Former Chair of Governors receives University Medal
16 September 2022
Financial expert and philanthropist Anulika Ajufo has become the first ever recipient of a special medal to mark her extraordinary contribution to the University of East London.
In a double celebration, Ms Ajufo received the inaugural University Medal, alongside an honorary doctorate in business administration.
The unique event took place as part of the University's graduation ceremony on 15 September and reflected on the contribution of Ms Ajufo as Chair of the Board of Governors for a four-year tenure that ended in the summer.
During that time, she helped steer the institution through the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown when students were unable to come to the campus and the entire operation had to quickly move online.
Her successor and the new Chair of the Board of Governors, John Garwood, reading the medal's citation, said,
Anulika took on the leadership role at UEL as a call of duty and has shown exceptional sacrifice and integrity throughout. She led the Board with strength during the global pandemic, recognising the need to take immediate action and led the Board to create a new and effective working environment. "
"Anulika has been a champion of student interests and she took every opportunity to promote minority groups and became a role model to many.
"As the first Black woman appointed as Chair of the Board of Governors at the University, one of only two in the UK, and just as remarkably the youngest Chair ever, Anulika has ensured that the governance representation reflects the diverse community at the University and her influence will impact across the sector. And she has done all this while in fulltime employment."
Receiving the medal Ms Ajufo thanked her family, including her son, and her support network - her "village" as she called them - and told the ceremony, "It has been the honour of my life to date to serve this University for the last four years. I am thankful for the journey and this honour."
Students at the ceremony were told of Ms Ajufo's overriding belief in education as "the most effective tool in transforming generational outcomes".
She is the founder of the Sequoia Platform, a leading educational not for profit focused on social mobility established in 2006, providing hundreds of young people with education support and mentorship.
She has also been nominated as a Young Global Leader, a programme from the World Economic Forum, and has been hailed as a "vibrant and inspirational leader in finance and philanthropy".
Ms Ajufo attended Queen Mary University of London and left with a Master's (MEng) in Medical Engineering. Afterwards, she began studying finance and attained an MSc in Law and Finance from the University of Oxford.
Life is not linear
Having worked at some of the leading financial institutions, including Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs in investment banking, and in private equity with The Carlyle Group and Soros Fund, she has developed an impressive investment track record spanning sectors, stages, and geographies across direct and indirect investments.
She is passionate about the need to promote equity in the world's most fragile countries - all of which she continues to champion across roles in finance and philanthropy.
Ms Ajufo is currently Venture Partner Europe, Middle East and Africa, for Sagana, managing a portfolio of investments across multiple sectors including financial inclusion, education, healthcare and renewables.
She told students, "Don't let anyone tell you what you can do, don't be put in a box. There was a time when I thought life was linear, I've come to understand that in all of life's journey there will be lots of twists and turns, ups and downs, and that's part of the journey too."
She defined success as "living for purpose" with the only true competition being "the better version of yourself".
Ms Ajufo said, "I've learnt to fail successfully. There is no failure in life that you cannot overcome, it is the mindset and what you gain from every supposed failure that helps you to gain an advantage."
Pictured with Anulika Ajufo, centre, are University vice-chancellor and president, Professor Amanda Broderick, left, and Chair of the Board of Governors, John Garwood.
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