Regional Head, Member and External Relations, Africa and Middle East, IATA
Recently identified as one of the 200 Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) globally in recognition of her achievements, Adefunke Adeyemi is a transformative leader, agent of change and influencer, positively impacting lives and the business environment through her passion, work and initiatives. A product of the prestigious University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, she is a lawyer, advocate and aviation expert, focused on bringing value and international standards to everything she does, especially throughout her career spanning over 18 years.
In her current role as the Regional Director for Member and External Relations of the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Africa and Middle East covering 68 countries, she advocates for the overall sustainability and growth of the aviation industry, showcasing the value it brings to business and economies as an enabler and catlyst for development and growth. She is the intermediary between airlines, the wider aviation community, governments and policy makers and the general public. She is responsible for conceptiualising and delivering an ongoing campaign regarding the transformation of Africa’s socio-economic prospects through improved air connectivity across the continent and introducing the concept of Smarter Regulation as a fundamental basis for sustainability.
Adefunke is passionate about Leadership and Innovation. Since joining IATA in 2009, she has been involved in many key industry and leadership initiatives, including being chosen as part of a core group of senior managers tasked with revising the strategic direction of the global aviation industry, the re-organisation of IATA to better meet member and industry needs, and over the past 6 years, has participated as a national delegate at the Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to facilitate the global air transport industry position on Environmental issues.
Adefunke heads the Diversity and Inclusion initiative of IATA in Africa and Middle East and before that, led its Women in Leadership initiative in the region. She is passionate about empowering the female workforce to occupy senior management positions nationally, regionally and globally through mentorship and training, focusing on competence and merit.
She began her career practicing law with F.O. Akinrele & Co., one of the leading law firms in Nigeria and commenced her foray into aviation in 2004 as part of the set up team of Virgin Nigeria Airways, thereafter being appointed as the Head of Legal Services and Company Secretary at just 31. She held that position for 4 years before joining IATA. While at Virgin Nigeria, Funke was nominated to the IATA Industry Affairs Committee, the global committee for inter-airline co-operation and development of global aero-political initiatives for the entire industry.
She joined IATA as the Country Manager for Nigeria and English speaking West Africa, where she helped achieve many ‘firsts’, including helping secure the ‘Abuja Declaration’ for global standards in African aviation safety and security, as well as developing and implementing a robust financial programme for ticket sales for airlines and travel agents in Nigeria and Ghana.
Funke obtained her Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Commercial Law from University of Cambridge, United Kingdom after reading Law at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She also holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Nanyang Business School, NTU, Singapore, during which she simultaneously completed a collaborative Advanced Management Program in Aviation, Leadership and Innovation between the Nanyang Business School, Berkeley Haas School of Business, University of California and the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania.
Adefunke is a member of the African Ledership Network, an Associate of the worldwide Institude of Directors and member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. She enjoys travelling, running (being an active member of the Road Warriors running club) and volunteer work including being a co-administrator for ‘Forty For Good’, a non-profit initiative supporting the Disabled Elderly, Children in Need, Childless Widows and Fertility. She is an accomplished public speaker.