CEO of Okoume Capital SA
EGMiM class of 2012-14
What is your academic and professional background?
I started my career in Dubai in investment banking, working on cross-border mergers and acquisitions. I continued on to private equity, where I was responsible for the business development operations and investments across Africa; mainly in the mining sector. I recently moved to Gabon to set up the Sovereign Venture Capital Fund to promote entrepreneurship and optimize capital allocation towards small and medium enterprises. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Finance at the George Washington University (USA), prior to attending and graduating from LSE.
What attracted you to apply for the EGMiM programme?
I was fortunate to attain management exposure and responsibilities at an early stage in my career. Early on, I was faced with diverse management decisions over leadership and human resource management; and over managing various local institutional contexts as we developed multi-country operations. I felt the need to build capacity to make more effective decisions; to level up to the quality of the counterparties I had to interact with; and to better understand certain recurring business, social and economic phenomena that are present in emerging markets. The programme emphasised a theoretical approach to learning, which helps understand the causes of things. Furthermore, the programme emphasised emerging market practice which was relevant to me. Having worked in finance, I was more interested in the leadership, strategy and Foreign Direct Investment classes taught by world-class professors. Lastly, I was able to stay professionally active while at school; which I believe was an effective use of my time.
Did you also consider an MBA? If so, why did you choose EGMiM?
Yes of course, however I chose the EGMIM because it offered me the flexibility to stay employed while studying at the same time. As I lived in Dubai, London was the best education hub within proximity to my work to pursue my studies. Lastly, EGMIM is part of LSE, one of the most prestigious schools in the world which is renowned for its academic excellence. The programme focused on core subjects of relevance to my learning needs at the time and offered emerging market emphasis.
How has the programme helped the general development of your career?
I believe it has boosted the confidence I have in my abilities to perform. While at LSE, I became a member of several influential networks such as the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum. The level of structure and critical analysis I have acquired while at LSE has helped me raise the quality of my contributions and exchanges with some of the world’s most recognised leaders in their fields. Today, when I interact with them, we’re not lost in translation; we pretty much speak the same language.
How have you applied specific learning from the classroom in your work/job role?
The investment thesis, rationale and modus operandi that I have drafted and that serves as the guiding structure of the Sovereign Venture Capital of Gabon is based on socio-economic fundamentals, strategic insights, and leadership content and skills that I have mainly acquired during the EGMIM programme. One of the biggest hurdles to development, in both public and private sectors is, in my humble view, interest misalignment. To address this issue, I have applied key learnings from the organisational behaviour, leadership, strategy and foreign direct investment classes to create a cohesive environment for stakeholders to maximize gains by working together in the same direction. It is a work in progress, much more needs to be done, but the blueprint would not have emphasised such key elements if it had not been for my time at LSE.
How has the global/international focus of the programme helped your career?
The global focus on the programme was the most important element of the programme for me. One of the key takeaways of this programme was to understand the need to embrace globalisation and to benefit from it while at the same time understanding the value of local adaptation and the importance of local context from a social, economic, business, political and cultural perspective. The international module locations in Singapore and Turkey were two relevant, yet distinct examples, of various growth and development strategies emerging market governments and private sector players choose to adopt based on their comparative advantages; may those be demography, geography, human capital, and infrastructure quality to name a few.
What has been the best thing about completing the EGMiM programme for you?
I feel that I am still in process of converting the knowledge I have acquired from my studies into capital for the future. I have developed some relationships with fellow classmates and professors that yield dividends. Some professors have really added to my knowledge and broaden my perception of things. I really enjoyed the experience, the friends, and the memories…I might end up applying again!