MY MENTOR – THE FIRST FEMALE CHAIRMAN OF FIRST BANK PLC, MRS IBUKUN AWOSIKA

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Mrs. Ibukunoluwa Abiodun Awosika is currently the First Female Chairman of First Bank PLC.

Early Life and Education

She was born on December 24 1962, the third of seven children. She attended St. Paul’s African Church Primary School, Lagos for her basic education, then proceeded to Methodist Girls High School, Yaba, Lagos for her secondary education.

She has always been a trail blazer from her early years as a student, achieving excellent academic results, and winning the Dotun Okubanjo prize for Most Outstanding Student.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. She is also an alumna of the Chief Executive Programme of  the Lagos Business School, and Global Executive MBA Programme of IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain.

Work Life

She started her working career with Akintola Williams & Co. as an audit trainee during her national youth service year, based on the knowledge gained while taking elective Accounting courses while at the university. Upon completion of her service year, she turned down the prospect of continuing with the job because it felt rather routine.

She later got a job with Alibert Nigeria Ltd, a Lebanese furniture company as a Showroom Manager, though her time here was short-lived, but she reckons they were some of the most defining three and a half months of her life.

Working in furniture rekindled her young love for architecture, and the freedom it offered to play with space and birth creative products; she had found her place in the world it seemed, but the values of the company were at variance with hers, and displaying the strength of character that has come to define her, she made the decisive decision to leave.

Her Entrepreneurial Journey

From there, and only 25 years old, she established Quebees Ltd – a furniture manufacturing company that started with a staff number of seven – three carpenters, two upholsterers and two sprayers – all of whom were established in their trade and had the proper tools of business. They were paid per unit of work done, and not from any startup capital for she had none, but through an ingenious plan of insisting clients pay 70% upfront!

With dint of hard work, sheer grit to overcome difficult challenges, and a moral code steeped in integrity and a good name; she got even more jobs with a clientele list that included TEXACO Nigeria Plc, as repeat businesses and referrals from clients whom she had served well swelled her once tiny portfolio.

Her company, Quebees Ltd would later morph into The Chair Centre Ltd, a market leader in the office furniture and banking security systems industry, of which she was its Managing Director.

In 2004, when the federal government banned the importation of furniture, she saw this as an added avenue for growth, and entered a joint venture with Sokoa S.A of France, Guaranty Trust Bank, and other local investors to form  Sokoa Chair Centre Ltd,  and was summarily appointed its Chief Executive Officer.

Today, this company that she commandeers has revenue in the billions of naira – such an increase for someone who started without capital but only her dreams, self-confidence, integrity, a good name, bankable reputation, frugality, and a proclivity for always doing things the right way.

Her Other Contributions

She is the host of the popular TV programme, BUSINESS – HIS WAY, where she teaches the business community ethical business principles based on the Word of God, founder of Christian Missionary Fund, a non-governmental body dedicated to raising support for Christian missionaries across the country, and is a Pastor at the Fountain of Life Church.

She has served the country in multifarious capacities. as member of the National Job Creation Committee (NCJC), member of the Corporate Governance Committee for the NNPC, board member of the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund, member of the National Economic Summit Group (NESG), member of the Lagos State University Governing Council, and providing infrastructure, skills and support to a cluster of SME firms with similar raw material requirements in conjunction with the Ogun State Government, among others.

She also sits on the boards of many illustrious corporations: as Chairman, Board of Trustees of Women in Management and Business (WIMBIZ),  Chairman of Intermac – organisers of SmartCard Conference in Nigeria, Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Digital Jewels Ltd, and most recently, Chairman, First Bank Nigeria Plc, and many others not included here.

Awards and Accolades

  1. Nominee, Entrepreneur of The Year (2005) – THISDAY Newspaper Annual Merit Award
  2. Nominee, The Best Female Entrepreneur of the Year (2006) – Financial Standard and Pan-African Organisation for Women Recognition (POWR)
  3. Nominee, The Best Female Entrepreneur of the Year (2006) – Financial Standard and Pan-African Organisation for Women Recognition (POWR)
  4. FATE Model Entrepreneur Award for the year 2006 – FATE Foundation.
  5. Golden Heart Award (2007)- Under the aegis of the International Women Society
  6. Award of Leadership Excellence 2008 – Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lagos Island Chapter
  7. Female Entrepreneur of the Year 2005 – Success Digests Magazine´s Annual Enterprise Award
  8. FATE Model Entrepreneur Award for the year 2006 – FATE Foundation

Books

  • The “Girl” Entrepreneur: Our Stories So Far
  • Ibukun Awosika: Business His Way
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