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Debra Mallowah: The Corporate Leader On a Roll

She has steered teams and companies in new directions to drive growth

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Debra Mallowah, who has joined The Coca-Cola Company as Vice President of East and Central Africa Franchise covering 16 markets, had worked for Safaricom as Chief Business Development Officer for  two years. A highly accomplished leader with a wealth of experience gained in leading multi-national companies across sub-Sahara Africa and the United Kingdom, Ms Mallowah has a proven track record of delivering growth at international, regional and local levels.

In her various leadership roles, she says she has successfully collaborated with Board of Directors and senior leadership teams to create new products and markets, and profitable business models. Her corporate stints have modeled her into a versatile leader with strategic, portfolio management and commercial experience, strengthened with multi-cultural skills.

Ms Mallowah has steered teams and companies in new directions to drive growth. During her tenure at Safaricom, she was instrumental in harnessing new business opportunities and leading innovation. Her roles included the development of the company’s strategy, translating it for people across functions and business units, accelerating organizational performance through cohesive strategy planning and execution.

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She is also understood to have led initiatives on regional expansion, new market expansion strategy and offering indepth perspectives and actionable insights to customers through big data and market research.

In 2016, Debra Mallowah joined GlaxoSmithkline Plc as the General Manager East and West Africa, based in Nairobi. While there, she redefined business operating models to drive simplification, ruthless focus behind key priorities with a demand-led approach resulting in strong double-digit revenue growth and margin enhancement. She led the team in step changing growth trajectory with full responsibility for 8 markets in the region: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mauritius, Madagascar, and Seychelles.

During that time, she took up an acting role as General Manager, West Africa covering Nigeria and Ghana in addition to current responsibilities. She assumed full responsibility for the business operations leading cross function teams in commercial, innovation, finance planning, supply chain and regulatory.

Before moving to GlaxoSmithkline, Debra had served as the Vice President at Unilever Africa in Durban between 2013 and 2016, where she successfully led the personal care business across sub-Sahara Africa markets which included marketing, consumer planning, R&D, finance, and supply chain to ensure effective delivery and implementation of growth strategies across Africa. She was responsible for sustained growth of the personal care business (Euro 658m) across Africa.

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Ms Mallowah delivered consistent year-on-year growth acceleration and maintained the highest gross margin profile across the Unilever Africa business. She also rebalanced market contribution that up-weighted Rest of Africa-to-South Africa ratio to deliver a more balanced market portfolio and off-set dependency on South Africa.

During her tenure at Safaricom, Debra was instrumental in harnessing new business opportunities and leading innovation. [ Photo / urbwise ]
In 2002, Debra would begin her 12-year journey at Diageo as a Marketing Manager where she was responsible for developing iconic brand campaigns. Five years into her role, her excellent execution of campaigns and growth would see her promoted to a new role in Diageo in London as the Regional Marketing Manager. She was charged with the responsibility of driving brand building excellence. This would see her deliver a ready-mixed drinks strategy that defined this nascent category driving consumer commitment with accelerated growth in sales over three years.

While in London, she was part of the Africa and Europe team that developed a forum that led to Africa ‘best place to work’ initiative leading to it being a net exporter of talent and effectively built high performing teams within regional markets to deliver strong performance. In 2008, Debra returned to Nairobi to take up a new role as the Group Marketing Director at East Africa Breweries, a role she held until 2013. She effectively built high performing teams across the multi-country cluster to deliver strong performance.

She has lived and worked in Kenya, South Africa, and the UK. She’s married with two children.

She re-organized the marketing department, focused teams on incremental consumer opportunities and provided professional development. She was also a member of Africa Marketing Leadership Team. Her tenure at East Africa Breweries marked significant growth in its products portfolio in regional beer, global spirits and adult non-alcoholic drinks.

She led in development and delivery of category-changing innovations recognized globally for driving increased consumer commitment and redefining usage occasions. She led the team in development of an affordable-beer strategy which saw the creation of Senator Lager – Diageo’s most successful beer innovation (Harvard Business Review) and successfully launched Alvaro, the adult nonalcoholic that gained global attention (Wall Street Journal).

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Debra holds a Business degree (Honours) from the University of Nairobi and completed an Advanced Management Program from the IESE Business School in Spain and an Executive Program on Fintech Innovation at Said Business School, Oxford University. She has lived and worked in Kenya, South Africa, and the UK, and is married with two children.

She is an accredited executive coach and is passionate about charity work where she serves as a trustee in Art of Music Foundation. While not at work, she takes time to travel to new destinations, listens to music and takes time to learn and interact with Africa art.

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BT Reporter
BT Reporterhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke
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