Change the world

Pioneering the Future of Infrastructure Development in Kenya
Meet Sharon Mwakugu, a LLB’09 Nelson Mandela University alumna, whose remarkable journey from a humble upbringing in Nairobi, Kenya, to becoming the CEO of Infraconnect 15 Ltd and Infraconnect 18 Ltd, is an inspiring testament to her adaptability, and unwavering commitment to making a positive impact. Sharon shares her life story, her career path, and her dedication to giving back to her community.
Her journey from a young Kenyan girl filled with curiosity and adventure to a leading force in infrastructure development serves as an inspiration to all, illustrating the importance of embracing change, seeking impact, and nurturing a spirit of exploration. With her dedication to people-first infrastructure development, she continues to drive positive change in Kenya and beyond.
Sharon's formative years in Nairobi, Kenya, were marked by the kind of childhood many millennials idealize—a time of outdoor play, limited television, and boundless imagination. This adventurous spirit, cultivated during her youth, was the driving force that led her to leave her home country and study law at Nelson Mandela University, formerly known as the University of Port Elizabeth. It was during this period that she developed her willingness to embrace new challenges, setting the stage for her future success.
Her path to success was far from linear. Her early career was driven by a desire to make a positive impact, which led her to work with various international organizations in the humanitarian sector. However, her unwavering commitment to impact and a yearning for personal growth prompted her to pivot and explore new avenues. With the support of her friends and mentors, she transitioned into real estate and subsequently found her niche in infrastructure development, where she combined her legal skills with her passion for improving people's lives through accessible and sustainable infrastructure.
Sharon's achievements in infrastructure development are noteworthy. She played a pivotal role in the negotiation and implementation of Kenya's first Annuity Roads Public Private Partnership project. Recognized for her expertise, she was selected as an Australia Award recipient to participate in the Public Private Infrastructure Projects Course. Furthermore, she was appointed as an Ambassador by IMPPPACT Global Alliance to champion the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals through PPP.
Recognizing the nascent state of the Public Private Partnership field in Kenya and across Africa, she has been actively involved in capacity building. As a faculty member of the Africa Project Finance Program, she imparts job-ready skills in infrastructure, project financing, and PPP to professionals. She also serves on the Board of Advisors of the Miundo Misingi Hub, a center for excellence in infrastructure financing and development, where her contributions aim to enhance collaboration between the public and private sectors for impactful, sustainable projects.
Looking ahead, Sharon is motivated by the myriad opportunities that lie in the "people-first" approach to infrastructure development. Over the next five years, her goal is to expand her influence in the field and work on projects that significantly contribute to the socio-economic growth of Kenya and the broader African continent.
Her daily motivation stems from the limitless potential for growth and learning in the evolving infrastructure sector. Knowing that her work results in meaningful impact further fuels her drive. The infrastructure projects she's involved in not only enhance connectivity but also stimulate local economies and improve the lives of people—a constant reminder of the importance of her endeavors.
Her time at Nelson Mandela University she cherished, where she made lifelong memories. Two experiences stand out: her participation in the VW AIESEC Apprentice Challenge, which exposed her to real-world challenges and the first-ever representation of the university at the Model United Nations Africa event in Stellenbosch, providing her with a global perspective and diverse interactions. These memories encapsulate her journey of challenging herself and embracing new opportunities.
Sharon imparts three pieces of wisdom. First, she encourages alumni to seek and embrace opportunities that align with their interests, skills, and values. Second, she emphasizes the value of building and maintaining a strong network, especially with fellow alumni, as this network can be a valuable resource for career growth. Lastly, she advises adopting a "try and see" mentality, recognizing that the future workplace may look vastly different from what one expects. With clarity about values and a willingness to step out of one's comfort zone, alumni can navigate dynamic environments and achieve lasting success.
Sharon offers three pieces of advice to fellow alumni. First, she encourages them to seek and seize opportunities both locally and globally, allowing them to clarify their values and build careers aligned with their interests and skills. Second, she emphasizes the importance of maintaining connections with classmates and alumni, as these networks can be invaluable for career growth. Lastly, she advises adopting a "try and see" mentality, especially in a rapidly changing work environment. Armed with a great network, a willingness to step out of one's comfort zone, and clarity about one's values, success in a dynamic world becomes attainable.
Her life and career journey is proof of the power of strength, flexibility, and the steady pursuit of making a positive impact. Her commitment to transforming infrastructure development in Kenya and beyond is an inspiration to all who aspire to create a better future.