Amiable woman would be my simple response if asked to describe the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation before March 3rd, 2014. But if asked now, without hesitation, I would add ‘meticulous’ and ‘conscientious’ to her attributes. Well, some may refer to her as a transformational leader and silent achiever; definitely it would be a perfect description. Most of the chief executives of Energy Group often refer to her as our one and only Lady Chukwuma.
The very day I resumed, after greeting her, I patiently waited for response. Madam told me politely, please sit down. She had a chat with me briefly and asked the Head, Admin to take me round the offices. There I knew this is one of the few CEOs that Jim Collins mentioned in book, ‘Good to Great’ as a level five leader. The leaders in this class paradoxically blend humility with professionalism, which is a rear quality. Bravados are often associated with successful CEOs – the character trait that has sent many of “too big to fail” companies to oblivion. Lady Isioma Chukwuma is one of the people in the mold of Darwin Smith of Kimberly Clerk.
Lady Chukwuma was born on 6th June, 1952 into the family of Pa Michael Okolie, an astute banker from Asaba, Delta State. Last year when we went for the burial of her father at Asaba, I discovered while reading through the Grand Pa’s biography where my MD actually inherited the attention to details at work. Without missing words, this quality has greatly contributed to her success in various leadership positions she has held.
Lady Isioma Chukwuma is a 1978 Second Class Upper Division graduate of French of the University of Ibadan. As destiny would have it, her first job was with Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation. Shortly after joining Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation on 2nd January, 1980, she was motivated to enroll for professional certification in insurance, a core condition for promotion in the Corporation. She put in for the professional course and completed it within three years and became an associate member of the Institute. To brighten her chances in her chosen career, she put in for the Public Administration post graduate programme of the University of Lagos and bagged Masters Degree in 1985.
In her career enhancement pursuits, she gave her best not only to the growth of her company but was also committed to the growth of insurance industry in Nigeria. This and other reasons made the management of the company to nominate her as its Office Representative at Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN). This opportunity and her commitment were catalyst to her great feat in the industry, where she is currently the Deputy President of CIIN. Prior to this appointment, she had served the Institute as chairman of the Offices Representative Committee, chairman of the Mandatory Continuous Professional Development Committee, member, Activities Committee, and Treasurer of the CIIN. She has equally served as President, Professional Insurance Ladies Association (PILA) between 2001 and 2003. In her current status as Deputy President of the Governing Council of CIIN, Lady Isioma Chukwuma doubles as chairman, Accreditation Committee and member, Education Committee of the Institute.
Notwithstanding the enormity of her responsibilities, which require frequent travelling locally and internationally, Lady Isioma Chukwuma has been able to strike the balance between her commitment to her family, her corporation where she is Managing Director/CEO and the Institute. Her doggedness and innovative thinking were salient ingredients for the success recorded at the Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation after it was privatized and she made the Managing Director. The three essential qualities expected from a successful CEO – Integrity, Intelligence and Innovation – are found abundantly in her.
It is equally worth saying that Lady Chukwuma is a God fearing woman and committed Anglican decorated with the title “Lady”. She was the immediate past President, Ladies Progressive Society of All Saints Anglican Church, Yaba, Lagos.
Lady Isy, as she is fondly called by her friends in the industry, enjoys the support and respect of her colleagues, the loyalty of her staff, and more importantly the love of her family. It is our prayer at Nigeria Re that God Almighty will continue to protect you, grant you the wisdom to continuously excel in this life. May you never lack favor, divine direction and sound health; your strength shall never fail you in Jesus name.
I wish you a long life and many prosperous years ahead. And congratulation in advance Ma, as we earnestly await your investiture come 11th August, 2015, as the 47th President and Chairman of the CIIN Council by the grace of God.