By Kevin Gray
When Danlami Gomwalk ’01left his native Nigeria to attend Lafayette College, he was looking to gain international education and employment experiences.
He accomplished that mission and more. Through immersion in the College’s unique brand of global education, his eyes were opened to the dynamic nature of the international job market and the value of cross-cultural collaboration.
A senior project manager with Nigeria’s Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), in Abuja, Gomwalk draws on his Lafayette experience as he collaborates with government organizations to support the continued advancement of his homeland. His work is helping the relatively new democracy build the necessary infrastructure services to grow its economy after years of internal strife.
Gomwalk guides government ministries, departments, and agencies through national policy on public-private partnerships (PPP) and helps make projects financially attractive for private investment. Primarily focused on PPP arrangements associated with roads, ports, and the health sector, Gomwalk often collaborates with experts in engineering, accounting, procurement, project finance, environment, legal matters, and social issues.
An A.B. engineering graduate, Gomwalk holds a master’s in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University. His strong commitment to making connections motivates him to overcome the challenge of managing the heavy workload.
“The time to review and reflect is limited as I’m constantly dealing with new concerns and new project proposals and reading about political intrigues that may affect potential projects,” Gomwalk says, adding that managing public perception of the commission’s work is also important.
Each day, Gomwalk relies on his experience with cross-cultural collaborations—a skill that he first developed at Lafayette. “Many of these domestic and international professionals not only bring varied skills but also are from different countries and educational backgrounds,” he explains. “All this makes it a rich learning and professional environment.”
His work is imperative for Nigeria’s growth. “The need for top-rate infrastructure is critical to our economy,” explains Gomwalk. “I think it’s hard to imagine the scale and scope of these projects and their ability to impact millions of people, and it’s an honor to be part of an organization that is contributing to making things better in Nigeria.”
Gomwalk says that, while the effects have not been immediate, he thinks the nation’s collective confidence and increased stability is improving the levels of investment in the West African country.
“As a public servant, the stability of the deepening democratic process has been invaluable to my work,” Gomwalk says. “Nigeria has had over a decade of uninterrupted, even if imperfect, democratic processes. With every election, the confidence of the people is growing and the effectiveness of the institutions is being tested, making them stronger.
“This should translate to more jobs in short order,” he adds. “While, unfortunately, the greatest levels of investment are still in the extractive industry in Nigeria, the hope I have is that with increased focus on infrastructure development, which has very localized impact, it will be possible to unleash opportunities in other sectors, particularly agriculture, once again.”
Gomwalk’s current job is the latest of a series of increasingly more responsible positions that he has held worldwide since his graduation from Lafayette.
In addition to working for Walden Environmental Engineering PLLC, Oyster Bay, N.Y., owned by Joseph Heaney III ’85, Gomwalk has served as an adviser on the economic and financial committee with the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations and was an infrastructure asset management analyst in the Infrastructure Policy and Planning Division of Ontario Public Service in the former Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal.
Looking back on his collegiate experience, Gomwalk believes that his willingness to leave his native country and get involved with student organizations at Lafayette that facilitated connections, such as the International Students Association and the Lafayette African Caribbean Students Association, provided skills and perspective essential to his current success.
“For my four years at Lafayette, I was an active member of organizations that allowed me to interact with others from many cultures,” says Gomwalk. “I had fellow colleagues from Albania to Zimbabwe.”
Gomwalk encourages students to seek out study-abroad opportunities and get involved in international student organizations. “You never know where you will end up,” he says. “The job market is very fluid and dynamic. In 10 years, I have been in three countries on two continents.”
“Lafayette is unique in the sense that many foreign students enroll. Even if you aren’t foreign, if you join the International Students Association—and there were a few Americans in my time who did—it has great value in preparing you for different cultures.”