From education to employment


Ex-McKinsey Senior Partner, Driek Desmet, and former Nigerian Education Minister and World Bank VP, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, appointed to the Board of Directors (@nexford)

Nexford University, the Washington D.C.-based next-generation online university, announces two additions to its Board of Directors – Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili and Driek Desmet – and three to its management team – Dr. Jennifer Bangoura, Dr. Nancy Rubin and Dr. Cathy Plunkett.

Their track records and proven leadership in strategy, technology and education will help Nexford University continue its impressive growth and achieve its business targets.

Dr. Obiageli Ezekswesili said:

“Having been on Nexford University’s advisory board I am delighted to now join the university’s Board of Directors to help advance the mission of this innovation-pioneering institution that is setting the pace in the delivery of world class affordable education and producing high quality talent at scale.”

Dr. Obiageli Ezekswesili recently joined Yale University as a Senior Fellow, and is an economic policy expert and a globally renowned figure in human capital development. Dr. Ezekswesili (known as Oby) is a former Vice President of the World Bank, co-founder and founding director of Transparency International, Founder-CEO of Human Capital Africa and has served as Nigeria’s Education Minister. She worked with world-renowned economics professor Jeffrey Sachs at the Center for International Development at Harvard, as the Director of the Harvard-Nigeria Economic Strategy Project. Her extensive knowledge of the education sector will drive Nexford’s efforts in creating education to employment opportunities across Africa.

Driek Desmet said: 

“Nexford’s focus on career-enabling learning through ‘anywhere any time’ modular courses and degrees is hugely exciting. Africa and Asia’s growth companies are racing ahead, but are facing a huge skills mismatch on the people supply side. The big unlock is in capabilities for our high-tech sustainable future, such as data analytics, digital transformation, and project management. I’m looking forward to contributing to Nexford’s role in making this a reality.” 

Bringing vast digital transformation experience to Nexford’s Board, Driek Desmet was a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company. Driek co-founded McKinsey’s global analytics and tech benchmark surveys: ‘Analytics Quotient‘ and ‘Tech Quotient‘. As Head of McKinsey Digital Labs Asia and McKinsey’s Business Technology Office Asia, he led the strategy to design and deliver digital business models across different industries. Driek was also involved as an independent advisor in the 10-year strategic review of the International Baccalaureate.  He is a Board member of UWC International, which runs 18 schools that inspire young people to develop their talents towards making a difference for a more united and sustainable world. 

Nexford University’s CEO, Fadl Al Tarzi, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Driek and Oby to the board. Their deep experience in creating long-term value, driving strategy and knowledge of the education sector will be invaluable to the next stage of Nexford’s growth journey. This expertise, coupled with their understanding of global markets, will support our expansion across the world. Ultimately, they will support our efforts to become the leading platform bridging gaps between employers and learners as Nexford continues to provide access to skills-focused high quality yet affordable education.”

Joining Nexford’s management team is Dr. Jennifer Bangoura as Director of Career Innovation. Jennifer will lead on Nexford’s employer partnerships aimed at bridging gaps between employers and learners. Prior to this, she worked as a Program Officer at IREX – the global development and education organization – and a Communications and Outreach Specialist, UASID/PHARE at the Education Development Center in Mali; and spent four years at 2U – the renowned education technology company. Jennifer also has a Doctor of Education in Organizational Change and Leadership.

Nancy Rubin, Ph.D., has been appointed as Nexford’s Chief Academic Officer. Nancy has over 20 years of leadership experience in digital learning design and implementation, higher education and instructional/curriculum design roles. She has previously worked at Northwestern Health Sciences University, the University of Northern Colorado, Columbia University, Kaplan University and Florida Atlantic University.

Dr. Cathy Plunkett has joined as Director of Compliance. Cathy has over 20 years’ experience and a passion for higher education. Her past experiences include roles as the Director of Regulatory Compliance at Penn Foster and Executive VP of Academic Affairs and Accreditation at American National University and National College.

These appointments are in line with Nexford’s recent advances in partnering with employers to upskill and reskill their workforces, via its rollout of the ‘Nexford for Talent‘ program, launched in 2021. They also follow Nexford’s successful $10.8 million pre-Series A in June 2021 and major partnership with Sterling Bank, one of Nigeria’s largest commercials banks, in August 2021.

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