Born November 4, 1951

Agbor, Delta State




Jim Ovia is the Founder and Pioneer Group Managing Director / CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Nigeria’s largest and Africa’s 6th largest bank by Shareholders’ Funds. He was at the helm of affairs, from inception, for 20 years until his resignation in July, 2010. He was reappointed the Chairman and Non-Executive Director of the bank in 2014 and has the largest individual shareholder with a stake of slightly more than 9%. He also owns Prime Real Estate across Nigeria, and Mobile Telecom Operator, Visafone (which was sold to MTN in 2015).
Gender: Male
Marital Status
  • Married
Name of Spouse Kay Ovia
State of Origin: Delta State
Father's Name
Father's Status N/A
Mother's Name
Mother's Status N/A
Profession Banker , Administrator , Businessman , Philanthropist , Writer , Motivational Speaker
Working Experience Jim Ovia is the founder of Zenith Bank. He started the bank in 1990 and served as CEO until 2010 when he became the chairman. Under his leadership, Zenith was transformed into and positioned as one of the largest and most profitable banks in Africa. Zenith bank has expanded over the years and established operations in countries outside Nigeria, countries like- Sierra Leona, Ghana, South Africa, the Gambia and the United Kingdom. Ovia is also the founder of Visafone Communications Limited; Chairman, Nigerian Software Development Initiative (NSDI); Chairman, National Information Technology Advisory Council (NITAC), Chairman of Cyberspace Network Limited; Member, Honorary International Investor Council, and Member, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI). , He is the founder and Chairman, Mankind United to Support Total Education (MUSTE), a philanthropic organization focused on providing scholarship for the less privileged, Founder of the Youth Empowerment/ICT Foundation, which focuses on improving the socio-economic welfare of Nigerian youths by inspiring and motivating them to embrace Information and Communication Technology and Founder of the Jim Ovia Foundation , Jim Ovia is a Member of the Governing Council of Lagos State University, Lagos, a Member of the Board of Trustees, Redeemer's University for Nations, Lagos and Member of the Honorary International Investors’ Council. , He is also the founder and proprietor of James Hope College, Agbor, Delta State and the University of Information and Communication Technology, Delta State. , Jim Ovia is currently the Chairman of Prudential Zenith Life Assurance Limited and Chairman and majority shareholder of Zenith General Insurance Limited;
Previous Appointments:

– Part-time Computer operator, Baton Rouge Bank and Trust Company;

– Clerical Officer, Union Bank (formerly Barclays Bank), 1973;

– Manager, Lion Bank;

– Financial Analyst (then Senior Manager), International Merchant Bank, 1987;

– Senior Manager, Corporate Finance Department of Merchant Bank of Africa, 1987-1990;

– CEO, Zenith Bank, 1990 – 2010;

– Member, Governing Council of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, 1999 – 2007;

– Member, board of American International School, Lagos, 2001 -2003;

– Member, National Economic Management Team of Nigeria.

SCHOOLS ATTENDED: Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, 1977 (B.Sc); University of Louisiana, Monroe, Louisiana, USA, 1979 (MBA); Harvard Business School, USA (OPM).


– Zik Award for Professional Leadership;
– National Award of Member Federal Republic (MFR), 2000;
– National Award of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), November, 2011;

“Africa Rise And Shine” (2018)

– Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Finance from the Lagos State University


Under the leadership of Jim Ovia, Zenith bank received prestigious awards, some of which includes:

– The Most Respected Bank in Nigeria by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2005;
– Bank of the Year by The Banker Magazine in 2005;
– Named the most security friendly and conscious bank in Nigeria for 2005;
– Ranked the Fourth biggest bank in Nigeria by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2005;
– African Bank of the Year in 2007 by African Investor Magazine;
– Named Quoted Company of the Year by the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2007;
– Socially Responsible Bank of the Year awarded by African Banker Magazine;
– Won the Web-Jurist award conducted by the website rating arm of Phillips Consulting.

An avid fan of iconic architecture, Jim Ovia developed the Civic Centre and Aquamarine Boat Club to exploit Nigeria’s burgeoning hospitality sector. Adjacent to this, he built the Civic Towers, a 15 story office block that colloquially is referred to as Nigeria’s “Empire State Building”.

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