In celebration of Black History Month, we will be sharing a series of blog posts highlighting our clients and staff from the African diaspora. We are honored to share the stories of these amazing individuals, whom we celebrate not just this month, but throughout the year.
Meet Alioune Thiam, from Kaolack, Senegal, a warm and lovely city located in the center of the country, about two hours away from the capital, Dakar. Alioune grew up in a family that valued education and religion. His father is a businessman and his mother is a teacher. He graduated high school with honors before pursuing an education in information technology (IT) at Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada. Alioune lived in Sherbrooke and Montreal, Canada for nine years, eventually becoming a Canadian citizen.
In addition to his career in IT, Alioune is an experienced leader with over twenty years of Business and Consulting experience in Technology, Program & Change Management, and Construction Materials. Over the years he has worked on new ventures and startups, including one of his current businesses for which he developed a revolutionary product in the construction industry.
Alioune Thiam from Kaolack, Senegal
In 1999, Alioune had the opportunity to join the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention as a contractor. He was extremely honored and accepted the offer. Alioune came to the U.S. on a TN (NAFTA) Professional visa (through his Canadian citizenship) as a System Developer to work with EDS Federal (later acquired by HP). He then started working with Emergint Technologies as Technical Team Lead/Project Manager Consultant-CDC in H-1B status. He eventually obtained his permanent residence through Emergint Technologies which subsequently became CACI International, Inc. In 2007, Alioune became a U.S. citizen.
In 2016, Alioune started a company called EtairUS International, a Management Consulting firm in Atlanta, Georgia. Alioune experienced numerous hardships and setbacks when starting and developing this company. These setbacks included start-up issues, difficulty obtaining new contracts, difficulty finding the right resources, as well as issues with business development and expansion. He now describes these setbacks as the “growing pains of starting a business.” Despite these hardships at the beginning, he persevered and overcame them. Today, EtairUS International is still operating and doing quite well. It is just one of Alioune’s many companies.
After spending 20 years in the U.S., Alioune travels back and forth between the U.S. and Senegal. Alioune is the Founder and Executive Director of Titan Innove, a concrete dry ready-mix company in Dakar, Senegal.
“When I was in high school in Senegal, I worked on my dad’s construction projects. The way they built back then is the same way they build now. Nothing changed. I developed a product that would change the way houses were built in Senegal – a dry concrete/mortar ready-mix. Now, many houses in Senegal are built using this dry ready-mix concrete that is cleaner and has a positive environmental impact. It’s also more economical and financially sound.”
For Alioune, Black History acknowledges and celebrates the great leaders who paved the way for generations to follow by fighting for civil rights and equality for black people. Alioune has always looked up to one leader in particular, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King has been Alioune’s inspiration and motivation throughout his entire life. When he was just 18 years old, Alioune stood in front of an audience of 2000 people and recited Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in his native Kaolack stadium.
“I am a huge fan of Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King inspired me all my life to always pay more attention to who I am as a black person and that I can accomplish anything I wish.
Everything I do is so that I can live my dream and create a life for my wife and children. My family keeps me motivated. Everything I do is for them. I have always taught my children that they are important human beings and nothing defines them other than what they want to be defined as. I’ve taught them about their culture and religion from my homeland. I have taught them about values … and one of the most important values is family first.”
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This monthly blog series on Black History Month is produced by our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee led by our Senior Attorney, Nadia Deans Kalata.