Trailblazers

How Ijeoma Obilo Faison Took Her Passion For The Motherland And Its People And Made It Into A Career Path

We sat down with Ijeoma Obilo Faison to talk about her recently appointed role at JPMorgan Chase. Faison heads diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for their US Market Leadership Teams. Yes, it is as important as it sounds. In her newly developed role, Faison will partner with the firm’s DEI Centers of Excellence to ensure that local activities align with the firm’s global strategies.  In fact, one of Faison’s responsibilities includes supporting local leaders to lean in on the firm’s commitment to helping close the racial wealth gap and drive economic inclusion in their community. What does that mean? Building on their existing investments, JPMorgan Chase is helping drive inclusive growth by committing $30 billion by the end of 2025 to advance economic growth and opportunity for Black, Hispanic and Latino communities. 

Let’s get into our interview with Faison.

When we asked Ijeoma Obilo Faison what she actually does at JPMorgan Chase, she was modest, at least more modest than we would be in her position. Faison is grateful for the opportunity to be doing extremely important work with the firm. She is thrilled to be working closely with the firm’s seven DEI Centers of Excellence such as Advancing Black Pathways, Military and Veteran Affairs, Women on the Move and others to help local leaders implement sustainable change for employees, clients, customers and the communities it serves. Because there are 51 Market Leadership Teams across the US that represent more than 100 distinct markets, it is critical for them to work as one band, one sound. Faison will help ensure that they are all working as one band, one sound, under one cohesive and united focus. 

Going deeper into our conversation with Faison, we wanted to uncover what makes her uniquely qualified for her position at JPMorgan Chase. She lit up at that question, highlighting how she even got into all of this type of work. For her, it is about passion and a commitment to making real, true impact in the communities she serves, no matter where she is in the world. She could have started with all different aspects of her path that unequivocally equipped her for this type of work. She could have talked about her Head of GoodWorks role at JPMorgan Chase, where she led the largest volunteer engagement program, engaging over 70,000 employees worldwide in impactful opportunities with charities such as Junior Achievement, Dress for Success, Habitat for Humanity, Diversity Organization and so much more. Or her work as a Director at the diversity and inclusion non-profit Council of Urban Professionals where she led Membership, Communications and Public Affairs Forums featuring the likes of Senator Cory Booker and Deepak Chopra. But she did not, instead, she said something that hit home for us. She started with a story about her childhood. She illustrated to us what really drove her trajectory, and it all started with her father and his commitment to the motherland. 

Ijeoma visited home, what she calls Nigeria, West Africa. She was not born there, and before 1994, at the age of 11, she had never even been to the motherland. But those minute facts did not keep her from falling in love with the place she so affectionately calls home. 

During her 3-month stay that year, she connected with the people and the land. She found a purpose she had not known before, the purpose to make an impact where you are, not worrying about how you are being perceived or looked at, but instead focusing on how you make people feel. During that time, her father, a physician, started seeing family and friends as patients. What initially started as only a few people here and there, turned into hundreds lined up by the end of their stay. 

On one particular day, Ijeoma recalled a teary-eyed mother dashing through the long line of patients who were awaiting care, frantically yelling in Igbo, “Doktor, Doktor, nyere, nwam aka biko!” or “Doctor, Doctor please help my baby!” She saw the anguish in the mother’s eyes and the pain that she could not help her baby. At that moment, it was not about the line, the people awaiting care, order in keeping things organized, it was about how to help, how to soothe this mother’s fear and find a solution to help her baby. Ijeoma sprung into action, taking her beats from her father, assisting any way she could, understanding that even the littlest task would be helpful. After a few minutes, her father carefully removed infectious tapeworm eggs from his heel. Shortly thereafter, it was her that cleaned and bandaged the wound so that her father could continue attending to the seemingly endless stream of patients awaiting his care. 

That was Ijeoma’s defining moment, that was the lasting impact that she held on to that connected her to the motherland and its people, that is when its people became her people, and their home, in the motherland, became her home. Those are the many fond memories Ijeoma thinks of often. They are what root her in her work, no matter where she is and how she is serving. In the U.S. with her positions at JPMorgan Chase, to her family’s non-profit work in the motherland through the Nigerian Healthcare Foundation, helping tens of thousands in need since 2001.

With commitment, grace, empathy and understanding, Ijeoma Obilo Faison clearly walks in her purpose. Through skilled expertise, competent proficiency and profound capability, Faison brings everything to the table to every position she has, we look forward to seeing the great work she continues to do within the JPMorgan Chase organization and in her community. There could not be a better equipped steward for their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

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