MANAGING DIRECTOR KENYA WINE AGENCIES LIMITED (KWAL)
A historic moment for us! Ground breaking of KWAL’s new factory in Tatu City. Proud to be part of this exciting journey….
These words uttered by Lina Githuka during the ceremony Lenten, that marked the ground breaking of KWAL’s Ksh 4 Billion ultra-modern manufacturing facility at the firm’s new premises in Tatu City Industrial Park Ruiru. The new Green factory with enhanced capacity will enable KWAL to continue localising manufacture of its imported portfolio as well as supply the regional EAC market.
During the, celebration of the UN International Women’s Day Lina stated, ’We celebrate KWAL women who represent 35% of our total workforce. Our ambition is to achieve 50% inclusion by 2025. I choose to enable KWAL women to discover their wings!’ This describes her passion for developing individuals and teams by creating an enabling environment that allows them to realise their full potential. As a leader who has broken many firsts, Lina Githuka has chosen to create an enabling environment for the employees to grow and thrive.
At the Women’s Day celebrations, KWAL also announced trailblazing enhancements to its Parental Leave Policy entrenching leave for surrogate and adoptive parents as well as special considerations for still birth, miscarriage and pre-term delivery.
Lina pledged to continue to celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace and inspire them to be the best versions of themselves, for they can, to quote verbatim from her own words. Lina Githuka describes herself as a seasoned business leader with over 25 years of earned knowledge, skills and experience in portfolio management, brand marketing, trade marketing, strategy development, business development and people development.
She has worked in local, regional and global roles, earning valuable wealth of experience in working in different cultural setups. After graduating from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Sociology, Lina would join Unilever Kenya, then East Africa Industries, as a Management Trainee. It is at Unilever that she discovered her passion for building and managing brands and creating value for consumers.
Ten years later, Lina was working in London at British American Tobacco (BAT) PLC Global Head office as a Senior International Brand Manager managing Global Brands! After London, Lina joined BAT South Africa as a Consumer Director and later in BAT Uganda as the Commercial Lead for Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
Returning home after 6 years of working away, Lina took over a number of senior commercial roles within BAT East & Central Africa Area. She went on to become the first local and the first female to take over the role as Head of Marketing for East & Central Africa within the area leadership team and part of the regional marketing leadership team for Eastern Europe, Africa and Middle East.
I joined KWAL at a time the business was going through transformation and change, having been privatised after years of being a stateowned enterprise (SOE). Our mandate as a new leadership team was to re-engineer business processes and systems, enhance capability development and embed new ways of working with the team to improve performance and turnaround the business.
After 16 years of a fulfilling career with BAT, Lina joined Kenya Wine Agencies (KWAL) in 2016 as a Commercial consultant, later becoming the Commercial Director. She says, ‘I joined at a time the business was going through transformation and change, having been privatised after years of being a state-owned enterprise (SOE). Our mandate as a new leadership team was to re-engineer business processes and systems, enhance capability development and embed new ways of working with the team to improve performance and turnaround the business.
The improvements in Commercial resulted in the renovation of all key brands and a step change in our Route to Consumer model significantly improving brand availability and accessibility in the market. These changes coupled with improved operational efficiencies in production and supply chain have resulted in phenomenal business growth with volumes doubling and EBIT growing more than tenfold within a 5-year period,’ she adds.
During this time, Kibao Vodka, one of KWAL’s flagship brand, was recognised globally as one of the Top 100 fastest growing spirit brands (IWSR, 2019) after a successful repositioning and relaunch. Today the brand continues to perform very well in the market. Lina Githuka was then appointed as the Managing Director of KWAL in 2018, becoming the first female Managing Director in the organisation. On reflection, she says, ‘my tenure so far has been immensely rewarding as the business has continued to grow remarkably off a sound strategy with a growth trajectory. For instance, despite the social and economic challenges presented by the global Covid-19 pandemic, KWAL recently broke ground for the construction of a new Greenfield factory in Tatu city.
For the organisation to take such a bold and courageous step with a development of this magnitude at such a time as this; is a true testament in the confidence the shareholders have on the business outlook as well as in the Kenyan economy.’ On the personal front, Lina attributes personal leadership development as key to her success. Lina has attended numerous executive programmes in London and regionally, the most recent one being a Senior Leadership Programme at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.
She has also had great mentors who have contributed significantly to her growth. Lina contends that the journey to the top has had its challenges. ‘I have had to unlearn, learn and re-learn at every stage of my growth as a leader. Hard work may sound old school, but the wisdom from the saying hard work pays is still in vogue. I therefore encourage mentees to put in the work, take calculated risks, learn from mistakes, and seize opportunities that come their way,’ Lina states. Outside of work, Lina mentor’s final year university students through the Greenhorn Mentorship Programme (GMP) and young ladies through the Global Give Back Circle (GGBC).
Lina concludes that she is a proud alumnus of Precious Blood Riruta; a school she owes a lot of who she is today, through the values that were imparted in strengthening her Catholic faith. She finds time to graciously to sit on the PB Alumni Committee where they run mentoring programmes to support the girls.