SEASONED MEDIA PRACTITIONER
Writing for this coveted list, Caroline Mutoko has this to say: Marketing isn’t simply an important part of business success – it is the business. Everything else in the business depends upon marketing. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and several media and entertainment companies, puts it as succinctly as possible: “No sales. No company.”
Who, then, is Caroline Mutoko? Ms Mutoko is a seasoned media practitioner with over 20 years’ experience in the media communications space. She is the most celebrated media personality in Kenya and a distinguished brand influencer across the larger Great Lakes East-African region and one of the most passionate and credible corporate brand ambassador, if there is truly one.
Caroline is widely networked, multi-nationally exposed and a distinguished Public Relations professional. In addition, she is a committed champion of equity, transparent governance, gender and class diversity and equal opportunities for all. In all her work and engagements, she is a passionate advocate for Africa’s immense potential for sustainable growth.
Ms Mutoko’s professional competencies include superior communications, interpersonal and organisational skills. She is exceptional at brand building and a creative and experienced media guru. She possesses strong entrepreneurial leadership and team liaison skills. If you are looking for a personality with exceptional skills in liaising with media houses across the East African region, Caroline is your top of mind to-go-to person. She has been known to execute creative crisis management solutions to overcome potential brand-damaging situations within record time.
Her over 20 years in the media space has seen her gain experienced in managing agency communication briefs, to deliver impactful brand outcomes. And, of course, everybody knows this: Caroline is most proficient in the use of English Language, with a working knowledge of French. Above all, she is a firm, principled, go getter and a very reliable person.
Ms Mutoko has been:
- Recognized among the leading top-40 women-under-40 in Kenya – 2013.
- Acknowledged for demonstrating professionalism and commitment to the media industry, by impressive listener ratings and research.
- Acclaimed by CNN’s premiere show “African Voices” as a Firebrand – 2011.
- Caroline gave back to the publication that shone a light on her by sponsoring as a brand and an individual the Top 40 Under 40 Women in 2019, probably the first person in Kenya to do this.
- Lifted the Millennium Torch for the Danish Government, as her commitment to MDG3 to help make a difference in providing sanitary towels and water tanks for girls in disadvantaged schools around Kenya.
- Planned and executed a 24-hour Kenya national emergency campaign in 2009, to raise over 400 metric tons of food for famine-stricken Kenyans.
- Initiated a 12-hour long (5-day | 5-radio station) effort to raise 1million Kenya shillings every hour in 2011, to support famine relief efforts in Kenya.
- Successively champions the Annual Fashion High-Tea, to support women and children in poor maternity facilities in Nairobi and its environs since 2010.
- Continuously works with Longhorn Publishers to equip libraries in rural schools across Kenya.
How Does Caroline do it? Caroline works on finding the shortest path between the consumer and the brand (SPBCB) by generating true interest and intrigue around product or service, that leads to engagement and ultimately conversion – SALES.
Dream in Action. In the next 5 years, Ms Mutoko hopes to become the marketing force that shifted the needle for no less than 1000 businesses. That’s why she leverages her platforms and influence to highlight a business (on pro bono basis) that she encounters in person on digital media or through friends.
According to Caroline, ‘It’s all very well to be moving product volumes for Johnnie Walker Blue, L’Oreal, Mizani. Selling homes for various developers. Selling out tracks of land…That’s fine and good. However, my impact and influence, my true value will be realised in how I affect and effect the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector, who create wealth and provide employment for over 85% of the workforce.
As General Manager and Head of Omni Channel Revenue at Radio Africa Group since 2020, Caroline ensures that prime time radio slots own a 40% share of the market per quarter, while designing and executing marketing initiatives to keep the 7 radio stations within the group top of mind.
Prior to this, Caroline was the Chief Marketing Officer between 2013-2016 and Head of Digital Development between 2016-2019. She joined Radio Africa in 2002 and was Senior Radio Anchor and Program controller between 2002 and 2013, when she was mobbed by fans as the Queen of FM Radio, growing Kiss 100 as the radio of choice in the country.
Caroline holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Sociology and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Strategic Management from the University of Nairobi (UoN), an Advanced degree in Media Management from IESE Business School-New York and a Higher Diploma in Leadership from the Havard Business School. She also holds Certification in Oil, Gas and Mining from the Kenya Chamber of Mining and The Effective Director Certification from the Strathmore Business School (SBS).
In summary, Caroline likes to say, ‘for the avoidance of doubt, I’m Influential, NOT simply an influencer. It makes all the difference in this new age of marketing and in this space in which I thrive.’
HEAD OF THE SEGMENT MARKETING TRIBE, SAFARICOM PLC
Her brand building career started 20 years ago, when after graduating from The University of Nairobi, she applied for a graduate trainee program at Unilever. She started her career as a field sales representative, where she was exposed to how business works “kwa ground” by partnering with distributors in the Western and Mt Kenya region to make key household brands – Blue Band, Omo and Royco available, visible and affordable.
This would lay a strong foundation for Ms Kendi to learn about commercialization and the importance of customer understanding for any successful marketing strategy.
Ms Kendi’s passion for building, growing and nurturing home-grown world class brands was sparked 5 years later when she joined EABL as Brand Manager for Tusker. One of the highlights was the successfully scale-up of Tusker project fame season which became the most loved and watched branded TV reality show in East Africa after 3 seasons. Being a woman who is motivated by audacious goals, she found this moment of transition interesting with all the intensity it came with, and learning about beverage as a category, while re-igniting relevance to an iconic Kenyan brand especially to the younger generation. She also worked on building the Diageo portfolio as the Head of Spirits, where she was inspired by the art of storytelling and brand experience as critical growth drivers for brand building.
Kendi is very passionate about Africa and believes that it indeed our time as Africans to shine and lead into the future. This belief was cemented when she went back to Unilever and worked in several African markets in Southern Africa – Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and as well as West Africa – Nigeria, Ghana and Cote de Ivore, building one of the most iconic regional brands – Blue Band. The one thing that stood out for her is that the similarities across all the different countries and cultures are greater than the differences. The optimistic, hardworking and resilient values are the core of every African irrespective of their country or culture. The exposure to the different markets brought the understanding of the power of technology to drive access and unlock opportunities that could improve the earning potential of millions of Africans across the continent.
It is this passion that led her to Safaricom PLC, a successful home-grown local brand, that is transforming lives by connecting people to people, people to knowledge and people to opportunities. She has had the privilege of leading the repositioning of the brand to the current brand promise – Simple, Transparent, Honest For You, powering commercial delivery and brand consideration through impactful proposition campaigns – “Future of Money – MPESA, Mwelekeo Ni Internet and Built for Bigger which was a campaign targeted at small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In addition, driving overall brand affinity and brand love through iconic thematic campaigns such as Nawe Kila, Wakati, Twende Tukiuke and most recently Tuinuane.
Kendi’s strong belief is that driving understanding of customer motivations, lifestyle and habits as a key enabler for growth in any business, is – customer obsession. She believes the secret formula for delivering profitable growth for any business starts with empathy for the customer and building brands around solutions for these needs. This fuels her passion for innovation, and thus she spends so much time with diverse people to understand what their current trends are and how they see and consume technology. This has fueled her love for digital marketing and as a result she spends a lot of time in the digital and innovation spaces learning, unlearning and relearning.
She is passionate about giving back and participating in the wider marketing industry initiatives. She served on the board of MSK as well as deputy chief judge at MSK Gala Awards for the last 3 years. This year, she has been selected to be Lories co jury president under the segment Shared Value, Service Design and Effective Creativity. Being jury gave her an opportunity to make sure that Kenyan creativity is getting a chance to be seen at a regional level. She also leads the Kenya Chapter of the Unstereotype alliance–which is a movement that encourages marketing professionals to leverage advertising as a force for good–with special focus on reducing negative gender stereotypes in advertising.
Ms Kendi graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Strategic Management from the United States International University (USIU-A) on September 24, 2022, the deadline for submitting her writeup for this recognition. Three words to describe her: Connector, Optimistic. Purposeful.
GROUP MARKETING AND CORPORATE AFFAIRS MANAGER, MADISON GROUP KENYA
Yvonne Tharao’s thinking beyond marketing as the cost of sales to a revenue model should catch attention of the insurance industry. According to her, ‘marketing is a bigger profession than ‘watu wa banner’. I therefore believe in new marketing, a marketing that is aligned to a company’s bottom line as a revenue generating model, not the old marketing that is always considered as a cost item’.
Yvonne, who is currently taking Doctoral studies in Business Administration Strategy at the prestigious USIU – Africa, opines that her love for numbers and eagerness to think beyond the data, drove her to try and evolve her role more working at cross function with accounts and boards to plug into new investment strategies.
Owing to hard work, strategic thinking, business acumen and outgoing persona, Madison Insurance added three responsibilities of market development, strategic partnerships and client relations to her initial role of Group Head of Marketing Services. She explains, “As marketers, our role is growing beyond watu wa banner and for that to happen, we have to love the numbers, refocus the marketing function and budget to attain a return on investments (ROI) and always demonstrate the strategic value of the marketing activities”.
Ms Tharao is through and through a visionary marketing, corporate affairs and consumer behaviour leader with over 15 years’ industry experience. Her tour of duty started in advertising, with Scanad Kenya, a journey that would later see her serve in C-Suites at Jubilee, Britam and now Madison Group.
She has cut her teeth in driving organizational profits through developing strategic marketing campaigns, enhancing customer acquisition, running brand loyalty programmes and industry lobbying that sets her apart in the industry.
Yvonne was part of the top management team that built Britam’s transformative brand equity and introducing a micro insurance product “linda Jamii”, then viewed as a more inclusive insurance product for lower to middle class income households. She has gone on to be part of the top management team that oversaw the launch of the MSME medical product at Madison Group. This has seen the uninsured MSEMs get medical insurance for their staff at affordable rates and with great benefits. “I am committed to keep driving financial inclusion through innovative products that bring insurance closer to the people and increase the hitherto very low insurance penetration in Kenya.
Ms Tharao believes it is such innovative and targeted products that will address the needs of the lower income groups in Kenya, including provisions of flexible premium payment terms that holds the key at growing the country’s low penetration insurance sector.
Kenya has the third lowest insurance penetration rate in sub-Saharan Africa, representing a paltry 2.17 percent compared to South Africa’s 17 per cent, a perplexingly low and disturbing figure, according to Ms Tharao. “Something needs to be done at the regulatory level to have a holistic look at cash and carry in the kadogo economy where the numbers are. Requiring an MSME to use up their cash flow to buy an annual insurance upfront rather than in small staggered payments, leaves very many micro and small businesses uninsured,” she laments with disdain.
In her career journey, Yvonne has done numerous marketing and brand building modelling that have worked to build brands she has handled, strangely including, as examples, targeting jockeys and stable men in horse races, branding dense-population low-income residential areas and sponsoring Mathare United, a slum-boys football team that rose to the top tier of the Kenyan football league. In these marketing activities, Yvonne quips, “you cannot buy a fan but you can drive and build brand love and usage by supporting their sport”.
As a guru in the field, Yvonne has also been involved in project rebrands at NIC, UAP, Jubilee and Britam. In project rebrands, she has a knack for bringing people together and giving direction in groups, as the overall team lead, through her well documented diligence, courteousness and respect for all team members, old and young. A people’s person and team player, Yvonne is diligent, courteous and has respect for everyone; older or younger. She has respect for diversity and can work with anyone or anywhere.
Yvonne maintains her sanity by holding dear to heart her life’s mantra, “Life is not designed to hand us success or satisfaction but rather to present us with challenges that make us grow,”. With this in mind, she successfully manages to juggle between assignments in class, her work and her role as a mother of school going kids: Not always easy.
She gets most of her inspiration from the former CEO and chair of PepsiCo- Indra Nooyi, who brings work and motherhood together, a living proof that one can excel in the corporate world on strong valued support of family, friends and mentors who have their back. Yvonne, therefore, values and cultivates relations, as this kind of social capital is a very crucial ingredient to success.
