When Edward Mwasi took over as CEO of Kenya Yearbook (KYEB) in 2017, the state-owned organization was choking on debt and veering on the brink of collapse. The company, which publishes the Kenya Yearbook and other government-inclined publications, had gone through a rough patch and fallen behind most of its targets despite gobbling millions of taxpayers’ cash.
Six years later, after serving two three-year terms, Mr Mwasi looks back at his work and sees a legacy of transformation and restoration. “I am delighted to share that I have successfully led the transformation of the Kenya Yearbook Editorial Board (KYEB) as its CEO,” says Mr Mwasi, whose tenure lapses on 12th July 2023. “It has been a remarkable journey.”
Mr Mwasi says when he took over the helm, KYEB was facing significant challenges, including a crippling debt of Ksh43 million and the possibility of dissolution. There was no time for pleasantries, he says, and so he went down to work. Since he had worked under the previous CEO, Mr Dennis Chebitwey, as production manager, Mwasi knew what ailed KYEB and had an idea or two on how to fix it.
“Through strategic partnerships, innovative approaches, and a dedicated team, we turned the organization around and positioned it as a thriving publishing house in Kenya,” he says.
Being a publishing house made work easier. He had worked at Nation Media Group (NMG) for 16 years, rising from junior staff to oversee design at Kenya’s leading media house. While there he learnt from the best, with NMG bringing in international experts to mentor local staff in both design and editorial management.
Mr Mwasi, a man who talks with the pace of a radio presenter, says he focused on diversifying revenue streams and forging partnerships with prominent media groups like the Standard Group and Nation Media Group. “These partnerships not only brought valuable advertising space but also elevated KYEB’s credibility and financial stability,” he says in a post shared on his Linkedin profile.
One of his notable achievements was securing custom publishing projects from big government institutions such as the Central Bank of Kenya, commemorating its 50th anniversary. “This opportunity not only cleared most of our debts but also showcased KYEB’s expertise and capabilities in delivering high-quality publications,” he adds.
To enhance productivity and adapt to changing information consumption trends, KYEB has progressively embraced digital platforms for information dissemination. As he leaves, he says KYEB is developing a digital knowledge management system and editorial workflow platforms to further improve services.
Focus is now shifting to his successor at KYEB, with many observers saying an insider would make a better fit to ensure smooth transition and continuity. KYEB has good enough talent in its stable – both editorial and management – who have been understudying Mr Mwasi over the years. Being a parastatal, however, the CS for Information, Communication and the Digital Economy Eliud Owalo and his principal secretaries will heavily influence who the next KYEB CEO will be.
Meanwhile, the media industry will be watching Mr Mwasi’s next move. From his post, he is inclined towards bigger things – being CEO again, somewhere else. “Through speaking engagements and collaborations, I actively contribute to the professional development of individuals and organizations,” he says. “If you are seeking a visionary CEO with a proven track record in organisational transformation, strategic partnerships, and innovation, I invite you to connect with me.”