Benjamin Akande

Senior Adviser to the Chancellor; Director, Africa Initiative

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Biography

Benjamin Ola. Akande is Senior Adviser to the Chancellor and Director of the Africa Initiative at Washington University in St. Louis.  As a Nigerian born American, he was appointed by Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton in March 2018 to strengthen and expand the University’s efforts in Africa.  He assists in developing and implementing strategy in bringing people together to identify ways to expand and enhance activities that will be rewarding to students and faculty, and build on initiatives in Africa.

Akande is a respected economist, scholar and global consultant to Fortune 500 companies and institutions in the higher education space in the areas of strategy, leadership development, corporate responsibility and market positioning.  He served as a director of Ralcorp Holdings, Inc., a $5 billion publicly traded manufacturer of high quality private food labels, including Post, and has consulted for corporations such as Anheuser-Busch, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Voith, SeaWorld, and many others.

A results-oriented leader, he consistently demonstrates the ability to establish rapport and connect with diverse constituencies at all levels in public, private and non-profit sectors.  He possesses refined business skills honed by working in entrepreneurial, mission-driven environments, brings confidence to implementing strategy and knows how to balance business goals with mission.

An engaging and compelling communicator, Akande is regularly sought out as a commentator by national media. He has appeared on Anderson Cooper 360, CBS Evening News and St. Louis affiliates of FOX, ABC and NBC. His commentaries have appeared in USA TODAY, Financial Times and on public radio’s “Marketplace.”

Akande served as the 21st President of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri from 2015-2017, where he made substantial gains in developing the infrastructure necessary for the college’s long-term sustainability.  This included transformational changes in academic offerings, outreach, budget, financial modeling, marketing (re-branding), communication and institutional advancement.

As tenured professor of economics and dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University in St. Louis from 2000-2015, Akande is credited with building the school’s reputation, and positioning it as a globally relevant business school.  He developed numerous corporate/donor partnerships which played a leading effort in securing the largest donation in the University’s history.

Akande holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma and completed post-doctoral studies at JFK School of Government, Harvard University and Saïd Business School at Oxford University.

In more than twenty-five years as a professor and leader, he has invested significant personal involvement and tireless efforts to contribute to the transformation of public and private institutions and organizations.  Akande was recognized by the St. Louis Business Journal as one of the city’s “Most Influential Leaders,” 2007-2012.  He is passionately committed to the success of people in organizations, and has nurtured and mentored many executives.

Akande currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Argent Capital, a $4 billion asset management company. He is a member of the Board of Enterprise Bank & Trust ($5 billion assets), serving on the Regulatory and Compliance Committee.  He also serves on the non-profit boards of Forest Park Forever, one of the nation’s largest public parks, the Saint Louis Club and the Saint Louis Art Museum. In addition, Akande is a member of the Danforth Plant Science Center Leadership Council.  He is on the Advisory Board of FDC Fundação Dom Cabral, the top-ranked business school in Brazil.

With the experience to recognize when to take calculated risks and the confidence to make tough business decisions, Akande believes that the future belongs to those who can see it. He and his wife, Bola, a pharmacist, have three adult daughters.

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Benjamin Akande to lead Africa initiative at Washington University

With an eye toward strengthening and expanding Washington University’s efforts in Africa, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton has appointed Benjamin Akande as senior adviser to the chancellor and director of the Africa initiative. Akande, a Nigerian-born American, has built a career on research, teaching and learning with a unique passion for a life-changing political economy across Africa.