Ms Tharao avers that her mother always quoted a Kikuyu p r o v e r b that, ‘you can read from some one’s else’s book to avoid their errors’, a lesson she carries to date. Ms Tharao goes further in reading other people’s books, not only to avoid errors but to learn new ways of executing her roles, from these people. “ ‘I also believe you cannot lead without reading. So, for a reading list, Yvonne recommends, ‘On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis; The Road to Character by David Brooks; Unbowed by Kenyan heroine Wangari Maathai and My life in full by Indra Nooyi.’
Yvonne gives charity a corporate edge. Instead of handing out alms, she prefers building sustainable interventions like fundraising for a feeding program that benefits and impacts many. An example is her involvement with Hope of Compassion School in Mathare and working with Homeless of Nairobi’s Shule Mtaani project, a project that takes the school to the street children in the streets and slums. She is more at home when she finds herself at the centre of looking for long term and sustainable solutions to the perennial problem of vulnerable communities.
Ms Tharao’s advice to upcoming women mar keters is, ‘grow networks with professional colleagues and a spiritual community to build a tribe or a critical mass of people who can help you grow and on occasions, act as a sounding board for the important life choices’.
HEAD, CORPORATE AFFAIRS BAT KENYA & EAST AFRICAN MARKETS
During her career spanning over 10 years across various sectors, Mimi has built vast experience and expertise within strategic communication and Sustainability/ESG. Her critical skills include strategy development, reputation and brand management, insights and foresights, stakeholder relations, media management as well as leading conscientious and agile teams.
She is a published writer, having by-lined lifestyle and opinion pieces in local and regional print media. “I kicked-off my career in Kampala, Uganda, within the advertising and PR agency realm. This was immediately after my undergraduate studies in communication, which was actually accidental. I had enrolled to study Law, but switched upon realising my creative side was stronger. These early years were significant in shaping who I am today, having been mentored by Leadership who helped me build a solid foundation.
“After that debut into the world of work, I found my way back home to Nairobi where I joined a leading oil marketing company. They called me about 8 months after I’d submitted my (one of many) application, so I was thoroughly bemused and I think I asked them if they were sure it was me they were looking for! I rose through the ranks from a PR officer, holding various positions including Fuel Card Assistant Sales Manager.”Mimi Mavuti
This was a defining point in my career. When I was offered that role, I declined and opted to resign as I didn’t think I could do it. I was advised to take a few days off and think about it. After deep introspection, I realised that my general fear of failure, exacerbated by a then aversion to direct sales, underpinned my self-doubt. I decided to give it a try, and my all. I exceeded expectations and was recognised as employee of the year in the Marketing department.
During this time, Mimi was recognised as a finalist for the Oil Industry, in the 2014 Rising Star awards and participated as a judge for the same awards in 2015.
After about five years in the oil industry, Mimi embarked on an upskilling journey, earning a Global Executive MBA from the United States International University–Africa (USIU-A). Shortly after, she left to pursue a Master of Science degree in Corporate Communication and Public Policy at the Robert Gordon University – UK. Subsequently, she joined a leading public affairs consultancy in London, working on policy research.
Mimi joined BAT in 2017, responsible for corporate communication for the then East and Central Africa Area. She has steadily grown within the organisation to her current role.
“In the last few years, I have immersed myself in delivering BAT’s transformation agenda, anchored on our purpose to build A Better TomorrowTM by reducing the health impact of our business. Sustainability is at the front and center of everything we do, which also includes driving excellence in environmental management, delivering a positive social impact and driving robust corporate governance across the business. Some key targets include achieving carbon neutrality for scopes 1 and 2 by 2030 and scope 3 by 2050, 50/50 gender balance and 5% representation of people with disabilities in the organisation by 2030.
By combining existing and new capabilities, BAT is radically redefining itself. And this transformation is being driven by its people. “We as leaders empower our teams to take charge of their career within the organisation.
Thanks to our people-focused approach, BAT has been certified five consecutive times (2018 to 2022) as a Top Employer in Kenya and Africa, by the global Top Employers Institute. From a business standpoint, one of my priorities is positioning BAT to drive strategic public discourse and contribute to national dialogue, aimed at facilitating a sustainable fiscal and regulatory environment. Another is driving ESG best practise and compliance, with a focus on business and regulatory reporting.
Looking back, Mimi says she never really had a set compass for her career journey.
“I leveraged opportunities as they unfolded, to the degree that it felt right for me. I attribute my progress to a dedicated support system of family, friends and colleagues, leaders who allow/ed me to fail and learn (quickly) from my mistakes, my belief that the world does not owe me anything and therefore I must put in the work, and divine intervention.
Looking ahead, Mimi is working to enhance her ESG expertise. “I am enrolled in a Business Sustainability Management course with the Institute for Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge, UK.
“On a personal front, I am keen on making more time for community activities. I’ve previously mentored young professionals and girls, however, I’d like to pursue other areas, especially environmental conservation. After all, we don’t make it on our own; it really does take a village!”.
DEPUTY MARKETING DIRECTOR, NCBA GROUP
As Group Head of Brands, Jacquie is responsible for brand marketing communications across the Group. This is a challenging but rewarding leadership role that entails developing and implementing the bank’s core marketing strategies. As one of the key decision makers in NCBA’s marketing department, Jacquie plays a critical role in advancing NCBA’s brand purpose which is inspiring Greatness.
Jacquie joined NCBA in November 2021, taking responsibility for a young but dynamic brand following the historic 2019 merger that led to the formation of NCBA Group. NCBA Group as an entity started operations in October 2019 following the merger of NIC Group PLC and Commercial Bank of Africa Limited, two homegrown Kenyan banks with world class service, strong and respected brands, and a combined 110 years of experience in the Kenyan and East African banking industry.
NCBA has in the less than three years following the merger built on the strengths of its predecessor brands and established itself as a market leader in terms of financial performance, product penetration, customer satisfaction, brand perception, and corporate citizenship. All these have contributed to building a formidable brand identity for the lender. Tellingly, NCBA Bank was feted as the Best Banking Group in Kenya and the Best Commercial Bank in Kenya at the International Banker Awards 2022. It also continues to enjoy widespread recognition for being best in class in asset finance and digital banking.
Jacquie has the task of ensuring the NCBA brand lives up to its promise and acts as a source of competitive advantage for the lender in a banking industry marked by fierce competition and digital disruption. She notes that the bank’s strategic plan does a great job of providing leaders like her with the direction and clarity she needs to do her job well. Launched in 2020, NCBA Bank’s 5-year strategic plan calls for investments in initiatives that, among other things, contribute to a distinguished brand known for great customer experience.
Ms Muhati joined NCBA from Kenya Airways PLC, where she was Head of Marketing, Brand and Sustainability across the network, overseeing over 40 countries. Jacquie worked for the airline in different leadership roles in the Commercial, Marketing and Communications departments. (Head of Sustainability and Partnerships, Head of Marketing and Customer Experience and several other senior roles at the airline).
Jacquie has also held various senior leadership positions in leading corporations in the private sector in Europe, USA and South Africa.
At Brand Kenya, she was part of the team that developed the first national brand strategy that promoted Kenya as a favorable place to live, visit and invest. During that time, she also collaborated with Vision 2030 to drive private sector participation in ready to invest vision 2030 projects. Notably participating in organizing a PPP delegation to NYC to present these to investors.
In her position as International Brand Manager at Brand Kenya Board, she was instrumental in developing a framework to guide the country’s integrated participation at major national image building initiatives that positively positioned the Country as top of mind. This led to the first ever PPP execution of “Kenya House Concept” execution during the 2012 London Olympics graced by H.E President Mwai Kibaki.
At Kenya Airways Jacquie led some of the Airlines remarkable and memorable campaigns. The key ones to mentions include KQ’s 40-year celebrations in 2017 and the Intra Africa growth. These were elaborate international campaigns that reached millions across the globe and bagged prestigious marketing accolades. These campaigns were executed in over 50 countries in English, French, Amharic, Arabic and Swahili simultaneously, featuring in amongst other channels, CNN.
Another of her most noticeable assignment at Kenya Airways was her leading role in the marketing and execution of the New York Direct route launch. Jacquie championed stakeholder involvement in the full year execution that culminated in the launch of “the maiden route” in October 2018. This much-acclaimed New York-Nairobi launch, repositioned Kenya as an aviation hub not only in Africa but also on the global platform. The campaign won the much-acclaimed Sabre Award first two SABRE awards for the airline. (Consumer Product and Services (Winner) and Superior Achievement in Brand Building (Certificate of Excellence) categories. Thanks to the Nonstop Nairobi-New York City and New York City -Nairobi route, the US has recently surpassed Uganda as the top importer of Kenyan goods.
Ms Muhati’s other key achievement while at KQ was the integration of the marketing, brand, and sustainability functions into one department in line with the airline’s ambition to deliver a strong triple bottom line.
The triple bottom line is a sustainability framework that measures a business’s success in three key areas: profit, people, and the planet. “Shared value is an important and strategic lever for any organization. It’s increasingly moved from being a concern of giving back to society, to strategically engaging communities to create shared value,” she notes. Jacquie provided the transformative leadership in development and implementation of the sustainability strategy and set up the institution as a Global Impact member and an IATA 25 by 2025 pioneer Airlines signatory. This earned Jacquie a nomination onto the global IATA Sustainability and Environmental Committee.
In Europe she horned her strategic focus on growing brand and while at Africa Investor SA, she managed to position the business and brand favourably within a very short period. With both public and private sector experience, she has found an interesting balance that drives robust stakeholder engagement framework in her strategic approach to implementations /executions that promote drives inclusion, involvement and collaboration that drives satisfaction.
She opines that this unique experience and progress has only been possible because she has had an opportunity to work with brilliant teams and leaders that stretched, challenged and grew her. That positions her well as she strives to position NCBA brand for greatness, a brand Ms Muhati is so passionate about because of the Visionary Purpose, “To Inspire Greatness”.
Jacquie sits on various committees and boards, including Shared Value Africa, CSR International and CMO Council Africa Advisory Board. She has an interest in mentoring and coaching young upcoming marketing professionals.
In her free time, Ms Muhati participates in mentoring sessions with Leader to mentor in Kenya. Her vision is to see the marketing profession in Africa recognized as key strategic contributor and driver in the competitive environment that institutions operate in.
Jacquie holds a BSc degree from the University of Plymouth, UK, a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing from the UK based Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and a Master’s degree in international marketing management from the University of Westminster, UK.
Isabelle Kariuki Rostom
MARKETING DIRECTOR FOR THE EAST AND CENTRAL AFRICA FRANCHISE AT COCA-COLA
Through her 15-year career, she has built extensive experience in innovation, marketing strategy, brand management and commercial operations from various roles that she’s undertaken in FMCG and other sectors. Isabelle has worked with and led cross-functional teams across Africa and Europe to deliver successful product innova – tions and marketing initiatives that have driven transformational business growth.
In her current role at Coca-Cola, Isabelle is responsible for the company’s full portfolio of brands across several beverage categories – sparkling soft drinks, juice, water and dairy, ensuring that these brands remain competitive and relevant to consumers in the different markets is exciting and challenging.
“Every day, I learn something new. The role requires dynamism and strong commercial acumen while ensuring we keep a pulse on the ever-changing consumer trends and realities,” Isabelle opines. She adds, ‘Fortunately, I have a high-performing team across the multi-country cluster that delivers strong performance’.
Ms Rostom’s journey at Coca-Cola started 7 years ago when she joined as Product Design and Innovation Manager in 2015. In this role, she was responsible for leading the development of new products for the business unit – working closely with R and D teams based in Belgium and France to develop great and commercially viable products that would meet consumer needs. She also managed the end-to-end innovation processes ensuring that robust governance structures were in place to reduce risk and maximize impact of new products. During her 18 months in this role, Isabelle delivered over 30 products which were success – fully commercialized across various markets – several of which enabled the company to expand into new beverage categories such as ready to drink tea, fortified juice and value-added dairy.
