New faces to watch in 2020 as C-suites undergo big changes

Friday, January 3rd, 2020 00:06 |

The year 2019 was tough for Kenyans and businesses, with several Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed companies issuing profit warnings and laying off employees among other austerity measures.

 However, the year also brought changes to the coveted corner offices or C-suites in a number of companies and State agencies.

One of the biggest in the C-suite changes in the year was announced in October when Safaricom’s board said it had picked Peter Ndegwa, former East African Breweries Ltd finance director as the new CEO effective this  April 1, making him the first African to lead the East Africa’s most profitable telco. 

Ndegwa joins Safaricom from Diageo Plc where he is the Managing Director of Diageo Continental Europe, a British multinational alcoholic beverages company that operates in Europe, Russia, and North Africa.  He will take over from Michael Joseph who made a comeback in an acting capacity at the helm of East Africa’s largest telco last July following the death of Bob Collymore.

Wealth of experience

Safaricom’s board is banking on his “wealth of experience” gained from being at the helm of regional and local corporates for many years to keep the giant telco on the growth path.

His appointment came after protracted boardroom discussion, with the government, a major shareholder at Safaricom, insisting on the appointment of local to head the company.

Below are other movers and shakers who won the race for C-suite roles as a result among others, corporate leaders switching jobs, sackings or death. 

At the cash-rich Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), Mercy Wanjau was appointed as the acting Director-General to replace Francis Wangusi whose second term expired in August. Board Chairman Ngene Gituku said the appointment of Wanjau – who was the CA’s Legal Services director – was made to ensure CA continues to discharge its mandate seamlessly.

At Kenya Power, the board named the head of procurement division Bernard Ngugi as chief executive officer. The appointment came at a time when the monopoly power distributor is seeking to improve its financial position following a streak of losses.

Ngugi, an insider who has served at the firm for over three decades, took over from Jared Othieno who had been the acting CEO since July 2018 following the exit of the former CEO Ken Tarus after he was charged in court with conspiring to commit an economic crime and abuse of office.

In November, Kenya Pipeline picked the former Gulf Africa Petroleum Corporation CEO Macharia Irungu, its new Managing Director replacing Hudson Andambi, who was acting in the position after Joe Sang was ousted over allegations of fraudulent tendering. 

The top job at the State corporation has been dogged by corruption allegations that are behind the exit of former bosses including Ex-MD Joe Sang’s predecessor Charles Tanui. 

At National Transport and Safety Authority, the board appointed George Njao as new Director General. Njao takes over from Francis Meja, whose term has expired.

Margaret Nyakang’o, a former director of Finance and Administration at the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, takes over the corner office as the second Controller of Budget, replacing Agnes Odhiambo whose term ended in August. 

She was sworn in last month by Chief Justice David Maraga at the Supreme Court building, hours after being approved by the Parliamentary Finance Committee.

During her vetting, Nyakang’o said she would ensure county governments work towards sustaining their revenue inflows by exploiting more tax sources. Her main task would be to approve the release of monies from the Consolidated Fund Services.

Renew his term

Capital Markets Authority board appointed Wyckliffe Shamiah, its long-serving Director of Operations, to act as the CEO until a substantive replacement is found. The position fell vacant following the exit of Paul Muthaura who opted not to renew his term. Shamiah’s appointment is expected to support CMA continue implementing its strategic plans.

Allan Kilavuka takes over as Kenya Airways acting chief executive as it  waits to replace Polish national Sebastian Mikosz who opted out of the top job before the expiry of his contract. Kilavuka is the current CEO of the airline’s low cost subsidiary Jambojet.

The loss-making carrier, which is in the process of being nationalised, is 48.9 per cent government-owned, 38.1 per cent by banks, 7.8 per cent by Air France-KLM, 2.4 per cent by staff and 2.8 per cent by small investors.

Vivo Energy Kenya also has a change in the C-suite, with the appointment of Peter Murungi as the new managing director, following the resignation of Joe Muganda who took over from Polycarp Igathe in 2017. Murungi has worked for Vivo for the past 12 years in various capacities.

Stakeholders and analysts will be looking to see whether the new bosses will better the balance sheets of their respective companies.

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