Dr. Adenike Fajemirokun is the Group Executive Director and Group Chief Risk Officer of Dangote Industries Limited.
She drives the Executive Model and manages the corporate portfolio of the Group President’s Office, which includes Project Oversight, Business operations, Strategic Partnerships, and other related special duties that have to do with the President’s mandate within the organization.
As the Group Chief Risk Officer, she leads the Risk Management functions for the Group and oversees the company’s governance model and Enterprise Risk Programme.
She is a renowned Risk Management & Insurance specialist with over 21 years’ diverse experience in developing and implementing Risk Management strategies in Financial, Engineering, Manufacturing and other Industries.
In our conversation with her, she talks to us about her journey into becoming a Chief Risk Officer in one of the most renowned industries in Africa. Read and Be Inspired!
Tell us more about yourself
I am Dr. Adenike Fajemirokun, Group Executive Director and Group Chief Risk Officer at Dangote Industries Limited. In the early stages of my career, I worked as a Civil Engineer with one of the top engineering firms globally: Ove Arup, and went on to become a Consummate Risk Manager. During my PhD, I developed a disruptive model for my industry at the time– a Risk framework for shopping malls in the United Kingdom. Succeeding this, I gained the attention of numerous Investment Banks who were quite interested in what I was doing and felt the model could also be applied to the banking sector at that time. This prompted my introduction to Investment Banking and my career has since evolved, with the central theme of finding sustainable solutions to problems as my driving principle, which always has been my motivation throughout my professional journey. Over the years, my profession has transitioned from Civil Engineering, to Investment Banking, to becoming the Head of Risk Management in a Nigerian bank, and now to Manufacturing.
At Dangote Industries Limited, my role is multifaceted beginning with my portfolio as GED Special Duties, to heading Procurement, Transport Management, Insurance, and Risk Management. My position also entails managing the President’s Portfolio and Strategy which is dynamic and changes quite frequently based on the Group’s mandate.
The various hats I wear predominantly involve solving problems as they arise. Finding effective solutions to tough problems is at the core of what I do.
As an African woman, what are the major challenges you have faced while building your career?
I believe one of the major challenges I have faced is ageism relative to position at different stages on my career journey as a young African woman. However, generally, I have often been blessed with progressive-thinking leadership and mentorship, this perhaps may be attributed to my character and cultured/ professional disposition as well.
How did your journey of being the first Female Chief Risk Officer for Sub-Saharan Africa’s leading manufacturing group begin and what was it like?
I wouldn’t say first female Chief Risk Officer…and if I may also reframe the question, globally you’d find that most Risk Officers are women. However, being in Manufacturing as a Group Chief Risk Officer (GCRO), yes! and with an organization our size, it has been challenging. But resilience, excellence and obviously competence are important tools in the solutions set.
In what ways have you been able to demonstrate equity in your workplace policies?
First, organizational culture must be equity aligned, and luckily, I’ve worked with companies that endeavor to strike a balance for inclusion in terms of women in leadership. However, it is inherent in me to execute based on performance as opposed to anything else, which should be the drive at an individual level. But at corporate levels and in efforts to break-biases systemically, it is important that equity is embedded.
Has having female mentors played a huge role in your career? If yes, how?
I have benefited immensely from mentorship both male and female. To be more specific, there were particular seasons in my career progression that I had female mentors who played significant roles in my professional journey, especially during my childbearing years. It was immensely helpful to have women that were supportive. There are two women especially, who played crucial roles as stepping stones at a critical juncture in my career and I consider myself blessed to have had them.
Do you think women can play more roles in the risk management system and how?
Definitely. I think women are generally better Risk managers. Better thinkers through the objective risks that we face. We are a lot more thorough and less impulsive in making business decisions. So, I think women can certainly play more roles in Risk management. Most of the strongest ones I’ve worked with have also been women.
What’s your opinion on women inclusion/ equity in your field?
I think there’s an aggressive push, and we are now more than before more intentional about it. However, I do believe that with this level of intentionality there has to be a clear demarcation between people being right for the role and people just there to fill seats, because the benefit really comes when you make sure that you are playing to people’s strengths. There’s the danger of, for the sake of balancing equity, we are just filling seats, and that for me is a risk. So, by being intentional we must touch on all these crucial points.