In 2017, Isabelle moved into the brand marketing team where she was the Marketing Lead for DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda and Burundi. As the lead for the cluster, she delivered iconic brand campaigns and innovations which drove volume growth and market share leadership. She was then promoted to Regional Marketing Manager for Central Africa and Islands – a region of 12 markets which included DRC, Angola, Mauritius and Madagascar among others. In this role, she had the responsibility of leading brand building excellence and identifying growth opportunities. She developed strategic partnerships with stakeholders in the various markets and delivered a 3-year growth transformation plan with them which led to a step change in the growth trajectory for the region.
In 2020, Isabelle led the Open Like Never Before initiative; a $10M initiative which sought to support small business owners keep their businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as providing hospitals and communities with protective equipment, food and water during the period.
Prior to joining Coca-Cola, she spent 4 years at Diageo, first at EABL where she was part of the innovations team before moving to work at Diageo in London as Innovation Brand Manager. There, she was responsible for the development and delivery of strategic innovations across sub-Saharan Africa.
Outside of FMCG, Isabelle has worked at Middlesex University in London and Radio Africa Group in Nairobi in the earlier part of her career. At Middlesex, she was offered a job after completing her master’s degree at the same university, in a new function within the marketing department focused on developing a recruitment and retention strategy to enable the university to stand out in what had become a highly competitive sector.
“Working at a university was not part of my plan… but it was an incredibly fulfilling experience. Being open to new experiences is one of my life philosophies, I’m always willing to try new things if I can learn something from it or have fun while doing it.” During her 2-year tenure at the university she was part of a team that worked on a £80M project to build a new creative industries and art campus, collaborating with architects and various departments in the university to deliver the project on time, within the budget and to specifications.
Isabelle holds a BA Marketing degree from the University of Northampton, UK and a Master’s Degree in Marketing Management from Middlesex University London.
“I am privileged to have worked on some of the world’s most iconic brands. This has given me a fulfilling career. I have also been fortunate to have great leaders coaching me and taking bets on me. As a result, I am committed to playing my part in building future leaders through mentorship, coaching and providing meaningful career experiences,” she adds.
Isabelle’s career philosophy is anchored on the following premises:
- Giving 100% to your current role. A proven track record of high performance is a key step to getting you to your career ambition. Often people are obsessed with get – ting promoted instead of focusing on what they need to do in their roles today – that will then propel them to future success.
- Taking leaps of faith. ‘A few times in my career, I’ve had to jump into the unknown and fortunately for me it’s paid off! Once, I took a role which felt like a step back in my career – I was surprised at how much there was to learn. That role built the foundation that enabled me to accelerate my career in the right direction. I’ve also taken on roles that felt like a stretch, where I wasn’t sure that I would succeed. Those are the roles where I learnt and grew the most. I’m a firm believer in taking leaps of faith, and if you don’t land on your feet, at least you’ll learn from the experience’ she opines.
- Being open to new experiences. ‘Whenever I’m considering career opportunities, I think about the experience that I can get from it – What can I learn? What can I shape? Will I enjoy it? I don’t prioritize money or titles,’ she adds with a chuckle.
- Building a strong support net – work. ‘Mentorship, coaching and networking has had the most significant impact on my career growth. They don’t always have to be formal… take advantage of the regular interactions that you have with people. I always seek to learn from others – whether it’s leaders in my field, women in leadership, people in similar life-stages, mums and so on, and on…’ she concludes.
Anne Joy Michira
MARKETING AND INNOVATIONS DIRECTOR EAST AFRICA, EABL | DIAGEO
Africa is home to great leaders but is also known for less than admirable poverty indices; the quality of life for most Africans requires urgent resolution. Superb leadership is critical to building equitable societies and diversity – gender, ethnicity or thought, transforms quality of life. I am passionate about propelling young people to action, enabling them to leverage their purpose and exercise transformational leadership. My desire is to share my joy of innovation, enthusiasm for continuous excellence and focus on integrity. I believe that we all share the responsibility to make the world a better place, today for tomorrows generation.
I have built an extensive commercial career over 17 years with solid competence in both trade and brand marketing. I focus on delivering sustainable, vibrant P and Ls and building empowered, engaged, functionally expert teams. I began my career in 2005 with British American Tobacco (BAT), where for 10 years I worked my way up the ranks, starting as a Trade Marketing Representative, managed Key Accounts and Travel Retail for the East and Central Africa Area (ECAA) and developed and deployed the company’s promotion – al strategies for East Africa Markets as the Marketing Services Manager.
As the Area Brand Manager, Aspirational Premium (East and Central Africa) I successfully launched two-line extensions in Reunion with their contribution accounting for 38% of the brand’s sales before joining East Africa Breweries PLC, East Africa’s leading branded alcohol beverage business in 2015, as a marketing manager for mainstream spirits at a time when the spirits business was very small. Within two years of her joining EABL, Chrome Vodka became the third brand by sales volume while Kenya Cane grew by 30% due to better packaging and introduction of new flavors.
In 2017, Anne Joy’s role was expanded to head all spirits within EABL, followed in quick succession by additional responsibility in 2019.
EABL is home to a team of award-winning marketers charged with building some of East Africa’s biggest brands. At EABL I have enjoyed rejuvenating big brands with in-culture execution and growing new to world brands, bringing to life their brand purposes. Tusker’s brand equity is now in growth for the first time in over 4yrs with Tusker Oktobafest, our award-winning all Kenyan beer festival now being an expected fixture in Kenya’s entertainment calendar. I also led the team that spearheaded the explosion of UDV’s Mainstream Spirits portfolio through world class marketing of brands like Kenya Cane and Chrome Vodka; Kenya’s Mainstream Spirits business is now Diageo’s 2nd largest globally. With this amazing work, the Kenya Marketing team bagged the highest number of marketing awards during the last Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK) gala awards and won EABL’s first ever Cannes Lion for EABL for the Senator brand.
I now lead the Marketing and Innovations department for EABL as well as being Diageo’s Diversity and Inclusion champion in Africa. Our commitment is to build progressive and inclusive brands across the continent.
I am passionate about culture at work and together with the marketing leadership team, we have been on a journey to create a new performance culture by championing the transition from in-market only teams to above market leadership roles, creating cross-market opportunities across East Africa.Anne Joy Michira
I have been educated in Kenya, I had the pleasure of attending the Prestigious Alliance Girl’s High School and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com) degree in Finance (Upper Second Class Honours) from the University of Nairobi. In 2019, I was recognized by Business Daily Africa as a Top 40 under 40 achiever.
According to Roland Ofori, Yale University trained Ghanaian and Diageo’s Head of Beers-Guinness TradeMark and Heineken Portfolio, Anne Joy Michira is one of the finest, audacious, high intensity marketing personality, dosed with positive energy, a commercially astute business leader he has come across. Roland is trained in behavioral economics, marketing and finance from Yale School of Management, USA; has an Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in marketing from the University of Ghana and a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah’ University of Science and Technology (KNUST). Roland is passionate about writing, is a published author and an avid reader.
Anne Joy Michira, who enjoys cooking as a passion, is a doting mother of two boys.
Source-LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ AnneJoyMichira
GROUP HEAD OF MARKETING AND CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, SAROVA HOTELS AND RESORTS
Ms Wandetto is competent in various skills including public and media relations, corporate communications, marketing strategy, brand management, integrated marketing communications and campaign development, consumer research and insight generation, digital and social media campaigns, content creation, storytelling and agency management.
Caroline’s experience in diverse sectors and geographies with proven success in building multiple local and regional brands coupled with knowledge of the markets, consumers and business environments trends, position her as a strong leader who is committed to deliver com – pelling high impact results that meet strategic objectives in a constantly evolving landscape. Ms Wandetto kicked off her career at Tru Blaq entertainment, a marketing and events agency that was run by the late Kevin Ombajo, as a sales and marketing executive. She then joined Royal Media Services Group in 2008 in the business development and marketing team.
In 2012, Caroline joined M-Net East Africa as the Head of Publicity and Marketing for M-Net channels in East Africa, leading the content marketing for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. She switched industries in 2016 and joined the hospitality and tourism sector to work for Sarova Hotels and Resorts as the Group Head of Marketing and Public Relations, a position she holds to date.
As a teen, Caroline attended the Kenya High School for secondary education, before proceeding to the Kenya Methodist University where she studied business administration with a major in marketing. Caroline later proceeded to pursue a Master’s degree in corporate communications at the Daystar University. Ms Wandetto lists several projects and mile – stones in her career journey:
· Provision of meals to frontline healthcare workers during the Covid Pandemic in 2020: Sarova Hotels and Resorts, Kenya’s first indigenous hospitality company, volunteered to provide food to frontline healthcare workers at both Kenyatta National Hospital and Mbagathi Hospital in an effort to help the Government manage the Covid-19 pandemic that stretched the limits of the country’s health facilities. The program ran for a couple of weeks which saw Sarova provide daily lunches to the more than 200 healthcare workers who were providing the most critical services to patients at the facility. The move was a gesture by Sarova to say thank you and recognize the
bravery and commitment of the heroes and heroines in the facilities who put their lives on the frontline to lead the war to eradicate the virus.
· Launch of M-Net Channels to support local productions across East Africa: She was part of the team that launched the Maisha Magic Channels whose aim was to create a platform for East African producers to showcase their talent.
· Launch of local production studios: Caroline was part of the M-Net project team that launched the state-of-the-art M-Net studios in Kenya to serve local productions for the East Africa region.
A Rotarian, Caroline serves in the Rotary Club of Lavington Jioni in the projects committee. One of the things that make Rotary exciting is being able to be part of a group of people that has come together with a common goal of creating impact in the community that we serve in. It is extremely fulfilling to be part of a team who dedicate their time and resources to improve people’s livelihoods and with a long term commitment to continue being of service to the one’s country. Caroline is passionate about women empowerment and participates in mentorship programs both at work and outside of work (universities, church and other groups).
At work, as part of her role, she is responsible for CSR. Sarova Hotels and Resorts Group is keen on playing a role in social and economic empowerment of the local communities within the environments the group operates in. Sarova finds it amazing to leave money in the pockets of the local communities. The success of Sarova lodges is attributed to the employment of locals who not only understand the geography of the locations but also have a buy-in on the group’s ideas, making them easy to implement.
According to Caroline, Sarova takes pride in the passionate tour guides who narrate their experiences and explain in spectacular detail any curious wildlife queries to the satisfaction of the tourists. Sarova’s organic herb and vegetable gardens are also tended to by these very locals. Sarova lodges provide direct route-to-market channels, which include facilitating visits to cultural manyattas for guests who purchase artisanal merchandise. These same artisans are allowed to display their commodities within these lodges, selling them directly to tourists. The proceeds are pocketed by the locals without third-party costs. Sekenani Primary School has been a beneficiary of Sarova com munity goodwill.
A block of classes constructed within the school has ensured continuous learning with generous guests donating books and sanitary towels to the pupils. Selected alumni of the school later receive training at the Sarova Mara Game camp, acquiring some hospitality skills with successful trainees subsequently being hired as waiting staff at the property.
Nakuru Girls High School is another learning institution that has been gracious enough to lend a 2-acre piece of land, landscaped and maintained for Sarova Woodlands hotel’s outdoor events and activities. In return, Sarova constructed a much need ablution block currently in use at the school. Tree planting has been an active engagement for Sarova, keeping in line with the Kenya Government’s requirement to restore and create forest cover by a minimum of 10%. Sarova Group continue to partner with like-minded organizations towards this commitment. Sarova encourages guests to plant trees when they visit the lodges and even name the tree, encouraging one to come back and check on ‘their’ tree.
According to Caroline, ‘Whatever you do, do it with passion. Be the true version of yourself. Be bold. Always speak up!’ Her career started off at a young age when she was fortunate enough to sit in high level strategy meetings from the outset, within the family settings. This propelled Ms Wandetto to want to be an over achiever, as she was already sitting in meetings with very smart and experienced minds. Caroline is a strong believer in general wellness – mind, body and soul. ‘What you feed these functions affects your performance’ she adds.
