• Friday, May 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

With 15 years and still at it, Omowunmi Kalejaiye is a leading light to womenfolk in the corporate world

As the assistant vice president, she is responsible for the commercial and retail businesses in the branches of Victoria Island area of F.C.M.B. My Leading Woman for this week is Omowunmi  Kalejaiye.

She has a Mass Communication degree from the University of Lagos and presently back to school to pursue another Masters in Corporate Governance from Leeds Beckett University , having realized that organisations need to understand what part ethics and good corporate responsibility plays in the fast paced evolving world we are in. “What you value and project, will keep you for the long haul” Wunmi tells me.

“Growing up for me was fun and interesting. We are a family of 4 girls and a boy and I am the first child. My mum was the very strict one as opposed to my dad. My early years were here in Lagos, and later, work moved my Father to Kaduna where I had almost all my education. It was your regular middle class family, but with a lot of love to give. Growing up, I thought all parents had to have the same initials: my dad is John Ademola Kalejaiye (J.A.K), whilst my mum is Juliannah Adunni Kalejaiye (J.A.K). You can imagine my surprise when I learnt it was not quite that way!” Wunmi says as the interview begins and she continues “We are quite close as a family and part of the joy for me is that we have praying parents who have devoted quality time praying us through the different phases of our lives. Interestingly, as we all matured, we found God individually and I will say their prayers as parents, have largely sustained us. From my father, I learnt

discipline and attention to the small details. I further learnt how to stand up for what you believe in and seeing things through perhaps it may also be the Ondo factor. My mum taught me dexterity and how to be personable. Somehow, those qualities have made the journey of my life a lot easier. I am the original never say die! I am an unashamed eternal optimist. I keep seeking for the good in situations. Somehow, it has also affected the very many good outcomes I have had in life” says Wunmi.

Omowunmi-Kalejaiye

The choice of Banking as a career came for Wunmi at a point in her life when an unfortunate incident saw her taking time off to think through her options of a career. Her first degree was in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos and she had been involved in consulting briefly, training management and public relations up till that point. She however did not have the consistency she needed.  “The brainstorming took place, I decided it was banking and narrowed down a couple of banks. I went through the interview process and ended up with three offers! You can imagine my delight. I had however taken particular note of the feel of F.C.M.B all the while I was undergoing my interviews. The staff looked fresh and happy, the panel interviewing me made me comfortable, I was not made to feel embarrassed because I had not worked in a bank before, and above all, my findings about the bank revealed an institution with a strong vision and desire to succeed  and build a lasting heritage in banking.”

“When all the offers came, it was a no brainer, FCMB was it for me. And over the years, the astuteness of my choice has been consistently validated. The working environment is fair and encouraging. It seeks to bring out the best in you and push you to be your optimal best. I will be 15years in the bank by January 2015.” Wunmi narrates.

Asked what her responsibilities as Vice President and she tells me. Hear her “I have the responsibility for the retail and commercial business of the zone and ensuring the corporate objectives of the bank are met. I manage my reporting branches for profitability; train, coach, mentor and ensure the working atmosphere is one that enhances efficiency and productivity. Hiring staff into the zone is also a responsibility for me, whilst I ensure the discipline that goes with being a custodian of other people’s funds, is in place. Every leader in the work place needs a follower-ship that believes in their leadership. To that extent, I consistently seek to improve on my skills, expertise, and even personality so that my team have the requisite confidence in my judgement. I am strong on feedback as it has helped me consistently feel the pulse of my team. That way, we have achieved better results. I recently started a Master degree programme in Corporate  Governance; a course which I believe will aid proper evaluation of ethics in the work place, in addition to understanding the relevance of different stakeholders that have bearing not just for FCMB, but the industry as a whole.” Wunmi says.

Speaking on the need for more women in top positions of organisations, Omawunmi has this to say “I believe all of that is presently being addressed and corrected. Well before now, women did not rise up to their full potentials, but that position has changed. It is a known fact now in most forward thinking organizations that women give their best. They can multitask, are orderly, loyal with strong sense of responsibility. Give a woman a task, and she will seek to deliver. Even from the highest body in banking, the CBN has taken steps to encourage a balance in this situation. Institutions are also regularly expected to give feedback, not just on female representations on their board, but the breakdown of females in their top management. Globalization has also enhanced the role and potential of the working class woman and the need to see her as a value creator. I believe the next couple of years will see more deliberate steps taken to correct this  lopsidedness.” Says Wunmi who further buttresses her point as she speaks on the importance of women empowerment. Hear her “I do believe women empowerment should be encouraged on all levels. The Proverbs 31 woman is not a myth. She is flesh and blood and was able to achieve actualisation on all levels. I believe it was because the right kind of empowerment and support came her way. Support is the key word here. Once women are viewed as value creators, and society is able to see them that way, you will see a lot more women coming into their own. Our chosen fields will be different, but when collectively pooled, you see us affecting not just Nations, but destinies of generations. Society needs to review the level of support offered the working class woman up till this point, and shift the paradigm towards the more positive. Of recent interest is the SME funding released from the presidency which singles out women as major beneficiaries. This is  noteworthy and commendable.” She articulates.

Yes challenges are a part of life and Wunmi has her views on this. Again, she speaks “Challenges happen to be part of life, but as a believer, they are meant to spur you to the next level. No test, no testimony. What you also do with the test is quite relevant. So on whatever platform they have manifested over the years, in the personal or in the professional, I have a tried and tested God who is more than able. He has proven sufficient in the past and still is in the business of answering my requests! In the secular, we say no pain no gain; there have been some pains, but a lot more gains. I am truly grateful to the Almighty for the life I have today.” Wunmi concludes.

Kemi Ajumobi