Aishah Ahmad, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) deputy governor nominee, is so young you would have to conclude she is the youngest person to be appointed to that position — and she is so experienced you cannot but admire her resume.
In the last 20 years, she has been a banking executive and an investment adviser across retail banking, wealth management, consulting and financial advisory.
Until now, the executive director (retail banking) at Diamond Bank Plc, 40-year-old Ahmad (she will be 41 on October 26) comes to the CBN job with a rich history of promoting the role of women in the society, even though she will be the first to tell you that she has never been that conscious of the glass ceiling for the female gender.
She is the chairperson of the executive council of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), a Nigerian non-profit organisation founded in 2001 by 13 women and one man who identified a serious issue concerning women in the workplace and in business, particularly in the areas of leadership capacity building and avenues for networking for growth.
The Cable understands that she is a like-for-like replacement for Sarah Alade, PhD, who retired from CBN as deputy governor in March 2017. Alade is from the north-central (Kwara), same zone as Ahmad who hails from Niger state.
Ahmad shares birthday with Hillary Clinton — who inspires her
Asked by a newspaper in 2016 on the women who inspired her, she named quite a few but pointed out Hillary Clinton, the former US first lady, who made an unsuccessful bid to become US president in 2016.
She said: “Hillary Clinton, who happens to be my ‘birthday mate’, has been a strong influencer over the years. I admire her ability to stay focused on making an impact and my admiration for her has only been validated by her recent nomination as the US Democratic presidential candidate.”
The mother of two teenage sons also celebrated the founding trustees of WIMBIZ who have “also been a positive influence in their many accomplishments across private and public sector”.
At every turn, she said, they have distinguished themselves as women of repute and deep impact, including founding WIMBIZ “as their contribution to advancing the cause of women everywhere”.
A rich resume
Ahmad, whose husband is Abdallah A. Ahmad, a retired Brigadier-General, has worked at local and global institutions, including NAL Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc (a member of Standard Bank Group) and Zenith Bank Plc.
She is currently responsible for the consumer banking division at Diamond Bank Plc comprising consumer banking group, privilege banking group, retail assets group and bancassurance. She was accountable for a customer base of over seven million, according to checks by TheCable.
Ahmad is a member of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Associations – globally recognised programmes for investment analysts and portfolio managers.
She holds an MSc in finance and management from the Cranfield School of Management in the UK, an MBA with a specialisation in finance from the University of Lagos and a graduate degree in accounting from the University of Abuja.
From a family of ‘accomplished women’
She comes from a long line of very accomplished women within her family who have distinguished themselves across sectors – medicine, pharmacy, accounting and business.
“I was lucky to have very early positive and visible role models of women working outside the home and making a big difference in their careers. One of my grandmothers created a distinguished career in the nursing field being one of the early recipients of an international education and I have many aunties who are doing great things in their various businesses and careers,” she told The Guardian in the interview.
“I must credit my mother for inspiring my strong work ethic – she’s been successful at diverse careers in pharmacology, accounting and as a business woman including managing a family.”
Winning with WIMBIZ
WIMBIZ, under her leadership, launched “The Big Sister Program” — a volunteer-based empowerment initiative focused young females at the grassroots.
It has benefitted 2,224 teenage girls across 52 public schools in three states of the federation, according to the body.
She is also credited with conceiving and helping to develop the WIMBIZ mobile application, a content and engagement platform for global female empowerment. The NGO became more visible under her.
She was recently appointed to the board of SOS Children’s Villages Nigeria, which aims to provide “quality care, education and health services to at-risk children and families in 135 countries and territories”.
She served as a steering committee member for Cherie Blair Foundation’s Technology for Growth project, a learning intervention programme for female entrepreneurs developed in conjunction with Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) at Lagos Business School.