Her hobby includes listening to podcasts/mentorship talks/sermons on her way to work every morning. This sets the tone as she starts off her day with positive energy. Ms Wandetto is a campaigner of selflove and frequently takes time out to re-charge.
In her leadership journey, she is a mentor especially to fellow women. ‘I want to propel other women to be bold and encourage them to confidently follow their dreams’, she concludes.
DIRECTOR, MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS AT BIO FOODS PRODUCTS
My marketing journey started at 6 years of age. Growing up, the only TV station in the country was the national broadcaster Voice of Kenya (VOK) which later re-branded to KBC. The programming was news and documentary heavy, so at 6 pm, there really wasn’t much to watch. My father loved news and every evening like clockwork, he would always make the family watch with him.
He watched the news, I watched the ads, all the time dreaming about being a part of the life these glamorous brands like Limara, Lady Gay, Princess Patra portrayed. The day I understood that ads were actually created and put on TV by people, the world as I knew it changed. This was my Ahah moment. My gut decided I will be one of those people who create ads. I didn’t know this was marketing. All I wanted was to be one of those people.
I describe myself as a corporate strategist who sits at the junction of commerce and agriculture. I grew up on a farm and have loved agriculture passionately since I knew myself. I understand the language of the soil and animals. The ‘shamba’ was my playground. During school holidays, we played outside, while helping to till the land, plant and harvest vegetables, take care of the chicken, cows and goats. In high school, while most of the students gravitated towards home science and technical drawing, I went head first into agriculture, then considered un-cool. I didn’t care. I was happy in the shamba.
These two passions are the drivers behind my career journey. My marketing journey started in the media industry as an advertising executive for KTN TV. I grew in the advertising and marketing space, exiting while leading the marketing department under Standard Media Group (SMG). SMG was a great learning environment, extracting great experiences in media buying, business, operations and communication. I am forever grateful for the patience of my bosses then. We undertook many major projects and milestones, with the launch of the Radio Maisha brand and the seamless consolidation branding project of Standard Media during my tenure to the SG Brand as we know it being my greatest moments.
Hitherto to the consolidation into one SG brand, we consisted of strong but individual media brands, not easily recognized by our audience as being part of the group. I left SG with my head raised up, leaving behind one serious corporate brand.
I turned 30 and moved on to become the Chief Executive Officer of the Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK). During my tenure, we were able to revive MSK to its initial glory and space, refreshing the brand and its engagement with the marketing industry. It is at MSK that I was recognized by the Business Daily Africa as Top 40 under 40; became the chief judge for the Agriculture Society of Kenya and was bestowed in 2016 with the Rising Star award in the CFC Stanbic Rising Star awards.
Outside the C-Suite, I have held various leadership and advisory positions, including global advisory member at the World Brand Congress (2015), industry representative at East African Public Societies Platform (2014-2016) and Trustee, Kenya Audience Research Foundation (2016- 2020).
At 35, I obtained an Executive MBA degree on Strategic Leadership and Business Management. My key project focused on Coffee value addition. As restless I became, I moved into consulting, focusing on communication, agriculture and commerce.
I intensively engaged in supporting farmers and MSMEs in agricultural value addition from Farm-to-Fork, streamlining value chains, route-to market re-engineering, packaging and marketing of produce. Working with entrepreneurs opened up my eyes and I wanted to share stories of amazing entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurship journey.
So, I dipped headlong into con – tent producing as a hobby and created a Facebook and YouTube Channel on entrepreneurship titled LIFE – Lessons and Insights from Entrepreneurs. This effort and my penchant for agricultural commercial space, resulted in my invitation to join the Prestigious African Food Fellowship from which I graduated as a Horticultural Fellow. I also hold a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) degree in Marketing from The Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
At Bio, I am in a role that consolidates my life’s journey and work into one. I work in a space that focusses on transforming Kenya’s agricultural agenda in the food space with a heavy leaning towards sustainability as a core value. In this role with my team, we have recently worked on the iconic kids’ brand Tinga Tinga Yoghurt and very recently Bio Lala.
I look at my Career and Life Journey to date in the words of Steve Jobs “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.” It is only now that these words make sense to me. I am taking the path I was always meant to take and the dots are finally connecting in my future.
GROUP HEAD OF MARKETING AND CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, APA INSURANCE LIMITED
“The APA Apollo Group is a truly entrepreneurial environment, and because the business moves so quickly, the last two years have flown by. When I first joined, I would hear the word ‘launch’ ripple through the marketing department, and it took me a while to comprehend its significance, but I soon came to understand that it represented an incredible driving force that is embedded into the company’s DNA, alongside the clear values and purpose. A commitment to innovate, to bring new products to market regularly in order to ‘insure happiness’ for our clients. It’s this deep-rooted drive for continuous improvement which has shaped many exciting moments for us as a communication team’.
Grace was one of the main driving forces behind the very successful implementation of the brand campaign – APA Insuring Happiness. Previously, she worked at the WPP Scangroup, a leading marketing and communications agency for over ten years.
“Each one of my role changes has been a highlight and with each change I received more and more experience. The benefits to my role are endless. I get to interact with the most amazing people. I get to be part of the end result of actions and products that impact the lives of our clients. I get to see how my input adds value and that my knowledge is appreciated. The Apollo Group has created an environment for me to grow and enjoy what I do on a daily basis.
I really was very grateful to be part of the Group over the pandemic, for many reasons, but chief among them, the humility of our leadership and commitment to respond to this crisis with relevance and compassion. This, of course, contributes enormously to our ability to communicate quickly and authentically.
While our main focus was on our staff and clients as we agreed to pay all Covid claims for all insured under our health cover, we donated food and time to the less fortunate in society. These donations were to supply full food packages to the families every two weeks. Some of the most memorable moments were often in the day to day interactions though, seeing how we’re able to positively influence people’s lives. The Apollo Group has demonstrated that they care about women and uplift them not only in the workplace but also in society.
“Climate change is now a reality which brings extreme weather events and unique challenges that affect all life. And those who are most vulnerable, and likely to suffer most, are women in developing countries, especially small-scale farming women.
APA Insurance is one of the leading impact insurance companies which help small scale farmers insure against extreme weather conditions and their livestock. The cover for crop provides a 70% yield guarantee while the livestock cover is designed to provide the insured, feeds for the animal to keep them alive until the next rainy season.
‘’We also help to uplift communities by building sand dams in semi-arid regions. The burden of fetching water by walking several kilometres is on the women. The sand dam provides access to clean water, reduce environmental damage, prevent further loss of biodiversity, and create awareness by adopting and implementing environmental and sustainable practices that reduce the negative impact for the greater good of the planet and the people.
“Better outcomes for women mean a better future for our planet. To prevent further devastating climate change, we need these passionate and dynamic women to inspire women around the world to take action. They are the catalysts for change.
I believe we each have a role to play in advancing the world. Active citizenship and servant-leadership are an integral part of building our societies and making the world a better place. I’m inspired by JF Kennedy quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Through the work I am doing in business, education and agriculture, I am playing my part in positively shaping the future of our country, by playing a role alongside the APA Apollo family of insuring happiness. This is also my colleagues and my source of personal happiness’.
MANAGING PARTNER – OGILVY AFRICA-KENYA AND ZAMBIA
She’s been fortunate to work at Ogilvy’s Nairobi, Lusaka, Cape Town, and Dubai offices as well as handle an outstandingly diverse multi-global portfolio of Pan-African clients ranging from mining, automotive, pharmaceuticals, telco, aviation, financial, petroleum, FMCG and NGO sectors. What she loves about her job is using the power of storytelling to build brands, not only sell more, but sell better, change narratives and influence behavior.
She cites brands like Nike, Under Armour and Equity Bank that are impacting pop culture, lifestyle, and the macro and micro economy respectively. It’s all about finding your niche and using the power of storytelling to reach your audience. When she started her career 14 years ago, it was difficult to find female mentors and coaches.
She promised herself that as she progressed, she’d be available to mentor young women in the industry, a passion that she truly enjoys and deliberately sets time aside for. What’s one big lesson she’s learnt as a leader? She says ‘you need to lead the whole person not just the employee that shows up from 9-5. You cannot demand what you are not willing to give.’ Also, ‘just like companies have boards, build a personal board of diverse people that will hold you true to your vision and challenge you, keep pushing you and keep you honest.’
Grace shares some nuggests that she’s learnt on her career journey, ‘attention to detail is paramount. Most often, it’s the difference between being good and being great. Don’t stop when you should be beginning. Keep pushing’ She’s had the privilege of working on many projects for diverse clients. ‘One project I am particularly proud of is the COVID-19 awareness campaign that Ogilvy Africa under my leadership developed for Unilever.’
In 2020, Unilever and the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office formed the Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC), a £100 million partnership of 21 partners (UN and NGOs) in over 37 countries, to battle the spread of COVID-19.
The number of COVID-19 patients was rising, the second wave was spreading, yet people were becoming fatigued by and apathetic towards hygiene measures. HBCC believes that the hygiene is the best weapon against COVID-19. The HBCC partnership that Ogilvy Africa served, consisted of the following among other partners: The UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, Unilever, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Oxfam, UNICEF, Amref Health Africa, World Vision, UNCHR, GIZ, The Aga Khan Foundation, International Rescue Committee, Plan International, PSI, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, BBC.
HBCC contracted Ogilvy Africa to develop the ‘Password’ campaign that https://www.theknowledgewarehouseke.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/grace-waweru-2.jpgran in 37 countries in South America, Africa, Middle East and Asia. The campaign reach 1.2 billion people globally and caused widespread behaviour change, which slowed down the rate of spread in the mentioned continents. 460,000 health workers were trained for community hygiene work, thousands of washing facilities were installed in the 37 countries and 78 million hygiene products donated globally.
The campaign received global news coverage from the international Press such as, The Washington Post and received several global awards such as Global Good Award and Save the Children Partnership Award. Over the course of her career at Ogilvy, Grace has been recognized for her leadership skills and was awarded the David Ogilvy Pipe Award for Exemplary Leadership in 2018 and 2019. She is also the recipient of the HundredX Global Leadership award in 2019.
Being a first born of two girls, she was raised by our grandmothers, mothers, and aunties. From an early age, this taught her the power of the collective, as per the old adage, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, walk with others.’ She values teamwork, community, shared values, clear vision and is a huge believer in the power of giving back and mentorship.
Ms Waweru holds a bachelor’s degree in communication, with a specialty in advertising and an executive MBA from USIU-A. Grace’s leadership style is influenced by her education at Kianda School and Daystar University, which both have strong emphasis on servant leadership – valuing people for who they are, not just what they bring to the organization; putting people first and helping them thrive; and channelling actions to bring about a positive impact in the world. Besides being a leader at Ogilvy, she’s a wife and doting mother to two daughters: Wairimu and Njeri.
Janet Kamau Thiong’o
AFRICA MARKETING DIRECTOR – ORACLE
Janet is currently the Africa Marketing Director at Oracle. A strategic, transformative marketing leader, she is applauded for her innovative campaigns that have elevated brand identity, strengthened revenue generation, and led to end-to-end business growth. Janet has formidable skills in strategic marketing, customer Insights and leading customer centric growth in B2B and B2C envisagement’s. She has extensive knowledge in innovation, leadership, managing strategic relationships, and understanding of customers and their markets. Ms Thiong’o holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in International Business Administration, from The United States International University-Africa (USIU-A).
Janet is highly skilled in technology- enabled business transformations and technology marketing across multiple countries and regions. She has developed creative and innovative campaigns that have elevated brand identity and increased revenue generation. She has extensive knowledge in impacting brands via operational deliverables, team coordination, managing strategic relationships, and budget and financial analysis.
Janet is an exceptional listener and solutions finder and possesses formidable skills. An effective strategic thinker with a keen eye for marketing and brand insight, she has a strong ability to see the big picture while remaining aware of the practical implications of decisions made. She has a diverse record of accomplishment of successes in strategic marketing and campaigns, some of which have earned her the Oracle Global Marketing Excellence Award.
