A leading British-Nigerian scholar, a Ghanian top fashion magazine editor, one of the world’s top lawyers and the first female director of communications regulator OFCOM have made the list of the most influential people of African or African Caribbean heritage in the UK
Professor Funmi Olonisakin
Professor of Security, Leadership & Development, Kings College, London; Founding Director, African Leadership Centre
Professor Funmi Olonisakin was this year appointed Vice President and Vice Principal, International and Professor of Security, Leadership and Development at King’s College London.
She is founder of the African Leadership Centre, based at King’s College and the University of Nairobi. The ALC is an academic unit and global community of scholars whose research on peace, leadership and security issues aims to inform and influence policy change in Africa and worldwide.
Funmi was previously programme director of the ALC King’s College, London, MSc programmes on Security, Leadership and Society, and Leadership and Development, as well as the Postgraduate Research Programme on Leadership Studies with Reference to Security and Development. She served as Director of the Conflict, Security and Development Group at King’s College London for a decade from 2003.
Trained in Political Science and War Studies, Funmi has positioned her work as a bridge between academia and the world of policy and practice.
Her academic research has contributed to strategic thinking in post-conflict contexts and in the work of regional organisations such as Economic Community of West African States and the African Union.
She has worked in the Office of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, overseeing its Africa work. There, she facilitated the establishment of the National Commission for War Affected Children in Sierra Leone.
In 2016, the University of Pretoria appointed her as an Extra-Ordinary Professor. The Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) also appointed her as a Distinguished Fellow in April 2014.
Funmi is a founding member of the African Security
Sector Network and served as its West African Regional Co-ordinator from 2008 until 2012.
From 2008-2010, she served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Fragile States. She currently serves as the Chair of the International Advisory Board of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute.
In January 2015, she was appointed by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, as one of seven members of the Advisory Group of Experts on the Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture.
Editor-in-Chief, British Vogue
Influential and capable of shaping the cultural zeitgeist, king of the UK fashion industry Edward Enninful
has transformed British Vogue into a magazine for the modern era.
When he was announced as the editor-in-chief of British Vogue, he became the first man, and the first person of colour, to hold the position in the magazine’s 101-year history.
In just over a year in the role, he has revitalised the publication and has made it more ethnically diverse that it has ever been.
His bold covers have included Oprah Winfrey, Adwoa Aboah and Rhianna. He also persuaded showbiz power family the Beckhams to appear together for the first time in a magazine shoot.
Born in Ghana to a seamstress mother, Edward and his family moved to Ladbroke Grove in west London when he was a young child.
His entry into fashion was serendipitous. Aged 16, he was spotted by a modelling scout while travelling on the Tube. By the following year, he was working as an assistant to i-D fashion director Beth Summers.
He gained his degree at Goldsmiths University in London while juggling modelling work and assisting on shoots. His big break came the day after his 18th birthday, when Summers left and he was appointed i-D fashion director – the youngest person to be appointed to such a role at an international publication.
His reputation continued to grow and in 1998 he became a contributing editor to Italian Vogue. There he produced the ground-breaking Black Issue featuring only black models, including Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn and Alek Wek. The issue was so successful that owners Condé Nast had to print an extra 40,000 copies.
In 2011 he became fashion and style director of W magazine and sales shot up during his time there – the magazine’s ad pages went up 16.2 per cent.
Edward’s success has been highlighted with a number of prestigious awards and appearances. In 2014, he scooped the prestigious Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator at the British Fashion Awards and the Clio Excellence in Commercial Styling Award in 2015. He was awarded an OBE in 2016 for services to diversity in the fashion industry.
A partner with KPMG in its Financial Services Practice, Richard is responsible for ensuring that newer banks are able to leverage the broader expertise that KPMG deploys across its large financial services practice. He heads up KPMG UK’s Challenger Banking practice, its UK Financial Services Indirect Tax practice, and chairs the firm’s Global Financial Services Indirect Tax Network.
Richard is the main contact between his company and organisations such as HMRC, HM Treasury and the European Commission.
Regarded as one of the foremost experts in the UK, he consults on a range of key issues that impact the financial services sector as well as proposed legislation and policy changes. A solicitor and chartered tax advisor, Richard is an expert in a number of areas, including finance organisation, finance strategy, financial management and financial regulatory reform.
