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Olufemi Bakre: When the Sun shines on a truly exceptional banker

Olufemi Bakre

By Jude Ndukwe

Olufemi Bakre is a name synonymous with excellence in Nigeria’s banking sector and beyond.

Without any element of arrogance, he traverses the sector with the panache of a financial expert who possesses the seamless ability to build people and grow institutions as he climbs the rung of his admirable career.

A merit-driven professional, I first encountered Mayor as he is fondly called by those who admire his exemplary leadership skills and his goal-driven approach to the job, in the Year 2000 while undergoing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme in Abuja.

As a Corps member, I had gone to the Abuja branch of the then Merchant Banking Corporation which later metamorphosed into MBC International Bank that was later acquired by First Bank to write an aptitude test as part of processes for seeking a job in the organisation.

That mission had been ridiculed by some of my friends and fellow Corps members at the time who laughed me to derision because, according to them, there was no way I would get the job even if I scored highest in the test.

They made me understand that getting a job at such a high-flying organisation without a godfather in the industry or even outside it was absolutely impossible.

They considered my venture a total waste of time.

I proceeded nevertheless to participate in the test more in the hope that my friends could be proven wrong or that I could merely gain from the experience.

With hundreds of candidates turning up for the test, it dawned on me that my friends could be right after all. I thought to myself that a good number of the candidates might have the backing of one godfather or the other while I had none.

The result was out after a few days and I was among another set of hundreds of successful candidates scheduled to participate in the next stage which was the oral interview, and the head of the interview panel was Chief Olufemi Bakre. I had never heard about him not to talk of knowing him before the interview. I had no godfather, and that made me a bit indifferent about the entire exercise.

 So I returned to my base to continue the pursuit of other ventures until few days after, message got to me that I had been selected to start work at the bank having emerged the best at the interview.

There was only one vacancy to be filled, and I was the one selected among hundreds of others to fill it.

Mayor didn’t consider any parochial factor in the entire process. He was just after ensuring the bank had some of the best hands to help achieve her goals. He is one man who dismantled the notion that it is impossible to get such a job without a godfather or cutting corners one way or the other.

A hardworking, determined, and tenacious go-getter, Mayor was always willing and ready to carry the burdens of the entire branch’s financial and operational targets on his shoulders.

He drives his colleagues to excellence with uncommon motivational techniques. He hardly takes a ‘no’ for an answer, and breaks barriers with his soft spoken nature, convincing demeanour and disarming smile.

A man who is always ready to walk on coals of fire just to ensure others fly high, Chief Olufemi Bakre would always show genuine concern to his colleagues, be ghey his juniors or contemporaries, even up to their personal matters that could be adversely affecting their optimal performances at work.

He has his way of talking anyone out of distress and getting such a person refocused on more positive things of life.

Many have grown from zero to hero under his endearing tutelage and mentorship.

I remember as a greenhorn in the banking industry and one of the newest intakes at MBC then, Mayor flew all the way from Abuja to attend my wedding in Lagos in 2004.

His presence did not only add colour to the occasion, he came with his bag of humours and unleashed it on the audience that the guests laughed their ribs out without holding back. I could not have been prouder of having such a humane personality as my Boss.

With such love for both work and people, it is not surprising that he has grown into becoming one of Nigeria’s most courted and celebrated bankers.

His knack for excellence and zero-tolerance for indolence simply means whatever organisation he heads will always be a success. His successes at different banking institutions where he has left his indelible imprints across sectors, from Multilateral Business, Foreign and Local Financial Institutions, Public Sector, Corporate & Retail Banking and Customer Relationship Management, simply means reaching the zenith of his commercial banking career was only a matter of time.

So when Parallex Bank was to commence operations in January of 2021, it was only natural to go for an achiever in the mould of Olufemi Bakre, especially given its vision of being “the preferred financial solutions provider redefining customer experience through digital innovations” in the country and beyond.

And true to his records, Chief Olufemi Bakre is already taking Parallex Bank to new heights within so short a period of time that The Sun Publishing Limited, publishers of The Daily Sun, Saturday Sun and Sunday Sun, which has the incontrovertible record of recognising exceptional leaders across various industries and endeavours for their contributions to their respective sectors in particular and humanity in general, selected him for their prestigious Award as “Banker of the Year” on Saturday, February 17, 2024.

Indeed, the Sun has shone upon a truly exceptional banker.

Congratulations to Chief Olufemi Bakre!

The sky can only be the starting point for both him and Parallex Bank Ltd.

. Ndukwe writes from Abuja

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