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Inside View: Guaranty Trust Bank Liberia

Guaranty Trust Bank is Nigeria's biggest bank and has been the subject of Harvard Business School case studies! Daniel Orogun, MD of its Liberia business, discusses opportunities for MBAs

Guaranty Trust Bank (known as GTBank), is Nigeria's biggest and most profitable bank, and a pioneer in internet banking in West Africa. It is the first Nigerian financial institution to operate in all the Anglophone West African countries, and it recently opened its first Francophone subsidiary in Cote d ’Ivoire. The bank also has a full-fledged commercial banking subsidiary in the United Kingdom. 

GTBank has an asset base of over two trillion Nigerian Naira (USD$1.3 trillion), shareholders funds of over Naira 230 billion, and employs over 5,000 people in Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom. It is listed on both the London and the Nigerian stock exchanges.

This week, Daniel Orogun, Managing Director of  GTBank Liberia speaks to us about its growth plans and opportunities for MBAs to join the Liberia arm of the branch. He says that an MBA is an asset at GTBank and will accelerate your career, though experience is also important. 

Daniel has been at the Liberia arm of the bank since it launched in 2008 and prior to that was Executive Director of GTBank in Sierra Leone.

What are the big differences between the banking systems in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria?

I started out in Nigeria about 20 years ago and it eventually took me to Sierra Leone to set up there and then to Liberia. The major challenge I faced in Sierra Leone and Liberia was the availability of human resources. The war in Sierra Leone ended in 2002 and in Liberia the war ended in 2005 so these were small countries with huge economic setbacks.

It was hard to attract good manpower or skillful people to do the jobs. The situation is improving in Liberia and Sierra Leone because there is more stability, more investments and there are developments in education and capacity building.

In Nigeria, we didn’t have that challenge. I would say there is an oversupply of capable people and you can see this in the growth of the country’s banking system. Nigeria has built a banking system that can rival the leading banking systems in the world.

Is there a large proportion of non-native staff in GTBank Liberia?
The Bank currently has about six foriegners out of a total staff strength of 150 in Liberia. Our objective is to build the local capacity so that they can acquire the relevant skills and experience to eventually occupy strategic management positions in the bank. We offer a significant amount of on-the-job and professional development trainings to enhance employee skills and quality of output. We are definitely very conscious of grooming our local staff.

Can you share some of GTBank’s growth plans?
We started out in Liberia three years ago and since then have been able to contribute significantly in raising the delivery standard of our banking services. We’ve established six branches, four in Monrovia, the capital city and two others in the provinces. Our agenda here is to support more electronic products that would make banking services more convenient and accessible to our customers in line with the niche that the GTBank group has set for itself.

We are also building our capacity here to support the economic transformations taking place in Liberia. There is a lot of potential in sectors such as oil, mining and agriculture, and we are working to ensure that we can support the emerging opportunities and initiatives.

Do you ever hire MBAs? For what types of roles?
We do. An MBA is an added advantage but we do not make it mandatory because of the state of the educational infrastructure here. We have people who have gone abroad to get theirs and others who have taken online and part-time classes.

Those who have MBAs can work in various areas of our business like business development, operations, or general management roles, but experience also matters. Having an MBA gives you the opportunity to understand the intricacies of banking and this translates to the quality of your output and the pace of your career growth.

What type of skills do you want in GTBank employees?
We want people who can take a creative approach to doing their jobs. We like those who are proactive and take initiative. We also like those who are friendly because we are a customer-focused bank. Finally, we require people with high levels of intellectual ability because we place emphasis on developing our staff through training.

What are some of the benefits of working with GTBank?
GTBank is a place where people have the opportunity to grow through the quality of training provided. We develop our staff by making sure we have the right systems in place to create a great work environment. We value the ability to interact freely so we keep open lines of communication. GTBank is a very merit-driven organization so everyone has the opportunity to do well. The bank has even been the subject of Harvard Business School case studies.

What is something that every applicant needs to know about GTBank?
They need to understand what drives the bank’s success: the focus on customer service, professionalism, an ethical orientation and our value-added business approach. These are the things that have made the bank perform and grow to the extent that it has done today. 

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