Aleem is one of the top energy and infrastructure lawyers in Kenya. A key adviser in development and financingof big-ticket projects such as Tullow Oil, Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant and the Kenya Crude Oil Pipeline, he has risen to become a partner at Bowmans (Coulson Harney LLP).
Yet, he never dreamt of being a lawyer. In fact, while pursuing his law degree at the University of Manchester, UK, he thought he had made the wrong choice.
“It was a lot of theory,” he says. But after finishing his second degree at the University of Nottingham, he started putting theory into practice and found that he immensely enjoyed law.
“My first energy project was the Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant. From the very first day, I knew that this was an area I wanted to be involved in,” he says.
Since then he has seen many projects move from plans on paper to realities on the ground, including the 100MW Kipeto Wind Power Project and the 40MW Malindi Solar Photovoltaic Plant.
“One day I hope to take my children to see some of the fruits of my labour.”
Given that his work is based on building relationships, quality is the name of his game.
“As an adviser, you want your clients to value your advice and judgment. That means no resting on your laurels.”
His achievements have not gone unnoticed. At 32, he made partner, and has been recognised by leading international directories including Chambers and Partners 2019 and IFLR1000 2019.
He attributes his success to hard work and luck. He advices young people to work hard for “it’s the rule and not the exception”, and to be patient.
“Lasting success takes time”. Any challenges on the way to the top? “For me, it’s time management. I have to make a conscious effort to maintain a balance between my personal and professional life given the pressure to deliver huge mandates.”
Besides his regular job, he sits on the board of Aga Khan Education Services.
To relax, he travels and plays poker.
— Purity Wanjohi