Meet Bolaji Agbede, interim CEO of Access Holding who replaces Late Herbert Wigwe

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Prior to her appointment, Bolaji Agbede served as Access’ most senior founding Executive Director in Business Support for two years

In the wake of the demise of Herbert Wigwe, Co-founder, and former Chief Executive Officer of Access Holding, the Board has named Ms. Bolaji Agbede as the temporary CEO. This decision aligns with the bank’s robust succession planning practices, as emphasized by Abubakar Jimoh, the Chairman of the company.

“We are strongly convinced that Ms Agbede, being the company’s most senior executive with exceptionally rich, professional and leadership experience and the understanding of the Access culture, would provide the much-needed leadership to steer the company towards the attainment of its strategic vision…”

The appointment of Bolaji Agbede is subject to approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria, as indicated by Sunday Ekwochi, the company’s secretary.

Following the tragic news of the passing of the former CEO of Access Holding, the share price of Access Holdings witnessed a 6.26% decline on Monday. Access Holding (ACCESSCORP) held the position of the highest traded stock on the Nigerian Exchange in the past week.

Read More: Access Bank goes for new arrivals

Meet Bolaji Agbede

Prior to her appointment, Bolaji Agbede served as Access’ most senior founding Executive Director in Business Support for two years. With a tenure of 21 years at Access Bank, she initially joined as the Assistant General Manager, overseeing the organisation’s chemical trading companies.

Agbede, who joined Access in 2003 as an Assistant General Manager overseeing the bank’s chemical trading companies, has a distinguished career within the organization. From 2010 to 2022, she served as the Head of HR for the Access Holdings Group, focusing on human capital development. In 2022, she assumed the role of the founding executive director for business support, a position she held until her recent appointment as the interim CEO.

A seasoned professional, Ms. Bolaji Agbede earned her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Lagos in 1990, followed by a Master of Business Administration degree from Cranfield University in 2002. She is a member of both the Chartered Institute of Management UK and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria. Ms. Agbede has actively participated in distinguished leadership and professional development programs, including the High-Performance Leadership Programme by IMD and the Strategic Talent Management Programme by the London Business School.

Possible challenges financial establishments face in leadership changes

Financial establishments face a myriad of challenges during situations involving leadership changes, such as the appointment of a new CEO. One of the primary challenges is the uncertainty in the financial markets.

Leadership changes often trigger nervous reactions from investors, leading to fluctuations in stock prices and potential impacts on the institution’s overall valuation. Maintaining market stability becomes crucial during such transitions.

Ensuring stakeholder confidence is another critical challenge. Building and retaining trust among investors, clients, and employees is paramount. Lack of clear communication or concerns about the incoming leadership’s capabilities can erode confidence, potentially affecting the institution’s relationships and reputation.

Access Holding appoints Bolaji Agbede as new interim CEO following Herbert Wigwe's death

Strategic alignment poses a significant hurdle during leadership changes. It’s essential to ensure a seamless integration of the new leader’s vision with the existing organizational strategies. The institution may need to reevaluate its business plans and objectives, ensuring they align cohesively with the leadership transition.

Financial institutions operate within a stringent regulatory framework, and changes in leadership may necessitate rapid adaptation to regulatory expectations. Managing compliance challenges and ensuring adherence to industry regulations become critical aspects of the transition process.

Talent retention and recruitment are challenges that arise with the departure of a CEO. Concerns among key executives and talent within the organization may impact the institution’s ability to retain top talent and attract new skilled professionals. Maintaining a stable and motivated workforce is vital.

Cultural shifts within the organization often accompany changes in leadership. Striking a balance between integrating the new leader’s approach and preserving the positive aspects of the existing corporate culture requires careful management. Ensuring a smooth cultural transition is crucial for employee morale and organizational cohesion.

Operational continuity is paramount during leadership transitions. Day-to-day operations should proceed seamlessly to avoid disruptions that could affect customer service, internal processes, and overall operational efficiency. The institution’s ability to maintain stability and deliver services is key to weathering the challenges posed by the transition.

Reputation management is a concern that arises from public perception and the institution’s overall reputation. Negative publicity or concerns about the reasons behind the leadership change can impact how the institution is perceived in the broader community. Protecting and enhancing the institution’s reputation is vital for long-term success.

Finally, cybersecurity risks are heightened during leadership transitions. The vulnerability of sensitive information and systems necessitates a focus on maintaining robust cybersecurity measures to protect the institution from potential threats during the handover period. Addressing these challenges requires careful planning, effective communication, and a strategic approach to ensure the continued stability and success of the financial establishment.

Read More: UBA and Access Bank top the chart as Nigerian banks generate N96.483bn e-business revenue


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