Dr. Kola Olofinboba, Distinguished Alumnus Speaker at the 2023 ICOMAA-NA Annual General Meeting, Attains Platinum Donor Status (With A Must-Read Compelling Personal Story!)

Dr. Kola Olofinboba, a prominent alumnus and now a platinum donor of the Students' Building Project, was the Distinguished Alumnus Speaker at the Ibadan College of Medicine Alumni Association, North America (ICOMAA-NA) 2023 Annual General Meeting.

Personal Profile

Kola Olofinboba was born at the University College Hospital Ibadan, the second of four children to Professor Michael and Mrs. Jolaade Olofinboba. Kola received his Primary School education at the University of Ibadan and the University of Ilorin Staff Schools, before attending the Federal Government College Ilorin (FGCI) for High School. He graduated from FGCI in 1983 with distinctions in all eight subjects taken in the GCE O-Level examinations, and the highest Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) entrance score to the University of Ibadan Medical School in that year. He graduated with an MBBS degree from the University of Ibadan in 1989, before proceeding to the San Fernando General Hospital in Trinidad and Tobago for a rotating internship.

In 1991, Dr. Olofinboba moved to the U.S. and matched into the University of Connecticut (UConn) Internal Medicine Program, the first Nigerian accepted to that program, where he excelled clinically, academically and in leadership, culminating three years later in his selection as Chief Medical Resident. On completion of his training, he worked in a variety of clinical and academic settings (including the West Side VAMC/University of Illinois in Chicago) and then returned to UConn as an Assistant Professor and Hospitalist, helping to establish the Hospitalist Service at that institution. He spent two years in this role, winning the Teacher of the Year awards from the Residents in both years.

Dr. Olofinboba then decided to explore a budding interest in business and, in 2001, he gained admission to the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he obtained an MBA in Financial Management and was a recipient of the Robert Toigo Fellowship. On graduation from MIT, he joined the global consulting firm, McKinsey &Company, in its Boston Office, and spent the next three-and-a-half years serving corporate and government clients across the world in pharmaceuticals, healthcare services, organizational transformation, and private equity.

In 2007, Fairview Capital Partners recruited him from McKinsey and for the last 16+ years, he has worked at Fairview, becoming a Managing Partner in 2015. Fairview is a venture capital and private equity fund investment firm, one of the leading such platforms in the U.S., with an aggregate fund capitalization of $10.8 billion since inception. On behalf of its clients, the firm invests in many of the leading private markets’ funds in the world, and derivatively in their portfolio companies, often at the earliest stages of company formation. Some of these companies have become mega-corporations, disrupting incumbents in all major segments of the economy, and sometimes defining new categories such as Software-as-a Service (SaaS), private space exploration, electric vehicles, digital assets, and more recently, artificial intelligence. In medicine, they have led in the commercialization of breakthroughs in genomics, proteomics, robotics, information and other technologies, leading to new vaccines, curative options in genetic disease, novel cancer treatments, advances in robotic surgery, healthcare IT and many other areas with significant unmet need.

Dr. Olofinboba is engaged in various communities and constituencies. He served as the inaugural Public Relations Officer for ICOMAA-NA and is an enthusiastic contributor to causes related to the University of Ibadan College of Medicine as well as to Bobas School in Ikere-Ekiti, a primary and secondary school founded over 35 years ago by his parents that is educating hundreds of young minds in that community. He has led his firm in business ventures with the African Development Bank and other international financial institutions, and he has invested personally in several of the leading technology startups across Africa while also advising numerous entrepreneurs, investment firms, and governments, in Africa and the United States, on matters related to venture capital and startup investment. He currently serves on the boards of Hartford HealthCare, the second-largest healthcare system in Connecticut, and Liberty Bank, one of the largest and oldest Mutual Banks in the United States. Previously, he served on the boards of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the Connecticut Science Center, and Hartford’s Camp Courant.

Dr. Olofinboba is an avid (if talent-constrained) golfer who won the 2021 PGA Travelers Championship Pro-Am as a member of a team that featured Bryson DeChambeau. He is married to Dr. Trudy Olofinboba, an Anesthesiologist in Hartford, CT and they have a daughter, Simisola, who is a Software Engineer in Redmond, WA. [Culled from the AGM Brochure].

