Abubakar Suleiman is a Nigerian banker, a poet and an art patron. In April 2018, he was appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank Plc.
Suleiman joined Sterling bank in 2003 and has worked in different leadership capacities. He has been with Sterling bank for 16 years.
Primarily, Abubakar is a seasoned banker with over two decades of relevant experience in tax advisory, business audit and financial services. Also, he has proffered solutions to several challenging issues in the banking industry.
Abubakar Suleiman Background
Abubakar Suleiman was born on August 19, 1973. He attended the University of Abuja and bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Economics (B.Sc) in 1995. Also, he holds a Master’s (M.Sc) in Major Programme Management from the University of Oxford in 2013.
He attended the Wharton School in 2017. Also, he attended executive education programs at Harvard and Saïd Business Schools. In addition, he is an alumnus of INSEAD Business Schools and Arthur Andersen (KPMG Nigeria).
Abubakar Suleiman Early Career
Abubakar began his career as an Experienced Staff Assistant at Arthur Andersen (now KPMG Nigeria) in 1996. After, he worked at MBC International Bank (now First Bank) as a Management Associate before moving to Citibank Nigeria in 2000. In Citibank, he worked in Treasury, Asset & Liability Management
In 2003, Suleiman joined Trust Bank of Africa as the Head of Treasury and Finance. Then, in 2006, he was appointed Group Treasurer. And in 2011, he became the Integration Director. As an Integration Director, he was tasked with managing and integrating Equatorial Trust Bank (ETB) into Sterling. Also, in 2012, he became the Chief Financial Officer and was appointed to the Board in April 2014.
In addition, Abubakar oversees the finance and performance Management; strategy and communications; and human resource management.
Sterling Bank Plc
Sterling Bank Plc is a national commercial bank licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Initially, it began as Nigeria Acceptances Limited (NAL) in 1960. Then, was licensed as Nigeria’s first merchant bank in 1969.
In 1972, it became a wholly government owned, and managed in partnership with Grindlays Bank Limited and other financial institutions between 1974 – 1992.
In 1992, the bank was partly privatized and listed as a public company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). Then, in 2006, NAL Bank merged with Indo-Nigeria Merchant Bank, Magnum Trust Bank, NBM Bank and Trust Bank of Africa in the consolidation of the Nigerian banking industry. This merger brought about the name adoption, ‘Sterling Bank’.
Also, in 2012, they took the entire business interest of the defunct Equatorial Trust Bank (ETB). This enhanced Sterling bank’s position in the hierarchy of respectable players in the Nigerian banking industry on all key parameters.
Within the space of about 10 years, the bank grew by over 600% in asset base and increased its market share from around 1% to over 3%. In 2013, it was licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to provide non-interest banking services.
In Summary, Sterling operations can be grouped into Retail and Consumer Banking, Commercial, Institutional and Corporate Banking. It has 179 branches across Nigeria.
It also has hundreds of ATM and thousands of POS terminals with several merchants. Also, it provides services to High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs), small businesses (SMEs), large corporations, e.t.c
Abubakar Sulaiman Quotes
“Regardless of what your first job is, find out the requisite skills you need to grow in your chosen career path. And do your best to acquire those skills or get mentored by those who have done what you want to do.”
“…In the real world you have to deserve success before you can be given a chance to succeed, and it is not really just about the being as much as it is about the doing.”
“Luck is simply opportunity meeting preparation and preparation on my side meant a lot of hard work.”
“Employees promotion is for business purposes and are tied to performance. It is not whimsical or discretionary.”
“To plan well for the future, we need to be well informed about the past and duly document the present which will form tomorrow’s past.”
“I believe that if you are lucky enough to hold a senior role in a significant company in Africa, you have an obligation.”
“You don’t become CEO of a bank so that you can earn money and leave it. There is far more to it than that.”
“You have to present a picture of the future that is beyond profitability and is appealing to people who seek impact.”
“If you can’t build a company that outworks a set of core values or a company purpose that speaks to something that deeply matters to people, then it is difficult to inspire and lead them.”
“As leaders, we need to think carefully about the stories we tell and how they tie into what matters to the workforce.”
Entrepreneurial Lessons From The Life Of Abubakar Suleiman
Irrespective of where you are, get the required skills you need to grow in your career path. You also cannot underestimate the importance of being mentored by people who have walked the path you want to follow.
Abubakar saw his first job at the consulting firm (Arthur Andersen) as the best place to set the pace for his career. According to him, he had the clarity about the future he was setting up. Therefore, he built the required soft skills including emotional and executive intelligence.
If you are sure of the future you have for yourself, do well to equip yourself with the right knowledge. Eventually, it will play a big role in determining how far you go.
Sacrifice and Preparation
According to Suleiman, you have to deserve success before you can be given a chance to succeed. You should sacrifice time to prepare and invest in your career.
He believes that luck is simply opportunity meeting preparation and preparation means a lot of hard work. He got more inspiration from one of his friends that said “Nobody grants you autonomy without vetting your expertise.”
Make that sacrifice now that you can. Only with that will you be able to redeem the hands of time.
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Image credit: The CEO Magazine, Lagos Business School, Daily Post Nigeria