‘I wanted to contribute to the community that raised me’
27-year-old Harvard Business School graduate Nneka Ezeigwe grew up in Lagos and Abuja in a family of four children.
My family was a fairly typical Nigerian family. My dad believed in encouraging all his children to be ambitious and successful, regardless of gender. I was relatively protected from the reality that women in Nigeria really do struggle to be heard, seen and respected.
I began secondary school in a boarding school in Abuja, and then moved to the UK in 2004 to complete my A levels. After finishing my A Levels, I moved to London in 2006 to study at Imperial College where I had a fantastic experience.
In London, I met some of the people who would become her closest friends, and really grew to love the city and its vibrant cultural scene. Although my mind worked in a structured, almost mathematical way, with engineering and science puzzles to tackle head-on at university, I found that I was drawn to the possibility of one day, working with skilled practitioners from the creative industries. So quietly, even though I managed to secure a stable job as a process engineer at Shell in Texas after my undergraduate studies, I began to attend concerts and exhibitions, reading up on cultural luminaries, and meeting people who could help me develop my future capacities in this regard.
I decided to pursue advanced studies in management, and enrolled at Harvard Business School. Life on the Harvard campus – and in the Boston area – was all about learning from professors, business leaders, and fellow students. This is where I began to build solid relationships with entrepreneurs from the cultural space.
After my time at Harvard Business School I decided it was time to return to Africa for two main reasons. First of all, I felt a strong urge to contribute something back to the community that raised me. I wanted to contribute to making it possible for people to find hope for good economic prospects and a stable social existence closer to home, if they chose to. Secondly, apart from an MBA summer internship, I hadn’t worked in Africa prior to my move back to Nigeria. I felt it was the right time to add the African experience to my portfolio of life experiences.
The most difficult thing to adjusting to working life in Lagos was having to plan around a lot of inefficiencies in public services that take time out of your day. There are a lot of little things that I used to take for granted that all of a sudden, required planning.
I am now employed by Flint Atlantic Capital Partners, an early stage social impact investment and advisory firm focused on healthcare. It’s a typical start-up experience with very fast-paced days and some slower days. I wear many hats and enjoy the fact that there is no typical day. We are a lean team and so I do a bit of everything.
Source: True Africa