There is something endearing about a confident woman, she knows her onions and is not afraid to stand by her convictions. Such attributes best describes my Leading Woman for this week. She is a specialist in risk, strategy and human resource management. She has an MBA in finance and investments from the George Washington University DC., and BSc Economics with a second class upper, from the University of Ife, Ile Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. She started her career with the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, Lagos, followed by Webster Fine Arts Inc, Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA. She then kicked off her banking career in 1983 with an affiliate of First National Bank of Chicago (International Merchant Bank Nigeria Plc, Lagos) working for several years as a lender, then in correspondent banking where she was responsible for managing several of the bank’s European and American banking relationships. She later was Head, International Treasury Unit and then Head,
Financial Advisory. Currently, she is the founder/CEO of H.Pierson, and has led numerous landmark consulting deals in the financial, oil & gas, and power sectors covering banks, state governments and other high-profile clients. She has attended numerous international trainings such as at the Harvard Business School. She was also on attachment to Mellon Bank, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for several months. She is currently a regional Director of the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP). Eileen Chinwe Shaiyen is my Leading Woman for this week.
Eileen’s early years in life was quite interesting. She was brought up by a dad who was a medical doctor and a mum who was an educationist. “we were quite comfortable, but balanced against that was a very strong value system in the home. In our Nigerian environment where the value system started degenerating since the early 1980s, this foundation has helped me to rise above the moral issues in the society and run diligently -educationally, professionally and business-wise, while growing my family.” She says.
As founder/CEO of H. Pierson, Eileen has been able to lead numerous landmark consulting deals with financial and power sector regulators, banks, state governments and other high-profile clients and she tells me how this has been possible. In her words, “I’ve grown to recognize the fact that in building the business from scratch, quality people especially in terms of our core values, which are character, blended with passion and intellect, have been and remain central to the success of the organization. I’ve also ensured and tried to keep a very strong long-term vision for the organization and that has kept us along a steady growth-path over the years. We have tried to ensure that at the centre of our projects, there is strong commitment to truly making a transforming impact on the clients we serve.” Eileen says.
I asked Eileen how she manages to combine the trio of being a specialist in risk, strategy and human resource management and her response said it all. Hear her “Clearly, at the centre of it all is risk management. Effective strategic planning and implementation, as well as sound human resources management in an organization, can easily be seen as sub-components of risk management. Combining them is not much of a challenge because they all take their roots from risk management.” She explains.
For Eileen, what separates H. Pierson from other like minded organisations is that they have a very concentrated focus on quality in everything they do.
Eileen takes me back memory lane as she shares with me her experience as a ‘lender’ and correspondent banker. “My experience as a ‘lender’, started out in 1983 where I was working for International Merchant Bank, which was then an affiliate of First National Bank of Chicago. The institution at the time, spared no efforts in ensuring we all got the best international training and exposure in ‘lending’ through offshore credit trainings and attachments in the credit departments of international banks, often lasting for several weeks and sometimes up to half a year.”
“This was backed by a lot of local training and working with some of the best minds in banking at the time. On other hand, correspondent banking was more exciting as one, at a young age at the time, I had responsibilities for managing numerous banking relationships across Europe, United Kingdom and the United States, thereby, providing versatility and a sound foundation in international banking, risk management, and relationship management.” She quips.
As the regional director of GARP, Eileen lets me in on her duties and what GARP stands for. According to her, “The acronym, GARP means Global Association of Risks Professionals. We have our headquarters in New Jersey, USA. Very key to GARP is its goal of deepening the global risk management culture through its initiatives and certifications. GARP’s Financial Risk Manager –FRM and its Energy Risk Professional – ERP exams have become the premier certification for risk professionals globally. It’s been a privilege serving as the regional director for seven years and growing membership from a few tens to quite a few thousands across the country.” Shaiyen narrates.
Being an expert in risk management doesn’t exclude Shaiyen from professional and personal challenges, some of which she shares with me when she says “professionally, I would say one of my biggest challenges has been the cost of running a business in Nigeria which is extremely high. This includes overheads on water, power generation, as well as the cost of credit which also is extremely high and discouraging for growing businesses like ours. Another challenge is growing very good professionals in an environment that is characterized by a very weak educational base and the entrenchment of mediocrity in various facets of the system. The final business challenge which I am currently working very strongly on is to begin to actualize my succession plan and implement the initiatives that will assure long term sustainability of the business following the last twenty five years of growing it into a respectable brand. Related to this is my biggest personal
challenge which is that of beginning to create more time for myself having spent many years building a lovely family and a business that I am very proud of.” She keenly expresses.
Concluding the interview, Shaiyen admits to me that if there is one thing that will always be paramount for her, it is mentorship. Again she speaks “When I look back, it’s been a lot of blessings: my family, my growing up, my career, and the business. I will want to continue to mentor young people and encourage them not to relent inspite of all the challenges in the system. This will require them maintaining a lot of focus, perseverance, and strength of character.
I look into the past with a great sense of satisfaction and gratitude to Almighty God who has made this possible, while looking forward to a very exciting future.” Shaiyen concludes.