Analysis Of A High Corporate Culture Commerce Essay


First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) is a Nigerian bank and financial services organisation. It is the countrys third biggest bank. First Bank traces its origin back to the first major financial institution founded in Nigeria; hence the name. The bank is the largest retail lender in the nation; First Bank has created a small market for some of its retail clients.

At the end of September 2011, the bank had assets totalling approximately US$18.6 billion (NGN:2.9 trillion). The bank's profit after tax, for the nine months ending 30 September 2011 was approximately US$270.2 million (NGN:42.2 billion).

The bank has over 500 branches in Nigeria with over 12,000 employees and was named the best bank in Nigeria by Global Finance magazine in September 2006. The bank's compliance with financial laws has also strengthened with the Economic Financial Crimes Commission giving it a strong rating.

FBN is in business to make the most profit with the least risk involved, the major profit comes from the facilities/loans/credits it gives out to individuals, small and large business organisations.

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The aim of this work is to describe this organisation and analyse their features by paying critical attention to the role of the executives' personality, the company's corporate culture and turning to paradigm, metaphor to try and understand the organisation activities better.


The bank's current chairman is Prince Ajibola Afonja, it is ran by Stephen Olabisi Onasanya (GMD/CEO) and a team of Broad of Directors and Executives who make the strategic decisions, Business development procedures, Risk management procedures and compliance procedures needed for the organisation to move forward.

The banks brand/motto in the ever evolving Nigerian financial sector, is being "Dependably Dynamic" and it stands firmly on the four pillars of success: Leadership, Safety & Security, Enterprise and Service Excellence.

Describing the culture of this bank, we need to know the role the stories about the organisation past that are been circulated in the organisation and that guide the employees to the values and expectation of the bank. As Tietze et al (2003) says "stories are a core component and constructive part of culture, they are said to represent, reflect and confirm values; they can provide template for behaviour and moral judgement"

Schein, H (1987) says 'Culture is a pattern of basic assumptions- invented, discovered and developed by a given group as it learns to come with problems of external adaptation and internal integration. These patterns are taught to new members as ways to perceive, think and feel…'

Having a GMD/CEO like Olabisi, an organisation hardly needs to look for stories to tell:

Stephen Olabisi Onasanya has over 23 years post qualification experience in the financial institutions Olabisi started his banking career as Senior Accountant with Wema Bank in 1985. He joined First Bank in 1994 as a Senior Manager and held several positions. He was Deputy General Manager and Group Head, Finance and Performance Management Department, as well as Coordinator, Century 2 Enterprise Transformation Project, before his appointment as MD/CEO of First Pension Custodian in 2005. And thereafter appointed as the GMD/CEO of First Bank of Nigeria

Olabisi is a chartered accountant by qualification before he moved to the banking field; He was inspired by his mentor Joseph Sanusi who was the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Managing Director in the bank at that time. He believes banking is the Bed rock/ Foundation of any economic/nation to move forward

Before olabisi got to the highest level of GMD/CEO of First Bank of Nigeria he placed a lot of dissolutions, set-backs, challenges and delays. A point in Olabisi's banking life and career he wanted to give up/quit because he was not moving further in his career and was stuck on a particular position for a very long time. He had the conviction behind his mind that banking makes you modest and he did not quit the banking industry, on the long run he decided to stay put and persevere, he believes most failures in life are people who quit the stage when they didn't know how close they were to success. Even when people he help to recruit and select into the bank rose above him, he was determined to never give up and persevered until he was finally anointed as the GMD/CEO of the bank.

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He took over the leadership of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) at a very challenging period over the worst financial institution history ever, where other banks were either been acquired or merged with other banks. For a bank of 116 years with an old system of operations, olabisi revitalized and rejuvenated the system of operation of the bank, he looked at the past and look at the present and fine-tuned the operational process of the bank.

Employees of the bank look at their GMD/CEO career life and are inspires or motivate to act in such that will yield success on the long run, he tells you his story of how he persevered on a particular post regardless of the pressures associated it. Employees see the change olabisi is making in the bank and are happy to be associated with that kind of leader, a leader that has the interest or social wellbeing of his workforce at heart; a leader that has a very good corporate governance and integrity, he reinvests and changes processes to suit the current economic and conveys the change process to the employees.

Olabisi is a hero and a force to be reckoned with.


In First Bank of Nigeria, the official language is used where staff members address each other or superiors/ management by his or her first names, no titles attach regard less of positions or offices they occupy. Olabisi and the team of Broad of Directors and Executives dress formally everyday including on dress-down Fridays, a corporate shirt, suit and tie.

There is an official dress code for employee regarding the department you function in, for example the security department of the bank required to wear white shirts, navy blue trousers and black boots to where they are function. The electrical teams are expected to wear over alls. All departments in the bank choose their official dress codes that suit their work specifications. No jeans is allowed in any place or department of the bank.

Olabisi practise what I call participatory leadership style. Where employees opinions, wellbeing and welfare are taken into consideration before decisions are made. The issues is the corporate culture: strategic decisions are not just being made from the top only, the members of staff also get involved and participate in decisions that concern the jobs or welfare

Apart for the formal communication portal the intranet that is accessible to all permanent and contract staff where any staff can communicate with the co-workers, managers and top management to ask questions, solve official issues, disseminate basic Information and make suggestions there is an informal communication system where we met very top management face to face

For example in first bank of Nigeria there is custom where we call "The Town Hall Meeting" where olabisi and all top senior management sit to listen to the people that made up the organisation be it the cleaners, security, youth corp members, contract staff, permanent staff (everybody). They come together sit and talk about issues they are having, suggestions on the way forward. In the meeting everybody is giving a chance to express themselves (weakness, strength, threat and opportunities). There is no hierarchy during the meeting everybody is seen as family during the meeting no holds back. Olabisi and top management travel rounds to branches to imbibe this "no hold back informal face to face communication".


