Interswitch, the leading Africa-focused integrated digital payments and commerce company, has announced the appointment of Kenneth Olisa Obe, as its new Chairman, succeeding Adedotun Sulaiman.
This appointment follows the recent minority investment by TA Associates in Interswitch in March of this year, a landmark transaction being TA’s first ever investment into the African continent.
Helios Investment Partners, which invested in the company in 2011, is majority shareholder of the company.
Kenneth Olisa is a British businessman with a career in technology that commenced at IBM and spans well over 40 years.
He founded and led the technology merchant bank Interregnum and is also the founder and chairman of Restoration Partners, an independent boutique technology merchant bank, reputed as architects of the Virtual Technology Cluster model.
He is currently a Director of Thomson Reuters. In 2015, he became the first black Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London having been appointed by Her Majesty the Queen.
Mitchell Elegbe, founder and Group Chief Executive Officer of Interswitch, stated that, “Ken’s inspiring business leadership, vast experience and professional expertise will be great assets to Interswitch as he comes on board as Chairman at a defining phase in our journey of transformation and international expansion.
“We are delighted to welcome him on board, in succession to the visionary and highly successful tenure of Adedotun Sulaiman, who as country CEO of Accenture, played a key role in the formative years of our company and upon assuming the role of Chairman, oversaw the successful transition of Interswitch to private equity ownership”.
Kenneth Olisa commented that, “Interswitch is a shining example of financial technology entrepreneurialism at its best.
“Unlike many of its global competitors, Interswitch is not only a fast growing and powerful innovator, it is also profitable.
“This is a testament to the skill and drive of its founder – Mitch Elegbe – and I am delighted to be joining him and his team.
“As the son of a Nigerian father I am particularly honoured to have been elected to fill the shoes of my distinguished predecessor – Mr Sulaiman – whose steady hand has helped steer Interswitch’s journey so far. They are big shoes to fill.”
A native of Nottingham, England, with Nigerian roots, Kenneth’s technology career, spanning well over 40 years, commenced in the 1970s at IBM having won a scholarship from the firm whilst being an undergraduate at Cambridge University.
He held various posts at IBM before joining Wang Laboratories in 1981. Following a period as Marketing Director for Europe, VP of US Marketing and then of Worldwide Marketing based in Boston, he was appointed Senior VP and General Manager of Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME) located in Brussels, leading the team which restored the EAME operation to profitability.
Kenneth then founded Interregnum, the technology merchant bank, leading it through its early growth; its entry into, and exit from a joint venture with BDO Stoy Hayward as well as the AIM IPO in 2000.
At Interregnum, he worked at the forefront of the entrepreneur/technology growth cycle that began in the mid-1990s.
As well as serving on the boards of many of Interregnum’s investments and advisory clients, Ken notched up some interesting firsts, including chairing the UK’s first publicly listed Internet Service Provider (ISP), Voss Net, on its admission to AIM and holding a similar position on the board of DMATEK, the first Israeli technology company to be listed on the junior exchange.
He retired from Interregnum in 2006 and now runs Restoration Partners.
Ken was the first British-born black man to serve on the Board of a major UK public company (Reuters) and remains a Director of Thomson Reuters (where he is a member of the Audit Committee).
He was also a Director (and Chair of the Remuneration Committee) of Canada’s largest independent software developer, Open Text Corporation. More recently, he served as a Non-Executive Director of FTSE100 company, Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), as it made its debut on the London Stock Exchange.
Today he serves on the Board of, or is an adviser to, several privately held and innovative companies including the UK’s leading corporate governance advisor, Independent Audit. He is committed to social inclusion and has served on the Boards of various charities.
Today he is Chairman of Shaw Trust a national employment and well-being charity with a turnover of £100+m. In 2010, he was awarded an OBE for his services to the homeless of London and he is an honorary Fellow of his old college, Fitzwilliam, Cambridge.
On a more personal level, he describes himself as a keen skier and bad golfer. As a former IBM scholar at Cambridge, and reflecting a lifelong passion for information technology and education, Ken, and his wife Julia, donated money to build the new Library and IT centre at Fitzwilliam College.