While at HP, Janet was admitted to the HP EMEA High Achievers Club. She joined HP as the Marketing Manager, East and West Africa and rose to the position of Category Manager for the African region. Prior to her tour of duty at HP, Janet served as the Marketing Manager at Celtel Kenya. Ms Thiong’o is curious, promotes diversity, and has the courage to challenge current market beliefs and megatrends.
Having used a pragmatic and entrepreneurial leadership style to efficiently convert complex business problems into successful marketing, revenue generating programs, Janet is a skilled negotiator, forging strong bonds with strategic partners and achieving consensus across multiple organizational levels.
Janet recognizes the heavy focus and responsibility on sustainability. Technology has the potential to play a pivotal role to put the planet on a better path forward – addressing food insecurity, improving healthcare, combating climate change and increasing access to quality education. Her Marketing leadership role entails educating and creating awareness of environmentally friendly solutions such as cloud technology, hence ensuring that whilst we meet the needs of the present businesses, we do so without compromising the future businesses and generations.
Janet attests to the importance of integrity, gratitude, open-mindedness, and adaptability.
Janet is a mentor to many young girls and youth. “I appreciate the women who have come before me and as such I mentor and coach young girls across the region to encourage them to pursue STEAM careers and be great marketing leaders in the future,” she says.
She endeavours to leave a lasting positive impact on the lives of everyone she meets. Acknowledged as a woman in the information and communications technology industry, Janet is well rounded and highly passionate about giving back to the community, entrepreneurship, and nurturing the future generation. She leads the Oracle volunteers’ program in East Africa, a program that champions education, environment and community.
She is the Vice Chair of Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) East Africa, a program responsible for developing, engaging, and empowering current and future generations of Oracle women leaders. Janet believes in the quote: “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it” by H.E. Luccock, a highly quoted Methodist Bishop.
She is a Board Member at Junior Achievement Africa (JAA), one of Africa’s largest and most-impactful youth-serving non-profit organizations that has a presence in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. JAA collectively reaches more than 300,000 youth in more than 3,000 schools each year, equipping them with the skillset and mind-set to build thriving communities. Ms Thiong’o is grounded in her faith and has developed a strong desire to serve, something she has fully accepted as part of her purpose for life. She is a highly ethical, family-oriented individual with an incredibly warm personality.
She enjoys and engages with people from all lifestyles, believes in hard work, passion, and creativity. Her mantra is, ‘It is never easy, but when passion is the drive, one can achieve their dreams. Consistency, grit, confidence, believing in oneself, and perseverance are all essential’.
Eunie Khimulu Nyakundi
CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER – AIFLUENCE
She has driven the strategy and execution, product development, revenue management, opportunity identification, alliances and strategic partnerships, corporate social responsibility, communications and integrated marketing across the technology, insurance and advertising industries. Ms Khimulu has extensive experience in implementing agile methodologies and data driven decision making to drive unprecedented revenue and profitability gains in highly competitive markets.
Currently, she is the Chief Commercial Officer for AIfluence, a digital media platform for brands and advertisers to identify and connect with persons who can influence their target audience to consider and purchase their offering. The tech marketing firm first deeply understand the brands desired audience and then leverages its technology, expertise and partnerships with the major social media platforms to find ordinary people connected to the brand message and empowers them to share the brand’s story in their own unique style and tone.
Eunie loves working in this field because she is really passionate about finding ways of connecting brands and their audiences where both drive value from the connection.
Her journey at IBM started with her driving the product marketing while managing the performance marketing, channel, communications and citizenship teams for the East Africa region before transitioning to drive revenue growth by resellers and distributors, championing business partners across 35 countries in Africa. Here she was charged with identifying ways to better engage the key partners and growing demand generation engagements through the application of relevant skills and knowledge.
Eunie implemented channel co-marketing programs and achieved high levels of partner satisfaction as assessed by co-marketing NPS. She identified tailored marketing content, implementing agile marketing campaigns with the channel ecosystem based on data-driven decision making and a thorough grasp of solutions as well as the target market. Eunie cemented seamless alignment between campaign strategy between strategic partners and IBM, liaising with different business units on the creation and optimization of the customer journey, achieving year-on-year growth. This earned her recognition for going above and beyond for her team and for her company. She led the transition of the IBM Nairobi Innovation Client Center into a virtual support center during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eunie also served as an expert resource on cross-functional teams across the company. As the Head of Marketing at Resolution Insurance for close to 10 years, she set to work establishing a marketing department. Eunie joined the company as a Brand Manager and worked her way up from there, creating systems that allowed the marketing function to synergize with other departments in the organization. Her team’s efforts led to increased positive brand awareness and customer intimacy for the medical provider that grew to an insurance company with full general liability coverage. Her key contributions included developing and executing marketing, public relations, product launches, and new business development strategies that ensured Resolution achieved its revenue targets— and had high brand equity in the insurance category, while retaining positive relations with members and other partners.
Ms Khimulu helped in rebranding and repositioning the company as a general insurer through brand engagement. She initiated member reward programs that gained both customer and foreign investor confidence. She also launched, developed, and distributed 9 editions of the Resolution Magazine. Eunie enjoyed working on multiple brands positioning during her tenure with two global advertising agencies: TEQUILA and Ogilvy. Some of the brands included in her portfolio were Sprite, Fanta, DStv, Nestlé Drinking Chocolate, MILO, British American Tobacco, the Magadi Soda Company, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), Econet Wireless Kenya, Kengele’s Management Group, and the Oserian Group among others. Eunie is a dynamic leader, adept at interacting with a vast range of multicultural clients and stakeholders, consequently fostering robust business alliances, and partnerships.
She holds cross-borders, cross functions and cross hierarchical levels relationship building expertise. She is visionary leader, skilled at combining business acumen with analytical, strategic and technical knowledge leveraging data to design, plan, drive and implement processes and systems. Ms Khimulu is a strong believer in diversity, developing and growing others via mentorship and giving back to her community and has served on boards of the Marketing Society of Kenya, the Bible Society of Kenya, and Hellen Keller International in Kenya.
Her experience with these organizations helped her develop a strong understanding of how to support businesses and societies thrive as part of their corporate governance. Eunie believes in the power of continuous learning. She has earned a Master’s degree in Management of Organizational Development and a Bachelor of Science in International Business Administration both from the United States International University (USIU) – Africa.
In addition, she holds multiple certifications including Foundations, Market and Launch from the global Pragmatic Institute. She was honoured in 2014 with the Rising Star Award for the Banking and Financial Services sector and was featured in the inaugural Business Monthly EA 2021 Edition of Top 25 Women in C-Suite Impacting Business.
Eunie is known for her energy and enthusiasm as a strategic thinker and an optimist, always striving to find new ways to improve the way things get done. She has an eye for detail and a knack for bringing together people from different backgrounds to create something bigger than the sum of its parts.
Eunie loves to travel, read and learn about new cultures. Outside work, her greatest treasure is her family.
MARKETING DIRECTOR – COCA-COLA AFRICA
At Strathmore College, I pursued a financial course targeted to culminate into an accounting career. This was not to be. Many years later, the financial skills gained have proven to be valuable while managing significant marketing budgets. I studied Economics at the University of Nairobi and joined an International Club for students interested in Business and Economics (AIESEC). This was the beginning of my interaction with the corporate world, exposure to global like-minded young students and an insight into the marketing career.
My first job at Cadbury Kenya in 2001 as a Brand Assistant helped build basic marketing skills. I left for Reckitt Benckiser where through classical marketing in Kenya and Nigeria grew market share, negotiated media contracts and, together with a multi-agency team led the execution of the infamous Dettol Heart Run.
In 2011, I moved to Colgate-Palmolive based in South Africa to lead personal care brand strategy in 41 Africa countries and re-enter the Business in Nigeria. Later, my international assignment based in Switzerland focused on driving new communication and innovations for the AfriEurasia division.
In 2018, I joined Coca-Cola South Africa office to head the non-sparkling drinks portfolio strategy and thereafter held multiple roles to drive marketing plans execution with bottling partners. In my latest role as Front-Line Marketing Senior Director for Coca-Cola Africa, I am tasked with the duty to ensure seamless execution of marketing brand plans and innovations across 54 markets. This is after Coca-Cola restructured in 2020 merging 3 business units into one Africa unit to drive one global strategy.
The key success ingredient for this role is collaboration with multiple stakeholders across Africa, driving synchronized brand messages and similar consumer experiences that build both business volume and recruit new consumers. I also lead rigorous marketing budget allocation based on business turnover to ensure the success of annual business plans.
During media planning, increased focus on digital marketing strengthens consumer messaging reach and drives efficiency of marketing budgets with a franchise system which is Coca-Cola`s way of doing business, detailed business reviews together with the bottling partners ensures alignment to the mandated strategic plans. This in turn results in measurable execution results in conjunction with customers who drive physical availability of the Coca- Cola portfolio of products. Looking back at my over 21 Years marketing career, I would cite key milestones as follows:
- Growing multiple brands market share with specific mention to Dettol soap in Kenya 2006.
- Recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 in Kenya 2010 by the Business Daily.
- Winner of the Global Chairman`s You Can Make a Difference Award at Colgate- Palmolive in 2014 for leading re-entry of the business in Nigeria with a turnover of $10million.
- Launching over 100 global innovations across various multinationals.
- Working, travelling and living in more than 60 Countries, building valuable multi-cultural connections.
- Driving transformation of the marketing function during the Coca-Cola company restructure from 2020.
I am absolutely passionate about leadership in Africa. Which is why I pursued a Leadership MBA at the African Leadership University Business School based in Kigali, Rwanda. The outcome of this endeavour- 3million new leaders in the next 50 years is very much entwined with my professional purpose which is “…To find young people hungry enough and give them a platform to change the world their own way…”. It remains my everyday goal to build the next generation of leaders in Africa based on ethical ways of leadership, impacting communities and transforming the macro and micro economic environments for Africa to progress.
What are my mantras and values for success? 80% of a good job is to show up. Always bring the best version of yourself to work. Hard work pays. However, the rewards are based on results to show and not just the effort. Treat people with respect and empathy, and you will get 100% commitment to the work.
As a leader, it is my role to show the way, remove barriers to progress and empower those in my care to find solutions to business challenges. This is how I build motivated and engaged teams. On a personal note, as my executive coach always says: Leadership is an all-rounded affair. You have to be right with yourself before you can lead others. You cannot pour from an empty cup!
Jackline Kittony Arao
MARKETING DIRECTOR – TETRA PAK EAST AFRICA
I have had the privilege of spearheading dozens of initiatives for several FMCG organizations in East and West Africa. This exposure and experience especially in the emerging markets has helped me develop a deeper understanding of various categories, opportunities, and a global mind-set. Currently as the Marketing Director at Tetra Pak East Africa, having joined earlier as the Marketing Manager.
I have had the pleasure of supporting the growth of the dairy and juice category in East Africa as well as the development of new concepts in the liquid food category. My key responsibilities include developing and executing the strategy of the organization to ensure continuous business growth.
Prior to joining Tetra Pak seven years ago as the Marketing Manager, I led several marketing and sales initiatives that increased companies’ product portfolio range, increased market shares, generated new business that resulted in incremental revenue for companies such as Reckitt Benckiser and Colgate Palmolive.
I have had the opportunity to support the various organizations in the capacity of Assistant brand manager at Reckitt Benckiser in charge of Dettol Soap, Liquid and Handwash, then Area sales manager (reporting directly to the Country Manager), At Colgate Palmolive, I was the Marketing Operations Manager. I am passionate about growing brands right from inception to market realization and acceptance.
The journey of availing the right product at the right place and price gives me great satisfaction as it ensures an end consumer has had their needs met. I am a student of life and always open to learning and unlearning to be better than I was yesterday. Leadership roles have always found a way into my path, and this has helped shape my way of thinking and strategic execution in various roles at the workplace, in social settings or at home. I believe in being positive and making an impact in all that I do.
