Our Team

James Adair, Managing Partner

James previously worked in commercial shipping as a chartering broker with HSBC and subsequently covering the OSV market in Africa with a specialist brokerage. He lived in Ghana when working as a GM for a shipping agency and later represented local owners in setting up a successful JV with Swire.

Following this he moved into Executive Search, working as a Consultant for an Africa focused boutique. During this time, he completed numerous C-level assignments with success in representing both operating companies and private equity firms.

David Kuwana, Advisor

David brings over thirty years of executive and HR leadership experience in multiple Emerging Markets. This includes country CEO roles with Standard Chartered as well as CEO roles with other banks and Fintech firms.

Earlier in his career David held senior HR roles with Anglo-American and Standard Chartered which saw him leading major transformation programmes in Africa and South East Asia. He is currently the Chairman of an African fintech business.

Akua Akonor, Advisor

Akua has over 20 years’ experience as a senior HR Executive and is a Fellow of the CIPD, UK. She was Associate Director with leading emerging markets impact fund LeapFrog Investments and held senior HR and Head of Diversity roles in Vodafone (Ghana, UK & Group).

Akua consults to both European and African PE/Impact funds and their portfolio companies on HR strategy, transformation, leadership assessment and talent acquisition. She is based in London and has her own HR advisory firm.

Fiona Rhys, Consultant

Fiona has over 15 years’ experience as an executive search consultant during which she has focused on Africa and Emerging Markets. Since 2011 she has specialised in senior Africa appointments, working with a diverse range of clients from corporates to social impact organisations.

Fiona previously lived in Moscow where she set up the Russia office of a boutique search firm. During this time, she placed a number of C-level executives in Financial & Professional Services, Oil & Gas, FMCG and Logistics.

James Stevenson, Consultant

James has over 20 years’ experience of senior placements in Africa, Europe and Australasia covering several sectors that include agribusiness, infrastructure services, technology and healthcare. In recent years he has focused on executive level searches in Africa.

On the Continent he has placed exceptional leaders with multinational and indigenous businesses. Highlights include placing a Kenyan MD for a listed, billion-dollar company and building the Pan-African team for an agribusiness across North, West, East and Southern Africa.

Eleanor Khupe, Consultant

Having studied for a BS in Human Bioscience (majoring in Psychology) at the University of Cape Town, Eleanor went on to work for several leading executive search firms covering the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Eleanor has a strong track record in Financial Services having run C-level mandates in Asset Management, Banking and Insurance. With Big 5 she is based between Zimbabwe and Botswana, retaining her focus on companies operating in the SADC region.

David Pinney, Consultant

David has a track record in both emerging markets executive search and banking operations, having worked for JP Morgan in their OTC Derivatives EMEA team.

Prior to joining Big 5 Search David worked for an Africa focused search firm where he advised clients across a range of sectors. Highlights include building the local team for a multibillion-dollar FMCG businesses which relocated their headquarters from Europe to Africa.

Lucy Deane, Associate Researcher

Lucy has 15 years’ experience in executive search and has headed the research function for several leading boutiques. She has worked on Board level searches for listed companies and SMEs across a number of sectors including Clean Tech, Energy, Infrastructure, Public Sector and FMCG.

Lucy has particular expertise in the infrastructure space in Africa. This includes leading research on senior level mandates for utilities, IPPs, project developers, development banks, funds, investment banks and top tier consulting firms.

Reece Owen, Consultant

Reece has been in Emerging Markets executive search for over five years, with the majority of his mandates being senior Africa roles. He has an outstanding track record of successfully leading difficult searches.

A few of his highlights are placing the CFO of an AIM listed energy business in West Africa and the Regional CEO in South Africa for a multinational telecoms business.