Top 25 Most Influential CEOs Impacting Business

Jeremy Awori is a strong champion of gender equality. The Absa Bank Kenya he leads has a strong commitment towards expanding the role and influence of women both in its business and in society at large.

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Jeremy Awori

MD/CEO ABSA BANK KENYA GROUP PLC

Partnerships are increasingly vital in assuring relevance, generating purpose, and producing returns and customer value in an increasingly complex business environment. As part of this and as a responsible partner to its clients, Absa Bank Kenya PLC played a leading role in the recently concluded historic KES11 Bn medium-term note to East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL), thereby cementing its ambition of being a powerful corporate and investment business in East Africa.

The above achievements do not come as a surprise for a bank that has established a reputation of being always ahead of the curve, innovating and leading the market on a variety of fronts. For example, Absa Bank Kenya was the first in the country to digitize its consumer offerings and the backend operations. In the same breath and under Jeremy Awori’s watch, Absa Bank was the first in Kenya to deploy vertical debit and credit cards with contactless payment capabilities.

Furthermore, to improve accessibility of its services by consumers, the Absa Bank Kenya recently launched Abby, a first-in-market transactional WhatsApp banking App. And thanks to robotics, the bank has significantly relocated back-end human capital, allowing these employees to spend more time with the customers, enhancing consumer experience.

Absa Bank Kenya recently improved through the addition of a new feature, its internet and mobile banking platforms that enables customers to view and manage their frequently used debit card functionalities online. These include temporary card freezing and unfreezing, card replacement, PIN setting and resetting, and card withdrawal limit management.

“As an organisation, we believe that technology is a catalyst that we should continue using intentionally, proactively and boldly in order to positively transform the way we interact with and meet the needs of our customers,” Jeremy expounds adding; “Today, our alternate channels have a 99.9% uptime with our response time to customer issues at about 1 minute, ahead of the market requirement and among the best in the country.”

Jeremy is also a strong champion of gender equality. The Absa Bank Kenya he leads has a strong commitment towards expanding the role and influence of women both in its business and in society at large. The bank has for instance developed a strong woman in business proposition through its SHE Business Account that exclusively targets women entrepreneurs.

Looking ahead, Absa Bank Kenya is well positioned to help its customers reposition for the post Covid-19 recovery.

“The outlook on our business performance is positive and with the improved efficiency levels and returns, the bank aims to accelerate re-investments for growth in-order to gain market share and we are confident to resume dividend payment for the financial year 2021.”

Jeremy reaffirms.

To crown the human activities of the continental ABSA Group mantra of Africanacity, Jeremy launched a partnership between Absa Kenya and Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) on the Ajira Digital Ready2Work program. Through this digital partnership and toolkit, ABSA aims to train, empower and create digital job opportunities for 1 million young Kenyans.

Jeremy took the historic moment to invite to the table other like-minded partners to join ABSA to help upskill the Kenyan youth, currently languishing under the York of massive unemployment, in future programs. The Ajira Digital and Ready-to-Work (aji – raready2work partnership) between KEPSA and Absa Bank Kenya is expected to ensure youth empowerment through quality ICT jobs after receiving suitable and appropriate skills training in order to make a difference in their lives.

According to one of the top executives at Absa Bank Kenya, MD/CEO Jeremy Awori more or less fell into the banking at the deep end of the pool, having started out as a competitive swimmer. When his Olympic dream fell apart, a sport he had deliberately chosen to build self-confidence, having been a very shy boy hiding behind the trendy skirts of mom, Jeremy went to the UK on a scholarship and became a pharmacist.

After practicing for a few years, Jeremy opted to study for an MBA degree in Finance at McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management. Since graduating from McGill, his career has been marked with stints of change management, mostly of a strategic nature and magnitude. After the MBA, Jeremy was hired by Standard Chartered Bank of Canada. His employer was impressed by the work he did, leading to Jeremy’s hiring as the “Head of Retail Banking, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya, at the ten – der age of 28”. And to cap it all, Jeremy was invited concurrently to serve on the Board of Standard Chartered Bank Kenya at that same time.

