CEO, WPP SCANGROUP PLC
The Board of WPP Scangroup PLC, Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) listed firm appointed Ms Patricia Ithau the chief executive effective (CEO) and Executive Director on March 14, 2022, replacing founder and long-serving boss Bharat Thakrar. Ms Ithau was the regional director at Seed, the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies.
“Patricia is passionate about creating opportunities that improve people’s live,” WPP Scangroup chairman of Board Richard Omwela stated upon her appointment.
Ms Ithau has worked with consumer brands including Unilever, Diageo/East Africa Breweries Limited and French personal care company, LÓreal. She previously served on the board of WPP Scangroup as non-executive director from 2017 to 2020.
Ms Ithau describes herself on LinkedIn as a true believer in the continent of Africa, pointing our need to build on our own human capital to be able to market the region in order to transform the continent’s fortunes on the global stage.
Patricia adds that she is a passionate spirit, drawing inspiration from making a difference in everything she does. She believes she has the opportunity to build role models in the corporate and entrepreneurial world, serving as a catalyst and connecting resources to help enterprise overcome adversity and seize opportunities to realize their full potential.
To use her own words as capture on LinkedIn, the most important global business network, Ms Ithau prides that her belief is underpinned by her love for identifying enduring consumer and commercial insights to support the development of brands and grow businesses, that actualized in a career spanning 25 years across three global companies, Unilever, Diageo/EABL and L’Oreal.
The last 8 years of that career saw her focus on setting up new organizations and opening new frontiers as Managing Director Uganda Breweries Ltd, Managing Director EABL International, with her last role in the FMCG sector being setting up L’Oreal East Africa, a subsidiary of the Global multinational as its inaugural Managing Director.
This was indeed a crowning glory having in a little over three years grown a business with $25million revenue, employing over 270 people, manufacturing 40 million units per annum and closing one of the first of its kind acquisitions of a local business, in this market.
She adds that she pivoted her passion to drive scaling and transformation of SMEs, the largest job creation sector in all emerging economies.
Ms Ithau has made this a reality as the Regional Director for the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies – Seed, an initiative out of the Graduate School of Business, that supports transformation of SMEs in the East and Southern Africa region, through a year-long program.
The program in the last 5 years has supported scaling of over 200 small to mid-size companies, demonstrating real impact through the age-old idiom ‘teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’.
In her board duties, Ms Ithau states that she builds on the positive impact of development funding, as a board member of Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), the multi donor initiative with the overall goal of reducing poverty in the East African through advocating for policies that see to the reduction of trade barriers and increased trade competitiveness of the East African region; and bring to life her enduring desire to connect corporate business with social sustainability investment, as a Trustee on the Board of the Safaricom (Kenya) and Vodafone Foundations (UK).
Patricia also seats on the board of Absa Bank Kenya PLC (where Patricia chairs Absa Securities board), Jambojet, British Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Vivo Activewear Limited where she is Chair of Board.
According to John Ngumi, Patricia is one of those focused, positive, can-do people of which this country is so desperately short. John adds, upon the departure of Ms Ithau from the Advisory Board at Invest in Africa (IIA)-Kenya, where both of them served, ‘she brings verve and vitality, sparkle and spirit, vim and vigour, dash and drive, to all she does and touches,’.
She holds an MBA degree in Strategic Management from USIU –Africa, and a Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com) degree from the University of Nairobi (UoN). Ms Ithau has attended numerous executive education and advanced management programs with leading universities in the world, including the Said Business School (2013), University of Oxford, INSEAD-CEDEP (2012) and Strathmore Business School Nairobi/IESE Business School Barcelona (2007).
Patricia is a Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner with Genos International and an Accredited Executive Coach with the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC).
On December 12, 2020, Ms Ithau was bestowed with the Head of State Commendation (HSC) for her distinguished service to the nation, in all the responsibilities and duties she as been involved.