Meet the Boss: Michelle Kathryn Essomé, CEO, African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association

Michelle Kathryn Essomé

1. What part of your job keeps you awake at night?

I am blessed because I love my job. But some worries include: Are we delivering for our members? Are we doing all that we can to sell Africa? Are we excelling at what we do? Is the team advancing and growing in their roles? And, what more can be done?

2. Name three traits required to survive in this role.

Tenacity, constantly learning, and being client-centric.

3. What is the biggest misconception about your job?

Probably that we only do an annual conference, when in fact, we are focussed on catalysing investment into Africa through our vast research, training and advocacy. AVCA has been solely focussed on these efforts for nearly 20 years.

4. Who has had the greatest impact on your career?

Dr Myra L. Taylor, my paternal grandmother, who unfortunately left us too soon. She finished college and graduate school, and did an executive programme at Harvard in theology, all whilst being a wife, mom of two young adults, and C-level member of a large US Christian organisation. She was driven, grateful and generous.

5. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Learn as much as possible about your job and do your very best.

6. What does success look like?

Success is when Africa attracts as much, if not more, private capital than other emerging markets.

7. How do you relax?

I have a toddler so relaxing can sometimes be elusive, but when the occasion does present itself, I read, go to the cinema and theatre, cook for friends and travel.

8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?

As with any CEO, I’m constantly connected and working – whether I’m at my desk or on the road. But overall, I’m an early riser.

9. Your favourite job interview question?

What can you bring to this role that no other candidate can?

10. What makes you most happy?

When investors commit to Africa and AVCA has played a part in making that commitment.

Michelle Kathryn Essomé is CEO of the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA), a pan-African industry body which aims to catalyse, promote and enable private equity and venture capital investment in Africa.