Top 25 Most Impactful Chairs of Boards 2024

Within six months of joining the Britam board, Kuria Muchiru was appointed its Chair. Kuria’s rapid rise was key to placing the blue-chip firm - present in seven African countries - on the right footing during a tough corporate reorganisation.

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KURIA MUCHIRU

CHAIR BRITAM HOLDINGS

In the symphony of life, the rather soft spoken Britam Board Chair, Kuria Muchiru, in decisions of what to take on, is guided by six key elements: non-executive board directorship, intergenerational wealth transfer, leadership development, saving distressed businesses, seed investing and philanthropy.

Formerly an Advisory Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where he served for 35 years, he says, “When you are at a place such as PwC, you have access to many businesses in different sectors and you learn a lot. You get to see governance at the highest levels because you work with boards and advise them.” He adds, “So, it’s only natural that people invite you to be on their boards and it’s almost hard to resist.”

Within six months of joining the Britam board, Kuria Muchiru was appointed its Chair. Kuria’s rapid rise was key to placing the blue-chip firm – present in seven African countries – on the right footing during a tough corporate reorganisation. This was in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and explains why Kuria has become a trusted hand for businesses across the region in an illustrious 35-year career mostly spent in executive management.

A wearer of many hats, Kuria stands tall as a conductor on a podium leading and guiding an orchestra of companies in various sectors including financial services, beverages, the arts, startups and hospitality, among others.

Britam Board Chair Kuria Muchiru with award-winning music band Sauti Sol at the Capital Club. Photo | Clara Koimett

He also chairs the board of Kenya Wine Agencies (KWAL) which manufactures and distributes wines and spirits as well as non-alcoholic beverages across the region. KWAL was established over 50 years ago to allow indigenous Africans to participate in the lucrative beverage sector. KWAL recently became a subsidiary of Heineken Beverages, following Heineken’s acquisition of Distell. The Government of Kenya retains a substantial shareholding.

Kuria further stewards the Njenga Karume Trust which oversees billions of assets including a handful of companies, tea and coffee farms, properties and hotels. In addition, he is Chair of Kuria Capital which was founded by his son and provides early-stage funding to budding startups in finance, logistics, tourism, agriculture and real estate industries.

Probably a surprising aspect about Kuria is his love for music, which has seen him become the informal Chair of the award-winning boy band Sauti Sol, arguably one of Kenya’s greatest music exports, where he advises them on business and strategy. The musicians have become a case study of how artists can monetise their talent in an increasingly frustrating environment for many local artists. It is therefore no surprise that Sauti Sol recently announced their transition from band to a group of businesses, Sol Group of Companies, encompassing Sauti Sol Entertainment, Sol Generation Records, Sol Fest and Sol Generation Music Publishing & Distribution.

Born in the tough Eastlands neighbourhood of Nairobi, Kuria holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc.) degree in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Nairobi (UoN), and is a Certified Public Accountant of Kenya (CPA-K) and a Certified Human Resources (HR) Practitioner.

Among others, he served as a member of the PwC Africa Governance Board, Chair of Partner Affairs Committee, and a Member of the Governance, Partner Remuneration Committee, and Markets Committee, as well as Kenya Country Senior Partner.

Kuria joined the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)-listed Britam in 2021, a turbulent period following a restructuring that mainly impacted the middle and senior management levels.

It fell on his board to provide leadership and restore confidence among Britam staff, investors and shareholders: a task he has excelled in, with the Britam Group now steady and back to profitability. Kuria is extremely selective and only joins the board of a firm where he feels confident that he can add value. Seated at the exact same table and seat at the Capital Club where he was first asked if he would consider the Britam Board Chair position, he fondly recalls that December 2023 marked his second anniversary as board chairman.

As part of his legacy at Britam, Kuria hopes to have Britam traverse the African footprint as the market leader in integrated financial services.  “Britam is a strong firm with solid roots and getting to where it should be… the building blocks are there for the company to achieve everything it can in the financial services sector,” he says, matter-of-factly. It was during Kuria’s current tenure that the Britam Group Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tom Gitogo, joined the firm in September 2022, and Barack Obatsa joined as CEO of Britam Asset Managers (BAM), in May 2023.

 Under the 2021-2025 customer-centric transformational strategy EPIC², the revamped executive management has charted the path for increased revenues and shareholder value.

Kuria’s outlook for the business is strong revenue growth propelled by improved customer experience and leveraging strategic partnerships to drive scale.

Kuria underpins his life values and philosophy with honesty and integrity.  “People need to know that you do what you say, and say what you do… that they can count on you. Leadership is about having honest conversations on what’s working and what’s not,” he says.

Additionally, “Just as in a melody, know which note to end on. It’s about knowing your position. It’s understanding you are a first among equals but also you have another role which is to help oversee the executive, but not to be the executive.”

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Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Kenya’s Dr Hanningtone Gaya, holds a PhD in Commerce in Business Management from Nelson Mandela University (NMU), is viewed as an authority in country branding and is the founder chairman of the Brand Kenya Board.

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