As I have climbed up the ladder, I have had the pleasure of being surrounded by great mentors who have assisted me in building different skill sets. I believe that it is important for people to look up to the ones who have walked the paths before. We can be able to learn a lot and avoid making mistakes that had been made.
I graduated from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa with Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com) degree in Marketing and thereafter continued to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Strategic Management from the United States International University (USIU-A). Armed with the knowledge, I set out to make a difference and as the years passed, I’ve come to realize that learning is continuous if you are to succeed. I have been able to pick great lessons from my colleagues and friends which have shaped whom I am today.
In 2018, I was recognized as one of Kenya’s top 40 under 40 by the Business Daily and it was an honour that I embraced with humility and the desire to work even harder. From this nomination, I realized that it is possible for anyone to achieve what they desire. The right attitude can help anyone overcome any situation if they focus on the positive and give it their best. If you do this, you will realize that there is no job that is too hard, and all work is important.Always think of the bigger picture and give it your all. As the world is changing, we must be responsible to ensure that we take care of the environment. Part of what I support currently is driving sustainable value chains for the various business partners we work with. I also support initiatives in recycling, and it is a joy to see “waste” converted into something useful and building a circular economy. This is a vital role in managing the climate change.
Conscious to the fact that we must give back to the community, I actively participate in mentoring the youth as I believe that “mentoring makes others better and making sure that the impact lasts even when you are not there”.
I live by a few guiding principles which have assisted me navigate through life. They include always delivering value, keeping it simple, learning from mistakes and leveraging on teamwork. These have helped me learn who I am and become more intentional in all I do.
Sheila Harrison Changangu
MARKETING DIRECTOR EAST AFRICA – VISA
After her tour of duty with Cadbury PLC, she joined East African Breweries Limited (EABL) as Brand Manager, rising to the position of Marketing Manager. In early 2011, Sheila joined SABMiller to be responsible for the marketing function, covering a portfolio of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, operating out of Nairobi, Kenya. She held the position of Marketing Director for Kenya for three years.
Ms Changangu joined British American Tobacco (BAT) in 2014 as Head of Value Brands for East and Central Africa area, based in Nairobi. In this role, Sheila was responsible for strategy development and marketing plan execution for 10 brands in six key markets in sub-Saharan Africa. Sheila was subsequently posted by BAT to London, UK, tasked with the responsibility for leading the development and deployment of a new Global Brand Building Model for BAT, as the Project Manager Brand Code.
As fate would have it, Ms. Changangu was once again head-hunted, this time by Visa to be the Marketing Director, East Africa, a position she has held from November 2017 to date. Visa is one of the world’s leading global payments technology companies. The brand connects consumers, businesses, banks and governments in over 200 countries across the globe through digital payments. With about 2.5 billion Visa cards in use, Visa is connecting people through payments and driving global commerce.
In her role, Sheila is responsible for Visa’s marketing across 13 countries in East Africa. Sheila graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com) degree in Business, Management and Marketing from The Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). She holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Entrepreneurship, Corporate Finance, Leadership and Strategy, a combined degree offered by United States International University (USIU) and Columbia Business School.
Ms. Changangu is an alumnus of the prestigious Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS Business School), having attended the Accelerated Leadership and Development training. Additionally, Sheila underwent executive education at the Harvard Business School in Digital Marketing Strategy. Ms Changangu was born in
Nairobi, Kenya. She attended Loreto Convent Valley Road (LCVR) and Our Lady of Mercy for her primary schooling, after which she joined State House Girls and later Precious Blood, Kilungu for her secondary schooling.
Outside of her professional career, Sheila is involved in charity endeavours through a UK-based organisation called Precious Sisters that focuses on supporting and mentoring girls in high schools from impoverished backgrounds here in Kenya. She is also involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects for children living with disabilities.
In her leisure time, Ms Changangu enjoys spending time with her family, health and wellness, cooking and travelling the world. Sheila relishes the experience of different cultures and cuisine.
MARKETING DIRECTOR – BEIERSDORF CENTRAL, EAST AND WEST AFRICA
I began my professional career at Unilever as part of the Unilever Future Leaders Program soon after graduation. Through this program, I gained experience in customer and consumer facing roles. These were marketing, field sales and customer marketing. The roles have helped me create a strong foundation for my marketing career with end-to-end customer and consumer experience.
In my time at Unilever, I worked on campaigns on iconic brands like Sunlight, Omo, Lifebuoy and Royco. My Unilever responsibilities included managing brands across both East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia) and Southern Africa (Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe).
In 2013, as part of my broader marketing development, I moved to Unilever South Africa as Regional Brand Development Manager in the savory category. This role included innovation management and developing marketing campaigns for East and Southern Africa plus whitespace markets which included Ethiopia and Cameroon.
Key highlights in my career at Unilever include growing Sunlight to be Kenya’s number 1 fabric cleaning brand, improving overall homecare category profitability by double digits whilst turning around the category to a growth trajectory and increasing women’s access to Royco’s iron fortified cubes to help reduce incidences of iron deficiency.
I left Unilever as Head of the Foods and Refreshments category having worked across all 3 categories; homecare, foods and refreshments and personal care and having implemented several campaigns for the benefit of both the consumer and company.
After almost 12 years at Unilever, it was time for a new challenge. I moved to Beiersdorf in August 2020 as the Marketing Director for Central, East and West Africa. In this role, I manage the marketing activities for the NIVEA brand across 34 markets, seeking to grow penetration, market share and brand health. A key deliverable whilst at Beiersdorf has been the growth of the face category via focused innovations based on local consumer needs.
One of our key innovations in this category was recognised by the Marketing Society of Kenya as the winner in the new product launch category 2021. Beiersdorf has challenged me in a different way compared to Unilever. One key challenge is managing a brand that is present across multiple categories and consumer segments whilst ensuring that a uniform brand imagery is created across the different categories.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com) degree Marketing Major (First Class Honours) from the University of Nairobi (UoN). I am also a Chartered Marketer with the Chartered Institute of Marketing-CIM (UK) and have completed an ACCA qualification. Whilst I am not actively working in Finance and Accounting, the principles learned during ACCA have been key within my marketing career as I manage category and brand P&Ls. I am an alumnus of Precious Blood Riruta Secondary School. Whilst here, I was vice house captain and later house captain. These positions helped me start to hone my leadership and collaboration skills. While in University, I was a member of the student organisation AIESEC up until the national office. It is through AIESEC that I identified the career direction I intended to pursue whilst further building my leadership skills.
What I appreciate most about Marketing is that it helps build a holistic business person since one has to fully understand their brand and all aspects relating to it, including supply chain, financials, production in addition to consumer, customer and competitor understanding.
I am passionate about winning, continuously challenging myself and doing my best in what I set out to do. I derive satisfaction from coaching and mentoring those I encounter in my path and seeing them progress in both their careers and personal lives. I believe that our experiences are much more valuable when we can share them with others and positively contribute to their growth and development.
In my later years, motherhood has continued to shape the individual that I am both professionally and personally. I have become more intentional on how I spend my time and energy, have greater clarity on the foundation I want to build for my children and have seen that life is a journey of continuous learning and it’s up to us to make use of the opportunities that we encounter along the way to accelerate our learning.
Magdalene Mwende Mulandi
HEAD OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS – SBM BANK KENYA
Having worked in diverse industries from entertainment to banking, she has brought life to brands from start-ups to well established multinational brands. She currently holds the position of Head of Marketing and Communications at SBM Bank Kenya.
Magdalene has received several awards and accolades among them being named Top 40 under 40 in 2014 by the Business Daily. As a bright-eyed young adult, Magdalene studied journalism and was responsible for churning out the university magazine and various yearbooks.
It is during this period that she discovered her passion for writing, digital, desktop publishing and public relations. Her first job while in university was as a publicist for Sterling Quality, a musical theatre company that was responsible for bringing on stage Sarafina, Fiddler on the Roof, Luanda Magere amongst others. Her most notable highlight during this period was publicizing the visit of Mbongeni Ngema and Leleti Khumalo who starred in the original Sarafina movie. She was responsible for all press briefings and events during the tour of the show ‘Sarafina in Kenya’ at the Kenya National Theatre over 15 years ago.
Her interest in digital media led her to the world of website production where she worked with the leading digital agency Dotsavvy to develop many of the initial websites for most of the financial services players in the market. It was also the dawn of Facebook and the beginning of what would be digital marketing that led her into banking.
As the key account manager, she interacted with various marketing managers providing solutions to create awareness through email marketing and search engine optimization. This was her entry point into the world of finance. She held various brand leadership positions at Chase Bank for a span of more than 10 years. During this period, the bank emerged as one of the most loved bank brands especially among MSME.
She later joined the Start-up team at Qwetu student residences, spurring the brand to one of the most recognizable brands in student accommodation. Her achievements combining brand leadership and purpose driven communication dovetailed at a time that SBM Bank, requiring her unique skills sets, appointed Magdalene as the Head of Marketing and Communication following a competitive recruitment process.
Magdalene holds a Global Executive Masters in Business Administration and Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the United States International University-Africa. She lives by the mantra, “To realize your potential you must look beyond the end of yourself, realizing that where you end is most likely where you actually begin” – Craig D. Lounsbrough.
Ms Mulandi is aware and awake to the fact that, ‘Today it’s not only harder for your brand message to reach your target audience, but the consumer is more aware and informed of what they want and expect from a brand’. She therefore calls on marketers to continuously keep themselves abreast with trends and various emerging digital platforms and formats. To this end, Magdalene continues to invest in her professional growth, by attending various executive and leadership programs available locally and internationally, while paying attention to the new media revolution the communication space is experiencing.
In her time away from work, Magdalene has passion for serving humanity, and is the current treasurer of her rotary club. She serves as a `Judge of the Accenture 10th Gender Mainstreaming Awards’ that is dedicated towards women’s entrepreneurship development as a channel for sustainable development. When asked about a period in her career that left an indelible mark on her, she quipped, “I provided brand leadership that led to the reopening of the first bank in Kenya under receivership. The brand trust and customer loyalty built over the years enabled the brand to not only re-open its doors during a turbulent time but also attract multiple international banks to bid for acquisition of its assets. The turnaround phase was a crisis communications case study that till today needs to be written due to the interplay between multiple stakeholders from the regulator to receiver manager and bank staff.” This was a true test of her mettle as a die in the wool corporate communications guru.
Throughout her career, Ms Mulandi has run various marketing campaigns that led to the growth of both brand equity and revenue. In addition, Magdalene has mentored a number of young people and start-up founders in her personal and professional capacity. Her main areas of interest are career and personal development. She is very passionate about creating local brands and more so creating a compelling employee brand experience. She is an avid supporter of women and youth empowerment in all sectors of the economy. Magdalene is not all about work. She is learning to play the cello, enjoys music and the arts, mentoring young brands, loves writing and is constantly looking for avenues to create lasting social impact through her many talents.
CO-FOUNDER, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER & DEPUTY CEO – REDHOUSE GROUP
With over 25 years of experience, Esther is an award-winning marketing and communication strategic leader, globally recognized for her contribution in building, positioning and protecting brands and reputations of organizations, both on national, regional and international platforms, and in multiple sectors.
Ms Ngomeli is a quintessential and visionary leader, purposeful, poised and fuelled by a spirit of excellence. She has over time honed her competencies in leadership, strategic planning, business and financial management, marketing and integrated communication, powered by a knack for creativity and a passion for growing great brands and businesses in sub-Saharan Africa.
In her current role, she offers a unique blend of executive acumen including transformative leadership, management and the vision necessary to drive the Group’s operational efficiencies, business growth and financial stability. She is also responsible for deepening the Group’s partnership with the global marketing and communication network within the Omnicom Group to leverage opportunities for Kenya and beyond while scaling up the business advisory services and integrated marketing communications (IMC) practice offering.
Under her leadership, the Redhouse Group and its subsidiary businesses have won numerous accolades. The agency is one of the most awarded IMC Group’s in the category, winning both global and national awards yearly for strategic, purpose-driven and resultsled campaigns, ranging from the Grand Prix – Kenya’s first and only at the Loeries Awards – Africa Chapter, Gold Loeries, Africanness, Public Relations Society of Kenya (PSRSK), Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK) and most recently the Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation and Engagement (SABRE) recognition, where the Group emerged as the most awarded Agency in Africa, scooping seven accolades in April 2022.
