Patrick Jonhera, Managing Partner, AnesuBryan & David Zimbabwe, shares details about his time with ILFA host firm Trinity International LLP in 2014 and his professional life in general.
Tell us about your pre-ILFA profile and motivations for applying to the programme
Before joining the ILFA programme, I was a Senior Associate at Wintertons in Harare, Zimbabwe practising Corporate and Commercial law with a main focus on Mergers and Acquisitions.
In 2014, working in private practice for about five years at that point, I felt I needed a new challenge. I had finished university and practised law during the most challenging time in the history of independent Zimbabwe. Economic activity was low and this affected the nature and quality of work for most in private practice. I however, hoped that the dawn of change was near and that a ‘new Zimbabwe’ would require lawyers with new thinking, a new approach and perhaps a new set of skills. A three-month stint at an international law firm in the financial capital of the world offered me the opportunity for skills enhancement, knowledge sharing, strategic alliances, cultural exchange and diversification.
What were the key highlights of the ILFA secondment experience
My key highlight was the keynote address during the ILFA gala dinner by Dr Mamphele Ramphele; who spoke at length about some of the challenges Africa faces, including weak governance systems, skills flight and innovation. I was inspired to use the experience gained during the secondment programme to help address the skills gap in my own jurisdiction due to the flight of human capital.
What were the greatest challenges during the ILFA secondment
My greatest challenge was losing my father a month into the programme. My father played a big role in encouraging me to apply for ILFA and believed, rightly so, that the programme would have a positive impact on my professional growth. I had hoped to share my experiences with him. Sadly, I received the news of his passing one afternoon as I was walking to Ashurst for a training session. I was devastated, I still had two months to go, and had to deal with the loss miles away from the comfort of my people, while completing a demanding programme. I must say though, that the amount of support I received from the ILFA family and cohorts was tremendous and helped me through the rest of the programme.
What is your story since the ILFA programme
After ILFA I played a key role in the restructuring of my former firm by organising it into defined practice areas and particularly in highlighting business development, an area to which the firm had paid little attention. But my greatest achievement is the setting up of AnesuBryan & David Zimbabwe. I am proud to be one of the founding partners of the firm along with Simon Chivizhe, a 2016 ILFA cohort. In a way, our firm is truly a ILFA ‘baby’. We pride ourselves on having been nurtured by ILFA and serving as an example of what ILFA has achieved.
On my return from the programme, I was admitted into the partnership and remained a Partner at my previous firm until I left to establish AnesuBryan & David Zimbabwe where I am Managing Partner. I was also appointed committee member to the Zimbabwe Renewal Energy Council in 2015 and Trustee to the Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ) wildlife and environment conservation trust.
ILFA was an eye opener for me and helped me develop new perspectives and working practices. Partly because of the size of the firm that I was seconded to, it was easy to integrate and learn their work practices. The programme helped me develop a strong professional network, which has become a source for referral work. During the 3 months that I spent with the other cohorts in London, together we constituted a united Africa. We assisted each other and shared challenges and solutions from our respective countries. I realised the importance of integration and the potential that unity brings to the continent. We can build on such initiatives in contributing to the sustainable development of Africa.
Solidifying the AnesuBryan & David Zimbabwe brand as a specialist boutique law firm. To do this we have invested a great deal in equipping our professionals with the right skills to give our clients a better experience.
I look forward to becoming a leader in the local Bar Association in the near future and help in the training of university graduates, something I have a great passion for.
Name one area of professional development that you would most value assistance with at this stage in your career?
What advice would you give your younger self?
Apart from ‘what you know’, which is what you take out of college/university, and doing your work well, success in the profession is also dependent on ‘who you know’. A strong professional network and strategic relationships are important keys to success. Travel a lot and meet people.
What are the main issues facing you as a lawyer today?
The removal of Robert Mugabe as President in 2017 gives Zimbabweans an opportunity to reconstruct our country after years of neglect. The challenge for me as a lawyer is to play an important part in fighting for and restoring property rights and ensuring that the new government prioritise the ease of doing business and set the country on the path of sustainable growth.
Who are your key inspirations?
Two influencers are worth mentioning. My greatest influencer is the late Pearson Nherere; he was born blind but never allowed his handicap to define him. He is one of the greatest trial advocates ever to practise at the bar in post-independence Zimbabwe. His determination and commitment to defending human rights are his enduring legacy. The second is a friend and Pastor of the Evangelical Church, Reverend Samuel Harrison. He was my librarian and mentor at High School and we became friends after I left for University. I credit him for helping me define my own priorities in life and shaping my spiritual life.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work?
I play golf and participate in wildlife conservation initiatives.
You will meet different people, some accommodating and some less so. The environment can be challenging but one thing you are assured of is that the training will equip you with new skills to help you meet the future with confidence.