Jim Ovia is the Founder of Zenith Bank Plc where he retired as pioneer Group Managing Director / Chief Executive Officer after two decades of meritorious leadership. The Bank is positioned as one of the largest and most profitable banks in Africa. As an accomplished banker with over three decades experience, he introduced a great deal of innovations into the Nigerian banking industry.
Jim Ovia is also the Founder of Visafone Communications Limited. He is currently the Chairman of the Nigerian Software Development Initiative (NSDI) and also Chairman of the National Information Technology Advisory Council (NITAC). In addition, he is a member of the Honorary International Investor Council as well as the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI).
He serves on the governing boards of the Governing Council of Lagos State University and Redeemer's University For Nations. Previously, he served on board of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (1999 – 2007) and on the board of American International School, Lagos [2001 -2003].
He is a noted philanthropist and has headed numerous Non-Governmental Organisations at various periods including being the first President of the Nigeria Internet Group (2001-2003). He is the founder and Chairman of Jim Ovia Foundation which offers an educational endowment fund set up to provide scholarships for marginalized youths in Nigeria. The foundation focuses on improving the socio-economic welfare of Nigerian youths through Education and Information and Communication Technology.
In November 2000, Jim Ovia was conferred with the national award of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) by the President, Federal Government of Nigeria and and with an honorary degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc) in Finance by the Lagos State University in October, 2005. Previously, in April 1999, he was awarded with the prestigious Zik Award for professional leadership
Jim Ovia holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from the University of Louisiana, USA (1979) and a B.Sc degree in Business Administration from Southern University, Louisiana, USA (1977). He is an Alumnus of Harvard Business School (OPM Program).
Recently, he was appointed the Chairman of the Committee on “Nigeria Polio-Immunisation Action Group”. The committee which is in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation seeks to eradicate the scourge of the dreaded polio disease in Nigeria.