‘How I Became First Black Person To Lead World Bank’s Treasury’ –  Arunma Oteh

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Former Vice President and Treasurer for World Bank, Arunma Oteh

Former Vice President and Treasurer for the World Bank, Arunma Oteh has described her appointment as the bank’s vice president and treasurer as a great delight for her in 2015.

Oteh in her explanation with CNBC Africa said that she had wanted to start her own business at that time but could not let the opportunity pass her by without competing for it.

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“I could not push the opportunity behind when I saw the advertisement for the opening. For me, the first excitement was being successful after a very wide global selection process, because a number of people that I highly respect also competed for the position. That was important to me”, she said.

Before joining the global bank, Oteh had served as Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission in Nigeria between 2010 to 2015, a period she repositioned, restructured and rebuilt the country’s capital market after a global financial crisis and served on Nigeria’s Economic Management team.

She said the period she got the job was the time everybody had agree at the bank that they were not going to be nickeling and diming about development.

“It was the year the Sustainable Development Goals was agreed on, the year that the Paris Climate Agreement was also agreed on so it was an amazing year to start at the bank”

As the bank treasurer, she led a team that managed a USD 200 billion debt portfolio, assets totaling USD 200 billion for 65 internal and external clients that include the World Bank Group, central banks, sovereign wealth funds and other official institutions.

She and her team also maintained the World Bank’s global reputation as a prudent and innovative borrower in over 50 currencies by executing transactions and carefully coordinating credit rating and capital market relationships for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA).

They also leverage a derivatives portfolio of more than USD 600 billion for risk management and process annual cash flows of more than USD 7 trillion. She is also responsible for an extensive financial advisory business for World Bank clients.

“For me, what was important was how my team and I contributed to the mission of the World Bank at the time when the world was looking at an entity like the World Bank to make a difference.

“The traditional treasury role was absolutely fascinating, given the size of fund under management and how much we borrowed,

We borrowed $60b in 2016 wNhich is one of the highest ever in terms of fund raised that the World Bank has done but some of what was important to me were the innovation and one of such was doing the first pandemic bond ever, and this came of the back of what has happened with Ebola in West Africa”, she explained.

“The other thing for me was to be able to take on an institution that depended only on contributions from donor governments to the capital market in its many decades of existence, took to the capital market and raised funds at very reasonable level”

The former African Development Bank’s Vice President also pointed out that doing the first blockchain bond for the bank was a big one for her because of the interest she developed in technology and finance.

“I was very keen at World Bank to showcase the value of blockchain because it was significant for developing countries for managing issue of corruption to be able to bring innovation to leverage the capital market for the mission of the World Bank”

She said she was fortunate to have an amazing upbringing with good education and wealth of experience that has spanned the world.

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“I have been exposed to different sectors of any economy and my purpose is to deploy all the resources that I have gathered to make meaningful contributions to society, so that each of the people that I mentor or encounter me gets something back from me”, she pointed.

Oteh has done a lot of charity work that focused on providing medical support, scholarships and hope she would continue to have more resources to do more in Nigeria and help the continent realize its potential.

 

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