Kenya's Women and Men of the Week!
This week's "Kenya's Women and Men of the Week," are: Banker, Joyce-Anne Wainaina; Entrepreneur, Evelyn Mungai; Film Maker, Judy Kibinge; Regional CEO, Philip Odera; Chief Executive, Titus Naikuni; and, Lawyer and Global Chief Executive, William Asiko.
This current Managing Director of Citibank, Kenya, holds a master's degree in Financial Economics from the University of London. Joyce-Anne Wainaina is also the Vice President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Kenya; Co-Founder of the JB Wanjui Foundation Trust; and Chairman of the Board of Junior Achievement Kenya.
"My early memories are rather hazy. I do remember being a little wisp of a girl when I first boarded the school bus to Loreto Convent School in Eldoret. I was only five years old when I joined boarding school in Standard one, 300 kilometres away from home, but I was not scared or anxious at being separated from my parents. Looking back to that first bus ride to school, I cannot help but be amused at that little girl with her 'iron will.' As Robert Frost would put it, 'She chose the road the less travelled, and that has made all the difference'.
My rise to Managing Director of Citibank would not have been possible without my husband. He is loving, supportive and a wonderful father to our three beautiful daughters. A successful entrepreneur and business man in his own right, he has always encouraged me to be the best that I can be. In 2002, I received another offer to work at the regional headquarters for Citibank in South and East Africa, based in Johannesburg South Africa. As a woman, certain decisions to advance your career can feel like an abdication of your role in the family. My husband rallied around the family and worked hard to accommodate the changes necessitated by the move, all for the sake of my progress.
I believe your thoughts become your reality. Whatever you allow your mind to dwell on, whether positive or negative, you can be sure you shall see tangible aspects of this thinking manifested in your life. I like to surround myself with positive people.
Evelyn Mungai was awarded the Order of the Grand Warrior, Presidential Award. She is the Founder, Chairman, and Executive Director of Evelyn College of Design, and Publisher of Presence Magazine. In honour of women who contributed to the struggle for Kenya's independence, she wrote and published Kenya Women Reflections.
Kenya was a country of loving and caring communities. I remember there was a time I worked in Kisumu. I made so many friends, some of whom I am close to until today. It is sad how we have now divided ourselves into tribal cocoons. Our parents and grandparents fought for our independence as one. Why then do we want to divide ourselves now?
Among our freedom fighters, those who struggled to make us independent, are the greatest women I have ever known. The women freedom fighters are the unsung heroines of our history. They inspired me to write 'Kenya Women Reflections,' a book celebrating women who were prominent in the independence struggle.
Our feminine qualities, such as, being more open and honest, reliable, responsible and trustworthy can propel us to whatever heights we dare to reach. And looking at our world today, we women are at an advantage. The world is no longer is search of leaders who can dominate, but rather those who can build high performance teams whose energy is gathered around common visions and values. We want leaders who can encourage and inspire, who are there to remove obstacles and help people fulfill their potential. Leaders who understand how to put their needs second and the needs of those they serve first. Ohh...by the way, is this not what women do every day?
Judy Kibinge's documentary, Coming of Age, won Best Short Documentary at the African Academy Awards. Both her film, Killer Necklace, and her documentary, Coming of Age, were screened at the prestigious Lincoln Centre in New York. She was awarded the Eve Woman of the Year, in 2003, for her contribution to Film and TV.
If I had to choose a role model, someone who has shaped my view of the world, it would be my father. He is generous to a fault and has a wicket sense of humour. When I was young, he repeated a mantra and it is stuck in my mind to this day: "Small minds discuss people, but great minds discuss ideas". Maybe that is why I am so drawn to thinkers and visionaries.
I began my own company because I was tired of now owning or creating my own films. Some of my films are still commissioned by clients, with others such as, 'Coming of Age' or 'Peace Wanted Alive' are part of global or national debates. My biggest challenge is how to run my company profitably and still make excellent films. It is hard to grow cash reserves but we must. I am excited by the opportunities presented to filmmakers by the high-speed cable and feel liberated and empowered by information technology and the internet.
If I were to have three wished, one would be for Seven Productions to be in the Kenya Top 100 mid-size companies and in a position to give a regular percentage of profits to charity. I recently got married to a wonderful man and pray we are able to have a family of our own. Finally, I wish Kenya gave arts and culture a strong place in Vision 2030 because a country that does not celebrate and invest in art and culture is a country without a soul."
Philip Odera has spent the past two decades working in the international banking industry. One of the Chief Executives exported across regional borders to course-correct big banks and re-stimulate growth, he is the current CEO of Stanbic Bank of Uganda, the country’s largest bank. desired results.
