Leadership Panels

RONAK GOPALDAS, HEAD OF COUNTRY RISK, RAND MERCHANT BANK (SOUTH AFRICA)

Ronak is currently the Head of Country Risk at Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) in Johannesburg, where he manages a team of analysts who provide the firm with in-depth analysis of economic, political, security and operational dynamics across sub-Saharan Africa. He has travelled extensively across Africa to identify key country themes and trends, which in addition to a network of contacts and resources, help inform the qualitative and quantitative research the team produces with the aim of guiding RMB’s strategic investment decisions.vA prominent voice and trusted thought leader across print, radio, television and social media on Africa related matters, Ronak has made frequent appearances on the likes of CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and CNBC Africa, and also publishes regular op-ed pieces. He has spoken at a number of the world’s top universities and at leading Africa focussed policy and business conferences as a moderator, panellist and keynote speaker. 

 In 2016, he delivered a powerful Tedx talk entitled “Embracing Africa: beyond the binaries” and in November 2015, he participated in the Asian Forum on Global Governance in New Delhi with a number of young leaders from around the world. He is a fellow of the young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) and was selected as one of South Africa’s “Brightest Young Minds” in 2011. Ronak holds a BCom degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) with Business French as well as a BCom (Hons) in Financial Analysis and Portfolio Management from the University of Cape Town (UCT). He is currently completing an MSc in Finance (Economic Policy) through the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

TOYOSI AKERELE OGUNSIJI, FOUNDER & CEO, RISE NETWORKS

Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, populist Social Entrepreneur named by Forbes as one of the 20 most Powerful Young Women in Africa is the Founder / CEO of RISE NETWORKS, Africa’s leading Social Enterprise in Youth and Education Development harnessed through Technology. In addition to that, she is a Serial Entrepreneur with vested interests in other successful Business Endeavors.Perhaps, one of the most respected emerging leaders of Africa’s new generation is a 2016 Edward Mason Fellow and Mid-Career Master in Public Administration Candidate at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government where she is also Vice President for International Student Affairs. She studied Strategic Management at Executive Level at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, obtained a Certificate in Youth Inclusive Financial Services from University of New Hampshire, Durham, USA, holds a Certificate in Media Enterprise from the School of Media and Communication, Pan African University and an Executive Masters’ Certificate in Project Management from The Project Management College, UK. She has also studied Digital Marketing Strategy at the UK Institute of Digital Marketing and she received a 2nd Class Upper Bachelors’ degree in Civil Law from the University of Jos, Nigeria.Described by the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Michelle Obama as one of her personal inspirations, her values and ideals are evident in the ground-breaking successes of many of the beneficiaries of her efforts and are attributable to her unflinching commitment to the value re-orientation, financial empowerment and Job Creation for the successor Generation of Africa. She is a respected advisor, thought leader, content expert and commentator on issues of Social Entrepreneurship, Education Advancement and Public Sector Leadership. 

Toyosi is an Alumni of the Prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program of the United States Government, a recipient of numerous awards including Recognition by Crans Montana Forum in Europe as a New Leader of Tomorrow, This Day Awards for Nigeria’s Women of Distinction, Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 of Success Digest Entrepreneurial Awards, The 2011 Excellence Awards of the School of Media and Communication, Pan African University, The 2008 Future Africa Awards Best Use of Advocacy Category and the Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards jointly organized by Leap Africa, International Youth Foundation and NOKIA. She is also one of the honorees of the To 100 Young Leaders’ Recognition at the Nigeria’s Centenary Celebrations by the Federal Government. In 2013, she was honored by the Federal Government as one of the Best 100 Young Nigerians in one of the events to mark Nigeria's 100th anniversary as a union. She has also been honored by 234 GIVE, a Social Initiative that encourages Nigerians to donate to the adopted Charities and improve livelihoods for the less privileged. In May of 2010, Toyosi was selected for the Nigeria Leadership Initiative's Future Leaders Fellowship. NLI is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. In 2011, Toyosi was appointed a Member of The Right to Know Initiative, a Nonprofit focused on Human Rights and Open Data Issues and their social impact on Citizens. In 2014, she was appointed the Youngest Member of the Victims of Terrorism Funds Presidential Committee. In 2015, she was appointed a Jury Member of the Get Started Africa Entrepreneurship Challenge initiated by NESCAFÉ to empower Youth across the Continent and a Mentor of the African Entrepreneurship Awards & a Mentor on the Bank of Africa’s Africa Entrepreneurship Awards.

