The narratives in very recent years have been different as women all over the world continue to shatter the glass ceilings in the hitherto mostly male-dominated fields of work and endeavour.
From top positions in banks, the military, and the apex judicial courts of the world, among others, the new trend is the emergence of many women at the helm of affairs.
Joining the pack of these formidable women is a Ghanaian named Afua Kyei, who is the current Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director at the Bank of England-UK.
The 40-year-old rose through the ranks at the UK Central Bank after joining in 2019 and currently sits on a balance sheet of about 1 trillion pounds.
Afua Kyei also oversees the Bank of England’s Asset Purchase Facility Fund and its Alternative Liquidity Facility. She also serves as a Co-Executive Sponsor, leading the Bank’s approach to climate change and is focused on Diversity and Inclusion.
Her rise to the top position began in 2019 when she joined the Bank of England from Barclays Bank, where she served as a Finance Director from 2012-2019.
During her tenure at Barclays, Afua Kyei worked across three divisions; Group Operations and Technology, the Investment Bank, and later worked in the Retail Bank as Chief Financial Officer (mortgages).
Kyei was instrumental in the Strategic Cost Transformation Programme and was an Ambassador for Diversity and Inclusion for the Bank’s Group Finance Director functions.
Prior to joining Barclays, she held a Strategic Advisory position at UBS during its mergers and acquisitions. From 2007 to 2009, Kyei served as Investment Banker for UBS at its financial institutions’ group. She also covered the UK, Benelux, Central and Eastern Europe arms of the bank from 2009-2011.
The diverse experience and roles occupied helped her to become part of the team that helped to provide advisory services to RBS during the financial crisis about its divestments mandated as part of European Union State Aid remediation, participation in HM Treasury’s £282 billion asset protection scheme and its capital issuance of £33.5 billion to HM Treasury.
Afua Kyei studied at Somerville College, Oxford University reading Chemistry and holds a Master’s degree. She was also awarded a Junior Research Fellowship honour by US-based Princeton University in Organic Chemistry.
Sharing some details of her personal journey in an article published on the BoE website, Afua noted that “Growing up, I wanted to be doctor and then decided to read Chemistry here in the UK at Oxford and specialised as an Organic Chemist. My thesis focussed on using organic synthesis to create anti-tumorous molecules that occur in nature.
I wanted to do research in the US and was awarded a Junior research fellowship in the US at Princeton. Then I decided I wanted to do something more fast-paced, so I changed paths and decided to move into the financial sector. I then went on to apply my problem-solving skills through building a career in banking and financial services in the private sector.”
She continued, “Fast forward, I joined the Bank of England as their CFO, four years ago. The reason I was attracted to the Bank, is because it was a wonderful opportunity for me to combine my innate desire to help people, whilst using my skills to do something purposeful in the public sector, helping society as a whole. My diverse set of experiences has helped me to shape my role as CFO and co-executive sponsor of DEI.”
“At the time I joined the Bank, I was the only executive of colour. I was 36, and was the youngest member of the executive team. I was the first black executive to be appointed in the 329 year history of the Bank. When I was appointed, Sir Bradley Fried was the Chairman, Mark Carney was the Governor. I was inspired by them and about what I had learned about the Bank – this drew me into the organisation. At the time, the CFO reported into the COO. Then, two years ago, Governor Andrew Bailey changed this and I now report into him directly,” Kyei recounted.
She further shared that striking a balance between her work and personal life is of grave importance to her adding that when she is not occupied with work, she enjoys spending time with her three children, family and friends.
Afua Kyei is a qualified Chartered Accountant (ICAS) with Ernst & Young.
She was recently named in the 2023 list of 100 Most Reputable Africans complied by Reputation Poll International (RPI), a leading global reputation firm.
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