I was born in a little town called Maseno, the fifth of five boys and one girl. I am informed that my arrival in this world was relatively uncomplicated. Instrumentally, this was to shape the manner in which I was to approach matters for the rest of my life. ‘Awori’ was the name of my maternal grandfather and his name has had a great bearing on my life. The name came with great responsibility and in turn it has had a profound effect on my outlook on life. I never really interacted with my grandfather but I was aware that Jeremiah Awori, one of the first Kenyan Anglican clerics, was an ambitious clergyman. He was a soldier who served in World War II as a Sergeant Major and he also had great business acumen. His name, bestowed upon me, bound me to embrace the qualities of my grandfather. This was the circumstance of my birth.
My role models and the people I find most praiseworthy are ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. I admire selfless people, and people who have worked hard to beat the odds. The tea-lady at my office has adopted twelve children that she is putting through school, and a few have graduated from university. Watching her work to achieve ‘the impossible’ while making no excuses encourages me to excel.
I believe that doing things differently would have robbed me of some of the greatest learning opportunities that I encountered. I am happy to be alive and to contribute to the development of leadership on the African continent in a simple and uncomplicated manner.
Life is simple.
Titus Naikuni is currently the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Airways. He was a member of the World Bank sponsored Kenyan technocrats known as the ‘Dream Team’ during the late 1990s and early 2000. He has managed to make the airline one of Africa’s most profitable airlines in terms of operating margin among the carriers ranked in the Airline Business annual financial rankings.
My father ingrained the importance of character to all of his children from an early age. Integrity was the cornerstone. As another person once said and as my father strongly believed, “character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking... there are too many people who think that the only thing that is right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught”. Our father would insist that we stand true to our beliefs no matter how wanting we may be - a wanting that often manifested itself in hunger, as there were often days when we went without meals and wished we could be resourceful.
It concerns me that to a great extent, the youth are not provided sufficient opportunity to climb the corporate ladder due to restrictions from the ‘old guard’. There needs to be clear transparent succession plans in the government and public sector, with youthful understudies identified for all critical positions. This is the only way Kenya can hope to achieve great things. We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.
Globally and nationally, I believe we are all plagued by the same cancer. The proliferation of poverty and thus unequal distribution of income is too prevalent in our society. The gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is too great and ultimately worrying. As I believe that poverty and human rights are directly linked, it only requires an impoverished society to descend into chaos.
William Asiko is the President of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation as well as the Director of Public Affairs and Communications for Coca-Cola Africa based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Asiko has served on the boards of The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Egypt and The Equatorial Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Barcelona, Spain and currently serves on the boards of Coca-Cola Africa (Pty) Limited in South Africa, Beverage Services Kenya Limited, The Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership in Washington DC, the Africa America Institute in New York, the global board of the HIV Free Generation, the global board of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), the Africa Regional Board of Junior Achievement and the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa .
"In the game of cricket, a player with ‘a safe pair of hands’ is the one who the team can rely on to catch the ball every time without fail. I would describe myself as ‘a safe pair of hands’. I have a task to accomplish. I will complete it within the appointed time, the agreed budget, professionally and without fail.
My fondest school memories are however of high school. I joined Nairobi School in February 1977 and spent 6 wonderful years successfully completing both my ‘O’ and ‘A’ level examinations.I was involved in a number of extra-curricula activities throughout my high school years and was the 100 metres champion for three years in a row, captain of the rugby team and deputy head of the school.I was also involved in drama, winning the national drama competition with a school production. Many friendships that I formed then are just as strong today and many of my school mates are in positions of responsibility and leadership today.
I am passionate about Kenya and ultimately want to go back to public service at home. However I believe that another good decision was to move my family abroad for a while to expose and expand their horizons. Kenyans are highly respected internationally in whatever positions they hold. We are a likable people and have a strong work ethic. I think that exposure would increase opportunities for Kenyans to make an impact back home.
Read more of these stories and others in "Life Journeys: Seeking Destiny,"(Women achievers) and "Life Journeys: Scaling Heights," (Male achievers) two ground breaking coffee-table books that present written vignettes of high-achieving women and men in Kenya.
Each Woman and Man was interviewed by a young and talented Footprints Press collaborator who indulged in the mentoring moment as they sat at the foot of the hero before them. The idea was to evoke a symbolic passing of the baton.
The women and men profiled include writers, musicians, politicians, corporate global players, professors, scientists, sportswomen, judges, artists, actors, clergymen, and more. All are accomplished leading professional in their chosen fields and all have an option on the journey they have travelled and the wisdom they have gathered along the way.
Accompanying each narrative are resonating photographs which tell their own story and complete each vignette.
These books will surprise and inspire.
These books will surprise and inspire.
Both "Life Journeys: Seeking Destiny," and "Life Journeys: Scaling Heights" are available at:
- Bookstop, Yaya Centre,
- Text Book Center, Sarit Centre and Junction mall
- Savanis Bookstore, Westgate Mall
- Prestige Bookshop, off Mama Ngina Street (next to 20th Century)
- African Book Service off Koinange Street
- Lisa's, Muthaiga Shopping Centre