We had a sit down with prominent banker Arinola Kola-Daisi, former General Manager in the Retail Banking division of Skye Bank and the conversation was nothing short of inspiring. In this instructive interview with Isaac Oladipupo, she revealed her secrets to achieving work-life balance. Enjoy!
You’ve come a long way in the Banking industry despite having your discipline in Psychology. Does that mean you didnt plan to work in a bank?
Well, initially when I was younger, my intention was to study Law but it didn’t turn out that way so I had to get a degree in the social sciences. But by the time I finished in the university, I realised I enjoyed the course and decided to do my Masters in Business Administration. Then I joined the bank after my MBA and have remained in the bank since then.
You’ve been able to rise to the position of a General Manager in a bank, what are the challenges that comes with your kind of job?
After the completion of my MBA, my two options was either to go into manufacturing such as the Cadbury and the Nestles of this world or into banking. But I got an early opportunity of starting my career in banking and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Work in the bank is very varied. I started as an entry level officer doing the basic analysis work, I moved on to help a unit in the bank. Then, I moved to becoming a branch manager in two branches of the Chaterred Bank (Now Stanbic IBTC) where I first started my career. I also moved on to Prudent Bank in year 2000 where I was heading the Cunsumer Banking Business. Then I went off after a couple of years to be a Regional Manager which essentially involves the supervision of branches; I did that for several years before moving to Skye Bank. I’ve had an extensive experience and it’s given me a lot of exposure in the Consumer Banking Business and also the Commercial Banking Business at every level. It’s been a very interesting experience.
That means you’ve worked with a list of banks…
My nineteen years career has essentially spanned two banks. I was at Stanbic IBTC for ten years, and I joined Prudent Bank in year 2000 which metamorphorsed into Skye Bank.
But why did you have to move from Stanbi IBTC?
Well, I trained at Stanbic IBTC. At a time I was a Manager there and I had been running a branch when I moved to another assignment. Then an interesting opportunity came up when my Managing Director and Mentor, Mr. Akinsola Akinfemiwa, was going to start at Prudent Bank as Managing Director. So an opportunity came up for me to help the Consumer Banking Business. He was someone I had worked very closely with, and I knew very well. The work sounded interesting; it was a challenge. It was a good time to move, so I moved.
What does heading the Retail Banking Department of a bank requires?
Retail Banking in Skye Bank essentially covers all aspects of individual banking business; anything that has to do with human beings. We deal with personal accounts, individual accounts, small businesses, franchise businesses, cash transfers, e-businesses which includes your ATM systems and all other things like that. Essentially, the retail banking at Skye Bank deals with all that pertains the individuals and small businsses.
So, is it safe to say that financing small businesses is part of what you do?
For now, the larger part of Retail Banking in Skye Bank is focused on the individual and we have products for different aspects of the individual lives. We have Rainbow savings account for infants and children, we have Teen cards for teenagers. We also have standard savings account for general use of people, we have Skye Rise Account for entrepreneurs and individuals, we have Skye Treasure Account for artisans. Our Retail Banking for now does more financing for individuals who want to acquire shares, assets, domestic appliances, car, mortgages and so on. But we have our Commercial Banking which finances small and large businesses.
The biggest criticism against banks now is that you don’t give enough attention to the upcoming business entrepreneur, and this is a very big shortcoming…
Well, I’lld like to say that Skye Bank is different when it comes to that; we do support individuals at different levels of life. And we have a very good reputation for supportingstart-up businesses and enterprises. When we identify a good idea, we do support them and we have many people whom we’ve done that for.
For upcoming businesses, what are the requirements and procedures to getting support from you?
The first thing about the loan is that people have to build banking record; you have to open an account and build a record. The decision the bank takes about you will be related to the amount of money in your bank account. So always bring the money. Sometimes people run from charges which is why we’ve created accounts like Skye Wise which requires no charges. When you have your money saved in the bank, then you can get a loan in proportion of you save.
Now tell us about your family.
Well, I have been married for seventeen years to Abiodun Kola-Daisi, my husband is a stockbroker. The first thing about being a career woman is that you must have a supportive husband; my husband is very supportive of my dreams and aspirations. I have three children; my first child, Segilola is thirteen. My son Adedolapo is twelve and my younger son, Oyinsola is six. So, that’s about my family.
Why did you take the ENC course and what was the experience like?
The Executive Management Program is a program that all the Managing Directors at Skye bank go for; its very important. Its an excellent opportunity for one to interact with other Senior Level Executives around the world. Excellent Management issues were well dealt with. So much about Personal development, balance and structure, management and other crucial issues were thoroughly administered. And above all, when you interact with people in an international environment, you recognise that the challenges that people have is very much similar. The challenges peolple have in the working environment are very much the same.
What’s your opinion about the reaction of the CBN to Nigeria’s banking industry?
I think it is good for the system; its important that we continually strive towards excellence. Things have not been at the level it should be in Nigeria’s national life. And I am proud to say that Skye Bank was one of the outstanding banks; we have no issues at all. We operate at a high level of integrity and by the grace of God, we’ll continue to do so.