More so, Dr. Olofinboba has equally made substantial contributions to the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan's Students' Building Project. His generous donations of $11,010.00 and an additional $1,400.00 (as part of the ₦1 Million drive) have elevated him to the esteemed status of a Platinum Donor. With his total individual donations surpassing $12,000, Dr. Olofinboba's unwavering support has significantly elevated the progress of the CoMUI Student Building Project.

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The full text of his speech delivered by him at the ICOMAA-NA Annual General Meeting – June 23, 2023, is published below:

Thank you Dr. Sokunbi for your warm and very generous introduction.

Good evening fellow alumni, distinguished guests, friends, and family, and a special shout out to the Class of ‘86. I have found that many of my favorite speeches start with some version of the five Bs – “be brief brother be brief” — and I will try to heed those wise words today.

First, I would like to thank ICOMAA-NA and the Officers, especially the President, Dr. Abraham Ariyo and the Secretary General, Dr. Tunji Akintilo, A.K.A. Dandy, for choosing me to be this year’s Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient. I was incredibly surprised when I got the call as I know many of the honorees from previous years and hold them and their achievements in the highest regard. I also know many other alumni who have bent the arc of history in their respective fields of endeavor and are just as, or even more, deserving of the Award. So, with a great degree of humility and appreciation, I thank you for this honor.

My sojourn through the University of Ibadan and the College of Medicine was a defining period in who I am today personally, professionally and socially and, even though I no longer practice medicine, I am amazed at how much of the discipline and thinking processes from my U.I. College of Medicine education I still apply in my work. A saying from one of the bards of Naija pidgin goes thus, “rolling stone, na person push am.” So, U.I. College of Medicine, thank you for the mighty push that continues to roll this stone.

My charge today is to talk about my journey, with a particular emphasis on sharing information that younger colleagues might find useful as they navigate their own paths. I will spend some time talking about the “why and how I left medical practice” and then pivot to talk about a factor that has been crucial in my professional travels – the presence of “Sponsors” at key junctures along the way. By Sponsors, I mean people who are often, though not always, mentors but who then go beyond regular mentorship to promote, advocate, and provide opportunity for advancement.

So, why did I leave medical practice? When I arrived in the U.S. in 1991, most international graduates had a limited set of options for residency – internal medicine, family practice, pediatrics, pathology, or psychiatry in no particular order. I chose internal medicine but within a year of starting my residency, decided that I wanted to do something that had more of a surgical bent to it. I was particularly drawn to ophthalmology because of the impact one could have on patients’ quality of life, the mixture of cognitive and surgical activity and, truth be told, the remunerative potential in this field.

Alas, ophthalmology was a particularly difficult specialty to get into and when I applied, I did not get a single interview. At this point, my Naija Aggro – non-Nigerians call it Grit – kicked in and I found an ophthalmologist in my local area who in addition to his clinical practice, conducted clinical research. I approached him and he agreed to take me on as a research collaborator so, after finishing my work as a medicine resident, I would go to his office and cull data from charts sometimes till the early hours of the next day. Out of this effort, we wrote a couple of research papers, which I presented at a large ophthalmology conference, significantly enhancing my resume, and resulting in several high-quality interviews when I re-applied the next year. This time, I was successful in securing a residency at one of the best ophthalmology programs in the country. Then the powers-that-be at ECFMG stepped in and refused to approve my change of specialty, despite intense petitioning from me, and advocacy on my behalf from dozens of interested parties in the U.S. and in Nigeria. You can imagine my frustration at what I perceived as this grave injustice and, though it did not happen for another eight years, I believe this was the start of my departure from medical practice. Now, there were other contributors – administrative burden, legal overhang, utilization review in the hospital setting, etc. — but the ECFMG palaver was the starting point.

In response to the ECFMG block, I completed my residency and chief residency in internal medicine, and then went into practice in 1995, first in Chicago and eventually back at the University of Connecticut, where I helped start the hospitalist program. In 2001, driven by some of the push factors previously mentioned, but also due to the pull factors of an intense interest in business, finance and investing, I chose to attend business school, was accepted at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the rest, as they say, “is history.” From business school, I joined McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm and spent three fantastic years there, working first in healthcare, then over time in other industries including private equity across the world. From McKinsey, I was recruited to Fairview Capital where I have been for almost 17 years, the last seven as a Managing Partner.