Prior to this, Esther was the Founder and Managing Director of the anchor advertising agency within Redhouse Group –Media Edge Interactive Limited, a position she held for 17 years. Ms Ngomeli was responsible for initiating and growing the business units led by Media Edge Interactive, which has been rated one of the TOP 100 fastest growing Medium Sized Companies in Kenya, in the KPMG Business Daily TOP 100 Index. Esther’s resume reads like a visionary and ambitious woman’s bucket list.
She started her career journey in software programming in 1994, when she joined a computer software development and training company as a programmer and trainer. Later, she co-founded Economic Intelligence (EI) a start-up venture which offered strategic research and business information services. EI also published the Market Intelligence (MI) and was for many years’ promoters of MI Banking Awards, a top-rated platform for the banking sector, as well as running a below-the-line promotional agency.
Esther also founded a fashion design clothing business. Esther’s role in marketing and communications, has been recognized globally and she is the second woman in sub-Saharan Africa to be bestowed with the highest and most prestigious honour, Fellow (FCIM) status by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in the United Kingdom, for her strategic leadership and marketing role in the growth of key brands in Kenya and beyond. She also holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Leicester (United Kingdom).
As a change-maker and equality-minded business leader, Esther is a strong believer in executive coaching, mentoring, especially women into sharpening their skills and knowledge to attain managerial and leadership positions in the workplace, market place and the community at large. Her mantra is having a clear vision, focus, hard work, pursuit of excellence, and putting God first above everything else.
Esther serves on the board of Super Brands Council (East Africa), the world’s largest independent arbiter of branding, a member of KEPSA (Kenya Private Sector Alliance) and Women Corporate Directors (WCD Kenya Chapter). Previously, she served as member of Rotary Club of Nairobi North and as a Board Member and Trustee of Palmhouse Foundation, an Educational Trust that shapes the lives of thousands of bright and needy secondary school young students. She has also served as a board member of the Joyful Women Organisation (JOYWO), an NGO founded to empower Kenyan women economically to enhance household food security by supporting sustainable livelihood projects.
Esther is a loyal confidant and advisor to many national leaders in Kenya and is also passionate about empowerment of marginalized communities to solve complex issues especially in her rural home community of Makueni County.
DEPUTY MANAGING PARTNER AT OGILVY AFRICA
In 2017, Carol Warui joined Ogilvy Africa as a Deputy Managing Partner heading the Public Relations and Influence division in the firm regionally. Throughout her tenure, she has demonstrated astute confidence in shifting the division’s focus to supporting client businesses, embracing technology and shaking up the company to bring in fresh talent. She successfully navigated the division’s recovery through COVID-19, achieving phenomenal growth.
Owing to her Catholic schooling background, which trained her to respect discipline and structure, she continues to make powerful strides in the communication industry. Her day-to-day entails managing the everyday operations of the firm to leading and inspiring others with deep knowledge and experience.
Her rich schooling background includes a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) degree from the University of Nairobi (UoN), a Master’s degree in International Business and Law from Salford University – Manchester and a Chartered Institute of Marketing Certificate (CIM) from the United Kingdom (UK).
She taught as a pastoral teacher at St. Mary’s Boys High School, where her resolve for mentoring and servant leadership was cemented. These educational exploits have supplemented her calling to marketing strategic communication and policy development.
Her career in the private sector is diverse. She served in various positions in the entertainment industry and not-for-profit organizations before taking up a role at Redline Public Relations. Her 9-year stint was instrumental in creating the bedrock of what Public Relations and Influence are today.
Through expert communication strategy and adept policy development, Carol helped bring the conversation of fertility to the forefront of community conversation while supporting the Merck Healthcare – More than a mother campaign. The campaign was successful in demystifying and debunking myths that discriminated against women. These conversations lead to a cultural shift where men began to take ownership alongside their spouses. The change in perception resulted in an understanding that fertility complications may not always be down to the woman. Tangibly, there was a sharp uptake in men taking fertility and sexual health tests themselves.
As a result, fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy and intrauterine insemination (IUI) have become more widespread and commonly accepted as a norm in Kenyan culture. Carol has successfully cultivated an environment that has no problem embracing innovation and facing challenges head-on. In the process, she has contributed to the transformation of Ogilvy Public Relations into the largest strategic communications firm in the region. A few of her achievements in this current role are the launch of the inaugural Kenya Airways flight to New York – NBO –NYC, Ethiopia’s country branding campaign Going Big in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe’s country branding campaign Zim is Now and support for the Kenya Branding campaign Why the future is Kenya which was launched in 2017.
Carol sits on the board of the Emergency Medicine Healthcare Foundation, an organization that champions the provision of life-saving emergency health services to the general public. She has contributed to shaping the communications that highlight the plight of public health institutions and the challenges faced in access to adequate funding, expert paramedical training and well-equipped ambulances to aid in responding to emergencies in our communities effectively. “I pride myself in doing work that matters. Your mindset is your biggest strength. I face every day knowing that I don’t see obstacles; only opportunities,” Carol stated in a recent interview.
She also sits on the KEPSA governing council and has driven communication strategy to effectively bring together local and foreign business associations, MSME’s and start-ups from various sectors encouraging them to speak with one voice when engaging the government. Her policy development has touched on cross-cutting policy issues and programs for the economic and social development of the country.
In addition, she chairs the Public Image committee for the Rotary Club of Lavington Eco – the first environmental club in the Rotary network globally. Her passion for her community drove her to create this piece of history and educating her community on ways of sustainable living is a cause she avidly supports and actively participates in.
“Your success as a leader is determined by how you effectively communicate and engage your team to understand your vision. Once this happens, it is much easier to steer the team to excellence,” she states.
Carol has a unique ability to recognize potential and nurture talent. Her pride comes from seeing her teams succeed. As a devout Christian, she anchors all her success as God ordained – and rarely enjoys taking the limelight even though her accomplishments are truly exceptional.
SUSTAINABILITY LEAD FOR AFRICA – DIAGEO
Arnolda started her career with the Group in 2019 when she was appointed to serve as the Head of Sustainability and Community Engagement at EABLowned Kenya Breweries Limited. In this role, she distinguished herself for her pioneering spirit by steering the successful launch of EABL’s inaugural Sustainability Report in 2021. Prepared in line with Global Reporting Initiative standards, the report provided rich insights into EABL’s sustainability programs. It was widely credited for raising the bar in sustainability reporting in corporate Kenya.
“The operating principle in corporate boardrooms and business leadership teams today is that businesses exist not only to make profits for shareholders, but also to improve the wellbeing of employees, customers, partners, and society at large,” notes Arnolda.
She adds that sustainability, which is the idea that businesses must do good for their shareholders while doing well for their communities and environment, is a business imperative for enterprises keen on staying competitive in today’s business environment.
“Our approach to sustainability is unique in the sense that it is focused on growing value in our communities and ensuring that our products and operations do not cause harm. These efforts are anchored on 3 pillars which include promoting responsible drinking, championing inclusion and diversity and driving more sustainable sourcing, production, packaging, and distribution,” she says.
Arnolda’s efforts to mainstream sustainability at KBL have been instrumental in shaping the brewer’s public image as a responsible corporate citizen. Tellingly, the brewer has bagged several accolades under her stewardship, including emerging as the winner of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award at the Reuters Responsible Business Awards 2021 and the Private Sector Winner of the 2020 SDGs Kenya Award.
Her engagement with external stakeholders also resulted in a groundbreaking MOU between KBL and the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) to promote positive drinking. Under the terms of the MOU, NTSA has integrated KBL’s DrinkIQ module into the national driving education curriculum. In recognition of her contributions to the field of sustainability, Arnolda bagged the 2021 Meaningful Business 100 (MB100) award. This award recognizes leaders across the world who are combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Global Goals.
The MB100 was judged by a global panel of 21 experts, who assessed over 500 nominations from 75 countries, selecting the finalists from an outstanding and diverse set of leaders including corporate CEOs, entrepreneurs, sustainability leaders and impact investors. Arnolda was also recognized in the 2021 Top 40 under 40 women in Kenya, an annual ranking of achieving women published by Nation Media Group owned Business Daily.
Arnolda was in 2022 promoted to serve in her current role as the Sustainability Lead for Africa at Diageo. “I was excited by the new challenge as I believe there’s still a lot that we can do at a continental level to mainstream sustainability and advance our goal to be the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer products company in Africa,” she said.
Before working at Diageo and its affiliated companies, Arnolda had a successful career spanning more than ten years as a communications expert. Between 2017 and 2019, she was the Group Account Manager as well as a Senior Account Manager at Redhouse Public Relations, a leading public relations firm owned by marketing communications agency Redhouse Group. In this role, she had the privilege of advising some of the most prolific brands operating in Kenya and the region on their communications, media relations and stakeholder engagement programs. Some clients she worked with included Amref Health Africa, Toyota, MTN, and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, among others.
“My time in the PR industry was instrumental in building my soft skills, including prioritization, resilience and a strong work ethic,” she said, noting that balancing the interests of different clients while consistently delivering high quality work was a challenging but rewarding task. Prior to her stint at Redhouse, Arnolda was the Public Relations and Communications Manager at the Kenya Red Cross Society. Before this, she worked as a Communications Advisor in Kenya’s Ministry for Devolution and Planning, then under Her Excellency Anne Waiguru, the current Governor of Kirinyaga County.
She also worked in politics, serving as a senior communications advisor in the Uhuru Kenyatta Campaign Secretariat in 2013. Arnolda started her career as an intern at the Royal African Society in the UK before moving to Portland Communications, a leading UK headquartered global PR firm. The seasoned communications expert got her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications (Public Relations) in 2009 from Concordia University, Moorhead, Minnesota (USA), where she also represented the college in track and field competitions and served as a college radio talk show host.
She in 2011 obtained her Master of Arts degree in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University, Washington DC (USA), graduating cum laude. Her work in the communications and public relations industry has received numerous awards from the Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK).
Outside work, Arnolda is passionate about fitness, health, and wellbeing. “I try to live a purposeful life and take great care of my health through physical exercise and meditation” she says. As a recreational runner and hiker, Arnolda is a Berlin Marathon finisher and has summitted Mt. Kenya. “Strong relationships are also important to me. I find fulfilment from spending quality time with my friends and family who have supported me all through my career,” she says.
Carol Wachira Wanyama
MARKETING DIRECTOR – ROYAL MEDIA SERVICES
A recipient of the prestigious ‘Top 40 Under 40 2016’ award as well as SOMA 2021’s Top 25 Women in Digital award, she bears a 360 degrees’ wealth of experience and valuable skills cutting across various aspects of strategic leadership. Carol’s role at Royal Media Services is multi-pronged. In addition to the heavy responsibility of demand creation that lies in the marketing of the Royal Media brands, her current role has also seen her spear heading the digital transformation at the Group. This has involved sitting in the driver’s seat in formulation of the strategic direction and digital future of the company and its products. This is in addition to her added role in television content strategy for the group, for all externally acquired content.
‘Achieving success from the delicate and heavy responsibilities described above would not be possible without the strong pool of talent and solid teams that we have at Royal Media Services’, she says.
‘I am passionate about people and the strength, variety and uniqueness that they bring to the table, through their authentic selves. It gives me great joy working with and guiding teams to apply the best version of themselves in achieving their goals, both on the corporate as well as personal levels’, she adds.
‘RS brands are market leaders. The latest research from Ipsos Kenya- Quarter 2 2022 placed Citizen Television at a solid Number 1 position as has been the case over the years, with a 56.7% market share across the country. Inooro Television stands at 9.7% while Ramogi Television, at only 4 months since launch already has curved out a niche of 3.2%. This gives our Television coverage a total dominance of 69.6%. The remaining 30% is shared amongst over 65 local TVs and hundreds of International Channels available in Kenya today. The story is the same for our Radios.
