By Eric Elezuo
The financial world cannot be discussed without the mention of whiz kids of the industry, chiefly among them the Chief Executive Officer of the newest bank in town, NOVA Merchant Bank, Mr. Chinedu Ikwudinma.
The ebullient economic guru is a typical example of a child who is dining with kings for the lofty reason of having washed his hands very clean.
Born during the thick of the Nigeria/Biafra Civil War in 1967, Chinedu spent the first 30 months of his life in the theatre of war, absorbing the gun shots and pains of struggle for survival with letting it affect his greater vision of becoming one of the greatest bankers of his generation.
The irrepressible banker though the Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of the newly innovated Nova Merchant Bank Limited, crossed hurdles and paid his dues in the financial world before the exalted position he occupies today.
Consequently, prior to this role, he was the Executive Director and Country Risk Manager for Citibank Nigeria Limited. It is on record that Mr. Ikwudinma spent over 25 years building a career at Citibank, and during this time, he was the Country Head of Commercial Banking for Citibank Nigeria from 2005 to 2006, and proceeded to become the Corporate and Investment Bank Head at Citibank Zambia between January 2007 and April 2009. He concluded his meritorious service with Citibank as its Ugandan branch Managing Director, a position he held between May 2009 and April 2015.
Ikwudinma also held various executive positions covering Corporate and Investment Banking, Risk Management, Commercial Banking and Transaction Banking.
His vast knowledge in activities relating to finance and economy has set Mr. Ikwudinma apart among peers in addition to possessing a strong track record and expertise in large ticket transactions across vast sectors of the economy, covering Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Trading, Consumer Goods, Telecommunications and Building Materials/Construction.
It is noteworthy that the financial wizard did not commence life with finance at the back of his mind as he graduated as a Civil Engineer from the University of Nsukka. It was after his B Eng. honours that Ikwudinma went ahead to acquire a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) and capped it up with M.Sc. degree in Structural Engineering from the University of Lagos. Being passionate for calculation and figures, Mr. Ikwudinma chanelled his professional might towards finance and economy, and today, he is reputed as the one of the innovative bankers of the time. Otherwise he is certified engineer professionally.
In addition to his lofty achievements, Mr. Ikwudinma was the Chairman of the Uganda Bankers’ Association from May 2014 to March 2015, during which period he significantly improved the perception and reputation of the banking industry while at the same time developing strong engagement with all key stakeholders. His efforts earned him the Bank of Uganda Governor’s Award of Appreciation for Dedicated Service to Uganda’s Banking Industry in 2015. He also served as the Director of American Chamber of Commerce in Uganda from 2009 to 2013.
An ardent reader and writer, Ikwudinma has once started that he loves books I because they are excellent sources of wisdom and knowledge.
In his words: “Books have been the most durable and effective means of transferring knowledge from one generation to the next, at least until the advent of the internet and the electronic age. Both fiction and nonfiction works are sources of inspiration for me. I was privileged to have parents who love knowledge and when I was young they inspired in me the desire to learn by telling me stories.”
Among the books he read and loved are As A Man Thinketh by James Allen, which he stated ‘encourages me to believe in myself’, focus on his work in order to achieve success, learn to deal with failure, and realize that success comes from making the effort to be the best one can be.
Ikwudinma’s other source of inspiration is another book with the title The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. He had described the book as the most lucid books he ever read on the subject of power – relations and influence.
Hear him: “It’s an analysis of how one should conduct himself/herself in different scenarios and environments. The style is more expository than prescriptive.”
Others include Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, which was set in the eastern region of Nigeria where he comes from; The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason, which teaches financial affairs, including how to save and invest, through a very simple and charming story. It also gives guidance on the principles of effective money management.
A very religious person, Ikwudinma’s spiritual anchor remains The Bible. “I find it to be an extremely powerful book and a source of strength and succour. It has survived for over 2,000 years and it is still relevant and revered. One needs to build their spiritual strength to have a balanced life,” he said
With the berthing of the fifth merchant bank in Nigeria’s banking industry, NOVA Merchant Bank Limited, the emergence of Ikwudinma as the man at the helm of affairs did not come as a surprise. In the brief period the bank has existed, he has revolutionalised merchant banking with fresh thinking, ideas and unique offer channeled specifically into wholesale banking, investment banking and asset management.
At the launch of the bank, Ikwudinma, who explained the strategic direction of the financial institution, said offering of trade services, project financing, cash management, corporate solutions and advisory services will be focused on among other juicy packages which are already manifesting.
Still searching for more virgin business environments to conquer, he said this about his person and aspirations:
“I want to be a distinctive first rate professional, a respected financial services expert, a motivator, positive change agent, a leader and a recognized visionary in all fields of endeavour I choose to apply myself to, including but not exclusive to banking and financial services. To apply my extensive knowledge of banking and financial affairs, my abilities/knowledge in other spheres of human endeavour, and my own resources, material and otherwise, in the service of my community and any communities I may be privileged to associate with, measured by my positive impact on people and in the betterment of human society.”
A gentleman and family man to the core, Ikwudinma is happily married with children.
Sir, for your innovative tendencies and superior achievements in every area you have been privileged to participate, you are our Boss of the Week.