Attendees at the recent Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC) leadership summit webinar which included the Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability and FITC Board Chairman, Mrs Aishah Ahmad and other leaders and luminaries from a broad spectrum of industries have provided insights for leaders and decision makers on how to navigating a crisis for which no playbook had hitherto been envisioned or developed, writes BUKOLA IDOWU.

Every crisis presents both opportunities and threats to businesses. For the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, its impact on businesses has been devastating, with the entire aviation industry shut. The banking sector is also hit, with loan loss expected to escalate.

The crisis has also thrown up opportunities that were previously imagined and raised leadership need for organisations. Banks are today adopting flexible working, e-working and remote working practices that were previously thought to be impossible. The entire banking sector is now driven by technology, with brick and mortar transactions almost eliminated even as a new work-culture is brewing.

FITC has therefore held a Webinar version of its Leadership Summit with the theme: ‘Leading in a Time of Crisis’ where issues around leadership, human resource management, financial management and deployment of technology were brought to bear. The webinar provided clues that the world will not be the same again after COVID-19 pandemic, and business leaders must embrace a new business structure driven by technology.

The speakers were Senior Vice Chairman, Africa Standard Chartered Bank Group, Mrs Bola Adesola who was the keynote speaker, Group Executive, Tech & Services at First Bank, Mr Callistus Obetta,  Country Head, Human Capital, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Mrs Funke Amobi and Chief Finance Officer (CFO), Rand Merchant Bank, Adebayo Ajayi.

In her opening remarks, Managing Director/CEO, FITC, Mrs Chizor Malize said the webinar was an opportunity for the industry to learn from individuals who have done great things in the past, and still doing great things at present. This, she said, would enable companies and individuals to hold on to their portfolios, achieve desired goals and prepare for the post COVID-19 crisis period.

According to her, the challenges being faced by companies have never been seen before, and there is a need for collaboration on the way out of the crisis. The event attracted participants from Europe, America, Nigeria, Tanzania, Nairobi, Asia, across other African countries.

According to Malize, COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for business leaders to build confidence in their workforce, show empathy and leverage on technology. She believes that ICT has a big role to play in the success of today’s business while training of staff on the use of technology to enable work from home remains crucial.

The FITC CEO disclosed that with the COVID-19 crisis, FITC had its business continuity plan in place where it allowed its workforce to work remotely and presented the opportunity for continuous learning and knowledge sharing within the business environment.

The Keynote Speaker, Senior Vice Chairman, Africa Standard Chartered Bank Group, Mrs Bola Adesola, described the theme of the webinar as apt. According to her, the world has changed, including the way people live and do business. She said that COVID-19 had had an enormous impact on people’s lives and businesses, hence the need for organisational leaders to effectively lead their teams to ensure continuity and profitability.

“As a sense of danger and loss looms, the organisation’s priority is to ensure the safety, security and wellbeing of its workforce and managing business vulnerabilities, while maintaining some level of productivity. COVID-19 pandemic has already disrupted millions of people’s livelihoods. With the entire population isolating and quarantining, the downstream impact of the terrible scourge is going to be severe,” she said.

She asked: How will business leaders maintain effectiveness in the time of crisis, such as this? For the bank chief who had managed a large part of the bank’s conglomerates during the Ebola crisis, companies needed to prepare for a crisis like this, and small business can also get information on how to manage the crisis. For her, there has never been a rehearsal for something like COVID-19.

“The pandemic of today has never happened before.  So many business contingency plans have to be modified to accommodate this. The current crisis is a completely new paradigm for humanity, and leaders have to build their actions and decision making from a different perspective. It also takes a challenge to lead an organisation in a challenging transition like this,” she stated.

Adesola suggested that leaders must step up in a time of crisis. “Amid confusion and chaos, a leader must step up and bring order. A leader has to control his/her emotions, especially at the onset of the crisis.

In spite of the overwhelming sense of confusion, the leader must demonstrate courage even in the midst of the storm. He/she has to make decisions even amid imperfect information and communicate decisions to the workforce and customers,” she said.

According to her, people should be forward-thinking, and there was a need to put structures in place that will help in leveraging technology.

Group Executive, Tech & Services at First Bank, Mr Callistus Obetta gave insight on what leaders can do with technology, the fourth industrial revolution, and how FirstBank is responding to COVID-19 pandemic, using technology to connect with its customers and workforce.