From this coveted position, Jeremy was transferred to the United Arab Emirates to gain more global banking management expo – sure at the top level of the pool, as the Head of Consumer Banking at Standard Chartered Bank United Arab Emirates. After three years in that position, he was promoted to Regional Sales Director, Middle East, South Asia and Africa, based in the United Arab Emirates, serving in that role for two years. In 2008, he was appointed CEO and managing director of Standard Chartered Bank Tanzania, serving there for five years, serving the mother African continent that Jeremy had come to love.

In 2013, he left Standard Chartered Bank in Tanzania, returning home to Kenya, to take up a new assignment as CEO of Barclays Bank Kenya. Jeremy soon showed his banking mettle and would lead the bank to phenomenal growth in both new business streams, turn over and profitability. In 2020, Barclays Bank Kenya, whose shares are listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) would be rebranded and seamlessly eased into a new premier bank, Absa Bank Kenya PLC, with Jeremy Awori at the helm, both as the change manager, change champion and MD/CEO.

Absa Kenya MD Jeremy Awori during the flagging off of the Absa Wezesha Biashara caravan at the Nkrumah road branch in Mombasa.

Of note for this recognition, Jeremy took over the reins of Barclays Bank Kenya, during the financial crisis, and turning the tide in the business then by managing the rapidly declining trend and back to profitability, before setting sail once more into a positive growth trajectory in all the financial fundamentals.

The second major achievement being celebrated is that Jeremy has presided over one of the most complex business transitions ever seen in Kenyan soil, with foot prints across three continents and even more complex ownership structure in existence for over 114 years, a rebrand from Barclays to Absa Bank brand. The transition has been meticulously done and the growth in turn over, profitability and new market business streams is a clear pointer to the success.

Very notable is that the transition occurred without any customer attrition, no technology outages, and with a smooth turnover of the branch network and all business operations and systems. These are clear demonstration of the quality of leadership offered during that change from the top most office.

As part of creating social value for business sustainability, Jeremy’s leadership has underpinned ABSA’s continued commitment to growing sports in Kenya.

Under his leadership, Absa Bank has worked with Kenya Open Golf Limited to grow the game of golf in Kenya for 10 years. For instance, the Kenya Open has grown from a local tournament to it joining the main European Tour in 2019 and with government support elevating the sport of golf and creating a platform for Kenyan pros to play in international tournaments. These efforts have seen the elevation of Kenya as a great sporting destination, attracting the best of great talent in the golfing fraternity and Kenya as a leading tourism destination.

Absa Kenya MD Jeremy Awori poses for a photo with staffers when Barclays Bank began trading as Absa Bank Kenya following official name change.

As recent as 2021, Absa Bank Kenya got into partnership with Athletics Kenya and hosted the Continental Tour Classic 2021 which was dubbed the Absa Kip Keino Classic. And this is Africanacity. The event was extremely successful, attracting a great pool of talented athletes including Justin Gatlin, Trayvon Bromell, Faith Kipngetich among others, further demonstrating Jeremy’s commitment to growing sports in this country.

When Covid-19 Pandemic hit the shores of Kenya in March 2020, Jeremy was honoured to have been appointed by His Excellency the President of Kenya to serve in the Covid-19 advisory and private fund-raising board. Under his leadership, Absa Bank Kenya PLC was the first bank to announce the loan relief programme for its customers to cushion them from the adverse economic and social effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Absa brand demonstrated its human side by supporting frontline workers donating over 300K masks.

Absa Bank Kenya, in collaboration with the Eliud Kipchoge Foundation, joined hands to distribute relief items to affected athletes at three training camps including Kaptagat, Iten and Kapsabet.

“We understand that people and businesses are going through a tough period and are looking for a partner to hold their hand and help them get through the difficulties occasioned by the Covid-19 Pandemic. For our athletes, we recognize that the Covid-19 Pandemic has hit their community severely with the cancellation of most sporting events thereby impacting the livelihood of most of our junior and upcoming athletes,” Absa Bank Kenya said in a statement during the handing over.

Jeremy Awori, the lanky over 6 feet tall, appears at the head of the inimitable 2022 Business Monthly EA Top 25 Most Influential CEOs Impacting Business, for a straight third time in a row. This rare feat underpins the traits and rare attributes of this gentle giant with a magician’s touch on whose shoulders the mantle of rebranding from a 104-year-old global icon from Barclays to ABSA, a great Pan African bank brand, was bestowed.

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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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