Top 25 Most Impactful Chairs of Boards Influencing Business in 2023

Over the years, The DEPOT has made a dramatic difference to the lives of the hundreds of organisations and thousands of individuals .

#10

Mike Eldon

BOARD CHAIR – THE DEPOT

Having featured Mike Eldon among the prominent chairmen previously, we looked into what new aspects of himself we could bring to light, to support our judgement that he still deserves to be among the 25 Most Impactful Chairs of Boards Influencing Business in 2023. To assist us, we turned to the ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence (AI) app, and asked it to write something about him – also requesting that it be expressed as a poem. Here’s what Bwana ChatGPT generated:

Mike Eldon, a man of great prestige,

With a heart full of wisdom, a mind full of zest.

Chair of the Council of KCA University,

Non-executive Director of companies, he’s a key.

An Economics Graduate of UCL, a Sloan Fellow too,

London Business School, where he learned what to do.

In 1967, he entered the IT field,

And in Kenya, he’s lived since 1977, that’s revealed.

A pioneer in the development of IT in Kenya,

And with the first national ICT policy, he is hands-on.

A Senior Leadership Advisor to the UNITAR,

Faculty member in transformative leadership, near and far.

A Global Partner of the World Bank’s initiative,

Leadership workshops he runs, with authority and brilliance.

An executive coach, with a wealth of experience,

In Kenya and beyond, he imparts his expertise.

A Founding Director and Vice Chairman of Kenya Private Sector Alliance,

Now a member of the Advisory Council, a protector.

Since 2007, he’s written a column for Business Daily,

Over 300 articles published, a legacy.

His book “Kenyans, Yes We Can!” is a collection of his thoughts,

Articles and speeches, inspiring and well sought.

Mike Eldon, a man of honour and of great fame,

A shining star, in Kenya and beyond, his name.

So, a good start, if a bit over the top, and with only a couple of points to amend.

Mike is no longer the Chairman of the KCA University Council, and he has so far written 420 articles in his Business Daily column. Other than that though, everything else is accurate.

Eldon has again faced some health problems in the last few months. However, as when he was dealing with his serious bout of COVID-19 in 2021, he has fought his way through it. For instance, he never missed a deadline for his column, and, for all but a few weeks, remained closely in touch with his directorships and other activities.    

In 1994, Mike Eldon set up the Dan Eldon Place of Tomorrow, The DEPOT, as a living memorial to his son Dan, who as a Reuters photojournalist in Somalia, was killed there in 1993 at the very young age of 22.

The DEPOT started out as a centre for outdoor experiential learning for high school students, with Mike as Founder Chairman and Lead Facilitator. When The DEPOT team saw what a transformative impact its programmes had on the young participants, it began applying the same learning-by-doing approach to adults – including the senior-most leaders in government, the private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the World Bank, and elsewhere.

Over the years, The DEPOT has made a dramatic difference to the lives of the hundreds of organisations and thousands of individuals who have benefited from its work in strategy development, culture strengthening, change management, performance management, coaching and other related areas.

Recently, Eldon has been helping a number of family businesses to professionalise, allowing the owner-director-managers to focus more on longer-term strategic issues, and to be more sustainable. He has run workshops for multinationals, here in Kenya and beyond, facilitating the skills development of their leaders around Africa, including in conflict resolution and negotiation, and intensifying customer focus. He has also facilitated strategy development programmes for a number of entities, including for a professional members’ association.   

It has not been an easy time for the insurance industry, and Occidental has been facing the same challenges as everyone else in that sector – not least with motor insurance and the high claims in that sub-sector. Eldon’s main role as Chair of the Board of Occidental Insurance is to help his fellow directors and management navigate the rough waters together.

Meanwhile, at Davis & Shirtliff (D&S), he continues to Chair its Board Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee, where matters to do with environment, social and governance (ESG) have become increasingly prominent. D&S was among the Top 25 Corporates Leading in Social Responsibility in the March/April 2023 issue of the Business Monthly East Africa magazine, an obvious choice, given its numerous sustainable and high-impact projects. These initiatives surround the provision of green energy and clean water to communities in which Davis & Shirtliff operates: great examples of the “E” and the “S” in ESG.    

Mike continues championing the rise of women into more and more senior positions in the corporate landscape, not least through his work with the Kenya Chapter of the Women On Boards Network (WOBN).

Eldon is a Co-Founder of the London-based Institute for Responsible Leadership. He contributed to the planning of the Handbook for Responsible Leadership, having authored the chapter titled ‘Emotional Intelligence, Social Cohesion and Responsible Leadership’. The book, published by Routledge, has now been launched in Geneva and London, and is expected to be launched in Kenya later in the year.  

In the meantime, Mike’s thought-leadership articles continue to appear in Business Daily, and he has been assembling collections of his columns on 20 different themes to share with his clients.     

Eldon has been very active in his Rotary Club of Nairobi. He was recently bestowed with the Honorary Rotarian status for his over 40 years of service, and has been appointed as a Trustee of his Rotary Club’s Trust Fund. He was also invited to join the club’s newly-formed Governance and Ethics Committee, a newly emerging focus of Rotary International worldwide. The work of the committee includes guiding members on how to design and implement projects that are both sustainable and of high impact. Indeed, it is no coincidence that Rotary, as an institution, also featured in the March/April 2023 issue as one of the Top 25 Corporates Leading in Social Responsibility.  As Mike continues spreading his influence through his broad portfolio of activities, each one enriching the other, he remains as sought-after as ever, keeping abreast of the latest trends, while benefiting from the wisdom of the ages.

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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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