Quick word about Fairview – we are the largest minority-owned venture capital and private equity fund investment firm in the U.S., with an aggregate fund capitalization of approximately $10.8 Billion since inception. We invest in funds that in turn invest in companies, often at incredibly early stages in those companies' lives. Through our funds, we were early investors in companies like Facebook, Tesla, SpaceX, Twitter, Uber, Twilio, Shopify, Pinterest, Airbnb, etc. We have also been quite successful investing in biotechnology and healthcare funds that have founded and built companies like Global Blood Therapeutics in Sickle Cell Disease, Editas in Gene Editing, and Athena Health, Doximity and Teladoc in Healthcare IT. I like to say we have a window into the future, constantly interacting with, and selectively investing in, funds that build companies at the leading and bleeding edge of technology. With Generative AI now taking center stage, I think the next decade will be one of the most consequential decades of this century in terms of technological advancement. I consider myself incredibly blessed to do this for work, especially at Fairview, and often find myself in situations that I would gladly have paid money to experience.

Now, shifting gears let me talk about Sponsors. At every step of my career journey, I have been fortunate to have senior people who took an interest in my professional development and growth. Many of them were mentors who provided professional counsel, advice, and guidance, helping me become a better practitioner of my craft at the time. A few of them took an extra step where, in addition to the mentoring role, they promoted me to others and helped create career advancement opportunities that have made a difference in the path I have forged. These are Sponsors. Mentors help you get better; Sponsors help create opportunities to display your talent and get ahead.

When I interviewed at UConn in 1991, my assigned interviewer could not be found. I later got to know this professor and I am reasonably confident that if he had interviewed me, I would not have gotten into the program. The Deputy Program Director at the time, Dr. Henry Schneiderman, stepped up to interview me and later confessed that he was so fascinated by my Nigerian background and my engagement during the interview that he recommended they take a flyer on me as they had never had a Nigerian in the program. When I started, Dr. Schneiderman took a keen interest in making sure this Nigerian intern got a chance to thrive, volunteering as my clinic preceptor, inviting me to co-author multiple journal articles, and eventually recommending me for the Chief Residency position. Ironically, when I chose to pursue a path in business, he continued his Sponsorship and was my lead referee in my applications to business school. Henry had a tremendous impact on my experience and success at UConn, and in the experience of dozens of Nigerians who came after me, and he remains a dear friend to this day.

I met my most important professional Sponsor in 1998, while I was a hospitalist at UConn. In addition to my inpatient work, I precepted a weekly outpatient medical clinic with three residents. They would see patients, come present to me, then we would go in together to complete the visit. One day, one of the residents rushed into my office to inform me that “Mrs. Price is here and is very angry.” I had never met Mrs. Price but quickly learned that she was the wife of one of our patients, Mr. James Price, whom I knew well. I went out to meet Mrs. Price, and indeed she looked perturbed and shared the reasons why – we had not addressed a couple of issues she had told her husband to tell his doctors. As she talked, it became clear that Mr. Price, a Vietnam Vet, with the typical stoicism that anyone who has taken care of Vets would recognize, had decided those issues weren’t important enough to share with his doctors, so this was the first we had heard of them. Credit to her, she listened to us and calmed down. We all agreed that on a go-forward basis, with Mr. Price’s agreement, we would include her in all communications and treatment plans and from then on, the doctor/patient (… and spouse) relationship was as good as it gets. A little over a year later, as I decided to go to business school, Mrs. Price, after expressing sadness that James was going to lose his doctor, invited me to visit her office to meet her Business Partner. I made that trip one day after work and literally, that visit changed my life.

Five years prior to my first encounter with her, JoAnn Price had partnered with Dr. Larry Morse, to start an investment firm called Fairview Capital. Yes, the same Fairview Capital. At the time, it had about $500 Million in assets under management but much larger ambitions. I stayed in touch with JoAnn while I was in business school and then at McKinsey, and she was the main driver of my recruitment to Fairview from McKinsey. She not only provided me with an opportunity to learn, but she also provided a platform to excel and when I did, she ensured I was rewarded with promotions to Partner and now Managing Partner of the firm. Without her, it is no exaggeration to say that my professional trajectory would have been vastly different.

