The WFE's Women Leaders 2023-Ugochi Obi, Head of X-Academy, Nigerian Exchange Group

By: Ugochi Obi, Head, X-Academy (Nigeria Exchange), Nigerian Exchange Group Mar 2023

Name: Ugochi Obi

Organization: Nigerian Exchange Group

Job Title: Head, X-Academy (Nigeria Exchange) 

1. Brief description of nominee’s role/job

The X-Academy is the knowledge platform of The Exchange, which is designed to provide capacity-building services and opportunities to individuals and corporate entities interested in understanding capital market operations. It offers a wide range of courses geared towards bridging the knowledge gap that exists in this ecosystem.

As the head of X-Academy, I carry out oversight functions that ensure that the academy achieves its set objectives of being the go-to platform for enhancing financial literacy and inclusion in Nigeria.

I am responsible for developing policies, guidelines and procedures guiding the academy, exploring new learning and development initiatives that place the academy at the forefront of global best practices and constantly promoting the academy's product offerings through learning and development initiatives for capital market stakeholders.

In this role, I am tasked with providing capability-building advisory services to both internal and external stakeholders whilst supporting the company-wide business strategy of the Exchange such as the Graduate Trainee Programme for freshers finding their path in our market.

2. Short bio (career highlights, education, interests/hobbies)

I am an accomplished talent development expert with over 20 years of corporate experience spanning learning and knowledge management, life coaching, customer experience management and creative, innovative and system thinking. I have an excellent track record of delivering top-notch capacity-building initiatives and projects. Since joining The Exchange in 2018, I have led the X-Academy to execute the following:

* Transformed, educated, impacted, enabled and incorporated 80 fresh University graduates into the Capital Market through the graduate training programme. These 80 capital market inductees are holding various portfolios in the capital and financial markets.

* Led financial inclusion awareness programmes for over 300 fresh Nigerian graduates undergoing the national service (NYSC)

* Coordinated Capital Market capacity building initiatives for 51 Judges of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

* Trained 104 women led/owned businesses on ways to access affordable finance with a focus on the Capital market.

* Organised an accelerator programme for 30 women-led businesses, educating them on investor readiness.

* Trained over 3,000 individuals and 200 corporate bodies on various capital market initiatives.

I have a Masters Degree from the London Metropolitan University, London and an Organisational Leadership Certificate from the Howard University School of Business, Washington, D.C. My wealth of knowledge traverses managing training academies, developing talent, facilitating training, and designing curricula. In addition, I am a professional trainer and certified ethics and Anti-corruption trainer.

I am a member of several professional organizations, including Association for Talent Development (ATD), Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), Toastmasters International etc. In my free time, I enjoy watching game shows and playing puzzles, chess, stamp collection and sudoku. I also enjoy watching thrillers and comedies.

3. What were your professional highlights and challenges of 2022?

The year 2022 was one packed with many professional highlights for me, especially in the area of partnerships with key stakeholders in the capital market that led to several breakthroughs in gender-related initiatives

For instance, we partnered with the Bank of Industry (BoI) in Nigeria and Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) to deploy the Ethics 1st Investment Readiness Programme for Women Led/Owned Businesses. The programme, which provided hands-on training, also empowered these companies by improving their internal business systems for corporate governance, ethics, and integrity, and connected them with potential funding sources like the BoI.

My team and I also led an ethics-related initiative that brought about the creation of Ethics and Integrity Women Champions equipped to help women-led businesses see the benefits of leading ethical businesses and tackle unethical practices in their businesses.

In addition, we coordinated a gender-focused capacity-building program that received over 100 women as participants from various sectors (such as agriculture; human health and social work activities; manufacturing; water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities; financial and insurance activities; education arts; entertainment and recreation,etc). The program, which was themed "Enabling Women Entrepreneurs through Access to Affordable Finance," focused on providing insights to the benefits of engaging the capital market to access capital.

Ahead of the launch of West Africa’s First Exchange Traded Derivatives Market in April, the academy embarked on a product capacity building journey, training capital market stakeholders on trading successfully on the platform. This market launched on Thursday, 14 April 2022, and recorded a total of nine trades valued at N16.5million. 

In the area of our contribution to sustainability and ESG Initiatives, the team and I led a collaboration between the academy, NGX Regulation Limited (NGX RegCo) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to train 40 sustainability practitioners representing a selection of 40 listed companies in key focal areas of sustainability reporting and Environmental, Social and Governance disclosures. The training was designed to build the capacities of stakeholders in the capital market on the business case for sustainability integration, reporting and ESG disclosures based on updates made to the NGX Sustainability Disclosure Guidelines and the revised GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards and global trends.

In recognition of our efforts, the academy won the highly coveted Business Integrity Innovation Award by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). This award was given to acknowledge the innovative ways the academy helped in providing business ethics & integrity awareness and learning sessions in the year under review. I was also recognised by the Africa Business Integrity Network (ABIN), currently present in 14 African Countries, for my commitment to value creation within the African Business Integrity Network through my work at the academy.

A major challenge for us is the generation gap that exists between the millennials and Gen Z in our market. The Academy is therefore on a course to fast-track initiatives and programs that address this gap in 2023.

4. What and who inspires/has inspired you to achieve your professional success?

I am inspired by Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo–Iwela, director Ggneral of the World Trade Organisation, as I have watched closely her impacts in the various positions she has held. One of these was setting up a gender-responsive budgeting system called Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria Programme (GWIN) to empower women and youths. I am inspired by her fight against corruption, leading the reform that enhanced transparency of government accounts and strengthened institutions against corruption and the debt reduction drive that Nigeria witnessed and the setting up of the Sovereign Wealth Fund while she was as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy/ Minister of Finance.

5. What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions?

I believe women can fully advance into leadership roles if given the platform to shine. Therefore, I encourage women who aspire to be in leadership positions to firstly believe in the absence of impossibilities when it comes to growth. The only factor that can hinder you is self-doubt so do not hold yourself back from hitting your goals.

Accept responsibilities, take on challenging roles and be willing to learn from your failures. Do not be afraid to speak up for what you want in a confident and assertive manner. Embark on lifelong learning so you can have a seat at the table and remember, breaking into leadership roles is not always easy but with determination and a can-do spirit, you can accomplish all your goals.


The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.