Temi Awogboro: I Am Proudly Nigerian with German and Scottish Heritage

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Temi Marcella Awogboro is an Executive Director at Evercare Hospital Lekki, Lagos State, wholly owned by the Evercare Health Fund, a US$ 1 billion emerging markets healthcare fund managed by The Rise Fund, the impact investment platform of global alternative asset manager, TPG Capital. Prior to this, she was the West Africa deal lead of the Evercare Health Fund. Temi is a Co-Founder and Partner with Kairos Angels and the Magic Fund. She is a firm believer in the power of private capital to transform lives and is passionate about harnessing this power as a catalyst for profound, deep-rooted change globally. The Evercare  Hospital ED holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Economics from Christ’s College, University of Cambridge. Temi sits on the Africa Advisory Board of the Save the Children International, and on the Board of Directors and Investment Committee at the Equality Fund. She shares the story of her life with Bayo Adeoye

Where did you spend your formative years? What was it like growing up there?

I am proudly Nigerian with German and Scottish heritage. I was born in Nigeria, raised in the UK and have lived and worked across four continents. My childhood was one of discovery, adventure, and exploration, growing up in the UK. While I never felt a stranger where I lived, I also never quite fully belonged. This experience forced me to forge a strong personal identity that was not wedded to culture, dogmas, traditions, and ideological concepts.  

 Can we say you were born with a silver spoon?

I was not born with a silver spoon – my parents were young parents pretty much building everything on their own. However what we lacked in material wealth was more than compensated for in terms of opportunities. We moved to the UK without my father who stayed to focus on building the family business in Nigeria. While my mother raised three kids and worked round the clock setting life up for us in a completely foreign country. I felt the pressure and guilt of the sacrifices my parents made to provide opportunities for us. This fuelled my desire to succeed as a child and to make them proud so their sacrifices were not in vain. This was key driving force for me at a very young age.

 How did your background shape your life?

From a tender age, my parents and close family nicknamed me “Small but Mighty” because within my pint-sized package, came mighty aspirations. I recall childhood stories, from the baby that ate the notoriously spicy Suya, red in the face and crying with every mouthful yet insisting on being fed more, to the 5-year-old intent on riding her big sisters bicycle and ending up in an open gutter when my feet failed to make contact with the pedals, to the 9 year old who won numerous trophies at Shotokan karate sparring competitions, known to make boys cry as I graduated towards black belt rank. One thing was clear, I always refused to be restricted by the limits imposed by external expectations of me, with a burning desire to push beyond the limits perceived in my mind or externally imposed.

How and when did your career start? Tell us about some of the high and low points of this career?

I am an investment professional with over 15 years of experience in developed and growth markets, with a firm belief in the power of private capital to transform lives and a passion to unlock the power of capital as a catalyst for profound, sustainable change globally. To this end, I have committed over N500 million in private capital to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Through my career, I have been uniquely positioned to operate at the intersection of healthcare, finance, technology and impact – referred to as an Impact investor/healthcare operator by day, and venture capitalist by night. 

As the Executive Director with Evercare Hospital Lekki and previous West Africa Lead of one of the first and largest dedicated impact funds, I have been privileged to be part of the investment leadership responsible for scaling the fund from inception in 2015 to a global platform operating across six countries and highlighted as one of the top 50 leaders that will “come to define the world of tomorrow”. 

My Evercare journey started in 2015, based on my belief in healthcare as a fundamental right. On this journey, we ran into a number of unforeseen headwinds which nearly stalled the project, not least of which was trying to commence formal operations during the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

Against this backdrop, it was extremely humbling and rewarding to celebrate the key milestones and ground-breaking feats achieved within the first 12 months of operations at Evercare’s 1 year anniversary on March 10, 2022. Some of these milestones include: successfully completing several complex clinical procedures in cardiology (five open heart surgeries, two permanent pacemaker insertions), spinal surgeries, first-of-its kind pediatric surgeries in the country and becoming the first facility in Africa to get Safecare Level 5 certification on the first accreditation exercise. 

I have been equally driven by my belief in the central role of technology in creating a better world. Through my early-stage investment platforms, Kairos Angels and the Magic Fund, I am building and cultivating some of the best minds and disruptive teams that are emerging as today’s regional champions and tomorrow’s global challengers. This unique positioning has been fascinating and given invaluable opportunity to work at the forefront of paradigm shifts globally.

