Speaker Bio

Farah Esmail

Business minded, creative, forward thinking, and strategic, Farah Esmail has over 20 years of experience in corporate governance implementing effective governance in various types of organizations and over 15 years of North American and Pan-African experience in senior leadership roles.  Farah has been as an in-house lawyer and a business partner to public and private organizations of various sizes and in various industries. She is passionate about the impact of people and organization structure and implementing international best practices to enable growth and a sustainable business enterprise.

Farah was born and raised in Kenya and completed her studies in Canada. She has a Bachelor of Science degree specialising in Environmental Science from the University of Toronto (Canada), a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School (Canada), and an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada) with a focus on Sustainable Strategy. She has also completed the Sirdar Applied Directorship Programme and a Harvard certificate course on Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets.

Starting her career as a corporate/commercial litigator in Toronto, she moved into an in-house role in the United States. She set up and managed the Legal and Board Relations Department for an education technology start-up Connections Education in the United States for seven years seeing it to exit, and the Board Relations Department for the Toronto District School Board in Canada. Farah returned to Kenya as the VP and Senior Legal Counsel with Bridge International Academies, a social enterprise. She then served as Regional HR and Legal for KK Security, a Company of Gardaworld overseeing 25,000 employees across 9 countries in Africa. More recently she was Head of Kenya for the Sirdar Group, Africa’s leader in Corporate Governance where she was involved in Board Director training, recruitment and implementing effective boards, especially within SMES and family businesses. She is currently a Consultant with the Sirdar Group and a Partner with the global executive search firm Boyden EA, working to deliver “Africa robust” sustainable talent to organizations in the region.

Farah is retained as an Adviser to the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) IBUKA Incubation and Acceleration program for companies wanting to list on the NSE as well a stakeholder providing input on corporate governance and ESG at the ongoing Capital Markets Authority review of the Capital Markets Authorities regulatory framework.

Farah is a recipient of the 2019 CMO Asia Africa’s Women Leadership Award. She is involved in various community activities and serves as a director on several boards including for Merican Limited and Sports for Change.

Outside of work, Farah is a fitness coach, a CNN featured sponsored international competitive fitness athlete who has competed for Kenya, and has completed several marathons, and has successfully climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya.

Favourite quote:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference “-  Robert Frost