The success of an organisation is affected by its workforce be it positive or negative There is no successful organisation without the influence of its workforce, so human resources development is all concern about helping/encouraging employees to identify ways they want to use to improve their careers and other aspect of their working life balance. First bank of Nigeria knows the importance of a highly skilled and committed workforce so it sends his workforce on various trainings based on your level of authority and the basic post you occupy in the bank (prevalence) to improve their skills in the country or aboard. Training on how to use programs like Microsoft offices, oracles, how to initiate the business continuity programs, learning a foreign language, how to manage risk better, new marketing styles, what first bank of Nigeria entails etc..

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FBN is very committed to its employees. It is very concern with staff welfare than any bank in Nigeria. Its encourage staff to borrow from the bank if need be, by providing the least interest on loan/facilities given to staff. Like a common saying " a tanker that supplies fuel to others must also have a tank" Member of staff are happy and motivated to be part of the growth of bank they are given incentive or reward(COLLA) for a work done well apart from the basic salary they receive at the end of the month, which makes they work better and harder and this gives the bank a stronger competitive edge than any other bank in the country.

FBN is the only bank very committed to its workforce in that it gives the least percentage of interest on loans given to staff, there are various on-going trainings for staff, and there are various benefits and incentives for staff

The Business strategy of FBN is clearly stated on every noticeboard on every of the 17th floors of the Head office of the bank and explicitly hung on the cafeteria on the 7th floor of the bank and is backed by its HR strategy; everywhere you look, you see the mission and vision of the bank and how we all team up to achieve it. FBN policy and corporate culture support the business style of its leader (olabisi).

Teamwork and communication is the key component of success of the bank, where staff in groups or teams strives to be the best at what they do. At the end of the financial year, the most productive teams are recognised and awarded for a work well done. For example the Firstbank Annual Merit Award (FAMA).


Armstrong(1995) states that organisational or corporate culture is the pattern of shared beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, norms and values in an organisation which may not have been articulated but in the absence of direct instructions, shape the way people act and interact and strongly influence the ways in which things get done. Culture helps an organisation to have a focus and guides it to achieve its goals, its creates a sense of belonging and unity of purpose; it imbibes commitment and loyalty particularly when the culture is positive and dynamic. Of which the corporate culture is FBN is "dependable dynamic", it shapes behaviour by providing guidance on what is expected of the workforce.

FBN's dependable dynamic culture allows the organisation to respond to the changing environment it finds itself. At FBN, the workforce is made up very diverse individuals with different characters, talents and skills. It is a flexible financial institution, FBN responds to its customers need adequately. One thing that is sure in life is change, to survive, FBN must grow in the process of growing, Olabisi and top management develop, expand, innovate, recognize and change old ways of doing things.

The corporate culture of FBN is more of an organic structure. Dalton ,K (2012) states that Organic structures have loosely defined roles; flexible relationships; lateral communications; advice and information sharing/ not orders through vertical chain; authority lies with those who know; 'distributed leadership'

For example, Different executives have different degrees of authorities bestow on them of which they can carry out different duties/responsibilities without the GMD/CEO been involved. In a situation where customer needs a facility/loan of 50Million from the bank and meets the banks criteria regarding the set facility to be borrowed, a Chief Credit Control Officer can sign off on the loan without any consult with the senior executive or even the GMD/CEO.


FBN has a teamwork strategy where everyone plays their own share for the growth of the Bank( profit). For example when a customer comes to the bank to borrow funds(credit), his or her application and all document required (like Memorandum of Association, CO2,CO7,Application letter, Certificate of Incorporation, and Company Profile) goes to the department in charge of analysing and processing I,e Credit Analysis and Processing (CAP) after the department analyses the credit to see whether is a good or bad credit, the application is then sent to the next department Credit Risk Management (CRM) to ascertain the level of risk the bank is undertaking, thereafter the application decision is conveyed to the various branches for the business managers to release funds to the customer or not. The functioning of certain departments is dependent on the functioning of other departments. Departments are vital organs in the growth/productivity/profit of the bank


According to Armstrong (1995) states "change can create instability and ambiguity with disharmony and surprise. However, the culture of an organisation can create solidarity and meaning and can inspire commitment and productivity"

Change can happen, based on organisation's own free will or force to change by stiff competition including changes in political and social environment. However in FBN, olabisi's workforce are made up of creative and young minds that can be crafted, flexible and respond to a changing environment not old and rigid minds who cannot respond to change. For example when a new product is about to be launched, he sends representatives who go and learn the process and convey the training they received to the remaining workforce. Nobody is left out concerning the new changes about to happen.


First bank of Nigeria has a very strong leader and exhibit a strong corporate culture. Olabisi has set the pace for employee to emulate and develop themselves. He promoted participatory leadership styles for other senior management to follow. He brought the task culture theme, where employee form teams to complete tasks and make decisions that imparts on the creativity and success of the team.

FBN reforms its operations and dynamics with new products and services, at the heart of the organisation is the indulgent that customer service delivery and trust are the vital way to stay 'truly the first.

The corporate culture of FBN more like the less centralised incubator model ( Trompenaars, 1993) that is ad-hocratic and inspirational and try to incorporate female-type values to reinforce participation and commitment. Based on my short placement in the head office of the bank I can say the corporate or organisational culture of FBN is a shared belief and a shared value, values like teamwork, employee focused, taking care of internal and external customers and social responsibility.