•Moves Into Fashion, Food & Drinks Sector, Arts & Retail Shopping
•Introduces GT Bank News Stand
When Segun Agbaje became MD/CEO of GT Bank 7 years ago, many didn’t think he would succeed. This is because he took up the challenge at a relatively young age.
He was still very young. But he was good at what he was doing. He was a banker, who trained under the 2 founders of the bank Fola & Tayo. But many years after, Segun Agbaje has shown the great stuff he is made of.
Right now, he has turned the bank into a formidable institution with focus on a wider range of areas. With over 20 years investment and international banking experience, Mr. Agbaje is involved in the general management of the bank’s day-to-day operations and has earned a reputation as a truly accomplished and highly respected professional, given his diverse experience in the financial services industry. He has a rich pedigree.
Prior to joining Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, he worked with Ernst & Young, San Francisco, USA. He subsequently joined Guaranty Trust Bank as a pioneer member of staff in 1991 and rose through the ranks to become an Executive Director in January 2000, and Deputy Managing Director in August 2002, in light of his diverse background and experience in almost all areas of the bank’s activities including commercial banking, investment banking, treasury, corporate planning and strategy, settlements and operations.
He possesses a deep understanding of the Nigerian business environment, having initiated and led the execution of large, innovative and complex transactions in financial advisory, structured and project financing, balance sheet restructuring and debt and equity capital raising in several sub-sectors of the Nigerian economy notably Oil and Gas, Energy, Telecommunications, Financial Services and Manufacturing industries. In addition, he helped in developing the Interbank Derivatives market among dealers in the Nigerian banking industry and introduced the Balance Sheet Management Efficiency system.
He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco, USA.
He was appointed acting Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank plc in April 2011, and as Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer on June 22, 2011.
In just 7 years, Agbaje has expanded the horizon of the bank. GTBank is no longer just a bank. It has become a formidable institution that has invested heavily in Fashion, Food and drink sub-sectors of the economy. It has also gone into retail shopping through Hubmart and it has recently introduced a Digital platform for media dissemination.
GT Bank is committed to growing SMEs. Regarded by industry watchers as one of the best-run financial institutions, the bank is considered a role model within the financial service industry. Little wonder, it has continued to pioneer initiatives that were hitherto not associated with banking.
Having made inroads into the food and drink industry with its GT Bank Food and Drink Weekend, a food exhibition and sales event aimed at projecting the diverse angles of the food industry as well as in the Arts Sector with the launch of its Virtual Arts Gallery, ART, created to reignite interest in African art and drive the growth and development of the local art industry, the bank decided to take on another industry, the fashion industry, with the debut edition of the GTBank Fashion Weekend.
Like the food fair and art gallery, the GTBank Fashion Weekend, is part of the bank’s long history of supporting the local fashion industry. It also sponsored two of the country’s leading fashion events, The ARISE fashion week and The Lagos Fashion and Design Week, for a combined period of five years.
Why is GT bank getting involved in the fashion business? As he was asked by IVORY Online publication recently.
And what is the correlation between banking and fashion?
“What we are trying to do is to build Small ,Medium Enterprises he explained. “If you look at the rest of the world, say a country like Italy for example, SMEs really control their economy” he explained.
“In Nigeria, the biggest businesses are the SMEs, which is why we decided to be associated with SMEs. However, seeing that SME is a general thing, we choose/pick certain industries to support, which we think are quite popular and have a lot of Nigerians doing amazing things.
We discovered that there are quite a lot of young talented Nigerians in the food and drink industry, either in agriculture, food processing, fast food etc. So, we decided to create a platform to support them.
Not just pay lip service to them, but to actually create a platform for them to excel by supporting them with loans when we understand their cash flows and put them on our market hub among other things. But that is the easy part.
The difficult part is to create the necessary infrastructure for them which is where we will end up. An infrastructure that they can share and employ the economy of scales of big companies.
The second industry, which we have picked, that is quite popular, is the fashion industry and until now, I didn’t quite know that there were many facets to it.
There is the retail aspect, the production aspect, the cosmetics aspect, which are quite huge, the aso oke and adire business etc. So we gave some selected SMEs in the fashion business a platform as good as any in the world, where they can showcase their brands at the fashion weekend.
We didn’t charge them a dime for that. We also created the master classes for capacity building and I can tell you that hopefully and ultimately, they would become my customers as we build their businesses.
We are building SMEs for the future just as we have built retail, but having said that, I promise you there is an altruistic thing about this. I think we have a duty to build small businesses.
We have been blessed and have been very fortunate as a bank to be successful and I think when you are in a country, a continent as ours and you are successful, you really should give something back. So, even if there was nothing in this for us, we would still have dabbled into it. There are quite a number of brands still upcoming, struggling and not as well known as some of the brands that participated at the Fashion Weekend.
We are thrilled to be the first in the Nigerian financial sector to pioneer this. We believe we have a fundamental responsibility to ensure that we have the necessary tools to achieve success within the global economy.
We will use our strength, global reach, expertise and relationships to make a positive impact for our customers and invariably our communities. We are committed to growing SMEs in a sustainable manner that is not driven by profits, but focused on empowering our customers and growing our economy collectively.”
What is the bank working on next he was asked?
“I simply want to consolidate on the areas we have made inroads into. I want to have a better food and drink exhibition, a better Fashion Weekend, a digital platform, we haven’t even started. I tell people to just continue watching us, we are just starting.
If he wasn’t a banker, what other professions would he have dabbled in?
“I would still be a banker. My father was a banker, I have always wanted to be a banker all my life, but I think my definition of banking for me has changed over the years, having been in it for 26 years.
I really think what Guaranty Trust Bank is today and has become, is the platform for enriching lives. We have to give people a platform to excel. At whatever you do, we will provide the platform, we will give you the best and let you run with it.
Nigerians are very talented people that if you give them the right platform, they will continue to do wonderful things.
I really don’t see myself as just a banker, but rather the CEO of a business enterprise. So, we are trying to project ourselves as more than a traditional bank.
What does he like most about his job?
I love everything about it. I love the fact that we are in the food and fashion business, that we are part of several young millennia, who are working so passionate and whose lives we are touching just by what we are doing. I mean I can’t think of any other thing I would rather be doing.”
What is responsible for the bank now going the whole hog?
“It was very important for us to have this platform.
Seeing that SME is a general thing, we choose/pick certain industries to support, which we think are quite popular and have a lot of Nigerians doing amazing things, one of which is the fashion industry.”