2018 Best EMBAs: Kodjo Adovor, Yale SOM

Kodjo Adovor  

Yale School of Management

“African, Educator, Physicist, Investment banker, salsa dancer, entrepreneur, biker, sommelier, reader, podcast host, and traveler.”

Age: 41

Hometown: Accra, Ghana

Family Members:

Elenu Adovor (Brother) – MBA Duke University

Ekeke Adovor (Brother) – MBA Georgia Tech

Doe Adovor (Brother) – PhD Michigan State University

Patron Adovor (Brother) – MD, Interventional Radiology Fellow, Chicago

Ehui Adovor (Sister) – PhD Candidate, London School of Economics

Fun fact about yourself: I am a wine sommelier and currently a Certified Vinitaly Italian Wine Ambassador. I enjoy long-distance road biking, with major biking events including 177 miles from Houston to Austin and 210 miles from Paris to London. I am also a salsa dancer and have performed in a dance group.

While at Yale SOM, I co-founded the “Impact on Record” podcast, which engages in conversations with impact investors, social entrepreneurs, and the impacted.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

BS Physics – Hampton University, Hampton VA

MS Financial Mathematics – The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

MBA (Focus: Asset Management) – Yale School of Management, New Haven, CT

Where are you currently working?

Company: Kevi Capital LLC

Role: Founder & CEO

While at Yale SOM I started a company called Kevi Capital LLC – which is investment fund focused on infrastructure development and investments in Africa.

My company was the subject of a Yale SOM Case Study called Kevi Capital – Starting an Africa Infrastructure Fund, which is taught in Prof. William Goetzmann’s Commercial Real Estate class.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • Co-Founder and Co-Host of Impact investing podcast “Impact on Record”
  • Co-creator of the Yale Impact Investing Conference

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My competitive strategy class performance. It confirmed what I’ve known about myself for a long time – I am most creative when I’m thinking about structure and strategy.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?                In 2012, as VP for Commodities Valuation of a major bank, I was in

charge of the hedge valuation for a US $1 billion greenfield nitrogen-based fertilizer deal. The fertilizer company entered into natural gas call swaptions to hedge their exposure. I liked the complexity of the valuation and the fact that the natural gas hedge served a particular need for the fertilizer company.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Jeffrey Garten (The Future of Global Finance) – Class discussions were well moderated, thoughtful, and insightful. He raised several issues that go beyond models and numbers.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? The Future of Global Finance with Prof. Jeffrey Garten – My many years of reading about politics, economics, history, and geography and how they affect our lives paid off in this class. I learned that the current financing system is very exclusive and leaves many people behind. As a result, it is ripe for disruption from China and new technologies like blockchain.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? Yale has a particularly wide and active network. This was very important in my decision, as I knew I wanted to start my own company.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The opportunity it gave me to meet new people and learn different perspectives.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Your network is very important in accomplishing your goals. Understanding the importance of networking has helped me raise funds for my company.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? On the last flight on a Thursday from Houston to LaGuardia Airport in New York for school. The flight was due to land in LaGuardia at 11 p.m. Due to rain delays, the flight didn’t land until 1 a.m. in Newark Liberty Airport, because flights are not allowed to land in LaGuardia after midnight. I rented a car from Newark Airport and arrived in New Haven well after 3:30am. It was all worth it when I was able to get to class at 9 a.m. and saw all my friends and classmates again.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? You are already very successful in your career, so you are clearly not coming here to “find yourself.” Dream big and have two or three major goals you want to accomplish while here and beyond.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school?

Myth: The network at Yale is organic and effortless.

Reality: Like most things in life, you have to go after what you want. Because the coursework and class activities are very demanding, you have to make time to connect to people from the wider Yale community.

What was your biggest regret in business school?I did not get to interact with or attend any events at the Yale Law School or Yale Divinity.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The whole 2018 Yale MBA for Executive class. There is an African proverb that means, “If the festival (or carnival or party) will be entertaining, it starts from the morning.” We were a cohesive unit from the beginning of our program and we remained together the whole time. (Thanks to Vani Nadarajah, the former admissions director who put our class together.)

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I decided that it was time to start my own fund and become an investor.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working at a bank.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term professional goal is to have a fund that will invest in education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship in Africa and connect Africa to the African Diaspora.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? He was a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma…but he lived simply and he laughed a lot.

Favorite book: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Favorite movie or television show: Sideways (2004)

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

Learn to play the saxophone

Build an elite African private boarding school in the US

What made Kodjo such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

Kodjo Adover has been an invaluable member of the Yale SOM community, with a solid foundation in finance, a truly global perspective, and a passion for transforming finance into a force for good. He has made the most of his SOM degree, and the school is far better for it! He led a student team in developing an entrepreneurial teaching case on student housing in Africa. He co-founded a non-profit, Impact On Record, that is documenting the Impact Investing revolution in real time, producing podcast interviews with its current thought leaders.

Apart from being founder and CEO of Kevi Capital, which focuses on building infrastructure development and investments in Africa; studying for the program; and case writing, Kodjo was also co-chair of the inaugural Yale Impact Investing Conference, one of the largest and most successful student-run conferences in the school’s history, which brought leaders from all sectors of the impact investing space to reflect on the achievements of impact investing and to discuss the current opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

We are fortunate to have such a passionate, driven, and brilliant student. I look forward to Kodjo’s many future successes!”

William N. Goetzmann
Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies
Director of the International Center for Finance

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST EXECUTIVE MBA GRADS OF 2018