Counsel, Safari Energy
Counsel, Safari Energy
In the midst of a globe-trotting career working for some of the world’s most prestigious law firms, Andry Zinsou felt comfortable in his job.
“I wasn’t looking for a job when I learned about Safari Energy, but it really raised my curiosity to think about working at a renewables company with a diverse staff and a start-up vibe,” said Zinsou.
Up to that point, Zinsou had worked at large law firms, including White & Case, Shearman & Sterling, ENS Africa and Nossaman, focused primarily on large infrastructure projects, power and finance. In those roles, he represented state agencies, investors, lenders, construction firms and developers. He also worked on greenfield and brownfield power projects throughout Africa and the Caribbean as Head Legal Counsel Africa for Contourglobal, a power developer listed on the London Stock Exchange.
But today, he works in a different capacity.
In many ways, it is more interesting to work on projects like the ones we see at Safari Energy,” explained Zinsou.
“For example, a credit agreement for a mega-project like a bridge or an airport – the changes are incremental from project to project – there’s not much you can contribute. But at Safari, you have to think on your feet more. Every single project has novel issues you don’t encounter on a large established project. This type of work keeps you engaged.”
Growing up in his home country of Benin, Zinsou’s father was a major influence in his life. As Benin’s longest serving ambassador to the United Nations, he helped bring business and foreign aid to Africa, and shared his passion for using a wide range of skills to attract foreign direct investment to Africa in general and Benin in particular.
The younger Zinsou finds satisfaction in having the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to solar deals that have tangible impacts.
“Many legal departments tend to be treated as back-office paper-pushers,” he said.
It’s fulfilling at Safari to find Legal is often in the driver’s seat with the ear of the CEO.”
“The camaraderie of the deal team spending hours to finalize an agreement, and the immediate contribution to the bottom line feels extremely liberating.”
Zinsou also finds the culture of working at Safari refreshing.
“From the first interview it was clear that it’s a diverse team, and this was very important to me to know diversity is valued and supported,” he said. “The entrepreneurial atmosphere adds to the feeling that everyone can contribute and bring fresh ideas to any challenge.”
His past career has given Zinsou perspective on what makes a healthy work environment.
“Sometimes it’s the little things like the occasional early closing on a summer Friday or having regular, transparent meetings to update the company on our performance,” he said. “People tend to take these things for granted, but they are not universal benefits.”
When he’s not working to close Safari Energy’s latest solar deal, Zinsou can be found watching tennis or on the phone to manage his produce farm in Benin.
I appreciate Safari Energy’s efforts to integrate people into the company and to make the work more enjoyable through company events – even virtually – and providing more balance,” he said.
Looking to the future, Zinsou recognizes that renewables will play an important role in the energy industry moving forward.
“Everyone knows that a long-term career in energy needs to include experience with renewables,” he said. “My time at Safari Energy has provided me with the opportunity to closely examine critical aspects of solar deals, the type of which we will see growing exponentially in the coming years.”