CEO, APA LIFE ASSURANCE
Catherine Karimi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Principal Officer of APA Life Assurance has achieved significant milestones throughout her career. Notably, she made history by becoming the inaugural female CEO of APA Life Assurance in 2017. Her accomplishments were further recognised when she secured the prestigious CEO of the Year Think Business Insurance Awards in 2020. In addition to her responsibilities as a Board Member of the Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI), Ms Karimi also holds a position as an Advisory Board Member for the esteemed Nanyang Business School of the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Since joining APA Life Assurance, Ms Karimi has taken charge of spearheading the digital transformation of the company, fostering a culture of innovation and broadening market reach into emerging sectors. As the pioneering female CEO of APA Life Assurance, she has been instrumental in the creation of ‘Upendo’, an end-to-end digital microlife product. This significant contribution has played a pivotal role in the remarkable growth of APA Life Assurance, marked by an average annual growth rate of 21 percent surge in revenue and 19 percent average growth rate in assets.
Catherine has held several senior leadership roles across the industry. Before assuming her current position, she served as Acting Managing Director (MD) at Kenya Alliance Insurance Company. Prior to that, she held the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the same company. She also has experience working at Jubilee Insurance, where her last position was Operations Manager responsible for overseeing Life Business across the region.
Catherine’s leadership ethos echoes a quote often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Her determination to effect meaningful change, tempered by her receptiveness to the insights of others, paints a portrait of a leader who is not only driving transformation but also fostering an environment where everyone’s voices have the chance to contribute to the symphony of progress. In an industry that often favours tradition, Catherine’s ability to champion change while maintaining an open forum for discussion and collaboration is truly a breath of fresh air, inspiring those around her to embrace innovation with a renewed sense of purpose and unity.
She is also keen to see more women rising through the ranks of executives, simply because that has today become a tried and tested element in doing business successfully. In fact, at the APA Apollo Group, over 50 percent of senior management positions are held by women. “I am passionate about increasing the number of women in leadership roles, not only because high performing women deserve equal access to opportunity, but because the inclusion of women in these roles has been proven to be better for business. My own experience in the insurance sector has given me many insights into why and how we must improve the sector.”
Catherine Karimi’s accomplishments are remarkable. She earned her place among the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in the C-Suite according to the 2021 Business Monthly EA rankings. Her success story includes winning the Manager of the Year award in 2013, as well as receiving the prestigious Dean’s List Awards. Notably, she came second in the Top 10 Angaza Awards for East Africa Women in Finance, underscoring her exceptional achievements in the field.
Catherine’s engagement with the community goes beyond her professional endeavours, reflecting her commitment to social responsibility and making a positive impact beyond the boardroom. One of the causes closest to her is early education. She supports initiatives aimed at nurturing young minds during their formative years.
She is a Director of the APA Apollo Foundation which supports the objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), and focuses on four key areas including; Good Health and Well Being, Quality Education, Clean Water and Sanitation and Climate Action. “We believe that the APA Apollo Foundation has a critical role to play in ensuring the overall success of the Group. By addressing society’s needs to improve quality of life, the APA Apollo Foundation also supports the business through a methodology that we call Creating Shared Value (CSV),” Ms Karimi notes.
Catherine stands as a genuine luminary in the insurance industry; a leader whose actions and achievements are an inspiration to others. Her journey in the field has been one marked by unwavering determination, innovation, passionate leadership and commitment to excellence that places her among one of the most admired figures in business.