Despite the heavily fragmented radio space, our 13 radio stations occupy leadership positions in all their areas of transmission across Kenya, led by Radio Citizen, which is the Number 1 radio by far at 22.9% Market share. The same script applies to Citizen Digital which within three months of it’s launch, went ahead to lead as Kenya’s Number 1 News App. Viusasa as well occupies its leadership position on the SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) space.
Our brands are all about delighting the masses and connecting with them, at the very core of their being. We are held accountable by our audiences across Television, Radio and on our Digital platforms, to engage, provide reliability, trust, educate and entertain them at the very best quality.’
‘We also consciously aim to thrive as a socially responsible organization through heavy participation in social causes in collaboration with our audiences across the country through our platforms. The causes cut across environmental, health, education, food security, water harvesting and provision, entrepreneurship, just to name a few. These pillars drive our business and engagement strategies across the board.
Our pillars include our strong belief in and in the use of local talent across the board. Our identity is synonymous with ‘Kenyan/Local’. This has seen Royal Media Services’ brands occupy its space as the Number 1 media house by far, giving a ‘clear blue waters’ lead ahead of its competitors across Radio and TV and winning hundreds of awards, as a result,’ she concludes. Carol is a Masters Degree holder in Strategic Management from the University of Nairobi (UoN) as well as an alumnus of Daystar University, for her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Administration. She has attended numerous courses over the years, concerned with enriching her experience in her field.
Carol additionally serves at various levels as follows: Board Member of the Advertising Standards Committee (ASC), whose mandate is to provide governance, solve industry disputes and support growth and development
of advertising standards across the industry. Board Member of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) in charge of the PR, Communications, Research and Information Dissemination Board. Board Member of the Zuri Foundation.
Previously Vice-Chair of the Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK), the umbrella body for Marketer’s in Kenya. Previous Board Member of the Daystar University Alumni Association (DUAA). In her free time, Carol enjoys travelling the world and singing for a cause. She is part of the Nairobi Music Society (NMS) choir and previously, the Twakutukuza Trust Choir. Both choirs sing to support charity. She enjoys mentorship of young and upcoming professionals at various levels.
Carol is a lover of nature and actively supports causes concerned with conservation of our natural environment. She also enjoys deliberately spending quality time with her family. Carol is a strong believer in the fact that each and every human being has a role and God-given purpose in the walk of life.
‘We must each strive to discover what this special calling within us is. We must also in the same bid, strive to give back to the communities within which we thrive. There is a lot we can do to create impact, at a very small cost to our time and resources. The sense of fulfillment from giving back is unparalleled,’ she concludes.
Linkedin: Caroline Wachira- Wanyama
MANAGING DIRECTOR FOR EAST AND CENTRAL AFRICA – GROUPM
As the GroupM MD, I work with our affiliate network across over 40 markets in Africa to ensure smooth delivery of work at the market level, and hence building sustainable partnerships and capabilities with our affiliate network. I spend most of my GroupM time on this. Building mutual partnerships that enable us to unlock growth across the continent. Africa is complex, but we can finally say as GroupM, we have figured it out. We have the people, the network and more so, we are investing in data to guide our media investment, enable us to unlock growth solutions for our clients in some of Africa’s most data dark markets.
How did I Begin?
I started in client service, at TBWA/ RedSky. While I spent most of my time in client management, I leaned towards strategy: This agency was great in strategy. I loved learning. I loved the system we used to develop brand solutions. I loved Client Service, until I didn’t, so I got really bored. When media came calling, it was not a resounding yes; it was, “Okay, let me try.” 12 years later, I love it. This is what I was supposed to be doing. This was home. I moved to McCann to manage Coca-Cola strategy team for East Africa, then to Tanzania to set up the Vodacom Media unit.
I had a stint in Ghana setting up the Vodafone media unit, and later I was appointed as the Country Manager of Scanad and JWT Tanzania. After 5 years in Tanzania, it was time to move back home. After many conversations with my boss, I came back home to Mediacom as a Managing Director. It has been 12 years spent crisscrossing the continent, learning Africa, the people, the brands, the media partners – all that has come in handy in my new role at GroupM.
I love the speed of advertising, the dynamism, the need for innovation and thinking differently every other day. The way one little data set can be the beginning of a Pan-African campaign, and that can help build brands and grow businesses. I love using media to grow brands, to build businesses, to change behavior and impact communities.
I love that we can be working on a telco brand this morning and move to a healthcare brand in the afternoon. That diversity feeds by curious mind, it keeps me sane, I would say. Recently I have focused my energies on business strategy and using data, content, and connections to unlock growth for businesses from corporates to start-ups.
This is what I want to be doing. This is the future for me.
Biggest Lesson so far. The power to be human: to be vulnerable, to win without it getting into your head, to show kindness even in the most acrimonious situations, to acknowledge mistakes, to apologize even to your juniors, the power to connect with others by embracing your flawed self, go back into self; your humanity is always waiting for you to embrace it.
What inspires me?
Reading. I read a lot. I read everything, from magazines like HBR and MIT Sloan to novels. Some of the books I have really enjoyed reading include “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. This book is so key for me, it has taught me to embrace my choices instead of anguishing over them. It has helped me in designing a life that I love, that is not all about work but about the things that I love. It has helped me find balance. I am loving listening to podcasts in the last couple of years, Brene Brown and Mediacom lead on that list.
I listen and watch loads of Ted Talks, and definitely Brene Brown makes for the best Ted Talk out there. What would I tell my 24-yearold self? Leave toxic people and environments as soon as you can. Call them out, do not allow yourself to sit it out. Because above all things, you need peace of mind.
- 2015: Country Manager, Scanad and JWT Tanzania
- 2017: Managing Director, Mediacom East Africa 2019:
- Senior Executive Program, Africa: Harvard Business School 2021:
- Managing Director East & Central Africa & Sub Sahara Coordination Lead, GroupM
- 2022: MBA, Hult International Business School
Beyond roupM + Volunteer Work 1.
- Global Campaign Board Member – Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
- Board Member: International School of Advertising
- Mentor, Expert and Global Judge: Hult Prize
- Sponsor and Partner: The Crucible, A Strathmore University program
- Advisor: Craydel
- Advisor: MwalimuPlus
PUBLIC AFFAIRS LEADER FOR AFRICA – DOW
Mumbi is also responsible for supporting business objectives and priorities and drive growth; drive competitive advantage through policy advocacy as well as issue resolution; foster strategic relationships and build goodwill for Dow at community levels; and drive employee engagement and alignment. She has worked closely with businesses and geographies to develop and manage over 30 strategic partnerships in sustainability and corporate citizenship across Africa.
Her journey ‘I started my career at a young age of 22 years. There is a story to this. Being an evening university student undertaking public administration and sociology, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I looked for a job. Luckily, through a family contact, I met my first employer, Sue Omanga. While I thought I was going to work at a PR and Marketing firm (I really didn’t know what this was then), what I found at my interview location was a medical equipment shop. I was confused. I had been invited by a company called Exclamation Marketing. But I was at a medical equipment shop.
Sue Omanga asked me…’what job are you looking for?’ I just said …marketing your medical equipment. And just like that, I became the shop attendant. What I did not know was that there was a real PR and Marketing company behind the shop, which she also owned. Two years later after finishing my university, I joined Exclamation Marketing. This is the company that shaped my career in corporate affairs. At Exclamation Marketing, I was involved in some of the major sports and brand marketing campaigns in Kenya including Tusker Safari Sevens, Jonnie Walker Golf Series, Tusker Project Fame and Athletics. It is here that I was voted 1st runner-up, best young PR practitioner of the year 2007, by the Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK).
After 7 years’ service, I was offered Account Manager’s role by Scanad PR, which later transitioned to Hill+Knowlton Strategies. It is at H+K that I experienced the dynamism of corporate affairs, which was experienced through the various roles I held including, General Manager, H+K Uganda and Deputy Managing Director H+K East Africa. I was involved in most of the major financial transactions including IPOs, Rights Issues and Listings. While serving as GM H+K Uganda, I supported one of the major cross border IPOs- Umeme and launched Britam into the Ugandan market. I led the communications team that managed SIM card registration campaign by Communication Authority of Kenya (CA).
The campaign was voted the best PR campaign of the year 2010 at the PRSK Excellence awards. I also won 4 out of 8 internal awards for project successes at H+K’s internal ‘Big Story Awards’ of 2011-2012. What I am most proud of about my 6 year-career at H+K is the power of teamwork. The teams I worked with or which I led were dynamic and extremely dedicated. Today, I am proud to see most of the young practitioners who I worked with being successful in their careers in Kenya and beyond.
In 2015, I joined Dow as Public and Government Affairs Manager for Eastern Africa. Today, I look after Public Affairs and Citizenship for Africa, focusing on our key markets of South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and Morocco. It is at Dow that I got directly involved in sustainability. I have organized three major clean-ups in Nairobi in partnership with Child Fund, bringing together over 2,000 people for each clean-up.
This year, I coordinated a Pan-African youth driven initiative -Youth Day of Service in partnership with Leap Africa, bringing together over 6,000 youths in over 30 countries to participate in youthled social impact campaigns. The goal is to ignite the creativity of young Africans, who comprise over 70% of the total population, towards community/ sustainable development.
My work in corporate citizenship and sustainability has been incredibly fulfilling. There is so much more to be done especially in the area of climate change and biodiversity loss. As I continue growing in my practice of public and government affairs, I believe the area of sustainability and ESGs will be at the core of my next career journey. One of the key mantras I have applied in my career is having owner’s mindset. Carry out your tasks for your employer in the way you would want to work for your own business. This mindset enables one to be result oriented and solution driven. Mumbi is a Bachelor of Arts graduate from the University of Nairobi and she is currently completing a master’s degree in Communication for Development at the Daystar University in Nairobi.
She is certified by
- University of Cambridge: Business Sustainability Management
- Yale School of Management and IMD: Leading and Managing Globally
- INSEAD: Leadership Program
- University of Bern: Essentials of International Trade Law and Policy training.
Mumbi Keega is also the Vice Chair of Industrialization and Enterprise Development Sector Board, Kenya Private Sector Alliance and Co-Chair, American Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Taskforce. She lives in Nairobi with her husband and two children.
GROUP HEAD OF MEDIA – DENTSU KENYA
The hard work is a given, its long nights and early mornings, its doing more work for less money, its staying on when others quit, but above all, it’s having faith that when God gives you an idea or opportunity, He means to see it to completion”. Since its inception in 2010, dentsu (then Carat) has grown from being a single media agency to managing the full suite of integrated marketing communication disciplines – creative, digital performance, content and digital PR.
She credits this growth to brave clients who were willing to partner with a small new, innovative agency rather than the legacy brands that had over 85% market share at the time.
“We are really proud to work with some of the biggest and most innovative brands in Kenya, Safaricom, Absa, NCBA, Netflix to name a few, what’s really great about these brands is they really do work to achieve a higher purpose of improving lives and livelihoods – it’s the higher calling that powers their performance”.
“Choosing the campaign we are proudest of is not an easy task, but one that easily comes to mind is the Malaria No More campaign where our dentsu Kenya team worked with our global partners to develop and execute a campaign geared towards eradicating Malaria on the African continent.”
The reason she gives for choosing this campaign is that it allowed us to actively show that we, as Africans, hold the solution to our problems. “This campaign really allowed us to show our capabilities as a Kenyan creative, strategy and media team helping develop a campaign that will contribute towards eradicating the suffering caused by Malaria on our continent.
“The successes we have achieved as a business would not have been possible without Joel Rao, Max Ngari and Chris Madison who truly are the most brilliant minds in the business – and most importantly the teams that support us, they are the collective vision bearers that turn all the plans that we create into a daily reality.”
Samantha is a feminist and a strong advocate for women in the workplace. She has been selected as Jurist in media category the Loeries in South Africa in 2020 and 2021. She has also been chosen as Top 40 Women under 40 in 2018 and the Top 25 Women in Csuite in 2021.