In 2017, Richard set up the KPMG Black Leaders Network, aiming to create a community of African and African Caribbean leaders across diverse sectors focused on sharing experiences and supporting one another. Richard has been a partner at KPMG for the past 14 years and has used that standing to ensure that the network has enjoyed engagement from the firm at the highest level with the Deputy Chair of the UK board, Melanie Richards, and the firm’s Managing Partner, Philip Davidson, both having attended and participated in network events.
Explaining why he launched the network, Richard says: “I believe it is a real business imperative to ensure all talented individuals are able to have access to like-minded peers across the UK business landscape in order to build relationships, knowledge share, and discuss issues which are unique to their personal backgrounds.”
Through his role as the partner sponsor of KPMG’s African Caribbean Network, Richard works to improve inclusion for staff of African and African Caribbean heritage in the firm. He is also a passionate mentor and coach to future BAME managers and a member of the Business in the Community Race Equality Board, which seeks to highlight and strategically solve issues faced by BAME professionals.
Senior VP and General Counsel, World Bank
In primary school, Sandie Okoro told her teacher that she wanted to be a judge. The then nine-year-old was told: “Sandie, little black girls from Balham don’t
Luckily for the world of law, Sandie ignored those dubious words to become one of the world’s leading lawyers.
She was appointed Senior Vice-President and General Counsel for the World Bank Group in February 2017. In this role the former barrister-turned-solicitor is the principal adviser and spokesperson on all legal matters at the World Bank.
She also serves as the legal adviser to the board, management, the Inspection Panel, and the CEO of the Global Environmental Facility Program. The legal powerhouse leads the World Bank’s Legal Vice Presidency, which is responsible for all legal services provided to internal and external clients. World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim has described Sandie as a “highly regarded thought leader with a strong track record of developing new legal approaches in the field of international finance”.
Prior to joining the World Bank Group, she had been a General Counsel of HSBC Global Asset Management and Deputy General Counsel of HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management since 2014, and before that, she was Global General Counsel at Barings.
Sandie qualified first as a barrister and then re-qualified and trained as a solicitor. In July 2014, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law by City University London in recognition of her career in business and law, and her voluntary work. On July 18, 2017, Sandie was made an Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple in the United Kingdom.
Sandie is also a Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has received accolades in the UK and Europe for her volunteer efforts and contribution to the legal profession as a diversity champion. In 2016, she was named by City AM as one of the Power 100 Women, and hailed as one of the 100 Women to Watch by the Female FTSE Board.
Outside of work she is a council member of the Human Rights organisation JUSTICE, an ambassador for the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme and sits on the Equality Standards Panel of the Premier League.
From January to June 2014, Sandie was President of International Lawyers of Africa (ILFA), having previously been an ILFA director for many years.
Chief Executive, Ofcom.
When she was appointed chief executive of Ofcom three years ago, she became the first person of African Caribbean heritage and the first woman to head the regulator. She also became the first black woman to hold such a senior position in a media organisation.
Her next first could be an even bigger one. Sharon is being strongly tipped as the next Bank of England Governor.
She has received glowing reviews for her work throughout her career. When she was appointed the role at Ofcom, Chairperson Dame Patricia Hodgson, said: “Sharon brings with her an outstanding combination of intellect, political acumen and experience leading complex public organisations.
“The Ofcom Board is confident that Sharon will provide the leadership and vision to ensure Ofcom continues to promote a thriving communications sector in the UK that operates in the public interest.”
Before taking the position at Ofcom, she oversaw the UK’s spending cuts as a senior Treasury advisor, a position that made her one of the most powerful women in Whitehall.
A Cambridge graduate, Sharon worked in a Birmingham church after she completed her studies. She entered the civil service as a graduate entry economist in what was then the Department for Education and Science in 1989.
Following her move to the Treasury, she focused on public spending within the department.
During her time at the Treasury, she oversaw a review of the financial management of government and the Treasury’s management response to the global financial crisis between 2007 and 2008. She became Second Permanent Secretary in 2013, the first black woman, and only the second woman, to do so.
She built up further experience during stints at the British Embassy in Washington and Number 10’s policy unit during the Blair government.
Global Head Payments and financial Services Partnerships, Facebook
After a sterling career in banking at Barclays, Paulette has taken her considerable payments and financial services expertise to a new executive role at Facebook. Paulette was appointed as Facebook’s Global Head of Payments and Financial Services Partnerships this summer, after five years as the head of Barclaycard – Europe’s second largest payment processor.
