANGBO, CEO ZENITH BANK
Degree: Bachelor in Engineering, University of Benin; MBA from the University of Warwick.
Peter was appointed CEO of Zenith Bank June 2014 when erstwhile CEO Godwin Emefiele was appointed CBN Governor. A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. He worked at PwC as a Senior Consultant in the Financial Services, Manufacturing and General Commerce Groups. He has attended Advanced Management Programs at INSEAD, Fontainebleau Campus, France and the Wharton Graduate School of Business, Pennsylvania and has taken several management courses from the Harvard Business School. A member of the Interswtich Board of Directors from 2005-2007.
- PAUL GBEDEDO, CEO FLOUR MILLS NIGERIA
Degree: Graduateship of Plastic and Rubber Institute and Associateship of National College of Rubber Technology in 1980; M.Sc Degree in Polymer Technology (1981) of Loughborough University of Technology, UK; Advanced Management Programme alumnus of Lagos Business School. He started his FMN Group career at Nigerian Bag Manufacturing Company Plc (1982 – 1998). Served as a pioneer General Manager/Director for Golden Pasta Company Limited, a former subsidiary (now a division) of Flour Mills – which has grown to become Africa’s biggest pasta plant.
- AUSTIN AVURU, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF SEPLAT PLC
Degree: B.Sc Geology from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1980); a post-graduate diploma in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Ibadan (1992).
Spent a dozen years at NNPC as a well site geologist, later production seismologist and reservoir engineer before co-founding Seplat. He established Platform Petroleum Limited in 2002, and held the role of managing director until 2010, when he left to take up the CEO position at Seplat. He is also a director of MPI, which is listed on NYSE Euronext Paris.
- UZOMA DOZIE, CEO DIAMOND BANK PLC
Degree: B.Sc Chemistry from the University of Reading 1991; M.Sc Chemical Research, Imperial College London and MBA (with specialisation in Finance) from Imperial College Management School (now Imperial Business School) in 1998.
Commenced his banking career at Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. Was the Executive Director in charge of Lagos Businesses between 2011 and 2013 until his appointment as a Deputy Managing Director in April 2013. He was unanimously appointed by the Board as the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Bank effective from November 1, 2014 and approved by the CBN in January 2015.
- ALIKO DANGOTE, CHAIRMAN AND CEO DANGOTE GROUP
Degree: B.Sc Business Studies Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt.
Dangote – Africa’s richest man.
He started business in 1978 trading in rice, sugar and cement, before he ventured into full-scale manufacturing. The Group, which had a market capitalisation of over $24 billion as at December 2013, has four of its 13 subsidiaries listed on the NSE. One of the subsidiaries. In addition, Dangote’s Obajana Cement Plant is reputed to be one of the single largest cement plants in the world with an estimated capacity of 13.25million metric tonnes per annum. Dangote Group recently made foray into other sectors of the economy and is currently building the largest refinery, petrochemical and fertiliser complex in Africa. The refinery will have the capacity to refine 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day, while the petrochemical plant will produce 600,000 MTPY of Polypropylene. Listed by Forbes’ magazine in January 2018 as Africa’s richest man – for the seventh consecutive year.
- TONYE COLE, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO SAHARA GROUP
Degree: B.Sc Architecture University of Lagos; M.Sc Architecture, University of Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil.
Worked with Group Quarto in Brazil before returning to Nigeria in 1993, and became the Director of Operations in EMSA. SA, one of Brazil’s biggest engineering firms. Co-founded Sahara Group in 1996 with two of his friends – Tope Shonubi and Ade Odunsi. Major sponsor of the thespian Monalisa Chinda’s Slum2Slum School Project – a brainchild of Slum2Slum – NGO that caters for children’s education and healthcare in the slums.
- OLUWAGBEMIGA“GBENGA” OYEBODE, CO-FOUNDER AND MANAGING PARTNER ALUKO AND OYEBODE
Degree: Bachelor of Law (LL.B) University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1979; Nigerian Law School 1980; Masters of Law (LL.M), University of Pennsylvania 1982. Previously worked with White and Case, New York as an associate and then with Gulf Oil (now Chevron) in Lagos and Houston. Together with Bankole Olumide Aluko, Aluko and Oyebode was founded in 1993. Hitherto then, he worked with Ajumogobia, Okeke, Aluko and Oyebode in 1992. Recognised in 2008 as a specialist in corporate commercial work and highly knowledgeable with the Telecoms’ industry by Chambers’ Global.
