Ghana’s list of women who have blazed the trail and achieved ‘firsts’ in their respective careers include one woman who did not let the initial blow life dealt her during her formative years determine the course of her journey. She is Patience Akyianu.
Patience lost her mother at an early stage in her life and had to assume the responsibility of caring for her siblings. Without motherly love and care, most people go wayward, but Mrs. Akyianu turned that misfortune into a blessing, nurturing the art of management right from her early life.
Patience had the fortune to attend the famed Wesley Girls High School in Cape Coast for her secondary education. Whether by design or accident, Wesley Girls High School seems to be producing some of the best women leaders for corporate Ghana. Upon completing Wesley Girls, Mrs. Akyianu continued with her studies at the University of Ghana, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Administration, with first class honours in 1992. She later enrolled for her Master’s degree at the University of Ghana Business School, earning an MBA in Finance.
Her academic prowess set her up for the high flying career she has had. After spending a number of years working in various roles at the Standard Chartered Bank in Ghana, her exceptional performance caught the attention of her bosses and she was subsequently promoted to the position of Chief Financial Officer of the bank’s subsidiary in South Africa.
Noted for being a change maker, Patience Akyianu embarked on a series of actions at her current position applying international best practices to bring the bank at par with other international banks. She, for instance, pushed for adoption of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFR) at the bank to instill transparency and discipline in its operations.
Sometimes one wants to test one’s own professional acumen by simply exploring opportunities in different working environments and thus in November 2008, Patience switched lanes and joined competitor Barclays Bank, another giant in the banking landscape in Africa. Starting out as a Financial Director, she rose quickly through the ranks and was made Acting Managing Director (MD) in April 2013, a position she held until November that same year when she was confirmed and made the substantive MD.
Thus, after years of hard work, determination and diligence, Mrs. Akyianu’s hard work was crowned in excellence with her appointment as the first female MD of Barclays Bank Ghana – a first for the bank and an industry first for women in Ghana as well. She has been credited with helping transform the fortunes of Barclays Bank Ghana from a struggling bank back in 2008 when she joined it, to a profitable one through prudent management and financial discipline.
In a keenly competitive corporate world, business owners always want the best hands to manage their businesses. But it only takes very bold and determined people to jump from being the Managing Director of one of the leading banks in Ghana to becoming the Group Chief Executive Officer of Hollard Ghana Holdings Limited. Such is the valour and confidence of this remarkable woman who crossed from one pinnacle of life in banking to another in insurance without batting an eye.
If Patience Akyianu’s track record and exemplary leadership at the helm of Barclays Bank Ghana is anything to go by, one can say without any equivocation that she is sure to add her Midas touch to Hollard to make it one of the biggest insurance firms in Ghana.