10 candid career questions with PPP professionals – Chris Olobo

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Editor's Note: 
Welcome to the “10 Candid Career Questions” series, introducing you to the PPP professionals who do the deals, analyze the data, and strategize on the next big thing. Each of them followed a different path into PPP practice, and this series offers an inside look at their backgrounds, motivations, and choices. Each blogger receives the same 15 questions and answers 10 or more that tell their PPP career story candidly and without jargon. We believe you’ll be as surprised and inspired as we were.  

1.     What was your first job?
My first postgraduate job was a Highways Design Engineer for Mott MacDonald based in Southampton, UK.

2.     What was your best job?
My best job was working for my Dad just before joining University. I was a sales man selling timber products at my Dad’s warehouse in downtown Kampala. I didn’t set annual objectives, I didn’t have midyear reviews; I only sold timber as best as I could. The profits attributed to me were used to pay for my tuition fees at the University of Southampton!

3. What do your family members think you do all day at work?
My wife is in the same trade as I am so she knows what I do.  However, my young daughters think I spend the day counting money which is used to build roads. Occasionally, my daughters joke that the IFC stands for International Fried Chicken and that I must obviously be a very good chef!

4.     What do you really do all day at work?
Quite frankly, my day is varied.  It includes participating in conference calls, meetings upon meetings, reviewing reports/financial models, responding to/writing emails, attending to administrative matters, and brainstorming with my colleagues on different aspects of project finance structures.

5. What do you wish you did all day at work?
I wish I spent my days strategizing with investors on how best to mobilize capital for infrastructure projects in Africa.

6.     What is your go-to industry website?
These include www.ijglobal.com, www.inspiratia.com, www.infrastructureinvestor.com

7.     What did the book that made the biggest impact on you professionally teach you?
I love Barbarians at the Gate: The fall of RJR Nabisco. This book taught me the art of doing corporate deals and an awareness that the corporate world is literally akin to “every man and his dog.”

8. When you give advice to young professionals, what are you shocked to hear yourself say?
I’m shocked to hear myself say that it doesn’t matter what career path your take as long as you are good at what you do.  For example, if you want to be a dentist, aspire to be the best at removing teeth.

9. On what would you refuse to compromise professionally?
I refuse to compromise on the quality of output that is sent out to my boss, clients, or potential investors.

10.  How will PPPs look different in 10 years?
PPPs will look different because continued regulation will see commercial lenders strictly limited to construction financing with guaranteed take out of their debts by pension funds. Pension funds will be the new kings at the PPP table in 10 years. I hope I will be invited to that party.

Read previous posts of “10 Candid Career Questions”.
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