During her tenure at Barclays, the business closed the gap with market leader Worldpay in the UK, extended into the United States and entered into new market segments, including the successful acquisition of established fintech firm The Logic Group.
Last year Paulette added the successful completion of a multi-year, multimillion-pound IT transformation to her list of accomplishments. The first in the Payments industry to pull off this complex build and customer migration, she worked with some of the biggest names on the high street and online including John Lewis Partnership, Sainsbury’s, McDonald’s and Transport for London.
Paulette recently stepped down from her position as Chair of the Mayor’s Fund for London’s board of trustees in order to take on a new challenge as a non executive director of FTSE 100 Plc United Utilities.
Prior to joining Barclaycard, she was strategy director for NBNK, an AIM-listed financial investment company, managing director of NatWest Retail Banking at RBS and Chief Executive of its European Consumer Finance. She also worked at General Electric’s financial services division, GE Capital, in a variety of international markets including the US, France and Japan.
Despite her intense workload, Paulette still finds time to support a number of charitable initiatives. She has served on the board of the Prince’s Youth Business Trust in the West Midlands and worked as a trustee at Community Service Volunteers.
Her many accolades include being listed on the Digital Banking Club’s Power 50 of most influential thought
leaders from European financial services and being named one of Payments Source’s most influential women in payments.
Others who made the list are:
Jacky Wright –
the Chief Digital and Information Officer, HMRC
Jacky is recognised as a transformational global leader, innovative technologist, and passionate advocate for women and people from BAME backgrounds in technology. In late 2017, Jacky became Chief Digital and Information Officer for HMRC, where she is responsible for all of the technology powering one of the biggest digitally-enabled transformations in Europe. She is also accountable for the technology decisions that underpin HMRC’s EU Exit plans.
Jacky’s influence and interests extend to promoting the digital transformation of public services in the widest sense, as well as a number of social issues.
Jacky is patron of techUK’s Public Services Board (PSB), which helps champion opportunities for the UK tech industry to collaborate across government, enabling the delivery of world-class, affordable public services for the benefit of all. She is also partnering with techUK and other organisations to address social mobility by providing access to digital skills training for all.
As one of the most senior BAME leaders in the Civil Service and HMRC’s Disability Champion, Jacky plays a key role in championing the value of diversity in government. As a member of the Civil Service Diverse Leadership Task Force, she advises on the Civil Service’s strategy for improving BAME and disabled representation across government, including at the most senior levels.
She regularly speaks at public events on digital transformation, the positive changes technology can bring, female leadership and uses her public platform to highlight the importance of creating an inclusive environment.
Outside of her day job, Jacky sits on various boards, including City, University of London, the Institute of Coding and YearUp, and works to promote access to education for all, as well as using her various positions to champion equal opportunities.
Jacky has an honorary doctorate from Aston University, and has been recognised as one of the top BAME100, 100 Women to Watch and Computer Weekly Top 10 Women in Tech.
Jacky is currently on civic leave from Microsoft, where she was a Corporate Vice President leading Microsoft’s global digital transformation with technology programmes and services.
Founder, Chair, Chief Executive Tristan Capital Partners.
In the world of international real estate there are few more respected people than Ric Lewis. The company he founded and runs, Tristan Capital Partners, is known as the ‘Goldman Sachs’ of the European real estate world. It is the largest black-led private company in Britain.
Ric serves as chief executive and chairman of the firm which, over the past year, increased its total assets under management by more than 20 per cent from the previous year to exceed €10 billion.
Ric also engineered what the industry says is talking about as the real estate private equity deal of the year. One of the world’s largest insurance groups, New York Life, bought a minority equity stake in Tristan. The deal enables Ric and his other senior partners to create an ever-larger investment business while retaining independence and control of the franchise.
With more than 90 staff across eight locations across Europe, Ric brings more than 25 year’s of experience and investment success to his role.
Outside of the boardroom Ric is one of the City’s leading philanthropists. He is a passionate advocate of charitable causes that work to improve access to quality education for disadvantaged children. In 2009, he founded a charity, The Black Heart Foundation, which has been active in supporting initiatives that improve educational benefits for young people.
