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IAM1931 – Author Teaches on Diversity and Inclusion

Podcast Interview with Jesmane Boggenpoel

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode, the guest is Jesmane Boggenpoel, an accomplished author, entrepreneur, and professional with extensive experience in private equity investments.

Key Points:

Jesmane's Story: Jesmane is the author of a book on racial reconciliation, healing, and inclusion titled “My Blood Divides and Unites”. She is a founder and Principal of AIH Capital, a private equity fund, and she has over 16 years’ experience in private equity, investments, and entrepreneurship. She has held a significant position such as the former Head of Business Engagement Africa at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

Diversity and Inclusion Course: Jesmane has also created a diversity and inclusion course leveraging her book as a teaching aid. (

Board Positions and Accolades: Currently, she serves on the boards of several JSE-listed firms, including technology firm EOH, Murray & Roberts, and food retailer Spur. She is also the Chairperson of ETGIH, the largest African fertilizer group based in Dubai. Jesmane holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s JFK School of Government and is a Chartered Accountant (South Africa). In 2013, she was nominated as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

CEO Hack: Jesmane uses her iPhone notes app to jot down ideas and reminders.

CEO Nugget: She emphasizes the importance of prioritizing growth.

CEO Defined: Jesmane defines a CEO as someone who brings people together to accomplish a wider vision and purpose.

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Jesmane Boggenpoel Teaser 00:00

Means bringing people together to accomplish a wider purpose and vision that's bigger than all of us and to produce content or product or a service that is relevant to the world at this point in time.

Intro 00:19

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:47

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast, and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, or what I like to call CB Nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month, we are focused on innovation, disruption, women entrepreneurship, DEI, gig economy, remote economy, even the cannabis industry. Think about these industries and these disruptive technologies that really sometimes aren't as disruptive but there are people that are just paying attention to what the market needs, and they're providing that. So really think about the things that are quote and quote outside of the norm, but really help entrepreneurship to grow and fully develop.

I think it's an extremely exciting time when you're talking about any type of innovation or disruption, because I think that there's so many opportunities and needs that aren't felt that are starting to be filled by different groups, different organizations, or even different industries. So what I want you to do is sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Jesmane Boggenpoel of My Blood Divides and Unites.

Jesmane, it's great to have you on the show.

Jesmane Boggenpoel 02:12

Thank you.

Gresham Harkless 02:14

Super excited to have you on. Before we jump into the interview, I want to read a little bit more about Jesmane, so you can hear about all the other things that she's doing.

Jesmane, is the author of a book on Racial Reconciliation, Healing, and Inclusion, My Blood Unites, Divides and Unites. She's created a new diversity and inclusion course with her book as a teaching aid. Jesmane, is also the founder and principal of AIH Capital, a private equity fund. She has over 16 years of experience in private equity, investment, and as an entrepreneur. She's also the former head of business engagement, Africa at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

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She currently serves on the boards of the following listed firms technology from Murray and Roberts and food retailer spur. She is the chairperson of the largest African fertilizer group that is Dubai based E. T. G. I. H. She holds a master's degree from Harvard University's J. F. K. School of Government and is a chartered accountant in South Africa. Jesmane was nominated as a young global leader of the World Economic Forum in 2013.

Jesmane, you're doing so many awesome things. Super excited to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Jesmane Boggenpoel 03:22


[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:23

Awesome. Let's do it then. So to kick it off, I wanted to hear a little bit on how you started all these awesome things and how you got started. What I like to call your CEO story.

Jesmane Boggenpoel 03:33

Thank you. I was raised in a poor, humble community and a marginalized community whispery in Johannesburg, South Africa. While I was doing well academically alongside my identical twin sister Julie, I was fortunate to have a great mentor come alongside me mentoring programs in the community and also an uncle who was a math teacher and took me and my sister for extra math lessons.

So that gave us the grades we needed to get into university.

Gresham Harkless 04:07

Yeah, absolutely. And then so many times when you get that opportunity a lot of times our reality becomes what we see and what we experience and what we feel. But a lot of times we forget that the mentors, the people that have such great influence in our lives have that opportunity to open up and broaden our horizons and academically, educationally, but even to what we actually hope to accomplish and do.

