The Woman Behind Akon’s $80M Brand is His Sister

Khady Thiam Gueye is the sister to Akon Thiam, also known as superstar artist and disruptive entrepreneur, “Akon,” and Abou Thiam, also known as the trailblazing executive and music industry mogul, “Bu,” two heavy hitters who are making waves in music and tech but what the world doesn’t know is that she is much more than that. Khady is the founder of TMI Worldwide, the COO for KonLive, and chief brand officer for Bu Vision Entertainment. In addition to running these extremely successful operations, she provides strategic solutions to companies, entrepreneurs, and influencers on how to grow, expand, and maintain their brands.

Black Enterprise chatted with Khady to find out how she started and what it’s like being a part of the family business.

How did you start your career?

After receiving my bachelor’s degree in public relations, I immediately started as Akon’s executive assistant right out of college. From there, I went on to be the project manager for Akon Lighting Africa, where I lead the PR strategy that ultimately helped spread the message and expose the initiative’s efforts globally. After such a successful run, I decided to go back to school and received my master’s in entrepreneurship and started my consulting company TMI Worldwide.

What has been your experience navigating this industry as a woman?

It has been a fulfilling experience for me. From an international perspective, there are unprecedented numbers of women leading nations, businesses, and are still able to manage their families quite well. This superpower provides indisputable evidence not just of women’s talents and capability to lead but that my contribution is now widely recognized and welcomed in entertainment arenas and networks.

In the beginning, it was a bit of a challenge because it can be hard for women to break out of administrative roles to making executive decisions. However, my presence is at the forefront to challenge the culture to show and set an example of how leaders can create environments where women with talent can flourish in leadership.

Founder of TMI Worldwide (Image: Khady Thiam Gueye)

What is it like being a part of both brothers’ businesses knowing that they are family but also stars in their own right?

The fact that they are family makes me go even harder. We are all so close and I know that in the end, them succeeding means success for me. Also, the good thing is that they shine in two totally different areas. That makes it easier for me branding wise and gives me more freedom to make sure that they get premium exposure in their territories. Now if they were both artists, that might have been challenging. The good thing, too, is that they are both very much involved in each other’s careers. I’m just thankful that with all the different experiences that we bring to the table, my brothers are always there to give advice when needed and have complete respect for one another’s business.

How do you balance your day-to-day with having your own family?

I make it a point of balance between my career and my family. My family understands and respects my obligations. I regularly discuss with my husband and mother their perceptions, opinions, and even objections with my work to ensure my responsibilities stay on the right track. I only have one child. Even when my work schedule can become a bit demanding, my mother and my husband both support my work and our son, so I am able to sufficiently meet family commitments and perform responsibilities at work without any interruptions.

Where do you see yourself in five to seven years?

Within the next three years, I plan to launch my online school dedicated to entrepreneurs and creators to help guide them through their careers as well as get them on the right track to creating their family legacy. Secondly, I have always dreamed of having my own makeup line that celebrates our melanin tones and would also repair and heal problematic skin. I plan to launch the makeup line within the next five years. Lastly, I see myself hosting my own show, where I am speaking with creators and entrepreneurs about the good, bad, and the ugly side of life and success.