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Meet this Kedger, now Managing Director - Africa at Aldelia

A graduate of KEDGE in 2005, Ahlonko Sodji is now Managing Director - Africa at Aldelia.

Aldelia is a human resources consulting firm, a leader in professional recruitment services. It was founded in 2005 by Cedric Filet, a former student at KEDGE Business School.

With a presence in, and operational in, thirty countries around the world: including countries in Europe, Middle East, South America, and Africa, Aldelia offers customized and effective recruitment solutions designed to proactively meet the needs of its customers. It operates in various sectors, such as energy, oil, gas, mining, banking, FMCG, IT & Telecom, pharma, tech, and others.


To begin with, tell us about your educational background. What did you study at both KEDGE and before attending KEDGE?

After my bachelor's degree in accounting / management, I did a prep in Paris. Then I enthusiastically enrolled at KEDGE Business School at its Marseille campus and was in the 2005 graduating class. I completed the programme in three years, with a specialty finance. I did my gap year took in Chile, Santiago, as Internal Auditor at Peugeot. At KEDGE, I was in the Junior Enterprise Marketing Mediterranean association. It was a remarkable experience and had a big impact on my career. In addition, I was able to do my last year in a work-study format, which also helped a lot. I worked three days a week at AFICAR, a Lyon-based consulting firm which specialises in purchasing and fleet management. The experience of working within a company was an added-value my training. I was able to immediately put into practice theories I had learned during my studies. After I left KEDGE, I passed the DCG and the DSCG because I wanted to strengthen my skills in finance and management control.

Tell us what you did after completing your studies. What positions have you held and what have you learned from them?

After I graduated, I was hired by AFICAR, where I had done my work study. From 2005 to 2006, I was a consultant in charge of automobile brokerage and implementation of the fleet management system of our French and European customers. Then I went to work for Deloitte, a well-known audit and consulting firm in Paris. From 2006 to 2010, I worked as a senior consultant within the Transformation Finance Division. I was fortunate to work closely on major accounts such as SNCF, COVEA, and FORCIA. The experience I gained as an internal auditor during my gap year in Chile helped me tremendously to succeed in this position. I learned an essential thing in these two positions: a methodology of working, which includes breaking-down problems, making a diagnosis, and providing solutions.

What are you doing today? Where did you get the idea and the motivation to do it?

I’ve been the Managing Director for Africa with the Aldelia Group since 2014. Aldelia is a human resources consulting firm, a leader in professional recruitment services. Founded in 2005, Aldelia has a presence and operates today in thirty countries around the world located in Europe, the Middle East, South America, and especially in Africa. In 2010, I went to work for Aldelia as a Country Manager for the Nigeria office which had just been created the year before. At the time, my main motivation was to work somewhere in African. I had two reasons for wanting this: I was born in Togo and lived there for more than ten years before I went to France to continue my schooling and attend university. Secondly, I wanted to gain experience on this booming continent while keeping a foothold in Europe. (As an aside, the founder and CEO of the Aldelia group, Cedric Filet, attended KEDGE Business School at its Marseille campus, and was also in the Junior Enterprise Marketing Mediterranean association. I met him via the Alumni network when he was looking for a Nigeria Country Director. Since then, we’ve done many projects together. I would like to say a big “Thank You” to the KEDGE Alumni network and Junior Enterprise!) This position in a country and a continent experiencing strong growth driven by the dynamism of the oil sector, was a remarkable experience. The Nigerian subsidiary has grown rapidly, and has gone from having 3 employees with 1 million in revenues in 2010, to 20 employees and 15 million in revenues. In addition, I was posted in Dubai for a year, where I was in charge of operations over an area that covered Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. I would like to add that my studies at KEDGE and my experiences in consulting have contributed enormously to my success in these positions!


What are your objectives for the future?

Aldelia Group’s main objective is its current second round of fund raising. As the group’s number two, I work with the CEO on this project, with potential international shareholders. Our ambition is to multiply the size of Aldelia by five in five years! This is reflected in our opening several new regional offices every year.

How did the education you received at KEDGE Business School help you become what you are today, and how did its teachings help you reach your goals?

KEDGE Business School taught me a very important thing: the fundamentals to understanding what the company is, on several levels. We learn the basics: marketing, finance, logistics, etc. This gives us the knowledge needed to work in a company, such as the capacity to work in team and/or individually on different sized projects. In fact, we are working on several market studies. In addition, the school network and the Junior Enterprise network are valuable. I am still involved with them and use them very often.


If you had to give advice to KEDGE graduates who would like to do something similar, what you what would it be?

When I graduated from KEDGE, the trend at the time was to begin your career at one of the big four auditing and consulting firms. Today, young graduates value and prioritise entrepreneurship. So I would encourage them to more go down that route and opt for entrepreneurship. The French university system is excellent, but don’t think it yet allow students to unleash their full potential. I am convinced that you must be daring and get out of your specialty and comfort zone. If you have a goal, a passion, you must go for it because there is nothing to lose. My credo would be: don’t hesitate to be daring! For example, when I started with Aldelia, I had no experience in an English-speaking environment, nor in human resources, not even experience working in Africa. But I had the essential things: motivation and a strong interest in Africa. The logistical and working techniques happen by themselves.

Anything else to add, a message to pass (call to vote, participation in a fundraising ...)?

My plans for Aldelia? Within the next three to five years, if all goes well, we will begin something in South America or Asia. We are convinced that if our model is well designed and executed, it is destined to develop on other continents than Africa. For the moment, I am based in London and travel to Africa very often, I just came back from a two-week business trip to Chad where we have just opened an office. But South America seems to be my next focus!




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1 Comment

Alain GUILLEMIER (BEM MAI, 1985) 29 April 2019 à 11h08

Kedger issu de Bordeaux, Aficar est ma première entreprise, l'un des principaux cabinets de conseil et fleeter de vehicules légers en France et a démarré grâce à Ahlonko, dont le parcours exceptionnel ne m'étonne absolument pas . Bravo ! (NB : Aficar et pas Africar , mais c'est un beau lapsus !)