Jesmane Boggenpoel 04:27

Agreed. Fully agreed.

Gresham Harkless 04:29

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So, you had that great influence, while you were younger and that led you to start the private equity firm as well too and write your book and all of those things?

Jesmane Boggenpoel 04:40

Yes, it did. So by then starting to qualify as a chartered accountant, which is called CPA in South America, and then I did articles with an auditing firm, KPMG, which normally is the path towards qualifying as a CPA. Then I worked in private equity with one of the largest private equity firms at that time. And so that gave me the tools to work in private equity and now have my own private equity fund and later that down the track and another mentor was African American Russell Hawkins.

He's lived in South Africa for many years, and he had studied at Harvard and told me about the Harvard School of government masters in public administration program and really encouraged me to apply to that and thankful to him for exposing me and nudging me along. I did then study at Harvard and that the school of government is focused on leadership and a lot of gives allows a lot of reflection into who you are, leadership failures, where you're going and that then equipped me with writing my book.

Gresham Harkless 05:54

Is that a little of what that course is going to deal with being able to arm people with the ability to do that?

Jesmane Boggenpoel 05:59

Yes. My course is about dealing with the heart of race and gender inequality in the workplace. And I'm glad that the black lives matter movement while, it was formed to address tragedy and pain, it's been positive in highlighting the issue of diversity and inclusion and has become a global movement and companies are now seriously thinking about how they address diversity and inclusion and employees and companies need to navigate that. So this course talks about the inner work that I did, and then my book is a teaching aid.

So different topics a reference to my book, and then I've also developed fictitious company with characters and there are various animation scenarios to replicate sensitive cases in the workplace and how that can be navigated. So I start with the very inner work, which is aligned to my book. Then I talk about how we can bridge to other people, Share our stories, build relationships invulnerability and trust, and then talk about tools to do that.

I'm excited about the course. I think it covers diversity and inclusion from a unique perspective and can truly bring about change in hearts and minds and truly bring people together.

Gresham Harkless 07:27

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Awesome. I absolutely love that especially as we were talking about your book, you start to look at it from an individual standpoint, and then you start to see, like you said, in the workspace workplace, how you're interacting, how you're paying attention to understand those differences, not so much to divide, but a lot of times empower and to connect people.

I love that you provide, the tools and of course the animations to be able to do that, because I think it's got something that organizations and leaders don't really know how to tackle. Don't really know how to navigate that. I love that you created these tools and these expressions, but it started from the foundation of the individual and how you can grow and see the human side of organizations, human side of the workplace and all of those aspects that we sometimes can gloss over.

Jesmane Boggenpoel 08:12

Yes, and I think organizations are looking for such tools that can guide them.

Gresham Harkless 08:19

Yes, absolutely. So I love that you've been able to create that. What would you consider to be what I like to call your secret sauce. You might have already touched on this but this could be for yourself individually or the organization or your book and everything that you're doing are a combination of both.

But what do you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Jesmane Boggenpoel 08:36

I really care about diversity and inclusion and guiding others on the diversity and inclusion path and uniting people as the title of my book is My Blood Divides and Unites. I've used my book to do that. I'm using the course and other solutions to do that. Then with my private equity fund, we have a unique structure where our parent company is exclusively owned by a broad base of around 55 black provisional woman shareholders.

Our vision is to build a world for women by women and enable financial freedom and opportunity. So everything that I'm involved in is about creating inclusion and making sure that groups who are formerly left behind now have a chance to participate.

Gresham Harkless 09:28

Awesome. I absolutely love that because I think, you're doing the same thing as far as speaking with these leaders, speaking with these organizations and how they're able to implement that.

I love it that it has manifested itself in your private equity firm and being able to create that change, create that inclusion that isn't necessarily there if I'm right from black women standpoint, But definitely probably even from an hour standpoint about getting those funds that are where these groups are often left behind and don't get much of anything when it comes to that private equity.

Jesmane Boggenpoel 09:56

Yes. And most probably funds are structured that way. There are two or three individuals who are the key principles and they own the fund manager, but we brought along this broad-based structure of women to widen the economic participation.

