Partner and Africa Region Director, Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Nairobi, Kenya. Age: 32
With dreams of a career as a doctor, Edwin Macharia earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Amherst College in Massachusetts. He took a different path after observing in Kenya that poor medical services were as much the result of management challenges as of medical challenges. “If I were to fulfill my dream of driving positive change, I needed to learn real management skills. I shelved my desire to go to medical school and focused on learning management from the best,” he says.
The “best” was McKinsey and Co. and later the Clinton Foundation, where, as director of the Rural Initiative for the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, and later director of agriculture, he interacted with presidents and world leaders, including President Clinton. “I gained an important appreciation for their perspective,” he says.
Frustrated with the state of Kenyan — and African — politics, he took a year off from the foundation to run for parliament in his home district in Kenya. “While not successful, it was a critical phase in rediscovering my roots, as well as getting a real feel for politics, which will be critical if our generation is to successfully transform the continent positively,” he says.
Since 2008, Macharia has been a partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, leading the establishment of the firm’s Nairobi office and its expansion throughout Africa. He is currently the regional director for Africa, overseeing operations in Dakar, Johannesburg and Nairobi. He works with clients on strategic planning, developing and implementing new ventures, organizational design and development policy. Asked the one thing he would most like to do if he had the time and money, he responds, “Beyond spending quality time deepening relationships with family and friends — our lives are hectic enough that we tend to under-invest in those closest to us — I would spend time capturing African oral culture and traditions so they don’t disappear with the older generation.”
Favorite food: Goat stew
What actor should play you in a movie: Taye Diggs
Facebook or LinkedIn: LinkedIn
What artist/group would you go on tour with: John Legend
Movie theater or home theater: Movie theater
Favorite sports team: Ghana soccer team
Last movie: Inception
List all the languages you speak: English, Swahili, Kikuyu, French, Basic Luo