The Abraaj Group is a leading investor in global growth markets. We play a role as effective agents of economic and social change in the markets and communities in which we invest.
Most Abraaj professionals are home-grown talent – born and raised in their operating markets, providing local intelligence through their networks and knowledge. Approximately 90% of the regional investment and operating professionals are local to their markets. This deep knowledge, coupled with extensive operating capabilities, has a direct impact on the businesses we invest in.
We are a dynamic firm with local roots, operating in some of the fastest growing markets globally. Our people are integral to our group philosophy, driving our values and principles of an inclusive, collaborative, entrepreneurial culture. We are proud of our rich cultural diversity across our 350+ professionals with employees of different race, culture, religion, age, and lifestyle across broad geographies.
We are dedicated to fostering an environment where people share their unique experiences, perspectives and ideas. We recognise the important role that our employees play at home as well as at work and have developed a family-friendly framework to support employees to balance both responsibilities.
As a firm, we draw strength from a globally collaborative culture, operating as “One Firm, One Culture”, and sharing knowledge and capabilities across a global platform. Investing in our employees is fundamental to our journey and is integral to the DNA of our firm. We strive to empower our people professionally and pride ourselves on the high performance culture within the organization.
Meet Our People
Cagatay Gultekin, Associate, Investment Team
Joined Abraaj: 2015
Hometown: Izmir, Turkey
Education: Sabanci University, BA in Economics, and London School of Economics and Political Science, MSc in Accounting and Finance
Favorite city: London
I have always been passionate about a career in finance. After working at UBS London, I joined Abraaj as an Analyst in the Turkey Investment team. Based in Istanbul, I work across the full spectrum of the investment process including deal sourcing, transaction processing, value creation and investor reporting.
Abraaj’s DNA is unique in that we have local teams on the ground with local connectivity, coupled with global capabilities and sector expertise. With this unique approach, Abraaj successfully builds true partnerships with leading local firms across markets and cultures.
I would advise those who are looking to work in private equity to invest in their soft-skills along with quantitative skills. Although private equity requires strong financial analysis and technical investment skills, it also requires people to continuously invest in their interpersonal skills. Furthermore, developing operational experience is key as the real value creation process starts post-investment.
Outside of work, I enjoy sports especially swimming and playing table tennis. It relaxes my mind. Aside from that, I love travelling – exploring new places and meeting people with different background – which helps expand my perspective.
Joanna Lee, Principal, Investor Engagement
Joined Abraaj: 2015
Hometown: Holbrook, MA, USA
Education: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Favorite cities: Seoul and Hong Kong
After spending two years with the Investor Engagement team based in Singapore, I joined the Americas team in New York a few months ago to cover institutional investors based in the Americas. My time at Abraaj has been spent between fundraising and engaging investors and assisting with the due diligence processes. My role is dynamic and entrepreneurial, and there’s never a dull moment!
One of the most unique aspects of Abraaj, and one of my favorite aspects of working here, is the cultural diversity of the Group. We are 350 professionals comprised of 40+ nationalities that come from all walks of life. It’s been such an enriching experience to work with, learn from, and develop friendships with my colleagues.
Prior to New York, I lived in Singapore for 6+ years. Living abroad and learning how to adapt to new situations quickly and to gain knowledge of cultural sensitivities has helped tremendously in my role given the diverse group of people we work with both internally and externally. The ability to adapt to situations quickly and being flexible are extremely important both in this role and at Abraaj. Change and growth at Abraaj is constant – keeping pace with growth in our markets!
Outside of work, I enjoy exploring new countries, cooking/trying new restaurants, spending time with family and friends, and attempting intense fitness classes.
Jordan Filko, Associate, Investment Team
Joined Abraaj: 2014
Hometown: Maplewood, NJ USA
Education: Columbia University, BA in Economics
Favorite book: The Way of the Shaman
I am originally from the US but I have lived and worked in Sub-Saharan Africa since 2008. While at Columbia University, I spent a semester abroad in Accra, Ghana and went on to spend time in Rwanda and South Africa before moving to Kenya in 2011. I began my career in the microfinance industry, moved to SME investing and eventually to Abraaj’s healthcare team. I am now part of the Africa investment team.
Based in Nairobi, I work on transactions across East Africa. My role spans the full spectrum of the investment process, from deal sourcing through to value creation and exits, with a focus on transaction processing. I am also involved in global projects.
In private equity, it is important to have strong financial analysis and technical investment skills. However, this is the foundation, not a skill that will set you apart from the rest. If you want to do private equity in growth markets, you should get operations experience as well. In our markets success does not depend on financial engineering alone. It depends on whether you know how to make a business grow and operate efficiently. To excel you need entrepreneurial skills too.
People skills cannot be underestimated. Understanding what motivates a manager, what the dynamics are within a team etc are critical to doing a successful deal. Building a mutual trust with the sponsors is key to developing a successful partnership.
Outside of work, I love painting and writing and enjoying the Nairobi art and music community. I also love yoga and riding my motorcycle through the beautiful natural landscapes of Kenya.
Michael Hanson, Associate, Global Tax
Joined Abraaj: 2016
Education: Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
Favorite city: Dubai
From a young age I preferred a hands-on learning experience. I started my professional career when I was 18 working in London, and I obtained the ACA qualification. In 2015, I moved to Dubai, after travelling to the UAE for a number of years and developing a passion for the region.
I sit within the Global Tax function, working on all tax aspects of the Group. My primary focus is on annuity work including investor tax reporting, Automatic Exchange of Information (FATCA and CRS) project management and transfer pricing. I regularly liaise and collaborate closely with people from across geographies in the firm, including the Investment team, Investor Engagement team and Operations functions.
A great thing about my job is that there isn’t a typical day. My role requires the ability to adapt, and in a dynamic and fast paced environment, having the flexibility to change priorities to meet the deadline is key. Given that colleagues are aligned and working towards the same goals, it makes for a positive and exciting environment.
I’m getting married this summer so a lot of my time outside of work is spent wedding planning with my fiancée. Aside from that, I like to travel and see new places, and living away from my home country, it’s also important to spend time catching up with family and friends.
Life beyond Abraaj
No matter how long you were with The Abraaj Group, we want to stay in touch as you move on to your next challenge. This is why we created the Abraaj Alumni Network. Our alumni are a valued and important part of our story and the Firm’s success.
Our goal for the Alumni network is to grow our global engagement by building upon existing relationships as well as creating new ones. Today’s world offers tremendous opportunities for cross-industry and cross-regional collaboration often catalyzed through professional alumni networks.
You can access the Alumni Network here.