Taking Paresh Bhanderi's story back to the beginning
Monday, May 15, 2023

The details of Paresh Bhanderi (BBA05)’s story don’t lie close to the surface. You have to dig a little to understand how he got where he is today.

A few facts: He’s a senior financial executive in the mining industry in Chile. Among other languages, he speaks Hindi and Gujarati.
He was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. And somehow, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley had a hand in his trajectory.

I’m dizzy. Let’s start over.

How far back do you want to go?


Andes Mountains
Millions of years ago

The Nazca and South American tectonic plates collide, forming the Andes Mountains and large bands of copper and gold deposits in the Earth’s crust in modern-day Chile.


Gold ceremonial knife
500 BC

The Incas begin to extract copper and gold from the earth. These natural resources that were once just made into adornments and tools now fuel a multi-billion dollar industry and created a niche career path for Bhanderi, who would be born some 2,483 years later.


Antofogasta copper trains historic photo.

Following the colonization of India, the British bring Bhanderi’s Gujarati ancestors to Africa to work in the colonies. He is now second generation African. You can still clearly see the effects of the Indian diaspora in Africa today, with an Indian population 3 million strong. Kenyan Indians are officially recognized by the constitution of Kenya as its own tribe.

Meanwhile, by the 1880s, traditional mining begins in Chile and Antofagasta plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange as the Antofagasta Bolivia Railway Company.

“A significant part of Chile developing from a very low-income country to what it is today, an OECD member, has been due to the wealth generation from the mining industry.”


Zebras grazing with Nairobi skyline in the middle distance.

Bhanderi’s brother leaves Kenya to attend university in the United Kingdom. His father next dreams to send one of his other children to the United States. Paresh agrees and gets accepted into a couple of Big Ten schools, including the University of Iowa.

“I wanted to travel and see the world.”

The problem: his student visa. He applied for the visa in March and was given a November appointment at the Nairobi embassy. His hopes of an August start were dwindling, so he reached out to the admissions team at the UI. As he recalls it, international admissions counselor Cindy Roberts went above and beyond and reached out to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who contacted the Nairobi embassy. Suddenly, his appointment changed to early July. He walked out of the embassy visa in hand and flew to Iowa City a month later.

“The thing I really like about Iowa—it’s a beautiful campus and a great place to make friends. It’s a diverse bubble in the middle of the country. And because it’s not a big city like Miami or New York, where people often commute in, you’re with people 24/7 and are able to forge relationships with them.”


The Pappajohn Business Building at the University of Iowa

Bhanderi attends the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business, majoring in finance and economics with a certificate in international business. Thanks to his participation in the Hawkinson Institute and other extra curriculars, he is hired as an investment banking trainee at BMO after graduation in Chicago and Toronto before transferring to London, where he was introduced to the financial side of the mining industry.



After four years with BMO, he works in London and Nairobi for a couple of African mining and oil and gas companies before getting hired by Antofagasta plc. He starts as an investor relations manager in London and then moves to Santiago, Chile to be their corporate finance planning manager.


Paresh Bhanderi
Present day

Bhanderi has now been in Chile for five years, the mining industry for 15, and has moved into executive leadership roles.

“Leadership is a skill you have to learn, it’s not something you’re born with. I’m always trying to be a better version of the leader I want to be.”

He has restructured loans, raised capital, and executed the company’s first bonds. He is currently Antofagasta’s head of financial planning and analysis where he manages the allocation of billions of dollars in capital for the company. His day-to-day includes prepping for ten annual board meetings, reporting additional analysis to the CFO, and even visiting the mines themselves.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be working in the mining industry. I fell into it accidentally. But now I’m here, I love it. There’s something to learn every day and it’s very global. The world is your oyster. You shouldn’t be scared to take the opportunities that life gives you. Jump with both feet because you never know where the path will lead!”


This article appeared in the 2023 issue of Exchange magazine.