Ademola Adebise, the CEO and Managing Director of Wema Bank, is a prominent Nigerian banker whose hard work and clear focus drove him through the ranks in Africa’s first fully digital bank.
The Nigerian business executive graduated from the University of Lagos with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering in 1987. Upon graduation, he worked as a Programmer and Systems analyst at an indigenous Information technology company in Nigeria. Ademola also owns a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Lagos Business School.
How the computer engineer became a banker
Ademola began his career in the banking sector when he got employed in the Information technology department of Chartered Bank Plc (Now Stanbic IBTC bank) in 1990. After working in the department for a while, he grew to become the head of the department. As head of IT, Ademola was an integral part of the team that developed the bank application used by the company for 10 years before they switched.
The CEO who wanted to do more than technology became a chartered accountant in 1993. With that, he moved into the financial control room and grew to become the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the bank. As the CFO, he made contributions to the formulation of strategy for the bank.
Ademola’s tenacity made him experience growth in his career. He became the Assistant General Manager of Chartered Bank Plc and also worked as a Project Manager on various projects with Andersen Consulting. Some of which include: IT Systems Review, Process Re-engineering and Core Banking application selection.
In 2001, he moved to the National Bank of Nigeria Limited and served in the capacity of a General Manager. As general manager, he managed the following business units: Corporate Banking, Treasury and Electronic Business units, Risk Management, Information Technology, Finance and Performance Management. After spending five years at the National Bank, Ademola moved on to Accenture in November 2005.
According to Ademola, his stay at Accenture redefined his career. He had the opportunity to consult as a subject matter expert. He served as the Head of Finance & Performance Management practice, Project Manager for various Projects in the Financial Services Industry, and Program Manager for a Large Transformation programme for an old Generation Bank. Serving in these capacities gave him the privilege of putting his technology and accounting background to use. During his 4 year sojourn at Accenture, Ademola was completely repackaged for the banking industry.
Ademola’s trajectory at Africa’s First Fully Digital Bank, Wema
In 2009, Ademola picked up an Executive Director role at Wema Bank Plc. As Executive Director, he was in charge of South Bank for over 7 years. He later became the Deputy Managing Director in 2017 and supervised Corporate Banking, Treasury, and Support Functions. Serving as deputy director, exposed him to several training opportunities. One such is the Advanced Management Program at the Havard Business School. Following the retirement of Mr Segun Oloketuyi his predecessor Ademola became the CEO/Managing Director in October 2018.
Notable achievements as CEO/MD
During Ademola’s tenure, Wema Bank’s asset base grew by 155 per cent to over N1.2 trillion, and its deposits by 214 per cent to N1.1 trillion. The bank shares outperformed competitor banks in relative terms, achieving triple its balance sheet size. They also paid dividends to shareholders continuously for four years following a decade-long hiatus.
As part of its commitment to sustainable financial services, Ademola led the institution to sign up for the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative – UNEP-FI. He also marshalled the bank to top the maiden edition of the KPMG Digital Channels Scorecard in 2020 and was a joint-first in the KPMG Banking Industry Customer Service Survey ranking.
Furthermore, Ademola was a part of the leadership team that launched ALAT. ALAT has grown to become a leading digital financial services platform in Nigeria with over 1.3m users. He also steered the bank to sign Davido, as a brand ambassador. This campaign ushered in the opening of over 700,000 accounts in about a week.
Currently, Wema is the leading collection bank for state and government agencies due to its effective and efficient platform.
Basic principles that shaped Ademola’s experience
Ademola is a focused and hardworking executive, who knew and identified what he wanted to do early in life. He had a mentor from his early days at Chartered Bank Plc that help shape his career and personal life. Beyond this, Ademola held unto his values as he pursued his passion. He believed in growth and was patient with his process.
Ademola serves on the board of Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS), AIICO insurance Plc, and AIICO Pension Managers Limited. He is a respected member of several professional organizations, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN). He has also been recognised for his contributions to the Nigerian banking industry, receiving several awards and accolades over the years. In 2020, he was named the Banker of the Year at the Leadership Excellence Awards, and in 2021, he was recognized as one of the Top 100 CEOs in Nigeria by BusinessDay.
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