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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Tongayi Masvikwa

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The Beginning: Johannesburg, South Africa

My professional journey started off as a corporate litigator at ENSafrica, a leading pan-African law firm. I was drawn to the firm by its ambitions to be the first African law firm operating across multiple jurisdictions in Africa.

I soon realized, however, that my passion for mooting and debating in law school had led me to an area of corporate law (litigation) that clashed with my equally important passion for the African continent and my desire for a vocation that had continent-wide implications.

The Pivot: Toronto, Canada

By virtue of its jurisdiction-sensitive nature, litigation did not afford the opportunity to work in other African jurisdictions as other areas of corporate law, such as banking and finance or energy and natural resources, might have done. In order to equip myself with the tools to pursue areas of law amenable to cross-border opportunities, I decided to pursue my LLM in International Business Law at OsgoodePD. The decision to do so definitely ranks highly among the wisest of my career.

Back to the Motherland: Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

The strategy succeeded. My LLM qualification opened up an avenue in the international development finance sector as Legal Counsel for the African Legal Support Facility, hosted by the African Development Bank. In this role, I provided legal and strategic advisory support to African governments in the negotiation of complex commercial transactions of strategic national importance in the mineral resources, infrastructure, and sovereign debt finance sectors. I was also privileged to design and implement capacity-building projects aimed at rectifying the asymmetrical negotiating capacity of African governments relative to the sophisticated foreign investors across the table.

Back to the Beginning: Johannesburg, South Africa

I then briefly returned to ENSafrica in the capacity of strategist and business development manager responsible for driving the development and implementation of growth strategies for what was, and remains, the largest firm in Africa. The firm currently has a presence in 7 African countries (South Africa, Mauritius, Namibia, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda) and serves as an inspirational object lesson to other African professional services firms (accounting, engineering, consulting, etc.) to follow suit and make important contributions to regional integration by expanding their spheres of influence across Africa.

A Dream Come True, Nairobi, Kenya

My LLM qualification again came in handy as I pursued my dream job at the United Nations Refugee Agency. As with most senior international development and humanitarian jobs, a master’s degree is a minimum requirement. Without the education I received at Osgoode, I would not have been able to take on this much-coveted position as an Africa Strategist in the private sector partnership division of the Agency. In this role, I was responsible for developing communication strategies to change the perception of Refugees and boost investments from the African private sector.

What advice would you give to current LLM students looking to go back, and advance their careers after graduation in their home country? 

Make your vision plain and begin with that end in mind. Success in any line demands a definite aim. I encourage you to all the while keep steadily in view the aim of your endeavor as you commence and progress in your studies.

In my case, I was very clear and I wanted to work as a legal counsel at the African Development Bank and then progress to the United Nations – so clear that I said as much in the final paragraph of my statement of purpose for admission to Osgoode. By God’s grace, hard work and the world-class education I received at Osgoode, I have been able to make all the plans I laid out for myself come true.

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