Tell us about your parents; who influenced you most between the two of them? What were the lessons you learnt from them while growing up?

My father was a doctor turned entrepreneur, and my mother was a Miss Nigeria beauty queen, technology systems engineer, and subsequently joined my father in building the family business. My father has always been one of the most patriotic Nigerians I have met. I recall growing up, he would take me on drives to various project sits, identifying hospitals, roads, schools, football stadia, his company had built out of his desire to see Nigeria restored to its greatness. My mother on the other hand has always been a ‘silent rebel’, subverting he traditional wife role to build a business straddling construction, technology, and procurement, typically male dominated fields. I was inspired greatly by the entrepreneurial spirit, work ethic, and tenacity of my parents and these influences are intricately woven into the individual and professional I am today.

What was the best gift you remember receiving as a child?

The best gift I received was my first iMac G3, from the iMac series of Macintosh personal computers developed by Apple under the tenure of Apple’s interim CEO and cofounder Steve Jobs after his return to the financially troubled company. 

How old where you when you got married? How did it happen?

I got married in my late 20s and had two children in quick succession. We performed our civil ceremony in the City of Westminster, United Kingdom, our traditional wedding in Lagos, and our white wedding in Cape Town, South Africa. Given our international roots, it was a beautiful opportunity to introduce many of our friends from around the world to the Continent.

 What was the most difficult thing that ever happened to you in all your years and how did you overcome it?

As I reflect on my journey to date, I have faced a plethora of challenges: navigating my career at the epicentre of the global financial crisis, encountering significant resistance trying to break into the private equity industry, navigating the extremely lonely path rising the ranks in male-dominated industries, witnessing first-hand the destructive impact of toxic leadership and failed institutions and juggling the demands of being a present and invested mother to two toddlers, while managing my professional commitments.

I have remained optimistic and learned to thrive under the pressure of doing the ‘impossible’ fuelled by a deep sense of purpose, an unrelenting tenacity, and an unwavering belief in myself. Failure for me is an unavoidable part of living a limitless life.

What do you consider the biggest mistake you have ever made?

The biggest mistake I ever made was not realising my self-worth. A number of early traumas stripped me of my internal self-confidence. As a result, I gave people more power of me than they deserved. I allowed myself to settle for less than I deserved feeling the need to constantly prove myself. It took effort and intentionality to learn to love myself enough to set boundaries; to prioritise myself, safeguarding my time and energy. I had to learn to teach people how to treat me, by deciding what I would and won’t accept. You may be the only person left who believes in you, but it’s enough. It takes just one star to pierce a universe of darkness. You have nothing to prove you are enough.

What are some of your indelible high points in life?

Becoming a mother twice over has certainly been an indelible high point in my life. I love seeing the world through the eyes of my daughters, if we all could see the world through the eyes of a child, we would see the magic in everything. It really is the purest joy anyone can experience. I cherish the opportunity to introduce new ideas and experiences to them. It also forces me to embrace the more playful side of life and gives me an opportunity to spark my creative thinking. Becoming a mother sharpened my focus, renewed my hunger to be more, and do more because I have two little girls who I come home to everyday that look up to me as their hero and role model.

What is your biggest fear in life?

My biggest fear in life is never fully living my life’s higher purpose. I believe I have been called to make a difference in the world. Each day I feel I get a step closer towards fulfilling that. There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honour your calling. It’s how you become most truly alive. I am constantly striving to use my experiences, talents and passions to better the lives of those around me. 

Are there still things you desire?

I believe we were all put on this earth to achieve our greatest self, to live out our purpose and to do it courageously. I desire to live a life that is purpose-driven, passion filled and performance oriented, and continue on my journey not focused on the pursuit of perfection but led by the voices of those who christened me ‘small but mighty’. They challenge me to create and compete; to build and nurture; to take risks and to leave my legacy.

What are some of the lessons life has taught you?

In ‘The Man in the Arena’ Theodore Roosevelt reminds us that in the end it is not the critic that counts but credit belongs to the man or woman in the arena, who strives to do the deeds, ‘who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’ In brief, he or she who dares, wins.