On Monday, when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced the appointment of Nancy Asiko Onyango as the next head of its internal audit unit, a torrent of congratulatory messages flooded public sites.
With her solid background in risk management, the celebratory posts came mainly from Dr Onyango’s colleagues in the accounting and finance world buoyed by the appointment of one of their own to head IMF’s Office of Internal Audit and Inspection (OIA). But it was only a matter of time before one unlikely source could unintentionally break up the monotony.
The Global Give Back Circle, a girl-child empowerment organisation, became among the first entities to publicly congratulate the lady only known to many as chief executive of Reliance Risk Advisory Solutions, a Nairobi-based risk consultancy firm.
“We wish one of our mentors, Nancy, All the Best in her new position,” the organisation said in a message posted on its website shortly after the IMF made the announcement.
At Global Give Back Circle, staff and partners work together to get young girls scholarship, mentor them or help to secure them opportunities in public and private sectors. At least 1,400 girls have benefited since the organisation was founded in 2006 in Kenya, India, South Africa, China and Rwanda.
It is here that Ms Onyango whiles away her free time as one of the 1,200 mentors.
That is the persona known in her world of charity. As news of her appointment as director of IMF’s Office of Internal Audit and Inspection began to filter through, Dr Onyango was already in a celebratory mood. Jeritah Moraa, a girl she has mentored through Starehe Girls Centre is also set to graduate on December 22 from the University of Nairobi.
And in spite of her impressive academic and professional record, Ms Onyango’s involvement in the charity ranks high among her achievements to date.
Apart from the Global Give Back Circle, she has also been a member of ISACA Kenya, a not-for-profit group of professionals founded in 1999 by a group of volunteers.
The group supports enterprise through research, promoting the use of industry standards and effective corporate governance.
She apparently developed a greater interest in the girl-child after a doctorate degree in which she specialised in gender leadership and organisational change management.
On Monday, IMF managing director Christine Largade singled out her involvement in the Global Give Back Circle among her top lifetime achievement.
“Nancy is passionate about empowering women and girls, notably in harnessing their leadership potential,” Ms Lagarde said in a statement released on Monday.
“She is a Global Give Back Circle mentor to girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. I have full confidence that the OIA will continue to thrive under Nancy’s leadership.”
Dr Onyango is set to succeed Clare Brady, a British national who left the IMF early last month after a long stint that began in January 2014. The appointment takes effect in February 2018.
She holds a First Class Honours degree in Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Nairobi, an MBA in management information systems and a doctorate degree in business administration from the United States International University—Africa.
She is also a Certified Public Accountant of Kenya and boasts several international certifications from global institutions such as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association and the Institute of Internal Auditors.
Her professional journey spanning a quarter of a century has so far taken her through Africa and Europe, working in finance units of private firms, governments, development agencies and NGOs.
Between 1995 and 1998, she worked as a manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, UK before coming back home in 2005 to take up a higher position in the advisory firm as a Partner heading its newly created East African risk assurance services unit up to October 2014.
She joined advisory firm Ernst & Young one year later as a partner heading the firm’s governance, risk and compliance division up to August last year.
Apart from her active role in management, Dr Onyango has become a common face in the boardrooms of blue chips companies. She is currently serving as a non-executive director at KCB Group, Cytonn Investments, and Fairtrade Africa, where she chairs the board’s audit and finance committee.
She has also served on the board of Financial Sector Deepening Africa, a UK government-funded organisation which works to boost participation of the poor in market financial markets.
Said Ms Largarde: “Ms Onyango brings to the Fund more than 25 years of experience in internal audit, strategic risk management, corporate governance, and IT risk management.”