Joel Onditi
Joel Onditi, CEO and President,
Pathways International

Joel Onditi is not one to shy away from a challenge. As the CEO and President of Pathways International, a Professor of Practice at the University of Denver, and a member of multiple advisory boards aiming to guide technological vision and strategy, his professional life is robust. An incredible goal drives him forward, though: build the next Silicon Valley out of Africa.

This ambition is what brought him to Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Executive Education, where he completed his Executive Certificate in Public Policy after matriculating from Persuasive Communication: Narrative, Evidence, and Impact, Negotiation Strategies: Building Agreement Across Boundaries, and Digital Transformation in Government: Innovating Public Policy & Service. Even with his extensive experience, he recognized the tools he needed to gain to work towards this objective and seized the opportunity to further his professional development at HKS. 

“Our goal is a big undertaking that requires a clear vision and leadership strategy to execute,” Joel said. “It also requires engagement with various stakeholders including governments from a policy and partnership perspective. Coming from a heavily technological background, I needed to build some of these skills quickly. I’m already implementing learnings from my three programs while working closely with the Kenyan Government and the US government to help with the technology talent gap in Africa.”

Completing his Executive Certificate from HKS Executive Education has allowed him to make great strides towards making this dream a reality. “HKS’s programs really open one's mind in terms of appreciating policy and governance, and strategically approaching and delivering mega projects,” he explained. “They’re all led by experienced professors who have real world experience. Colleagues in the class also bring a rich set of experiences that all help to shape one’s thinking around leadership.”

Learning from expert faculty and industry leaders enabled him to transform his approach to his daily work. “Some soft skills aspects that apply in everyday interactions, e.g. complex negotiation skills, have truly changed my professional life. I have the ability to unravel complex projects and piece all the ingredients back together to ensure success.” 

As Joel takes his learnings from the HKS classroom back to Pathways International, his vision remains as clear as ever. “I hope to realize the dream of making Africa the ‘Silicon Savanah'. I hope that a few years from now, when someone talks about technology destinations, they not only think about California, India, Ukraine, but that Africa is top of mind. We are firmly on track with this mission,” he said. “We have just piloted an ambitious plan of upskilling and placing 30,000 young Kenyans in high tech roles globally. This number will increase as we expand into other African countries. After that, I hope to guide technological progress and direction either for governments or global developmental institutions, for impact.”