Ric serves on the Board of Governors of King Solomon Academy and the Board of Directors of the Eastside Young Leaders Academy. He is also chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Institute of Imagination at London Children’s Museum and a Trustee of The Springboard Bursary Trust.
Ric studied at Dartmouth College in the US, and is an alumnus of Harvard Business School. He followed his studies with a successful spell as the Partner and Senior Managing Director of AEW Capital Management, a US-based investment management business with $25billion under management.
After moving to Europe, he became Chief Investment Officer and Board Director of AEW Europe, a pan-European real estate investment management business that operated 11 offices, nearly 300 staff members and €18billion in assets under management. His experience and expertise in the area then led him to found and serve as Chief Executive for London-based real estate investment company Curzon Global Partners.
Ismail Ahmed, Founder / CEO, World Remit
Ismail harnessed 20 years of experience in money transfer to set up WorldRemit and the company is now one of the leading global companies in the industry with more than 2 million users.
Founded in 2010, the company was set up to simplify and reduce the cost of sending money back to family and friends in home countries.
Described as the hottest company in the industry, it’s quickly become of the most popular companies in the $550billion currency exchange world, with more than 300 employees worldwide. Ismail is ambitious, and the company aims to have 10 million regular users by 2020.
WorldRemit is now licensed to work in 50 US states,
with New York overtaking the UK to become its biggest sending market.
Figures highlight the company’s success. In one year – between 2014 and 2015 – revenues for its app rose from £15 million to £27 million. Accel Partners, an early backer of global tech startups including Facebook, Spotify and Dropbox, is one of its investors.
Ismail, who was born in Somaliland, was forced to flee the country in 1988 when war broke out. He was smuggled out of the country in a truck and reached his final destination, the UK, a month later.
Growing up in Somaliland before the war, he saw how valuable remittances were for his family back home. Despite being a long and costly transfer process, money sent from family members working in the Middle East helped his family back home.
Ismail, who received a formal business education after enrolling on the executive MBA course at London Business School, learnt first-hand how difficult it was to send money back home and went on to study remittances before going to work for the World Bank.
Prior to launching his own business, he worked for the United Nations Remittance Programme, helping African money transfer companies comply with tough anti-money laundering rules introduced after the 9/11 attacks.
He has published widely cited research on the effect of remittances in Somaliland following the country’s civil war.
He holds an MSc and PhD from the University of London and an Executive MBA from London Business School.
The full 100 list:
1. Ric Lewis – Chief executive and chairman of Tristan Capital Partners
2. Sharon White -Chief executive of Ofcom
3. Ismail Ahmed – Founder and CEO of WorldRemit Ltd
4. Jacky Wright – Chief digital and information officer at HMRC
5. Sandie Okoro – Senior vice president and general counsel at World Bank Group
6. Ebele Okobi – Facebook’s director of public policy for Africa
7. Professor Funmi Olonisakin – Vice president and vice principal international at King’s College London
8. Paulette Rowe – Global head of payments and financial services partnerships at Facebook
9. Edward Enninful – Editor-in-chief of British Vogue
10. Richard Iferenta – KPMG partner and head of challenger banking
And making up the rest of the Top 100:
Chi-Chi Nwanoku – Musician, professor and founder of Chineke! Orchestra
Chris Ofili – Artist
Dr Delia Jarrett Macauley – Writer, academic and chair of The Caine Prize
Duro Olowu – Fashion designer
Dr Shirley Thompson – Composer, artistic director and university reader in composition and performance
Isaac Julien – Artist and filmmaker
Lemn Sissay – Author and broadcaster
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye – Artist
Matthew Morgan – Co-founder of global festival Afropunk
Pat McGrath – Make-up artist, CEO and founder of Pat McGrath Labs
Valerie Brandes – Founder and CEO of Jacaranda Books
Yinka Shonibare – Artist
Alan Smith – Global head of risk strategy and senior executive officer of group risk at HSBC
Brian Robinson – Senior managing director at Goldman Sachs