He said that organisations needed to build resilient business operations beyond the lockdown period, and technology would continue to play a dominant role in achieving this.

Obetta said the boundaries between the physical, biological and technological walls are blurring, the convergence between robotics, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things is imminent. The combination of all all these, he added, will create massive disruption.

In her presentation at the event, Country Head, Human Capital, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Mrs Funke Amobi, explained that crisis management is about organising, directing, and implementing actions that minimise the impact of a threat. It is about getting the job done and enabling workarounds when routines and resources do not work.

She said that people are critical to business and it is important to preserve their wellbeing, engagement and productivity levels during and after the crisis.

Amobi, who focused on the three Rs: Rapid Response, Resilience Response and Recovery Response, described the COVID-19 era as an unprecedented one.

She said that in Rapid Response, companies needed to be swift in passing their messages in a clear manner to their customers and workforce. When employees are hit with COVID-19 news, they will start looking at how it affects their work. People management is a business responsibility, not a Human Resource responsibility. At Stanbic IBTC, we articulated the implications of the COVID-19 and communicated same to our staff. We assured them that preventive measures had been put in place and there was no need to panic,” she said.

In the resilience response, the bank also used continuous communication and business continuity management, employee engagement, mitigating people risks, and people impact analysis and productivity analysis. The management continued to communicate and assure employees on what it is doing and the need for them to sustain their productivity.

Chief Finance Officer (CFO), Rand Merchant Bank, Adebayo Ajayi, gave insight on the CFO roles in the crisis era. He said that CFOs needs to dimension the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses in the medium term, while carefully reviewing demand and supply requirements.

“The CFOs need to dimension the immediate effect of the crisis and evaluate immediate liquidity position and available reserves. They have to gradually implement changes to ensure you stay ahead of completion when normalcy returns while putting measures in place to support their employees on how to adapt to the change and new technology,” he said.

CBN Deputy Governor, Mrs Aishah Ahmad, lauded the management of FITC for the success of the webinar and its insightful theme given that organisations and economies are grappling with the fallout of the covid-19 pandemic and traditional ways of working and assumptions are increasingly becoming irrelevant. She also commended FITC for responding to the threat to businesses caused by the current pandemic through the innovative leadership summit, emphasizing that the webinar has engaged organisations and leaders through knowledge and insights that equips them to paddle through the crisis period while stabilizing their operations and portfolios.

To cap what was indeed an engaging and illuminating session Chizor Malize, FITC CEO, assured the audience that FITC was committed to delivering more of such impactful sessions and solutions to its clients and stakeholders: “FITC is at the forefront of creating knowledge content and leveraging technology to deliver its services. We are an innovative and world class organization committed to building capacity for industries and strengthen the FSS as well as the Nigerian economy. We would bring forth more of this kind of session with diverse speakers, rich contents and learning.”

Attendees included the Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability and FITC Board Chairman, Mrs Aishah Ahmad; CBN Directors, Directors from NDIC, NAICOM and AMCON, Senior Management Executives from First Bank, GT Bank, FCMB, Union Bank, Fine and Country and Rainoil Limited amongst other senior level executives.

There was no doubt the summit was impactful given the commendations and accolades that poured in during and after the event and the clamour from participants for more of such sessions.

For Dr Emmanuel Abolo, Director General, Economic Thinktank Centre Limited, described the Leadership Summit webinar as a great initiative of FITC, knowledge impactful and full of remarkable learnings that will position and equip leaders to successfully navigate the current crisis. “It was as practical as it could get. We look forward to more from this FITC leadership series” Abolo said

Mrs Tsukundu Yakubu, Head, HR, Bank of Agriculture was delighted with the insights she gained from the session. ‘Thumps up to FITC for making this Leadership Summit free and applying technology to deliver the programme’.

Also, Dr Kehinde Olojede; Director, Centre for Endowment Development, Advancement and Alumni Relations  (CEDAAR),  it was a very insightful and excellent session. “Excellent webinar, a big appreciation to FITC for making this happen. And to the panelists for their well thought out presentation. Great insights we must continue to bear in mind even after the pandemic. It was a very insightful and excellent session indeed” Dr Kehinde Olojede’

In the words of Wanza Kussiy, Assistant Director, Standard Association of Nigeria. ‘Great webinar from FITC, brilliant delivery by all the speakers, awesome dissemination of information worth having and building upon’


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