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Headliner: Tariye Isoun Gbadegesin, Vice President (Investments Group), Africa Finance Corporation

Headliner: Tariye Isoun Gbadegesin, Vice President (Investments Group), Africa Finance Corporation


What is your educational background?

I attended Federal Government Girls’ College, Abuloma in Rivers State. I have a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Amherst College in Massachusetts and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

What influenced your career choices?

My career decisions are motivated primarily by my desire to solve the problems of poverty and economic underdevelopment. Over the years, I have tried to figure out where I can add the most value based on my natural strengths and work approach.

After I graduated from university, I spent a year working for a non-profit organization in Costa Rica. My objective was to gain economic development experience and become fluent in another language. With my degree in economics and fluency in Spanish, upon my return to the US, I got an offer from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). I went on to get an MBA from Harvard then I decided it was time to return to Nigeria. I joined the Silverbird Group where I headed strategy and corporate development. Thereafter, I got a unique opportunity to join the start-up team to create the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC). I was the second employee.  I have been at AFC for five years now and have seen the corporation grow to the foremost infrastructure bank for Africa.

What role do you play in your organization?

AFC is a $1billion infrastructure bank for Africa. I‘m responsible for execution and management of investment transactions along the entire spectrum of the investment process – origination, review, due diligence management, final approval, and portfolio management. Most of my work has been with principal investments where we invest equity into infrastructure projects.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the fact that we build infrastructure. Although we are a bank, there is an asset creation element to what we do. Thus at the end of the investment process, something stands where it didn’t before. There is something truly motivating about seeing the physical impact of my work.

What advice do you have for young women embarking on a career/business?

It is critical to have a long term vision of who you want to be in 25 years.  With consistent reflection and self awareness, continue to hone a strategy and execution plan that will allow you realize your long term objectives.

Create a network of mentors and successful peers in your industry. Continuously seek them out for advice and insights on the market and your business so that you can stay ahead of the game.

Commit to excellence, reliability, technical rigor and results orientation so that you can afford to create boundaries at work. You can get away with creating boundaries if you are a superstar at work.

How do you juggle your family and work responsibilities?

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It’s not easy and I don’t think one ever feels they are really successful at this. However, a few of my ideas are.

  • It’s helpful to have a supportive partner
  • Integrate help from family,
  • Hire competent and literate home-staff and child care providers.
  • Stop feeling guilty; do what you can and put the rest in prayer.

How do you let down your hair?

I love to play with my daughter and hear her laugh. I also enjoy getting exercise.

Would you call yourself successful? What are some of the elements by which you measure your success?

I don’t think we should view success as a final destination. Life is process of continuous improvement. There are always more problems to solve and there is always more to achieve.

What do you consider the most the important relationship in your life, apart from the familial bonds?

Apart from a relationship with God and family, some of the most important relationships are my friendships with people who truly believe in me and who are truly honest with me. I have been blessed with a few friendships with women who tell me when I am getting full of myself and at the same time they challenge me to fight to be greater. It is critical to foster relationships with people who will challenge you to challenge yourself.

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