Yasmin Kumi, Africa Foresight Group

Yasmin Kumi.jpg

Yasmin Kumi is a Harambean (‘16) and founded Africa Foresight Group (AFG) in 2015 to follow her passion of fostering local economic value creation in Africa. AFG enhances the African business landscape by providing locally accessible, world-class insights and advisory services to grow local companies into global champions. She is the Managing Director of AFG and also serves as the inaugural Executive Director of the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance, the leading network for young talented entrepreneurs from Africa. AFG currently has offices in London and Accra and serves its clients with a growing team of currently 23 enthusiastic people. Yasmin grew up in Berlin, Germany as the only daughter of a German mother and a Ghanaian father. She worked as a senior business consultant with McKinsey & Company for 5 years gaining extensive working experience in the consumer goods and financial services sectors, the research of family business groups and agriculture, mostly in African markets. Prior to that she was the monitoring & evaluation officer for an agricultural value chain project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in West Africa. She holds an MBA degree and a Master’s degree in African Studies from the University of Oxford as well as a Bachelor’s Degree from European Business School and Seoul National University.

Graham Sinclair, Sustainable investments expert

GS.jpg

 Graham Sinclair works at the intersection of investment, sustainability and strategy. His first decade was running pension funds in Southern Africa for Old Mutual and Alexander Forbes, investment banking at Nedcor and front office for global multi-managers SEI Investments with US$281bn AuM. His second decade was focused on sustainable investment, firstly managing investment research products at KLD before launching @SinCoESG. Client engagements in the institutional investment ecosystem have ranged from AIG Global Investors on Wall St. to the UN Environment Programme in Geneva for the Principles for Responsible Investment , designing the Access to Nutrition Index for the Gates Foundation ,upgrading global stock exchanges ESG systems, and co-developing the 2015 CFA ESG Handbook . Most recently he led a project for Humanity United and Freedom Fund mapping models for impact investing fighting modern slavery. His work in Africa includes leading the IFC ’s 2 year Sustainable Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa project, working with the US$5bn AuM China-Africa Development Fund on opportunities for impact investing in Africa, designing and chairing ESGAfrica , executive education of the Board of Trustees of an African sovereign wealth pension fund, benchmarking private equity funds for the African Development Bank on development outcomes metrics for the AfDB portfolio of 32 private equityfunds, and ESG systems design for an African infrastructure private equity fund. 

Graham is recognized as a sustainable investment subject matter expert who has published in academic and practitioner publications, contributing three chapters on Private Equity, Africa and Sustainability Indexes to " Evolutions in Su stainable Investing" (Wiley Finance, 2011) and most recently on ESG Indexes in the " Handbook of Financ e and Sustainability" (forthcoming, 2017). Since his 2007 Harvard Kennedy School lecture “ Investing in CSR: From Wall St to Main St”, Graham has presented at over 100 events on all 5 continents. He developed an MBA masterclass on sustainable investment at UNC-Chapel Hill / Duke Fuqua , HEC Geneve, University of Exeter, and HEC Paris MBA . His TEDx " Investing As If The Future Matters" was ranked top 5 in ESG by the investment industry’s CFA Institute. @esgarchitect has 3,800+ followers.  Graham sits on expert panels for Globescan, McKinsey and Greenbiz, advises the Yale Dwight Hall SRI

Fund and is a GRI Focal Point Africa Advisory Group member. A Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program and Net Impact Lifetime Member, he co-launched Net Impact Boston in 2005 and AfricaSIF.org in 2009. Graham has various professional certifications in investment and sustainability including the inaugural cohort of the WWF One Planet Leaders Programme in Switzerland and a Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program . Graham holds an MBA from the Villanova School of Business(where he co-launched the first-ever student-managed ESG long-only fund), and an LL.B from the Howard College School of Law. On any day he would rather be cycling on espresso over a mountain pass.


