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From Sagamu to Gatwick: How Adebayo Ogunlesi Became a Global Infrastructure Leader



Adebayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian lawyer and investment banker, has risen to prominence as the chairman and managing partner of Global Infrastructure Partners, a private equity firm specializing in global infrastructure investments. In addition to his role at GIP, he holds a lead director position at Goldman Sachs, a renowned financial services company.


Born on December 20, 1953, in Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria, Adebayo Ogunlesi is the son of Theophilus Ogunlesi, the first Nigerian professor of medicine at the University of Ibadan. His educational journey took him from Lagos, where he attended King's College, to the prestigious Oxford University in England, where he graduated with a B.A. degree with first-class honors in philosophy, politics, and economics. Remarkably, he pursued both an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School concurrently.


Adebayo Ogunlesi's career began as a law clerk to Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. He then transitioned to the corporate practice group at Cravath, Swaine & Moore law firm. In 1983, he embarked on his investment banking journey with First Boston, advising on a Nigerian gas project. Over the years, he climbed the ranks, ultimately assuming the roles of head of global investment banking at Credit Suisse First Boston, followed by executive vice chairman and chief client officer.


In 2006, Adebayo Ogunlesi founded Global Infrastructure Partners, a venture that has successfully acquired and managed significant infrastructure assets worldwide, including London City Airport, London Gatwick Airport, Edinburgh Airport, and Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori. He's earned the moniker "The Man Who Bought Gatwick Airport" in Nigerian media. Furthermore, he serves on the boards of various public and private companies, such as Topgolf Callaway Brands Corp., Kosmos Energy Ltd., and The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.


Adebayo Ogunlesi is happily married to Dr. Amelia Quist-Ogunlesi, a physician, and together they have two children. His influence extends to various advisory councils and committees, including the Global Advisory Council of Harvard University, the Board of Dean's Advisors of Harvard Business School, the Dean's Advisory Board and Leadership Council of Harvard Law School in New York, and as the Governance Committee Chair of Goldman Sachs.


In recognition of his outstanding contributions to business and society, he has received numerous awards and honors, including the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) from the Nigerian government in 2011.

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