Top 10 Exemplary Perception Managers in Corporate Nigeria – Folake Ani-Mumuney

Folake Ani-Mumuney wears two caps. She is the Global Head of the Marketing and Corporate Communications department of First Bank Limited, Nigeria’s foremost commercial banking group which has presence in several countries in Africa, as well as the United Kingdom and China. On that position, she has oversight functions in FBN Holdings Plc and all its subsidiaries in several areas that include asset management, investment banking, private equity, insurance, pension fund custodian services. She is also the Chairman, Board of Directors, FBN Insurance Brokers.

Ani-Mumuney has a significant ‘first’ attached to her name, which predates her current positions. She is remembered as being the first black woman to hold a top management position in British Airways, managing the marketing functions of the airline’s operations in Europe and Africa.

She attained the unprecedented position after successfully initiating online ticketing and check-in of customers by the airline. Her interest in the African market encouraged the company to merge Europe and Africa for easy marketing purposes.

To say that FAM, as she is called by friends and colleagues, is daring and adventurous would be to make an understatement about a woman who is almost everything rolled into one – pacesetter, innovator, leader, mentor and team player. Her career path is clearly defined by these sobriquets.

Ani-Mumuney has a career that spans over 25 years across diverse sectors such as banking, aviation, manufacturing, as well as oil and gas. She has displayed exceptional skills in all the places she has worked and in the different roles she has played, which include leading strategy and business planning, business analysis and process re-engineering, business development, innovation and marketing. She has managed portfolios in diverse locations across different continents, including Europe and Africa, Asia Pacific, Middle East and the United Kingdom.

Ani-Mumuney, unquestionably an Amazon in a male-dominated field, began to exhibit her bold, daring and adventurous side as a child when she was denied opportunity to start school with her elder sister on grounds of age. She cried and would not stop wailing until her parents caved in to her demands and sent her to school. She would exhibit this trait throughout her educational and professional journey, which is the reason she is today at the pinnacle of her career.

Her never-accept-no attitude to the pursuit for her dreams was again on display after she completed her secondary education so early that at 15, she was ready to go to the university. In fact, she was admitted to study Law at the University of Ife. But her parents, for the second time, thought otherwise. Their position was that she was too young to enter a university. They enrolled her in Queens College in Lagos, to do A ‘levels. But she had the good fortune of having her uncle intervene, pleading that she be allowed to go straight to the university. They bowed to pressure and asked her to go study Philosophy, instead of Law. It didn’t seem an exciting idea to them to have a daughter qualify as a lawyer at the still adolescent age of 19. She still had her dream of studying Law fulfilled at the University of Buckingham, England, after bagging a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy.

With a knack for learning and tendency to explore, Ani-Mumuney ventured to do a diploma course in Business Computing Analysis and Design. She simultaneously learnt Structured Query Language, which gave her the knowledge to build through coding.

“I felt I had missed out on the internet revolution and that was my way of catching up,” she recalled in an interview “It helped me to become what I have become today, which is a solutions provider.  I don’t say I am a marketer or I am a strategist or I am a business analyst, which are all things I have done.  I provide solutions. In whatever field I find myself, I try to provide solutions.  The only thing I don’t think I can do is maybe brain surgery or rocket science.  But everything else, there is a principle, there is an approach, and if you don’t know, go find out who knows and put it all together.”

Ani-Mumuney later attended the Harvard Business School where she did an Executive Programme. She followed up with several other management certificates and affiliations with many professional bodies. She joined British Airways in 1999 as a graduate trainee and, through an accelerated growth, became a Business Analyst, Strategy and Business Planning Manager for the United Kingdom. It was an opportunity for her to put into practice the solution providing skills she had acquired in the course of her studies.

“We did amazing things”, she recalled. “We conceptualized a whole idea of moving everything online—online ticketing, online check-in.  People said it would be impossible but we did it. I was a big part of creating Terminal 5.  It was a huge, huge project, to be able to bring everything in, bringing the network and everything.”

Upon her request, Ani-Mumuney was posted to West Africa where she introduced the concept of buying tickets from the banks. It was an innovative solution for the West African market which was soon exported to other parts of the world.

She served as Head of Marketing Services, Africa, for four years and later spent one year as the Head, Brands, Policies and Communications for Europe and Africa, covering 59 countries.

She left British Airways in 2009 to join Dangote Group as the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, after being personally headhunted by no less a personality than Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive of the Group.

She recalls how she was recruited by Dangote: “In less than two minutes he (Dangote) helped me make up my mind. I knew I wanted to be a part of something great; I knew I wanted to be part of taking a Nigerian brand to the global stage. After all, I was doing that for an international brand.  And I did it very successfully such that I won awards and accolades. But he said: ‘Come and do it. Because if we don’t do it, if we don’t take Nigeria to the world, then the negative narrative on Nigeria is what we would hear—we would never hear the positive stories out of Nigeria.  So come and do this. Come and join me.”

Apart from her credentials and five-star performance in an international organization, what attracted Dangote to Ali-Mumuney was the role she played in the organization of the 90t birthday anniversary celebration of the late South African president and anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela.

She joined the Dangote Group after the brief encounter with the man who would go on to become the richest man in Africa. For the next year, she played an active role in rebranding the Group, bringing it to its current status of one of the largest indigenous conglomerates in Africa.

Positively restless and highly mobile, she joined First Bank Limited as the Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications, and was appointed to the Board of FBN Insurance Brokers Ltd in September 2017.

In 2017, Ani-Mumuney was elected the 10th and first female President of the Advertisers Association of Nigeria in a keenly contested election. Before then, in 2016, she had been elected Vice Chairman of the Junior Achievements Nigeria in August, 2016.  She became an Executive Council Member of the World Federation of Advertisers in March 2018. She is an Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria; a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK; a member of the National Institute of Marketing Nigeria and serves in an advisory capacity to many organizations on strategy and marketing communications issues. In 2019, she was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Marketing World Awards, in Ghana.

Folake Ani-Mumuney is either a chairman or co-chairman of boards of several other private sector bodies, including and non-governmental organizations.