CAREERS / MOVING BACK

WHEN IS THE 'RIGHT' TIME TO GO BACK?

How can we contribute to Africa's development from wherever we happen to be? What is the optimal re-entry strategy? Is there such a thing as perfect timing? Which skills should we develop before the big move? As we think about our careers as Africans in the diaspora or even sometimes as Africans in other African countries, our minds swirl with a multitude of scenarios and questions. Those questions are often shared by our brothers and sisters. Join us on this panel as we tackle them jointly with a group of panelists who collectively have lived many scenarios of the African development story. Our panelists are recruiters, coaches, entrepreneurs and more. They are sons, daughters, parents and friends of Africa and Africans. They care deeply about the same set of questions you are wrestling with. Our invitation is to join forces and enter into a dialogue together.

Nadou Lawson, Africa Business Fellow

Nadou S Lawson_Oct16.JPG

Nadou S. Lawson was born in Lomé, Togo and grew up near Chicago, Illinois.  She is passionate about youth, education, and economic empowerment.  Her ambition is to leverage her skills and professional experiences to help scale African businesses and unleash the full potential of young Africans. 

Nadou is currently an associate at McKinsey & Company in the New York office. She previously interned with the Nigeria office and was one of the Firm’s 2014 Emerging Scholars.  Additionally, Nadou was part of the inaugural Africa Business Fellowship (ABF) 2016 cohort, completing a placement in Nairobi, Kenya last summer.  During her three months at Liquid Telecom, she worked on several critical finance projects for the East Africa CFO.  Prior to ABF and McKinsey, she worked at Kimberly-Clark and Google in various finance capacities, gaining experience in financial planning and analysis, process improvement, corporate treasury, and talent development.

Nadou earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.  She completed her undergraduate business studies at Carroll University in Wisconsin, where she was the 2015 recipient of Carroll’s Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D) Award. 

Rama Shagaya, Career Coach

Rama_Headshot2.jpg

Throughout her 20-year career, Rama Diallo Shagaya has been a driving force in promoting economic growth, job creation, and entrepreneurship in Africa. As an award-winning finance executive and entrepreneur, she has leveraged business insight, as well as expertise in private equity investment and M&A to help small companies, large corporations, and nonprofit organizations achieve financial and strategic growth objectives. She has also started and managed businesses in Nigeria and South Africa.
Rama is currently Managing Director of Future Focus Advisory and Coaching in Cape Town. She advises businesses on strategy and is a performance coach for executives. Previously, Rama was Treasurer and Director, Corporate Finance for Emerging Market Telecommunication Services Ltd (EMTS), a multi-billion dollar mobile telecommunications company operating under the Etisalat brand name in Nigeria. She worked directly with the CEO and CFO leading transaction teams comprised of internal team members and external partners including investment bankers, accountants, legal advisors, regulatory groups, and others. During her 4 years at the company, Rama raised over $2 billion from Nigerian and International banks. Her awards include Project Finance Euromoney African Telecoms Deal of the Year 2011 and Acquisition International TMT Deal of the Year- Middle East/Africa 2012/2013.
Rama also completed the $250 million acquisition of Alheri Mobile Services by EMTS, giving EMTS a 3G license and the ability to
compete effectively as a data services provider. The transaction had an impact of $700 million on EMTS' Net Present Value.
Rama began her career in 1997 with Goldman Sachs as an Analyst Intern in the Fixed Income Group. She then joined Morgan
Stanley’s Investment Banking Analyst Class in New York. In 2000, Rama joined Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) as an Investment
Officer in Washington, DC. She played a key role in the $50 million investment in MSI Cellular (now Bharti Airtel Africa) that resulted ina 4x return on investment. She also evaluated many businesses and developed expertise in the telecom, technology and media fields.
In 2004, Rama was named Founding Managing Director of the Endeavor Entrepreneurship Institute of South Africa (EEISA) in
Johannesburg. She built EEISA's presence in South Africa from the ground up, recruiting leading South African CEOs to the board, building a team of 5 staff and more than 20 consultants, and organizing the selection panels and rolling out the program. Rama grew the portfolio from 0 to 17 companies in 2 years. The companies in the Endeavor portfolio spanned a wide range of industries including technology, media, advertising, mining services, fashion, and education.

