Recently,Strathmore Business School hosted leading group CEOs from the manufacturing, telecommunication, transport, financial and banking industries, in a bid to give an overview of conducting business across various regions.
The panellists consisting of Mr Mucai Kunyiha (Group MD, Cooper K. Brands), Mr James Mworia (CEO, Centum Investments), Mr Bob Collymore (CEO, Safaricom), Mr Joshua Oigara(CEO, KCB)and Mr Yves Guibert (Chief Operating Officer, KQ) motivated the discussion by drawing from their extensive experiences in management of companies locally and across Africa. The companies diversity in reach and business ensued a great discussion.
Mr Mucai Kunyiha of Cooper K. Brands- an agricultural manufacturing company shared on the challenges the company faces in conducting their business. These challenges include, the uniqueness in culture of each and every country they penetrate and the absence of medium sized service businesses which provide audit and transportation services to geographically expanding young businesses.
Mr Bob Collymore of Safaricom (Telecommunications Industry) – the biggest telecommunications company in the region, added that a number of expanding businesses assume that African countries are the same. This results to them performing poorly in the different operating environments as they replicate proven models from market to markets.
Mr James Mworia of Centum (Financial Services) – an investments holding company,financial services provider and a manufacturer and distributor of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), pointed out that; proper leadership required to tap into bigger opportunities remains a challenge in fast growing companies and access to markets, despite the East African Community’s advocacy for better regional integration.
Mr Joshua Oigara of KCB – an integrated financial services company across 7 countries in East Africa, explained that expanding businesses should look at markets as people; see opportunities that exist, transform and progress thereafter. He emphasised that two countries are like day and night with great cultural differences. “A model developed in Kenya is different from the plan of business in Rwanda,” stated Mr Oigara. Other challenges he pointed out included raising and building great talent amidst innovation based market disruptors.
Mr Yves of KQ – a transportation company that fly to 54 destinations, pointed out that the requirement of heavy intensive manpower, lack of developed infrastructure across the continent, heavy cost of fuel, lack of harmonization in various regulations (such as Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs), repatriation of funds and currency fluctuations), differences in business models and the challenge of talent retention and skills development (pointing to an active shopping of pilots in Africa who are promised attractive perks and expatriation of pilots). The common challenges highlighted during the discussion were the assumption of similar markets thus oversight of the differences across the markets, infrastructural challenges, regulatory and institutional differences and lack of enough talent.
The afternoon session discussion was panelled by Mr Thomas Omondi, Director of Strategy and Performance Management at KQ and Mr Peter Mugendi, ImactInvetsment Advisor at Farm Concern International. The speakers, both notable Global Executive MBA IESE alumni and with successful high flying careers shared their experiences at IESE Business School while pursuing the Global Executive MBA program at the school. The two speakers highlighted the program as an opportunity to understand the global dynamics of business and professional exposure on global business leadership. The diversity of learning in a class consisting of captains of industry with a rich mix of cultures from various parts of the world opened up the level of exposure giving the program a global front.
They two keynote speakers could not hide their joy recalling industry visits to reputable firms in Silicon Valley such as Google, Oracle and reputed global investment banks.