And even when we invest in portfolio companies, when they are job positions available, we own a recruitment firm of black, talented women. So the company has access to our database on bringing diverse talent into the workplace. We also would oversee the agenda and race action plan.

Gresham Harkless 10:34

Awesome. Awesome. I absolutely love that. It's all in, as you said, be the change that you hope to see in the world. think that you're showing that in so many different ways with your book. Obviously, being able to show that through the equity firm and being able to empower these organizations, these leaders, these innovators and entrepreneurs, and in terms of doing that themselves too. So absolutely love, love, love everything that you're working on and how it for lack of a better term, it unites everything that you're doing. So, I love that.

I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. This could be like an app, it could be a book, it could be a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Jesmane Boggenpoel 11:11

I use the IPhone notes a lot, especially when I have a creative idea. It could be just during a bath and I want to capture it immediately. I write the notes on my phone and that helps me retain creative ideas so that they don't get lost and I can actually see how I can action it.

Gresham Harkless 11:34

Awesome. So I want to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. This could be more of a word of wisdom or piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client or if you hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Jesmane Boggenpoel 11:48

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I prioritize growth. It keeps me relevant. It keeps me current and I do that in various ways, traveling to new countries which I haven't been doing much because of a lockdown. I've now traveled to 70 countries around the world. I do that by getting perspectives from different people and trying to be intentional about getting perspectives from people that I'm not usually exposed to that I don't make decisions in a bubble.

I do that by trying to read books on technology, some on leadership, some on investments and right now I'm also learning German. I'm really enjoying that from various perspectives the cognitive stimulation of learning a new language, especially while I'm not traveling, because I've got more time and I'm on so many different tech platforms on language learning. I've incorporated some of the language learning tools into my online course.

Gresham Harkless 12:51

I absolutely appreciate that. So now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're opening up different quote and quote CEOs on the show.

So Jesmane, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Jesmane Boggenpoel 13:05

Means bringing people together to accomplish a wider purpose and vision that's bigger than all of us. To produce content or product or service that is relevant to the world at this point in time. And it's dynamic because the world is constantly changing.

So it's about continuing to be relevant and continue to try and bring people together in creating the right solution.

Gresham Harkless 13:41

Awesome. I absolutely love that. I love that word that you use, dynamic. I think so many times we forget the evolution of technology, but also the evolution of us individually and how that is dynamic and how we constantly have to be innovating, changing, exploring, flowing, trying things and failing even at some degree in order to continue on.

I love the way that the work that you've done has manifested itself in so many different ways, whether it be the private equity firm, the book, the court, just all of these things and how they manifest themselves. So it connects the people where they are so that they're able to implement what they need to continue to sharpen that saw, so to speak.

Jesmane Boggenpoel 14:15

Yes, and to continue to bring the world together, but that probably could be fun. It's about gender inclusion. My book and my courses about both the race and gender inclusion.

Gresham Harkless 14:27

Yes, absolutely. I think a lot of times we start to realize we're a lot closer aligned and a lot more united than we are different at times.

So Jesmane, truly appreciate that definition. I of course, appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know. And of course, how best they can get an overview, get a copy of the book, the course, and all the awesome things that you're working on.

Jesmane Boggenpoel 14:51

Thank you. My book is available on Amazon, either in paperback or as an ebook on Kindle. My course dealing with the heart of race and gender inequality in the workplace is available on youtube.

Gresham Harkless 15:09


Jesmane Boggenpoel 15:10

My website for the course is, And for my book, I'm also on Instagram. She's made book and pull and on LinkedIn and on Twitter. Just main book and P1.

Gresham Harkless 15:32

Awesome and to make it even easier, we'll have the links and information in theshow notes as well, too, so that everybody can follow up with you and get a copy of the book of course, and take the course and connect with you online.

But I truly appreciate you for hopping on this podcast, obviously, but doing the work that you're doing, because I think it's something that's so necessary during times like this and with this disruption and change and so like I said, be the change you hope to see in the world.

So I appreciate you for doing that and helping empower so many leaders and CEOs and entrepreneurs to be able to do that so much. So thank you so much for your time and your work and your dedication as well.

Outro 16:05

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase. It's a community.

Don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation at This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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