Rama has a Masters degree in Business Administration from Harvard Business School, and a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in Mathematics & Economics, with a minor in Spanish, from Bryn Mawr College. She has lived, worked or traveled in more than 27 countries and speaks 5 languages. In 2010, Rama was elected to the Council of United World College International, a consortium of 13 international schools with the mission of promoting greater understanding between nations through education and interaction between young people from different cultures. She also is the Treasurer and a board member of Mamelani Projects, a youth development NGO in Cape Town.

Seni Sulyman, Country Director - Nigeria, Andela

Seni Sulyman.png

Seni is the Country Director of Andela, a venture-funded technology company that is building the next generation of global technology leaders in Africa. Before joining Andela, he built a new corporate jet airline at Bristow Nigeria, with daily flights connecting Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. Seni’s prior career in the US, Canada and Nigeria includes strategy, management and operations at Bain, HP, Konga and CardinalStone Partners. He is passionate about building and inspiring exemplary African leaders, and believes in mentorship as a medium for accelerating human progress. Seni holds a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Simi Nwogugu, CEO, HOD Consulting

Simi_Headshot.jpg

Simi Nwogugu is the executive director of Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN), a member of Junior Achievement Worldwide, which is the world’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit economic education organization that empowers young people to own their economic success. Simi brought Junior Achievement to Nigeria in 1999, after she served as a volunteer in New York and realized that the entrepreneurial training programs were exactly what the large unemployed youth population in Nigeria needed.

Simi started her career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs after studying economics and English at Mount Holyoke College, and it was at Goldman that she was introduced to JA New York.  After setting up and running JA Nigeria for three years, she left to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School, after which she worked at MTV Networks in Business Development and Corporate Strategy for a few years before launching HOD Consulting, Inc., a New York-based leadership development firm that helps major corporations retain and advance high-performing women, particularly women of color.

Simi and her contribution to work-life management in the United States, youth empowerment in Nigeria and her own personal struggles to balance work, family and social responsibility, are the subject of a Harvard Business School case study titled, An Entrepreneur’s Journey: Simi Nwogugu.  After a decade of entrepreneurship, Simi returned to her role as executive director of JAN in 2016, to help the organization expand its economic empowerment programs to young people in the North, especially those displaced by the Boko Haram crisis. Junior Achievement Nigeria has reached over 670,000 in- and out-of-school youth in over 29 cities across Nigeria, and some of its alumni are successful business leaders and social entrepreneurs who volunteer their time and resources to ensure JAN’s sustainability.Simi sits on the Advisory Council of the African Capital Alliance Foundation and is a member of the Global Advisory Committee for Teach For All. She is married with three children.

Solo Nnanna, ‎Executive Director, RLGW.co

A young leader with an overwhelming desire to share his knowledge with others, particularlyentrepreneurial-inclined Africans who are just starting out, Soló is sought after for speaking engagement programs and mentorship opportunities because he has a real knack for providing young entrepreneurs with the tools needed to compete aggressively, increase profitability and establish a great footprint in the markets they serve. With features in prominent business and lifestyle magazines such as Black enterprise,  Africa.Com, YAV Magazine and Applause Africa Magazine as one of 30 most influential young Africans in New York, Soló Nnanna leads a new generation of African entrepreneurs making waves in the diaspora.  

His company, RLGW.co, a Multicultural Marketing & Advertising company, is the first Pan African focused marketing firm of its kind that provides strategic marketing, advertising and special event management services for small to mid-level companies (corporations) looking to connect with Africans in the Diaspora who currently account for over $50 Billion in annual purchasing power. 

Headquartered in New York City, with satellite offices in Lagos & scheduled openings in London & Joburg, RLGW.co is one of the leaders in multicultural marketing, advertising & event management and boasts a client list that includes brands like Pernord Ricard, Central Bank of Nigeria, Viacom Africa, Union Bank, Arik Air, Columbia University, Money Gram, Mtech and Harvard University to name a few.