Bukola Adisa – MD, head of RCSA design and execution, chief controls office at Barclays
Eric Collins – Operations head at Touch Surgery
Gary Stewart – Director of Telefonica Open Future, and Wayra UK
Heather Melville – Director of strategic partnerships and head of business inclusion initiatives for RBS
Netsai Mangwende – Head of finance for Great Britain at Willis Towers Watson
Pamela Hutchinson – Global head of diversity and inclusion at Bloomberg LP
Sandra Wallace – UK managing partner of DLA Piper UK
Tunji Akintokun – Director at Cisco leading mid-market sales and partnerships for Africa
Wol Kolade – Managing partner at Livingbridge
Yvonne Ike – Partner at Africapital Management Limited
Ade Adepitan – TV presenter and wheelchair basketball player
Afua Hirsch – Journalist, author, broadcaster
Akala – Rapper, poet and political activist
Anne Mensah – Head of drama at Sky
Amma Asante – BAFTA award winning writer and director
Charlene White – Journalist and news presenter
David Harewood – Actor
David Olusoga – Historian, filmmaker and joint creative director of Uplands Television Ltd
Dumi Oburota – Founder of Disturbing London
Femi Oguns – Founder of the Identity School of Acting and Identity Agency Group
Gary Younge – Journalist, author and broadcaster
Idris Elba – Actor, musician and producer
Jacqueline Simmons – Executive editor at Bloomberg LP
John Boyega – Actor and producer
Kanya King – Founder of MOBO Awards
Marcus Ryder – Chief editor international digital news at China Global Television Network
Mo Abudu – CEO and executive chair of Ebonylife TV
Naomie Harris – Actress
Paulette Simpson – Director of The Voice Newspaper and responsible for Corporate Affairs for The Jamaica National Group in the UK
Reggie Yates – Broadcaster, actor, radio DJ and television presenter
Reni Eddo-Lodge – Journalist and author
Simon Frederick – Photographer and director
Sir Lenny Henry – Comedian
Stormzy – Rapper
Thandie Newton – Actress
Tunde Ogungbesan – BBC head of diversity and inclusion
Vanessa Kingori – Publishing director of British Vogue
Wayne Hector – Songwriter
Yolisa Phahle – CEO of M-Net
Floella Benjamin – Actress and Baroness of Beckenham
Chuka Umunna – Labour Politician
Grace Ononiwu – Chief Crown Prosecutor at Crown Prosecution Service
Joshua Siaw – Partner at White & Case LLP
Kathryn Nwajiaku – Co-director at Development Results
Martin Forde QC – Barrister, appointed person to the Windrush compensation scheme
Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin – Priest at the Church of England
David Lammy – Labour MP for Tottenham
Beverley Lewis – Co-Founder and director of operations the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust
Dr Cheron Byfield – Trust Member and Governor at King Solomon International Business School
Dr Margaret Casely-Hayford – Lawyer, businesswoman, and chair of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Marvin Rees – Labour politician and Mayor of Bristol
Meghan Markle/Duchess of Sussex – Duchess of Sussex and actress
Nero Ughwujabo – Special Adviser to the Prime Minister
Nira Chamberlain – Vice President of the Institute of Mathematics
Orin Lewis – Co-founder and chief executive of the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust
Patricia Gallan – Retired Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner leading specialist crime and operations
Simon Woolley – Director and co-founder of Operation Black Vote
David Waboso – Managing director of Network Rail’s Digital Railway
Dr Emeka Okaro – Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at St Bartholomew’s and The Royal London NHS Hospitals
Dr Ian Nnatu – Consultant Psychiatrist at Charing Cross Hospital, London and Medical Director at Cygnet Hospital Harrow
Joy Odili – Consultant plastic surgeon at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust
Dr Sylvia Bartley – PhD, Neurophysiology Global director of Medtronic Philanthropy
Samantha Tross – Consultant surgeon
Professor Laura Serrant – Professor of Nursing at Sheffield Hallam University
Anthony Joshua – Boxer
Denise Lewis – TV presenter and retired athlete
Dina Asher-Smith – British record-holding sprinter
Lewis Hamilton – Formula 1 driver
Luol Deng – Basketball player
Mo Farah – Athlete and Olympian
Oona King – Responsible for strategy around equity, diversity, inclusion & integrity for Google, and Baroness King of Bow
Ian Greenstreet – Board Advisory Group at London Stock Exchange and Chairman and founding partner of TouchFX
Janet Thomas – Founder and CEO of TouchFX at Infinity Capital Partners
Marieme Jamme – Member of the board of directors at World Wide Web Foundation
Martin Ijaha – Co-founder and chief executive officer of Neyber
Nneka Abulokwe – IT and Governance Advisor