The fourth edition of Nigeria’s Silent Hero Award (NSHA) series held on Sunday, July 24, 2022 at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja had come and gone, but the memories of it would linger for long as the event showcased some high profile awardees who are global achievers in their own right and would certainly remain a study in professional astuteness.
One of such award recipients is the incumbent Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the United Bank for Africa, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka.
He was bestowed with the coveted Silent Hero Award in Transparent Banking Culture.
Uzoka’s award was presented to him by the representative of Chief of Naval Administration, Rear Admiral BJ Gbassa.
For the award organizers, the choice of Uzoka did not come as a pedestrian exercise but a concerted effort that tasked the ingenuity of the award selection committee members who had to carefully go through volumes of profiles of all nominees in that category.
The committee members were unanimous in their findings and could not hesitate to nominate Uzoka as the winner in view of his outstanding achievements in the banking sector over the years.
His intimidating profile readily reveals that Kennedy Uzoka did not emerge as what one would describe as ‘fly by night banker’ but rather through a painstaking career that has spanned over two decades.
With a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Benin and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Lagos Uzoka had joined the United Bank for Africa (UBA) a leading financial services group in Sub-Saharan Africa with presence in 20 countries currently as well as the United Kingdom, United States of America, France.
Over the years his experience has covered core banking, corporate marketing communication, strategy and business advisory services.
Prior to his appointment as the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer in 2016, he was UBA Group’s Deputy Managing Director and CEO, UBA Africa managing the country subsidiaries across 18 countries in Africa as well as supervising three key strategic support areas in Digital Banking, Information Technology and Personal Banking.
As Deputy Managing Director, he was the Executive in charge of the Group’s businesses in New York and London.
In line with the demands of the fast changing global environment, Uzoka could not relent in seeking more knowledge to expand his intellectual and professional prowess in such ivy league institutions like the Harvard Business School (AMP) in Boston USA, the International Institute of Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland and the London Business School, United Kingdom. He is an alumnus of the various institutions.
As the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc; a pan African financial institution; Uzoka has championed some landmark innovations that outstandingly repositioned the bank in a manner that caught the attention of the discerning public from whom some awards have come his way in recognition of the achievements.
For instance, in 2019 barely three years after he took over as the Group Managing Director, he was honoured as ‘BusinessDay’s Bank CEO’ of the year 2019 award.
The award organizers had chosen him for the honour, among things for successfully pulling increased financial performances and appreciation of shareholders’ investment. Within the three years of assumption of office as the GMD/CEO, he was able to ensure massive investment in the digitalization of the bank’s activities and processes, particularly the introduction of UBA’s LEO, a Chatbot which is the first of its kind by any financial institutions in Africa. It is a software application used to conduct an on-line chat conversation via text or text-to-speech in lieu of providing direct contact with a live human agent.
Whilst presenting the award to the Group Managing Director, the management of BusinessDay Newspapers had remarked that the visionary leadership of the bank spearheaded by Uzoka earned UBA the digital bank of the year consistently. The launch of LEO in January of 2018 had enabled UBA to become the leader in artificial intelligence.
LEO is available on different platforms including Whatsapp, Facebook and more recently on IOS, the mobile operating system of Apple Inc.
It is also on record that following Kennedy Uzoka’s appointment on August 1st, 2016, UBA’s customer deposit had grown by 19.4 per cent to N2.49 trillion away from the four per cent crunch which had been recorded the previous year, while net loans improved from a 3.3 per cent loss position recorded in 2015, to N1.51tn, representing a huge incline by 45.2 per cent.
The strong growth trajectory has continued, three years after Uzoka’s appointment, as seen by the 43 per cent growth in the bank’s shareholding fund to N5.01 trillion in the three –year period, as the bank has been enjoying excellent ratings from credible international financial rating agencies such as Fitch and Agusto and Co.
Kennedy Uzoka, in his capacity as the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has emerged winner of the ‘Finovator of the Year’ award for 2021. The ‘Finovator of the Year’ award is organised by the Finnovex West Africa Awards 2021, co-located with Finnovex West Africa Virtual Summit.
According to the organisers, Uzoka was selected in recognition and appreciation of his effort and exceptional roles provided in financial services.
His bank, the United Bank for Africa was also named as the winner, ‘Excellence in Digital Banking’ award at the same event. Obviously enthused and excited by both awards, Uzoka, disclosed that over the last few months, UBA has set out on a mission to upgrade its banking channels and has invested in the latest technology to boost its digital offerings to customers, adding that this venture has been paying off for the bank.
His excitement was manifest as he openly remarked that “Recognitions such as these show that we at United Bank for Africa, are indeed doing something right, and I want to assure all our customers and stakeholders that we will continue to leverage our diversified business model and dedicated workforce to further strengthen our position as ‘Africa’s Global Bank. We promise to do all we can to ensure that our customers remain central to our decisions in every aspect and dimension of our remarkable organisation, and this is more than a clarion call to service excellence.”
While presenting the awards at the virtual event, Ancy Antony, Conference Manager, Finnovex West Africa Awards 2021, said, “It is our utmost delight to honour the pioneers and visionaries who have transformed the financial services industry and present you with this award. Ancy did not hesitate to say that the Finnovex Awards cherishes and celebrates outstanding achievements in the banking and finance industry, adding that the award is aimed at honouring organisations and individuals that have consistently demonstrated exemplary performance.” Finnovex is the leading series of summits on financial services innovation and excellence that examines the future of financial services on how disruptive innovations are reshaping the way they are structured, provisioned and consumed.
In September 2020, Kennedy Uzoka was announced as a winner of the 2019 Zik Award for Professional Leadership. He clinched the much-coveted award alongside the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Prof. Umar Danbatta.
Uzoka was chosen as a result of his outstanding contributions to the development and growth of the Banking and Financial Services Industry and unblemished record of service as a banker of international repute.
The Zik Leadership awards is organized by the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC) and was instituted 25 years ago, in 1995 in honour of the first President of Nigeria, Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, primarily to encourage and nurture leadership on the African continent and in the Diaspora. The letter of Uzoka’s nomination for the award had read, “The GMD/CEO of Africa’s global bank, UBA Plc, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka is a banker’s banker and an astute player in the Nigerian financial services sector. He has consistently led the bank to set a year-on-year track record of profitability, wealth creation and innovative financial products across its operations in the African continent despite global economic challenges.
Uzoka has also focused on the consistent expansion of UBA’s activities and services across and beyond the African continent. A few days ago, the bank extended its operations to the United Arab Emirates with the official launch of its new branch at the Dubai International Financial Centre. With this, the United Bank for Africa currently has presence in 20 countries. According to a statement from the Bank, the Dubai International Financial Centre branch will operate under the Category 4 license and will be regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority; the financial regulatory agency of the special economic zone. The bank management said the UBA branch in Dubai International Financial Centre would service corporate and financial institutions and customers across the Middle East with a core focus on correspondent banking, relationship management and advisory services.
Through this new expansion under the leadership of Kennedy Uzoka, the United Bank for Africa group would be able to harness opportunities in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia which comprise 72 countries with an approximate population of three billion and nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $7.7trillion and thereby, reinforce its strong franchise as Africa’s global bank facilitating trade and capital flows between Africa and the rest of the world.
The UBA under Uzoka’s management has unarguably lived up to stakeholders’ expectation as a leading financial group in the 21st Century global banking arena. His dynamism, professional astuteness and consistency of purpose readily promise much better days ahead with more laurels for him and the UBA Group.