Malan Kouame: Investment Professional and Globe Trotter

Mark Talmage-Rostron
13.12.2022·9 min read

Fresh from his recent trip from his home Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire to attend the Nexford graduation ceremony in Washington DC, Malan Kouame, a Senior Investment Manager at GroFin, took time out from his remarkably busy schedule to have a little fireside chat with us.

Well, we say a fireside chat, but judging by the number of times Malan had to use his hankie to mop his brow, the last thing that he would have wanted next to him was a fireplace. It was clearly a very warm day in Côte d’Ivoire. That said, judging by where he has come from and where he is going in the business world, Malan is hot to trot.

Malan is really going places

Although GroFin, the investment fund that he works for is located in Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire, Malan Kouame is quite the globe trotter having to travel to either Dakar or Senegal on a quarterly basis. His busy travel schedule can be put down to the fact that his company operates across 15 countries and that he holds down a fairly high-powered job as the Senior Investment Manager. Shew! No Pressure!

 

Malan says, “As a Senior Investment Manager, my role consists of going into SMEs markets and selecting clients to help finance the companies and provide them with business support so that their businesses grow in the long run. So, I manage a portfolio of companies operating in various industries.”

 

If that was not busy enough, for his sins Malan is also the team lead for two business teams based in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal. So, he must manage a group of financial analysts whose goal is to ensure that GroFin hits its steep financial targets.

Never stop learning. Never stop growing.

To get to the reasonably lofty heights in business that Malan finds himself in right now, he obviously had to hit the books. So, he took the conscious decision to attend a traditional local university where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Management studies and an MSc in Finance. But, as a go-getter, and someone who is always looking to improve his lot in life, Malan was never going to stop there.

 

He tells us that when he came out the other side of the undergraduate degree, he had the skills to make it as an Investment Manager, but what was missing was obtaining the necessary business skills to grow the business and as a net result, his career.

But the thought of having to do the daily grind again of attending lectures, learning things verbatim, and then regurgitating that information in exams, turned him off going the traditional university route again. Then the thought entered his head. What about online learning?

 

As they say, Google is your friend, and so Malan went to work looking for an online university that suited his needs. He got a few options, including an online university based in the UK, but when he saw Nexford and realized that he could get an American degree without having to leave his job and his beloved country, he was sold. Just to make sure though, he went on LinkedIn and started chatting to current Nexford learners and graduates. They gave the university the thumbs up. Now it was up to him to decide.

 

 

 

And decide he did. Malan loved the curriculum, the flexibility of learning and the affordable cost, as he, not his company was going to fund the MBA. He tells us that after he took the decision to enrol, he was super impressed with the Nexford Application Specialist that he dealt with. They made the process easy for him and before you could say Cote d’Ivoire, he was signed up and ready to roll.

Time is sometimes on your side

It was Leo Christopher, a famous writer and poet that said, “There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.” Yes, Malan has a family and lots of friends to spend his time on, more about that later, but to earn his MBA in the timeframe he set out to do before he even enrolled, he had to do a serious rethink about what time he would apportion to what.

 

Of course, he could not ignore his full-time high-powered job, and he definitely could not totally turn his back on his family, his wife would never have stood for that, so he had to squeeze his study time in around all that.

 

He says, “I had to be very disciplined. Most times I would get in from work, and see to my family duties, and only then could I start my learning. Most nights I would start between 11 and 12 at night and learn for around 3 hours. It was pretty exhausting I can tell you, but if I wanted to finish my MBA in a year, those were the sacrifices I had to make.”

 

Unsurprisingly, he did complete his MBA in one year and proved that if you really want something badly you must remain focused and keep your eyes on the prize. Malan started his MBA at Nexford in the June of 2021 and finished in the May of 2022. Then it was time to start making plans to attend his graduation in Washington DC. An experience he absolutely loved. He loved the city, the tour of it on the Saturday, and the glittering graduation ceremony held in a swanky venue on the Sunday.

At Nexford help is always on hand

With French being his first language and English his second, it comes as no surprise that things we as native English speakers would find easy to do, like draft essays, were somewhat of a task for Malan. But with anything he sets his mind to, he succeeds. That said he got by with a little help from his peers.

 

Those peers being his leaner community from Nigeria, Indonesia, and the United States, as well as the faculty at Nexford. One person that he singled out from the faculty was his Nexford writing coach. Malan says that they were a massive help in improving his writing style and making sure that the assignments he submitted were professionally written and made sense to someone reading them.

Making his mark in business

Yes, it was the assistance of faculty and the learner community that helped Malan to one of the proudest moments in his life, his graduation, but as we said before, the degree did not fall into his lap. And it wasn’t long before he started to apply his newfound knowledge to get further ahead in business.

 

He says, “Surprisingly I did not have to wait till I graduated to benefit from my MBA. It was not long after I started it that my newfound skills and improved business acumen were noticed and recognized by my boss. I got a promotion and a pay raise, and I am sure that this is just the tip of the iceberg. People saw on LinkedIn how I was progressing in my job, and it was not long that they started to enquire about this and my Nexford education and how it has helped me to get ahead and stay ahead.”

 

 

Malan wants to use his MBA in the next 5-10 years or so to start expanding his business across 15 African countries, but he has not ruled out starting his own business one day. He did make it apparent that his thoughts of expansion would just be concentrated in Africa for now as he honestly believes that inside the next 10 to 15 years, the continent, has the potential to be a real economic player on the world stage.

 

“I firmly believe that Africa’s star is rising so for the foreseeable future I am staying put in the Ivory Coast and will look to expand operations into Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, etc. Once I have that buttoned, I will then look to develop my business network with other people and companies from Europe or America,” says Malan.

Spending precious downtime wisely

When he is not plotting to expand the business and take over parts of Africa, in a business sense, you can find Malan watching and sometimes playing football. Right now, he is glued to the World Cup and is not letting on who he thinks is going to win.

 

If it’s not football that has his full and undivided attention, Malan likes to roll up his sleeves and engage in healthy political and socio-economic debates with friends, colleagues, and family. Otherwise, he likes to curl up in front of the TV watching documentaries.

Upskilling and reskilling are a lifelong task

He might well have just finished his Nexford MBA and been promoted, but Malan is not one to rest on his laurels. His itchy feet means that he is already eyeing out the next step in his academic career which at this stage is looking like a PhD in Business Administration. Or a doctorate.

 

That is his dedication to his academic life, but when it comes to his personal life, Malan is quick to say that he is a dedicated family man. He has a wife and two daughters aged five and two, all of whom he adores.

 

He says that they all inspire him to be the best he can be, but when pressed on who his main inspiration has been in his life, without batting an eyelid Malan tells us that it must be his mother. She encourages him to always accomplish more and has made many sacrifices to help him get to this point in his life.

 

Of course, as we said before, Malan loves his family, but he loves to bring joy to others. He says, “Each day I set out to bring happiness to other people, impart some of my knowledge on them, and make sure that when I leave them, I leave them with a smile on their faces. We have a lot of war in the world and lots of suffering, so if I can bring light into someone’s life, I have succeeded.”

Regarding happiness, at Nexford we always say that if our learners and graduates are succeeding, we are succeeding too. And that brings joy to us all.

Seeing is believing, so check out Malan’s video.

Ready to take the next step and discover how a Nexford MBA could increase your salary as a working professional in South Africa? Download our brochure or book a call with our NEXFORD Application Specialists!

About the Author

Mark Talmage-Rostron

Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.

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