- CHUKA ESEKA, MANAGING DIRECTOR/CEO VETIVA CAPITAL MANAGEMENT
Degree: B.Sc Accounting, University of Lagos.
Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, member of the ICAN and authorised dealer of The Nigerian Stock Exchange. A renowned investment banker, having successfully managed the growth and emergence of Vetiva into one of Nigeria’s top investment banking corporations. Also a director in Providus Bank, Nigeria
- MITCHELL ELEGBE, FOUNDER AND CEO, INTERSWITCH
Degree: B.Sc Electrical Engineer, University of Benin; MBA IESE/Wharton/CEIBS Global CEO Program.
In 2002, he founded Interswitch – owner of Verve and Quickteller. Started his career with CSA (Computer Systems Associates) immediately after his NYSC. Worked with Schlumberger for less than a year as a Field Engineer before appointed as Head Group Marketing and Business Solutions of Telnet Group. A fellow of The Bishop Desmond Tutu African Leadership Institute.
- NIYI YUSUF, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ACCENTURE NIGERIA
Degree: B.Sc Computer Science with Economics, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife (1990); Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration, University of Wales, Cardiff (2015).
Niyi Yusuf became the company’s country managing director of the Nigeria office on April 1, 2010. He was head of the Systems and Integration Growth platform in Nigeria before he succeeded Mrs. Omobola Johnson who stepped down as CMD on March 1, 2010, becoming chairman.
He joined Accenture in 1995 after 4 years of experience in the Nigerian IT industry. He spent over 14 years in Accenture, before rising to become CEO and he has been the CEO for 8 years. He has managed the implementation and delivery of many turnkey projects for clients in various industries spanning manufacturing, oil and gas, banking, insurance and public sector.
- YINKA SANNI, GROUP CEO, STANBICIBTC HOLDINGS
Degree: Bsc Agricultural Economics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka; MBA Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
He joined Investment Banking & Trust Company (now part of StanbicIBTC Group) in 1990 and rose through the ranks, holding several senior management positions within the organization including that of Co-Head, Corporate and Investment Banking. He also held the position of Executive Director & Head, Corporate and Investment Banking. He was the pioneer Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Limited and the pioneer Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC Asset Management Limited. He has a wealth of experience in banking and financial services covering banking, stockbroking, pension, and asset management spanning over 26 years.
- Most of the CEOs graduated from first generation universities, except Tony’s Ambrose Alli University. Albeit, there were few foreign grads, we expect more graduates from foreign universities, ditto top private schools to swell the ranks in the future.
- Most of them got foreign degrees or certificates at some point.
- It is not compulsory that you practice what you studied in school. Your first degree is just for cognitive development, further development of your logical thinking, numeracy, communication skills and networking. Neither must you study a particular course to become a CEO. Dozie had his both degrees in Chemistry, and he is a banker today.
- Further education and programs at top business schools is essential at a point in a CEO’s career. Whether Harvard, INSEAD or Imperial. These programs provide world-class trainings, networking and knowledge for aspiring, current and future CEOs.
- Entrepreneurship shows its tenacity at creating wealth and jobs. Starting a company, growing it and knowing when to stop or continue is important in a CEO’s career. As well as starting a firm even while still being employed.
- Yes, entrepreneurship is important. So also is being a reputable employee. As enumerated, we have CEOs who have been at various firms for over 20 and close to 30 years; some in one firm, others at different companies. While starting your company can be important, it is pertinent to note that not everyone will be an entrepreneur in their lifetime. Some persons are just specialists in execution.
- Still on entrepreneurship. Starting your company early is good, so also is working for different corporations for some years, garnering valuable experience before launching it.
- Almost all of them have second degree (MBA or Msc).
- Finally, diligence, determination, hard work and perseverance are important ingredients in becoming a CEO of a top company – Nigeria or globally.
See also: AMERICA’S TOP 13 CEOS AND THE COURSES THEY STUDIED IN SCHOOL
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