“The collective impact that people, places and surrounding conditions typically have on individuals is often under-emphasised,” says Ikele, who has spent the past year in Germany working with CrossLend GmbH.
It is true that his career has been influenced by a combination of insights from friends and more experienced colleagues, the quality of tasks handled over the years and a drive to constantly improve his own competence.
Born and raised in Lagos, and a law graduate from the Ebonyi State University, Ikele obtained his Masters’ in Law and Business degree from Bucerius Law School in Hamburg in 2018. He then spent six months interning with Ernst & Young Hamburg focusing mainly in the tax service line. Before this, he had been a student researcher at Statista GmbH.
His role at CrossLend GmbH revolves around giving advice on securitisation deals, the legal structuring of transactions, drafting and reviewing deal documentation and general legal advisory. Prior to his move to Germany, he worked as an associate in the corporate commercial practice group at Jackson, Etti & Edu in Lagos, for three years.
On choosing to build an in-house legal career rather than continuing to practise in a law firm, he says, “In the course of law practise, as an associate, I developed a strong bias for corporate law, debt and equity financing and private equity. I nurtured plans to delve further into these areas - hence my decision to enroll for an LL.M.”
“Of particular interest to me has been being involved in structuring deals, not simply from a legal perspective but also from a functional perspective. This provides a vantage point that enables appraisal and deeper understanding of the various moving parts.”
“Acting from an in-house position in the financial services/securitisation space has placed me in this vantage position where I am able to appreciate all the dynamics arising from live deals and projects.”
Working outside Nigeria, he says, has been enriching and exciting. Among other things, cross-cultural teamwork, as well as the insights that come from a combination of ideas from people with different backgrounds, are satisfying aspects of the whole experience.
“The opportunity to learn the German language has been the most rewarding so far,” he says.
In his work, Ikele says that there are multiple topics to consider, given the strict regulation surrounding securitisation and structured financing, which he attributes to the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. He believes that as a result of the increased/stricter regulation, a clear understanding of the business objectives of the organisation, as well as a grasp of core issues, are key.
“Highlights of my work would be the high levels of creativity associated with teamwork in a diverse work environment as well as the unconscious cross-cultural exchanges.
“It has not been without its own challenges especially considering my transition from a common law jurisdiction to a civil law jurisdiction, as well as venturing into the uncharted territory of structured products.”
For Nigerian/African lawyers looking to secure work opportunities in foreign jurisdictions, Ikele recommends obtaining easily transferable skills outside of law, numeracy skills, and foundational accountancy as well as certification in subjects with global appeal not limited to specific jurisdictions. Expertise in soft skills like Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint also help a great deal.
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