Regional Director, Advocacy & Strategic Relations for Africa, International Air Transportation Association (IATA)
Adefunke Adeyemi was recently honoured as one of the 200 globally Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) in affiliation with the United Nations Decade for People of African Descent. She is a lawyer, advocate, global aviation expert and executive mentor with a career spanning over 20 years, and has spearheaded several leadership and capacity building initiatives for aviation and other sectors in the Africa and Middle East region over the past 15 years.
Adefunke is passionate about Leadership and Innovation and is an agent of change, strategic thinker and a transformative thought leader. She is focused on positively impacting lives and the business environment through her passion, work and initiatives focused on driving value, best practices and international standards through aviation. She began her career practicing law with F.O. Akinrele and Co. ; one of the leading law firms in Nigeria, after which she became Company Secretary and Head of Legal Services of Virgin Nigeria Airways at just 32. She served the company creditably for 4 years before joining the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) as Country Manager for Nigeria and English West Africa in 2009, and has since held several leadership positions in the global international organisation.
In her current role as Regional Director, Advocacy & Strategic Relations for Africa at IATA, Adefunke advocates for the sustainability and growth of the aviation industry across the region, highlighting its value to economies and societies as a strategic enabler and catalyst for development, growth and a force for social good. She is IATA’s focal point for the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market initiative and the African Continental Free Trade Area across the continent. She is also spearheading a pilot campaign in Africa Middle East on the contribution of Aviation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Adefunke pioneered and headed the Diversity & Inclusion initiative of IATA in Africa and Middle East, also leading its Women in Leadership program in the region, and has mentored several women and men, both within and outside her organisation.
She has held several positions of responsibility through her education and career, and has positively led or contributed to many key industry, organizational, sectoral or social initiatives, including initiating an industry advisory group to accelerate the growth of aviation in Africa, served as Member/Executive Secretary of Oxford and Cambridge Alumni Association of Nigeria for 10 years, co-founding the Law Ladies Society in University of Lagos, co-founding the PAAA Foundation focused on promoting human rights and criminal justice, to highlight a few. She is also co-founder of Female Initiatives for Impact (FIFI), a non-for-profit organization focused on impacting the lives of women and children in deprived communities.
She holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from the prestigious University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, after obtaining her undergraduate law degree from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She also holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Nanyang Business School, NTU, Singapore, during which she simultaneously completed a collaborative Advanced Management Program in Aviation, Leadership and Innovation between the Nanyang Business School, Berkeley Haas School of Business, University of California and the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania in the United States of America. She is the current National Coordinator for the Nanyang Business School Alumni.
Adefunke is a member of the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD), the African Leadership Network (ALN), an Associate of the worldwide Institute of Directors (IoD), a Policy member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and avid supporter of the African Philanthropy Foundation. She is also a trainer and resource person on Leadership, Policy and Regulation, Advocacy and Women’s affairs. She enjoys travelling, running, creative writing and volunteer work. She is an accomplished public speaker, taking crucial messages across Africa and the world for impact and action.