Henry Schneiderman and JoAnn Price – two of the major Sponsors in my career. There have been others and there have also been many mentors. But these two wonderful people, I can say without fear of contradiction, were key contributors to my story. I found each of them serendipitously, not through any particular genius on my part. But once I did find them, I remained loyal and worked hard to meet and exceed their expectations.

My reason for focusing on this part of my journey is a hope that someone here today will similarly offer Sponsorship to a junior colleague, maybe even a UICOM graduate, and that this will lead to increased fulfillment on both sides. And for my younger colleagues, a hope that you will be more attuned to recognize Sponsors in your particular environment and find ways to cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship with such personal champions. As I have grown professionally, I have looked for younger people to sponsor – and hopefully, one day, someone will say I made a major difference in their journey.

As I conclude, please grant me a moment of personal privilege to acknowledge the improbability of my story without the good fortune to have been born into the family I was born into. My parents were utterly amazing in the fearless spirit they instilled in their children, and it is worthy to note that my sister, Dr. Olukemi Esan, who is in the audience, is also a graduate of the University of Ibadan College of Medicine. And I want to recognize my wife, Dr. Trudy Olofinboba, who has been my rock and number one cheerleader over the last 30 years.

Finally, finally, a few sayings I repeat to myself for inspiration when things get tough:

  • Focus on what you control;
  • Live your life based more on your hopes than your fears;
  • The days are long but the years are very short – enjoy the journey and take the time to smell the roses.

Thank you all for your time and attention. Enjoy your stay in NYC and safe travels on your journeys back to base.

We are extremely proud of this inspiring speech given by Dr. Kola Olofinboba. His remarkable journey from Ibadan, Nigeria, to becoming a leading figure in venture capital and private equity is an inspiration to all aspiring professionals around the world. Even more, to every young student in our dear College. His unwavering dedication to education, philanthropy, and community involvement has not only propelled his own success but also positively impacted the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan's Students' Building Project owing to his generous contribution. As the distinguished alumnus speaker at the ICOMAA-NA 2023 Annual General Meeting and a platinum donor, Dr. Olofinboba continues to exemplify the values of excellence, generosity, and leadership. Truly, his story serves as a testament to the power of education, hard work, and giving back, inspiring others to make a meaningful impact in their own communities and beyond.

In other news, we are excited to announce the upcoming 2024 ICOMAA-NA Annual General Meeting that will be held at JW Marriot, Anaheim Resort on June 21, 2024. The alumni network in North America looks forward to reconnecting, networking, and celebrating their shared experiences and achievements again, as always. Save the date!

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Picture Gallery

Dr Kola 4Dr. Kola Olofinboba delivering his thought-provoking speech at the ICOMAA-NA 2023 General Meeting

Dr Kola 5From L-R: Dr. Bolanle Akinlade (Class of ‘88), Dr. Kola Olofinboba (Class of ‘89), Dr. Lamide Dairo (Class of ‘88), and Dr. Femi Layeni (Class of ‘89).

Dr Kola 6From L-R” Dr. Kola Olofinboba, Dr. Mowumi Olurin (Class of ’90), Dr. Pecos Olurin (Class of ‘89), and Dr. Olukemi Esan (Class of ‘91).

Dr Kola 7Attendees from the Class of ‘89

Dr Kola 8Dr. Kola Olofinboba and Dr. Billy Chacko (Class of ‘88)

Dr Kola 9From L-R: Dr. Abraham Ariyo (ICOMAA-NA President), Dr. Modupe Sokunbi (Vice President), and Dr. Kola Olofinboba, Dr. Tunji Akintilo (Secretary General).

Dr Kola 10Dr. Bisi Pearse (Class of ‘87) and Dr. Kola Olofinboba

Dr Kola 11From L-R: Drs. Bolanle Akinlade (‘88), Kola Olofinboba (‘89), Lamide Dairo (‘88), Femi Layeni (‘89), and Akin Fisher (‘88)

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